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)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Little Bit of Tidying All Over the House

Housekeeping Utility Bucket, in Mint, from Cost Plus World Market

I'm so tempted to buy this bucket and incorporate it into my cleaning routines! Love the color.

Today I've invented a housekeeping task that will completely prevent me from having time to do any of my dreaded gardening and weeding tonight after work. I will do one task in each room of my home to make my house better and cleaner!


  • Time to order (or go shop for) any office supplies? Paper, printer ink? Tape? I just ran out of printer ink and I'm not happy with myself that I didn't stay on top of that and have some already here ready to replace it.
  • Father's Day is this Sunday, June 21. Have you sent a present, mailed a card, made reservations for brunch if you live in the same town as your father? Set a reminder to call your dad on Sunday?

TODAY'S PROJECT:Tidying Up All Over

The scented Febreze I'm currently using is "Mediterranean Lavender"

Tonight after work I'm going to do one thing in every room of my home to make my home lovelier. Basically I'm tidying up all over. I expect my project to take just an hour, which gives me plenty of time to watch an episode Orange is the New Black before I feel bad and go make myself pull some weeds before the evening is over.

My plan looks like this:

  • Master bathroom - remove huge stack of magazines, refill toilet paper stored in cabinet, and swap out the rug for a clean one.
  • Master bedroom - Dust bookcases and Febreze dog beds and curtains.
  • Guest bathroom #1 - Clean out cat litter and mop floor.
  • Guest bathroom #2 - Mop floor, empty trash, and try to find a non-Christmasy rug to keep under the dog water bowl.
  • Playroom - Remove pile of magazines that don't belong.
  • Guest room #1 - Remove eBay shipping supplies that don't belong.
  • Guest room #2 - Dust bookcase, nightstand and lamp.
  • Living room - Remove excess magazines from coffee table; dust table; remove bill-paying supplies.
  • Family room - Febreze dog beds and curtains; take dishes and glasses to the kitchen.
  • Kitchen - Empty trash and take out recycling; scrub fronts of grubby cabinets.
  • Dining room - Dust table and curio cabinet; toss dead houseplant.
  • Entry - sweep, declutter mail table, and Febreze runner.
  • Upstairs hallway - Dust the standing candleholder, and replace the burned out candle with a new one.
  • Laundry room - Fold towels, straighten laundry supplies, wipe down top of washer and dryer, clean lint trap, and wash the pile of dustrags I've accumulated during today's chores.

You can see that every room's "one task" turned into at least two, but I still think this will take less than an hour. Probably instead of watching TV I should be reading, then recycling, all the magazines I've been retrieving from multiple rooms of the house!

LOVELY BLOGS: Cookies & Cups

"Chronicling My Life in Sugar." Shelly lives in New Jersey and shares her sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. I've enjoyed her recent posts on Lemon Curd Pound Cake with Limoncello Glaze, White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins, Kentucky Butter Cake, and French Toast Muffins. You'll find the occasional non-sugary, savory recipe here too!

LOVELY EVENTS: I Love Lucy Live on Stage

I was thinking that this live stage show might be the perfect show to treat an elderly aunt, uncle, or grandparent to. Your parents might even enjoy it too if they like nostalgia. It looks fun! (I'd probably check with relatives to be certain they enjoyed I Love Lucy before spending money on tickets though). The musical is currently touring the East Coast of the US.

I Love Lucy Live on Stage on Facebook

LOVELY FOOD: Tillabars

Tillamook is a Northwest farm that I buy milk, butter, and sour cream from. I almost wish I hadn't heard that they also make ice cream bars (Tillabars). I just had to go try them, so of course I'm now hooked. My favorite is the Lemonilla. Their other flavors are Coconut Punch, Dark Chocolate Raspberry, Moocha Latte, Salted Caramel Swirl, and Old-Fashioned Vanilla. I'll probably only buy these in the summertime, and I'll switch back to stocking their regular ice cream in my freezer in the fall. You never know when you need to have a root beer float party!

Tillabars, at

LOVELY FOOD: Whiskey Chocolates

These sound so good! Plus they look so cool with the crown shapes. They are part of Moonstruck's Father's Day collection, but my dad wouldn't like these. I think I want to order a set for myself and send a box or two as a birthday gift to friends with June birthdays. Because they're made with alcohol, even though it's a small amount, you have to be home to sign for the package when it arrives (sigh).

Whiskey Flight Truffles, from Moonstruck Chocolate


Browned Butter Lemon Bars (Lady Behind the Curtain)

Cauliflower Gratin (Tiny New York Kitchen)

Crepes with Asparagus and Gruyere Cheese (Circle B Kitchen)

Four Dishes from an Armful of Fennel Bulbs (The Guardian)

How to Make Cloud Cookies That Actually Rain (The Bearfoot Baker)

Orange and Passionfruit Buckwheat Protein Pancakes (Make and Bake From Scratch)

Southern Sorghum and Bourbon Pecan Butter (Cupcake Project)

Strawberry Pineapple Lemonade Bars (The Recipe Rebel)

Monday, June 01, 2015

Gardening Day in Early Summer

I really don't like gardening, so I'm bribing myself to finish today's weeding project with the promise of lounging on my chaise with magazines and wine later tonight!

Today I have to break down and do some weeding, especially in my front yard (I prioritize that because it's visible to my neighbors). All that horrible hot, dirty, bug-infested work will surely inspire me to work harder at my job to earn extra money to re-hire the gardener I splurged on last summer! Plus I'll be reminded to appreciate how hard he works and I'll be less likely to forget to take him iced tea while he works.


  • A new month begins! Look over your upcoming month, noting birthdays, anniversaries, and upcoming doctors, dentists and vet appointments for yourself and family members.
  • I like to look at the National Day Calendar for upcoming celebrations. Today for example is "Say Something Nice Day."
  • Need to send out any gifts or cards for birthdays coming up this week? Need to make plans for dinners or parties for other upcoming birthdays?
  • Make any doctor, dentist, hair salon or spa appointments (if you're so lucky!) for the upcoming month as needed.
  • Take some time tonight to think about your goals for the month ahead. Do you have any health and exercise goals, book club reading to do, craft projects you want to make time for? Parties you want to throw?
  • Look over your budget for June. What upcoming special expenses might you have to make wiggle room for (movies, dinners, picnics, concerts?) Put some thought into your budget for the month.
  • If it's nice weather in your area this evening, get out and enjoy some of it after work if possible! Let's not waste this lovely summer indoors in front of screens.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Gardening and Weeding

I've put off weeding far too long. My front and back yards both look horrible. Today's the day I've set aside some time in the evening to force myself to stay home and deal with it. Unfortunately I chose not to do my weeding chores yesterday when it was warm and sunny; I'll be weeding in a light rain later tonight. Oh well, at least I won't get hot and sticky.

Besides weeding, I'll be tending to my rhododendron and hydrangea bushes, and planning for the two new rhodies and hydrangeas I want to plant. I don't want to just simply maintain my existing garden - I want to slowly but surely improve it, add to it, and make it more lovely. I'm just not that much of a gardener.

I'm hoping the rain will stop so I can still enjoy my promised relaxation time on a chaise lounge outside tonight after my chores!

Do you have any gardening, planting, weeding, watering, mowing, or house plant maintenance to take care of this week?

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Lilac and Freesia Hand Soaps

Somehow I missed these two gorgeous scents back in Springtime. I was delighted to find a container of Freesia and one of Lilac on a discount endcap at Target last week. I'm really enjoying the fragrances when I wash my hands in my kitchen right now!

Lilac Hand Soap, from Mrs. Meyers

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Fuji Green Tea

The Body Shop's new fragrance for Summer 2015 is Fuji Green Tea. It's a really clean, refreshing light scent. I think I'll indulge in the shower gel at least, if not the lotion or body butter.

Fuji Green Tea Bath & Body Products, at The Body Shop

LOVELY BLOGS: Rhubarbarians

Here's Trish's food blog where she shares boozy recipes and emphasizes local, seasonal flavors in her foodie recipes. She lives in Olympia, Washington, about an hour away from me. Recent posts I've enjoyed include Dill Pickle Vodka Martini (I'd totally drink that!); her Favorite Things post; and her recipe for a Dutch Baby with Honey Roasted Rhubarb.

LOVELY BOOKS: The Artful Year

"Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Crafts and Recipes--Over 175 Family- Friendly Activities." I'm not much of a crafter, but as someone who takes pride in being "the fun aunt," I bet I'd glean a lot of neat ideas from this book. I'm especially interested in the "Backyard Creativity" chapter. I'm not ready to think about Halloween and Christmas yet, so I might hold off on reading those chapters for a couple months if I pick up a copy of this book.

The Artful Year, on

LOVELY BOOKS: Flower Pictures

Here's a sweet antique book written and illustrated by Maude Angell back in 1914. You can browse through the colorful flower illustrations online. There's also accompanying text about the flowers and what it's like to draw them, but I found that a little boring (perhaps because I'm not an artist myself). I thought some of you might enjoy looking at these or possibly get arts and crafts inspiration from the vintage illustrations! Don't miss the beautiful chapter on roses.

Flower Pictures, at The Internet Archive


This shop is based in Poland. They sell the most beautiful wool felted handbags, hair accessories and hats, brooches and scarves! The colors are fabulous and the designs imaginative. I can't personally wear the scarves (too itchy) but I am tempted by some of the gorgeous felted flower-themed handbags. Don't miss the cat-shaped hats, bags and scarves too!

Filcant, on Etsy


Blueberry Coconut Crisp (Two Peas and Their Pod)

Caprese Guacamole (Lemon Tree Dwelling)

Charred Green Beans with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette (Blogging Over Thyme)

Cucumber Coriander Mint Juice (The Steaming Pot)

8 Ways You're Making Smoothies Wrong (Cosmopolitan)

Fresh Blueberry Slushy (Living the Gourmet)

Fried Guacamole (NY Times)

Guacamole Egg Rolls (Lamberts Lately)

Green Smoothie Sorbet (So Munch Love)

It Takes How Much Water to Make That Smoothie? (Mother Jones)

One Retailer's Unusual Message: 'Don't Buy So Much Stuff' (The Atlantic)

Pomegranate Guacamole (Sugar Bee Crafts)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

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