Thursday, February 26, 2015

Doing Three Lovely Things for Ourselves Today

We work hard to take care of our families, homes and friends. Today, let's take time and make a priority to do three nice things for ourselves. It's not selfish - a happy homemaker makes for a happy home!

You'll know what your three lovely things might be. For me, I'll take a long bath instead of a hurried shower; I'll carve out 30 minutes to leisurely read a magazine while sipping iced tea in a sunny window; and I'll take extra time at lunch to make my favorite sandwich - and savor it - instead of just gulping down yogurt in front of the computer.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Now that we're at the end of February, have you been able to put away your Valentine's decorations? Time to get out your Spring, St. Patrick's Day or Easter themed decor, if you decorate for those holidays or for this season.
  • We're almost through the workweek! Anything you need to do so you're not falling behind on housework? A quick bit of vacuuming, a quick mop down for the kitchen floor, a load of laundry washed and folded and put away?
  • Make social plans for this weekend so you and your friends have a bit of advance notice of something fun you'll do together.
  • Will you be eating dinner on a clean tablecloth tonight? Be sure to change yours if it is soiled or crumb-encrusted. It's attention to the little things like this that make a regular home a lovely home.
  • Plan a special Friday lunch for your kids (if you are the one who packs their lunch boxes.) It will be easier to surprise them with something special tomorrow if you plan ahead today.
  • Need to pick up any milk, fresh veggies or fruit on your way home today?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Do Three Lovely Things for You and You Alone

Tupelo Lemongrass Honey Bath, from The Thymes

Do three pleasurable things today, just for you, even if they seem selfish or indulgent. Maybe we shouldn't be partaking in ice cream if we're watching our diets, or taking time away from important tasks that will make us feel guilty later. But I bet we can slip in enough time tonight to do three easy things to make ourselves happy. Maybe just a small portion of ice cream!

Perhaps it's a bath, an uninterrupted phone call to a good friend, half an hour with a home decor or cooking magazine, indulging in a mind-numbing TV show, or lingering over a latte at Starbucks. Just do something you enjoy, something that will make you feel nice, something to honor yourself.

LOVELY BLOGS: Adventures in Decorating

This is Becca's blog showcasing her home decorating projects and holiday decor. I'm currently enjoying looking through her beautiful Valentine's Day decor and her Valentine's Day mantel- she put so much time into this and it looks fabulous! You can also peek into her Winter Great Room. I can't wait to see what she does for Easter!

http://adventuresindecorating1.blogspot.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Dessert for Two

Christina from the Dessert for Two blog just published her first cookbook. I'm so excited to check it out. I like dessert (but tend to prioritize an appetizer or cocktail instead, if I'm watching my caloric intake) but find portions too big. I seem to run out of steam or get bored before I can eat them. So I love this concept of tiny desserts that are just enough for two people to share. Chapters include Cookies, Bars, Cakes, Southern Delights, and Candy.

Dessert for Two, on Amazon

LOVELY FOOD: House Tin Cookies

My house-shaped packaging obsession led me to seek out these cookies. Sadly, Dean & Deluca does not provide any info about them. They appear to depict a windmill, but I can't tell what they'd taste like. That will help me control myself and not buy them!

Coffret House Tin, from Dean & Deluca

LOVELY SHOPS: Claudine Hellmuth Printables

This Washington DC-based artist creates beautiful and whimsical printables you can use for gifting and party needs. Once you buy the item, print it out, cut and glue or tape it and use it right away. My favorite item is the retro oven cupcake box, with the printable pink retro camper a close second. There are also some printable paper dolls, but I don't really like the style of artwork on them. Her Christmas printable favor boxes are extremely adorable - check out the Christmas Sweet Shoppe favor box for example!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/claudinehellmuth

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Botanical Gardens are the Cathedrals of Our Time (New Statesman)

Easter Decor in the Sunroom (Penny's Vintage Home)

How Skiing Went From the Alps to the Masses (The Atlantic)

Learning to Like Spicier Food (The Atlantic)

Miss Vintage UK Says 'Dress Like a Lady, Get Treated Like a Lady' (Daily Mail)

Refrigerators of the World (The Atlantic)

You're Doing Kids' Allowances Wrong (Slate)


--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting and Staying Ready for Guests

Happy Easter Eggs Pillow, from Pier 1 Imports

I just had a houseguest stay for two nights over the weekend; I have a guest staying one night this weekend; and a guest staying over the first weekend in March. I'm delighted to finally have guest bedrooms (two of them!) to offer guests instead of a couch. I have a lot of work to do though to swap out clean sheets, keep guest rooms and bathrooms freshened, and maintain my home in a clean and nice smelling manner so people will feel at home and want to come back again!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Brighten your home a bit with some inexpensive tulips or daffodils, if you can fit it into your budget. Most grocery stores should have them available right now.
  • Can you find primroses for your garden? I've put several affordable containers of them on my front porch for a colorful welcome home, and I'm considering adding some to my back deck too.
  • Take inventory of your paper and plastic products. Do you need more Kleenex, paper towels, toilet tissue, garbage bags, sandwich bags? Add anything you need to your shopping list for the weekend.
  • Do you have any library books due to be returned this week? Any movies you rented this weekend from Redbox that need to be returned today?
  • I haven't remembered to take my vitamins all week until just now. How about you?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Guest Room Readiness

Chenille Throw in Citron, from Pier 1 Imports

Tonight I'm throwing a dinner party, so I don't have a lot of time for a big project. I bet after my guests leave and I've tidied the kitchen, I can find time to whisk a guest room back into shape. I can throw the sheets into my washer and run it while I'm cooking dinner, then run the dryer inconspicuously downstairs while we eat dinner. It won't take but a couple minutes to put the sheets back on the bed, sweep and dust so the guest room is ready for the next guest.

Upstairs in the other guest bedroom (which didn't get used last weekend) I just have to do a sniff test, making sure the bedding smells fresh still. There's nothing worse than sleeping at someone's house and having your bed smell dirty, musty, or dusty. I'll take extra care to check the warm fuzzy throw I leave on the ends of my guest beds. Next, I'll quickly dust, and vacuum. That's a quick project I can easily do in between commercials.

Before guests arrive, I will want to put a vase of fresh flowers in each room, open the window that day for an hour or two of fresh air if possible, and spritz one gentle, quick spray of home fragrance spray in the room a couple hours before they arrive. (Not too much though!)

I'll worry about my guest bathrooms another day!

If guests came to your home this weekend, would you be ready for them?

LOVELY BLOGS: The Retro Housewife Life

Nicole is a retro housewife living in Arizona. She feels like she was born in the wrong era, and proudly embraces her role as a homemaker. She shares her retro housewife fashion, and lets us peek at her amazing cleaning schedules. I might have to take a closer look and possibly adopt some of these into my own housekeeping organization method. I'm enjoying her recent pep-talk post on being a domestic goddess, I'm peeking at her menu for this week, and reading her advice on getting motivated to clean and organize.

http://theretrohousewifelife.com/

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Sangria Iced Tea

I really love sangria, but let's face it, there's only so much of it one can drink before one is suspected of being a giant lush. So I'm excited to try this new bottled iced tea from Republic of Tea. They're not shipping it during this wintry time of year, so I'll look for it at my local Cost Plus World Market.

Sangria Bottled Iced Tea, from Republic of Tea

LOVELY BOOKS: Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home

Emily from the Cupcakes and Cashmere blog has just published her second book. This one focuses on entertaining at home. That's one of my very favorite subjects, so I probably can't resist picking up a copy!

Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home, on Amazon

LOVELY BOOKS: Wild Flower Children

Here is a charming book of flower fairy illustrations. It was written by Elizabeth Gordon, illustrated by Janet Laura Scott, and published in 1918. I love leafing through the color illustrations here, and thought you might like to idle away a pleasant ten minutes or so on your coffee or tea break today. My favorite illustration so far is the mischievous imp pictured on the Fireweed page.

Wild Flower Children, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY FOOD: Mrs. Bridges' Jams and Jellies

There are so many tasty things to use jams and jellies and curds on - scones, bagels, toast, muffins, tartlets, waffles, crepes..! Some of these lovely pantry products are a bit expensive as they make you buy a 3-pack, but if you nose around a bit on the Mrs. Bridges Amazon offerings, you can find a few nice things that aren't too dear. I absolutely have to treat myself to the Scottish Blackcurrant Preserve, and I probably can't pass up the Marmalade with Whisky.

Mrs. Bridges Jams, Curds, Marmalades and Chutneys, on Amazon

LOVELY FOOD: Pastel and White Cookies

I think these lovely cookies would be a perfect hostess gift, should you be attending an Easter brunch, Spring tea party, book club, or springtime dinner party. They're a changed-up version of "black-and-white" cookies. They'd also make a nice surprise birthday gift, mailed to your far-away relative or good friend.

Pastel and White Cookies, at Dean & Deluca

LOVELY SHOPS: Bobka Baby

This shop sells stunningly gorgeous ballerina-style wedding shoes and also baby shoes. The colors are fantastic! Many of the shoes here have some sort of lovely beaded embellishments, such as on these taffeta ankle strap shoes. Don't miss this stunning pair of fuchsia flower girl shoes - love the ribbons! There's also a section for white christening shoes.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BobkaBaby

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Charred Cauliflower Carbonara (How Sweet It Is)

Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake (Confessions of a Cookbook Queen)

How to Cut and Peel Hard Winter Squash (Chocolate and Zucchini)

Italian Chopped Salad (Annie's Eats)

Moussaka Shepherd's Pie (Foodess)

Outer Space Cookies (The Bearfoot Baker)

Paris Cookies (Bake at 350)

Spaghetti Pangrattato with Fried Eggs (Smitten Kitchen)

Spring Picks - Cake Stands (Sweetapolita)


--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Last Week of February

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Let's start off our day by finding two things to throw away. Recycle magazines that have sat unread on your coffee table for more than a couple weeks? Old cosmetics? A mismatched sock you despair of ever finding the mate to? A pair of pantyhose you've been hanging onto despite a rip or tear? A chipped plate or bowl from your kitchen cupboard?
  • The end of the month is nearing. Time to pay bills before the first of the month rolls around, check over your calendar and to-do lists to see if you have anything to complete before March begins.
  • Take inventory of your firewood, fireplace matches, and kindling supplies. It's still cold at night in many parts of our country - would your family members like to come home to a cheerful, cozy fire tonight?
  • Reach out to any distant relatives you haven't managed to make time to talk to this month.
  • How are your supplies of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, hot cider mix and other warm wintry beverages? I find myself drinking a bit of iced tea during the day, then switching back to hot beverages at night.
  • Are you hosting any upcoming parties or festivities? A dinner party, cocktail party, tea party, Easter party, child's birthday party maybe? If so, make your life easier by beginning to write down some notes and lists, get some inspiration from Pinterest, and start to get your party organized!

TODAY'S PROJECT: Chargers and Remotes

Acrylic Charging Station Organizer, from The Container Store

I have a busy workday today, and will probably be working all night after dinnertime. So my project today has to be a small, yet useful one. (I don't do projects just to stay busy, but must keep on top of my household by doing a little bit of a project every day).

As I was getting ready to meet a friend's new baby at a ladies' lunch today, I struggled to find the charger for my camera. I'd hate to miss an opportunity to photograph this lovely two week old baby, and I am fairly sure my camera's battery is running low. This inspires me to embark on a charger locating and electronics charging session tonight. I know for certain I have multiple old unidentifiable chargers laying around, for cell phones and cameras I stopped using eight or nine years ago. Time to organize my existing chargers, see if I can figure out what to do with old chargers (sell on eBay, donate to Goodwill if they take them, or just plain dispose of). I'll charge up my phone, Kindles, and cameras tonight.

I'm going to put on a coat and run out to my car to organize and take inventory of the chargers I keep in there. I have a USB charger for the front seat and one for whoever is in the back seat. I used to have a universal charger with attachments for other types of phones, but I think it broke and I threw it away. Recently a friend was unable to charge his iPhone in my car, and I have enough friends with iPhones I might pick up an inexpensive charger to keep in my glove box for them.

I also want to take a few minutes to get rid of some of the six or seven extraneous remote controls I have laying around. A couple are backups for my two Tivo boxes, but the rest are most likely for DVD players and TVs I got rid of long ago. I'll try to sell them on eBay (not to make a couple bucks but to help out someone looking for a rare "antique" charger) or do whatever it takes to get the remote clutter out of my living room and off of my coffee table. I bet if I look behind both of my televisions, I'll find two or three old useless remotes hidden back there, too.

Tonight when I take my weary body to bed, I'll have my Kindle charged up all nice and ready to go for my evening reading!

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Strawberry Basil Green Iced Tea

Here's another lovely spring-themed iced tea I'm excited to serve, as the weather in Seattle slowly gets warmer. (Currently we're in the mid-50s on most days). I might experiment with slicing up fresh or even frozen strawberries to float in the pitcher of tea.

Strawberry Basil Green Tea, at Republic of Tea

Republic of Tea's Strawberry Basil Green Tea, on Amazon

LOVELY BLOGS: The Crumby Cupcake

Erica blogs from her home in Florida. Besides her delicious looking recipes, you can follow her Fabulous Friday posts, and check up on her Hump Day Happenings linkups. Recently she's posting about Sweet Potato Noodle Tomato Mushroom Alfredo, sipping a blood orange moscato margarita, and sharing the recipe for sesame ginger pork stir fry.

http://thecrumbycupcake.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Mrs. Beeton's Household Management

I've blogged about this wonderful vintage 1907 book before, but wanted to share two new links for it. I'm enjoying browsing through the Internet Archive's vintage copy - they've included all 2200 pages as well as scanned the gorgeous color plates. For more than casual browsing, the MrsBeeton.com website is a better way to get right to the heart of the recipes and household management tips. My favorite chapter is "Dinners and Dining."

Mrs. Beeton's Household Management on Archive.org

Mrs. Beeton.com

LOVELY FOOD: Retro Radio Amaretti

Sucker for retro packaging that I am, I'm sorely tempted to give this retro radio tin as a gift - to myself! I'll try to control myself, and keep this in mind as a gift for friends who share my love of retro things. The cookies inside are amaretti - they taste like almonds.

Retro Radio Tin, at Dean & Deluca

LOVELY FOOD: Sweet Cakes Truffle Collection

I feel like it's a bit too early for Easter-themed chocolates (Easter is on Sunday April 5). So if I have any birthday gifts or hostess gifts to pick up in the next couple weeks, this assortment of cake-themed truffles might fit the bill. The flavors include Red Velvet Raspberry Truffle, Yellow Cake Huckleberry Truffle and Cheesecake Strawberry Truffle.

Sweet Cakes Truffles, at Moonstruck Chocolate

LOVELY KIDS: Spring Dresses

I wanted to share these lovely spring baby dresses I bumped into during my web wanderings. I don't feel they're fancy enough for proper Easter dresses, but they're cute for Spring. Maybe for a tea party, attending a birthday party, or a weekend brunch? The Peter Pan collar dress is my favorite. There's also a cute all-in-one ruffled outfit that isn't a dress.

Baby Girl Spring Dresses, from Pumpkin Patch

LOVELY KIDS: Sound of Music Paper Dolls

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of The Sound of Music film, here are some cute paper dolls based on the film. You might be able to print them out and cut them for your kids to play with. I just spent a lovely couple minutes looking over the paper doll costumes.

Sound of Music Paper Dolls, on Picasa

LOVELY MOVIES: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I usually am not a fan of sequels, but I can hardly express how excited I am for this one! There can't be too much Judi Dench or Maggie Smith in my life. This is the perfect movie to take your mom, aunt, or mother-in-law to (or a group of younger ladies who appreciate good films!) The film comes to theaters on March 6.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Trailer, on Apple

LOVELY SHOPS: Little Literary Classics

This cute Etsy shop is based in Tucson, Arizona. The shop owner creates darling soft "quiet books" used to help keep babies occupied and amused during church, at restaurants, etc.

She bases the books on literary classics, including Jane Austen's Emma, Little Women, Beowulf and Around the World in 80 Days. The illustrations inside are so charming!

The shop also offers cloth dolls based on the literary characters, prints of her illustrations, and literary-themed clothes for babies.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleLiterary

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Amish Recipe: Dutch Baby Oven Pancake with Blood Oranges (Lavender and Lovage)

Baked Halibut with Sweet Potato Gratin (Honest Cooking)

Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Risotto (Fancy Edibles)

Blood Orange Margaritas (Edible Perspective)

Blood Orange Mimosa (Bakeaholic Mama)

Blood Orange Sidecar Cocktail (Lovely Indeed)

Blueberry Coconut Cheesecake Parfaits (Lemon Tree Dwelling)

Cauliflower Soup with Chunky Potatoes and Ham (Cooks with Cocktails)

Kitchen Storage and Organization (Thrifty Decor Chick)

Golden Cauliflower Gratin with Capers (Williams-Sonoma Taste Blog)

Maple Walnut Blondies (The Spiffy Cookie)

Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread (Olive Oil and Lemons)

Red Chile and Cheese Enchiladas (Perpetually Hungry Blog)

Top 5 Costume Designers Who Haven't Won an Oscar Yet (Frock Flicks)


--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

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Lovely Living University

Monday, February 23, 2015

Progress on Late Winter Projects

The palest pink roses I placed in my guest room to bring a hint of spring into the room

Today I'm looking back at my busy weekend and congratulating myself on how much I got done. I'm also looking at the week ahead, though, because there's more work to be done!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Need to do any laundry folding or loads of laundry that didn't get done this weekend? I had guests come over, so I have some sheets and towels to wash today.
  • Look over the upcoming week - are you going to any doctor, dentist, vet, gym or salon appointments?
  • Any birthdays coming up this week you need to send gifts, flowers, or a card for?
  • Make meal plans for the week ahead; create grocery list
  • Sniff around your house. Any bad smells you need to get rid of? (Laundry washed, cat litter box changed, pet messes cleaned up, dusty furniture dusted?)
  • If you're enjoying nightly fires, how is your firewood/Duraflame supply holding up? I need to hit the store for some more logs on my errand day tomorrow.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Prepping for Spring

I'm finishing up the last touches on my Spring home decorating project today. I've stored away all the Christmas/Valentine's red curtains, pillows, tablecloths and other textiles. My dining table now wears a pastel pink tablecloth and "snow drop white" unscented candles. I picked up a pink potted hydrangea for just $5.99 at Trader Joe's. It's tall enough to block conversation, so I might not leave it on the table for an actual meal. I swapped out the teal colored curtains in the dining room for lacy white ones adorned with embroidered pink flowers. Red living room pillows were replaced with pink and purple ones, and downstairs in my family room, blue-and-chocolate pillows took the place of the glittery red Christmas pillows I had down there.

I'm proud to show you the results of my weekend of sorting, organizing, throwing away, recycling and donating. I was able to get rid of the contents of around fifteen storage boxes (some are nested inside each other). My cousins are moving next weekend so they'll come by to pick up these boxes to use for their move. I've freed up about 25% of my garage (the other 25% is Christmas decorations, letters and keepsakes, and 50% is merchandise for my store). I feel really great about this progress, but really sad about all the books I had to take to sell at a second hand store. I miss my books already!

How are you doing on your progress on winter projects you assigned to yourself? Whether it's making a quilt, knitting a shawl or sweater, a crocheting or needlework project, completing a painting, sorting and organizing family photos, completing a book for your book club, finishing your novel, journaling daily, or whatever goal you set, have you been able to set aside time to work on it?

I do not want to be spending sunny spring and summer days indoors doing projects. I'd rather do them during these dark and cold winter evenings, when I don't feel like going out, don't want to spend time freezing outside in my yard, and have a cozy fireplace to sit in front of while I do projects. I'd much rather get things done right now and have more time for the outdoors and my beautiful yard in the spring and summer.

I'm going to continue working on decluttering my garage and a couple of closets. It might be time to give up on some of my three Sterilite boxes full of mismatched Lego.. What project might you still want to work on before Spring arrives?

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Spring Hand Soaps

We did so many projects around the house this weekend, getting dirty and washing our hands often, that we ran out of hand soap in two of my three bathrooms! I'm excited to have a legitimate reason to go down to Bath & Body Works and sniff their new hand soaps. I'm most excited about Springtime & Clementines, then Peonies & Pears, and I want to try Spring Poppies & Picnics. Other scents include Blue Skies & Blooms, Sunshine & Lemons, White Lily & Lime, Garden Strawberries, and Sweet Tangerines.

New Spring Hand Soaps, at Bath and Body Works

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Spring Cherry Tea

If I do get up the energy to throw my annual spring tea party, this is one of the teas I'd like to serve. (I offer a variety in case I've selected a tea that doesn't taste good to some people!) I like that it has a slightly sweet and floral aroma and taste.

Spring Cherry Green Tea, at Republic of Tea

Spring Cherry Green Tea on Amazon.com

LOVELY BLOGS: Cooking with Ruthie

Ruthie is a mom to three kids. She grew up cooking in the kitchen with her Gram and her mom. Besides the recipes and Culinary School section of her blog, there's a large collection of DIY crafts projects. She's currently blogging about Slow cooker chicken taco soup, chicken teriyaki stir fry, and an oven roasted parmesan asparagus that I think I'm going to make as part of my dinner tonight!

http://cookingwithruthie.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Cake My Day!

I'm excited about this new cake decorating book from the authors of the Hello Cupcake book and blog. It comes out March 24. Scroll down through the Amazon listing to see a preview of the cute "Toaster cake" featured in the book.

Cake My Day!: Easy, Eye-Popping Designs for Stunning, Fanciful, and Funny Cakes, on Amazon

LOVELY FOOD: Payard Macarons

These gorgeous (and tasty!) macarons would be perfect for a spring tea party. I'm thinking of splurging on a box for my yearly spring tea, if I go ahead and throw one again this year.

Party Macarons Assortment, from Payard

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Black Grape Lemon and Thyme Cake with Comb Honey and Yogurt Cheese (Twigg Studios)

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Popsicles (Annie's Eats)

Cottage Cheese Dinner Rolls (Cookie Madness)

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake (Sally's Baking Addiction)

Orange, Yoghurt and Olive Oil Cake (Supergolden Bakes)

Perfume Cake (Etsy Blog)

What to Eat at the Airport When You Don't Pack Healthy Food (Carrots N Cake)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Swapping out for Spring

The first signs of spring - snow drops coming up in my yard! I look forward to seeing these every year. So grateful to whichever previous homeowner planted them years ago.

Now that Valentine's Day is over, I'm taking down all my red decorations (some which hung around since Christmas). I'm swapping out for my Spring decor I keep carefully stored away in Sterilite bins in the garage - pink, cream, light green, and pastel colors. Time to welcome Spring to my home and echo the season indoors.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • We're in the middle of the month. Look over your calendar for the next two weeks, noting any upcoming appointments, events, and birthdays.
  • Make meal plans for the week ahead if you haven't already.
  • If you live anywhere else besides snowed-in New England, take a brisk walk today (even if just around your own home) looking for signs of Spring.
  • Need to prepare anything ahead of time to use and enjoy the rest of your week? Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice? Hardboiled eggs to use on salads? A pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator, for those of you living in warmer climates?
  • If you're planning to start any seeds indoors, this might be the time to start thinking about it and preparing for your project.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Swapping in Spring

My dining table as it's looked for the last couple weeks. Later today it will have a light pink flowery tablerunner on it, with pink accessories.

Today I'm removing any winter-themed or Valentine's decorations. I'll store away my LED light-up "Snowy cottage," my snowman-and-wife couple figure, my red-ribboned reindeer, my unlit evergreen tree candles I display every year, and the red wreath I hang over my family room mantel. I'll launder, then store away, my table runners, placemats and decorative red fabrics I used throughout the house. Red curtains are coming down, and flowery pink and white curtains are going up in their place. The tablecloth will get swapped out for a pink one, and red glass candle holders go away until December. Out come my pink and purple "Spring" decorative pillows, table runners, placemats, and candle holders. I expect this project to take around an hour or so today, what with all the dusting, laundering, rehanging, and storing away of things.

Egg Hunt Dish Towel, from Crate and Barrel

I'm not quite ready to "Easter up" my home decor, so that can wait until sometime in March. For now I'll just focus on pink and white and green, spring flowers and birds. I've almost used up my Christmas-themed hand soaps, kitchen hand wash, and candles; and when I do, out will come lighter, cleaner, fresh fragrances for spring.

I'm welcoming Spring on a 60 degree sunny day - how perfect. Yet I'm not forgetting my snowbound friends in Boston, exhausted from all the snow shoveling they've been doing!

LOVELY BATH & BODY/LOVELY HOME: Blooms and Bees

I love the colorful, cheerful packaging on this new collection of bath & body & home products from Michel Design Works. Perfect for Spring! Scented with bergamot, chamomile and marigold. The collection includes soaps and lotions, room sprays and candles, wooden trays, potholders, oven mitts, an apron, and other kitchen decor items.

Michel Design Works' Blooms and Bees Foaming Soap, on Amazon

LOVELY BLOGS: Boxwood Clippings

"All things pretty, organized & thrifty." Emily and Sarah share blogging duties here, offering $10 decorating tips, solving design dilemmas, suggesting DIY projects, and giving fashion tips. Recent posts I've enjoyed include Chocolate dipped strawberries & Marshmallows, a recipe for gluten-free peanut butter cookies that I might make for a gluten-free cousin, a gorgeous peek into Baby Jane's closet, and a "drab to fab" bathroom makeover.

http://www.boxwoodclippings.com/

LOVELY MOVIES: Live Action Cinderella

I cannot even begin to describe to you how much I'm looking forward to this movie! I'm a longtime Cinderella antique book collector, and while I'm not a fan of the overall message of the fairy tale (work hard but wait and hope for a prince to rescue you?) I can't resist the imagery of ball gowns and parties. I can only imagine how many times I'll see this in the theater if it's as good as I think it will be! It comes out March 13.

http://movies.disney.com/cinderella/

Cinderella Trailer at Apple

LOVELY STATIONERY: Lemon Fizz

I just discovered this adorable line of greeting cards and wanted to show you! They mainly have wedding-related and baby announcement designs, but there's a few cute "Thinking of You," "Get Well" and birthday greetings as well. I love the darling characters and the clothes they're wearing!

Lemon Fizz Cards, at Vigo Cards

LOVELY TV: Castle Hunters

I haven't watched this show yet, but it looks right up my alley! The show follows a few (rich) American couples looking to buy castles overseas. I couldn't care less about the couples, but I suspect I'll very much enjoy lookie-louing at the castles! So far there have been two episodes aired - one set in Ireland and one that takes place in France. I'm going to hunt for this on my On Demand.

http://www.hgtv.com/shows/castle-hunters

LOVELY WEBSITES: Buttery Books

This incredibly helpful and inspirational website helps book club hosts with ideas for book selection, decorations, attire, music, and of course, food. Right now the current book recommendation is "Russian Winter." The blog sadly hasn't been updated in over a year, so just utilize the website for inspirational book theme parties and themed recipes.

http://butterybooks.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Can't Afford to Move? Learn to Love the City You're In (Apartment Therapy)

Frozen Party Table Decor (Our House Now a Home)

How to Make a Winter Salad You Actually Want to Eat (Bon Appetit)

Pomelo Digestif (CHOW)

Ricotta Pancakes with Citrus Salad (Cristina's Food Blog)

Rustic Glam Wine-Tasting Party at Home (Hostess with the Mostess )


--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Shoe-Sorting Sunday

Drop-Front Shoe Box, from The Container Store

Today I plan to spend a couple hours (preferably after darkness falls, so I'm not wasting our rare February Seattle sunshine) sorting the shoes in my closet. I do this every year, but need to be firmer with myself this year. I plainly have too many shoes.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Houseplant watering time? I'm trying to remember to do this every Sunday - at least checking to see if my plants need water or not.
  • Fridge and freezer cleaning - Clean out one shelf, one drawer or two door containers in both your fridge and your freezer. (Or take the time to do the whole thing!) Replace items you're keeping once the shelf or drawer is clean and dry again.
  • Need to do any laundry so you go into the upcoming workweek with clean sheets, fresh towels, and clean clothes to wear to work or school?
  • Make meal plans for the week ahead; create grocery list if you haven't already done your shopping.
  • Any relatives (particularly elderly ones) you weren't able to call yesterday to wish a Happy Valentine's Day? I'm going to make a round of phone calls tonight to catch up with family members.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Shoe Sorting

I've dumped most of my shoes in a big pile on my closet floor, in order to annoy myself enough to actually deal with this project today and get it done!

It's time for me to face up to the truth. (You're likely anticipating I'm going to say, 'I have too many shoes.' Naw. That's true, but I'm facing a harder truth than that).

For three years now I've been struggling with a back injury caused by poor posture and repetitive motion injury while sitting improperly in front of a computer (or slumped on a couch with a laptop on my lap) for far too many hours a day.

My physical therapist ordered me, a year ago, to stop wearing my favorite kind of shoes: thin little flats, ballerina flats, etc. I've struggled to adjust my shoe wearing habits - she suggested a low heel, I maintain that I'm too clumsy and ankle-twisty to wear any sort of a heel. I detest sneakers - I think they're all hideously ugly - and I suspect I'm too old and don't have the right personality to pull off my favorite Converse high tops any more.

I'm also five foot eleven and while proud and not ashamed of my tallness, I'm not looking to add any more inches to my height.

When I wear my favorite kind of inexpensive, non-leather flats, my feet hurt and my limp is extremely more pronounced than normal. Even in good shoes, a shopping trip to a hard-floored store such as Target, Costco, etc. is excruciating for me.

I refuse to use a cane or wheelchair, so we finally came up with a compromise. I ended up finding some very comfortable (and hopefully not too gramma-ish) sneaker-style shoes that don't look like sneakers. I found them at Nordstrom. from a company (or designer?) named Bernie Mev. At $66 a pair they are much more expensive than the practically disposable $10 flats I'm used to buying at Payless, but I invested in three pairs - one silver, two black. The memory foam soles were so comfy, my life was changed for the better overnight. I wear them every day, and spent quite a bit of time trying to find more (the European sizes don't quite transfer over to my big size 10 feet).

I managed to find the same shoes under a different, cheaper brand name (Corky's) and picked up a purple pair and another couple pairs of black for around $30 each. (I keep wearing them to the dog park in them and getting them dirty and muddy, so I'm trying to have one nice "going out" pair of black ones that are clean and new looking still).

All this is leading to, it's been a year now, and I need to admit that I cannot, and must not, wear most of the darling, colorful, cute shoes in my closet. This makes me feel old, and sad, and wasteful. Luckily, I haven't worn many of them (instinctively knowing they would be uncomfy), so I can donate them to charity in pristine condition. I have got to get rid of these unused shoes, which will free up space in my closet I can use for things I actually wear and enjoy.

Today I'm taking down every pair of my shoes out of my closet, dusting and trying them on, and getting rid of most of them. I'll keep any flipflops or sandals that fit me (keeping in mind that I'm middle aged and my feet swell on hot days, sigh) but any ballerina flats or anything with a high heel have to go. (Goodbye, cute pair of $22 high heel black manmade boots I got from Payless, wearing them on a toe-pinchingly painful evening out to dinner).

I'll of course dust the shelves I keep my shoes on before returning the few pairs I'm keeping to my shelves. I expect this project to take around an hour today - perhaps a bit more if I start crying and have to take a Kleenex break. I plan to immediately toss my bags of donation shoes into the car and immediately drive them to a shoe donation bin, so I'm not tempted to reneg and keep any of the ones I must discard!

What does your own shoe closet or shoe storage area look like? Can I tempt you into joining me in removing any pairs you know you won't actually wear, today?

Related links:

Challenge 21 - Shoes (The Seana Method)

Four Steps to an Organized Closet (Her Pursuit of Sunshine)

Five Simple Closet Upgrades (Live Simply by Annie)

7 Questions to Ask When Cleaning Out Your Closet (The Everygirl)

25 Ways to Store Shoes in Your Closet (HGTV)

Walk-In Closet Organization (Better Homes & Gardens)

LOVELY BLOGS: Crazy for Crust

"Baking... with a slice of life." This blogger presents some recipes that are healthier or 'skinny', and some that incorporate grocery store treats such as Oreos. The blogger, Dorothy, lives in Sacramento.

Recent posts include recipes for lemon funfetti cookies, Valentine Oreo bark, healthier cinnamon rolls and healthier chocolate chip cake.

http://www.crazyforcrust.com/

LOVELY SHOPS: Blue Velvet Vintage

Oh, how I wish I'd never run across this store! Yet I'm willing to torture your pocketbook with these gorgeous vintage-styled outfits too. They sell both actual vintage clothing and new clothing made to look vintage. They specialize in mid-century modern, but also have a lovely collection of old Hollywood glamour, Art Nouveau and flapper dresses. Their house brand of retro inspired dresses is "Classic Dame."

My favorite thing here is this navy blue Art Nouveau dress.

http://www.bluevelvetvintage.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese (Katie's Cucina)

Fennel Frond Salt (Mad Tea Party)

The Five Ways You're Making Your Space Feel Smaller and Dirtier Than It Has To (Live Simply by Annie)

Fresh Strawberry Bread (Daily Delicious)

Heart French Toast (Forever and a Recipe)

Homemade Croissants: For the Love of Butter (Kitchen Heals Soul)

Italian Wedding Soup with Veggie Balls (Joanne Eats Well)

Matcha Chocolate Mousse Cake (A Brown Table)

Perfectly Peel a Hard-Boiled Egg in a Glass of Water (Huffington Post)

Pomegranate Orange Salad (The Petite Croissant)

Red Velvet Buttercream Rose Cake (I Am Baker)

Salted Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream (Williams-Sonoma Taste)

Spicy Kimchi Tofu Stew (Katherine Sacks)

12 Web Toys to Fill Snowbound Days (Mental Floss)


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