Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spring Cleaning: Master Bedroom

I wish I could own this pretty upholstered Laurel bed, but I'm afraid my black dogs and naughty scratching cat would ruin the upholstery!

My bedroom, as you will see from my pics, is in terrible condition. I've been vacationing, then catching up with tons of extra work, so I haven't spent enough time maintaining it. So I've saved this massive spring cleaning project for a Saturday!


  • Clean one shelf, one drawer, or two door shelves in your fridge and in your freezer today. Doing so makes your entire fridge get cleaned out once per month! We can't neglect our weekly chores just because today is a big Spring Cleaning project.
  • Tonight when I get back from dinner I will most likely flop onto the couch, tired from Spring cleaning my bedroom. While I watch the inevitable two or more TV shows this evening, I'm going to work on cleaning out my personal email inbox. Is yours as stuffed with unneeded emails as mine?
  • If you're Spring Cleaning your bedroom today too, be sure to let yourself celebrate your efforts by sleeping in tomorrow!
  • It's the end of the month. Let's take a moment to reflect on our past month. Did we take good care of ourselves? Of our families? Accomplish some goals? Did we read our book club books, write in our journals, give ourselves time to paint or create? Did we work towards living our loveliest lives? What might we change next month?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Spring Cleaning the Master Bedroom

I often refer to my kitchen as the heart of my home or the most important room. But now that I think about it, the bedroom is pretty dang important. I sleep and read in here, and (more on this later), do about half my workday in this room.

This is the way my bedroom looks in the late Spring and throughout summer. I have a blue/silver/white flowery bedspread and pillows, and I've taken down my wintertime heavy burgndy velvet curtains and replaced them with shimmery silvery blue curtains. I'm not very good at making my bed, but I admit when it's made nicely I look forward to bedtime more. And naptime!

Most of my master bedroom will be easy to care for today since I've been dusting and decluttering regularly. I recently replaced hideous old mauve 1980s lamps with these inexpensive Home Depot silver ones.

Vacuuming will be tough though. I have one bed, two pet beds, two lamps, two nightstands, a small clock, a bookshelf, a hope chest, a floor lamp, and an office chair and desk in my bedroom. For regular vacuuming, I just lift up the pet beds and vacuum around things, occasionally vacuuming up crumbs from under my office chair. This is Spring Cleaning though, so I want to move all the furniture to vacuum under it and wipe the baseboards behind everything.

Also, I have a big problem area - my hope chest is littered with my current reading list. My current reading list is a bit out of control. There are only three or four books I'm reaching for at bedtime. The rest are some children's books I need to scan and put away elsewhere, or books from the library I'm researching for possible future Lovely Living University classes.

I really should not have a home office in my bedroom. Supposedly one relaxes and sleeps better without thinking about work. Right now though, I sleep just fine (once I drag myself to bed too-late at night). I live alone, so I'm not sharing a bedroom or bothering anybody else with my whirring desktop computer fans. My playroom gets too much use and enjoyment from nieces and nephews, so I'm not ready to turn it into an office; and I love having two guest bedrooms on offer, not just one. For now, I'll leave things be.

After I'm done vacuuming, dusting baseboards and moving furniture back, I'll dust the wooden furniture. This is Spring Cleaning, so I will want to open up the nightstands, hope chest and desk and sort, declutter, and put things away in an organized fashion. I recently tackled the bookcase and sorted, donated, or sold extra books. This will save me time today - just dust it and move on!

Next I'll want to dust the lamps and clock, wipe down wall switches, dust the ceiling for cobwebs, and use wood cleaner on the front and back sides of the bedroom and master bathroom doors. I just recently put up the curtains, so don't need to worry about laundring them, but I'll take a quick moment to wipe and clean the two bedroom windows and their sills.

I'm saving my closet for another day, and counting my vanity area as part of the bathroom.

I expect my project to take nearly two hours because of all the furniture moving.

I'll finish by burning one of my nice Spring candles, relaxing on my nicely made bed, and contemplating any future improvements I might want to make to the room or its furnishings. I still do not own a headboard for this bed, so need to think about budgeting for that. My mattress and box spring are only a year old, so I won't have to worry about replacing them for many years to come. I'm tempted to put another bookcase in the room, to help with my cluttery hope chest situation. Perhaps I'll allow myself to do that someday when I've removed my home office from this area. Meanwhile, my computer desk is big, ugly and clunky, so I might put saving up for a smaller, prettier replacement a priority for this year.

Are you going to sleep in a restful, decluttered, clean and fresh bedroom tonight?

LOVELY BLOGS: The Glamorous Housewife

"Rediscovering the lost art of homemaking." I am really enjoying this blog right now! "The Glamorous Housewife seeks to teach women how to be inspired and motivated in their daily lives as proud homemakers by using the best tips and tricks from the past to influence our futures, and we try and do it with a large dose of humor because being a housewife should be fun, not drudgery!" Amen, sister.

According to this blog, the Glamorous Housewife takes pride in her role as CEO of the household; knows routines are the foundation of a well-run household; believes fresh flowers are a necessity; and takes care of herself along with her family.

Recent posts include fashion tips, glamorous recipes, ideas for toddler-friendly parties, ideas for how to add simple glamour to your table, and some lovely crafty DIY tips.

LOVELY BOOKS: The Forest Feast for Kids

As a vegetarian who lives near vast woods and has a foresty area in my backyard, I especially enjoyed "The Forest Feast" cookbook. I'm delighted to get ahold of the sequel, a cookbook that teaches kids how to make easy, kid-friendly foods and throw creative parties. This book celebrates "rustic simplicity." Besides the recipes, there are kitchen safety tips and explanations of culinary terms. The photography is gorgeous, too!

The Forest Feast for Kids, on Amazon

LOVELY BOOKS: The Hostess of To-Day

You already know how I adore these vintage homemaking books. This one was published in 1899. There are chapters on Dinners and Luncheons; 5 O'Clock Functions, Evening Collations (whatever those are!), and Chafing Dish Creations. You'll likely enjoy the charming illustrations that appear now and then. Peeking at the recipes, I find them simple and easy to accomplish. It's fascinating glimpsing into what was thought as nice dinner party fare over 115 years ago!

The Hostess of To-Day, at The Internet Archive


I wanted to show you these odd garden pods. They're quite unusual, and I thought it might be diverting to explore the website a bit. These are very expensive, and I can't imagine why one would want to spend time inside them if you happened to be in a beautiful garden or back yard. Perhaps because of bugs, or if you possessed a severe addiction to modern styles? Let me know what you think of these in the comments below!

Garden Pods, at John

LOVELY MOVIES: Love & Friendship

I'm already in the mood for another Jane Austen movie, so I'm eagerly looking forward to this adaptation of "Lady Susan." It premieres in US theaters on May 13, and stars Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. Can't wait to see their costumes!

Love & Friendship Trailer, at Apple

Love & Friendship, at IMDB


Little Changes That Will Make You a Happier Person (PopSugar)

Mozzarella Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Roll-Ups (Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice)

Our Verdict on "My Street Food Kitchen" (A Cookbook a Month)

Pineapple Cinnamon Margarita (Spicy Southern Kitchen)

Pine Nut Tarte (La Petite Paniere)

Spicy Cucumber Gin and Tonic (Hos Josephine)

Strawberry Rhubarb Margarita (Nutmeg Nanny)

--Copyright 2016 Lovely Living

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring Cleaning: Laundry Room

Water Hyacinth Laundry Hamper, from The Container Store

Tonight I'm going out to dinner. When I get home, I hope to relax with a little binge-watching marathon of Game of Thrones Season 1, thanks to HBO's free Preview Weekend.

I don't want to come home to a chore, but don't want to skip out on my Spring Cleaning, either. So tonight I'll choose an easy room of my house to Spring Clean: My laundry room! It won't take me even a whole hour to finish my project before I leave for dinner.


  • Need to scoop out the litter box? Or is it time to fully empty it into the trash, clean and sanitize the box and start over with fresh litter?
  • Ready and refresh your home for the weekend. Empty trash cans from kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms; take out recycling; empty or fill dishwasher; remove any vases of dead flowers; declutter coffee table and dining table as needed.
  • Need to sort mail or organize your kitchen desk or the space you pay bills on?
  • Finalize your socialization plans for this weekend. You might be able to arrange some short-notice fun for tomorrow or Sunday if you call, text or Facebook your friends now!

TODAY'S PROJECT: Spring Cleaning the Laundry Room

Caldrea "Tangelo Palm Frond" Laundry Detergent, at Citron Shop

The laundry room is a very important part of my house. It enables me to wear clean clothes, bathe and dry myself with clean towels, sleep in refreshing sheets, and remove pet odors from blankets, rugs and other textiles around my home!

Tonight I'll make sure my laundry room is tidy, organized, and well maintained. I am not strong enough to pull out the washer and dryer to sweep or mop under them by myself, so that will have to wait a couple weeks. Meanwhile, here's a list of my tasks for tonight's project:

  • Wipe down walls and light switch, dust ceiling fan
  • Wipe the top and front of washer and dryer
  • Wash the window and dust windowsill
  • Sort and organize my laundry detergents and the toilet paper and paper towels I store in here
  • Get rid of unused laundry items (starch spray I never use, etc)
  • Remove cleaning products from the cupboard; sort and organize; dust cupboard inside and out; replace supplies in an organized manner
  • Schedule a cleaning of my dryer vent and hose - I haven't done this for a few years, and a professional company doesn't cost much. Cheaper than losing my house to a dryer fire!
  • Wipe off the top of the pet food storage container I keep in this room.
  • Refold and organize the towels and rags I keep in this room for cleaning supplies. I have plenty of towels and rags, so should discard the five worst so my laundry room doesn't get cluttered.
  • Mop the laminate flooring in laundry room.
  • Dust both sides of the wooden door leading into the laundry room, and dust the frame.
  • Fold and put away a load of towels that's been sitting on top of the dryer for a couple of days.

I'm trying to look ahead to the future in each room I'm cleaning this Spring Cleaning cycle. What might need to be replaced in a few years? My washer and dryer work just fine right now, but are already 14 years old. I need to start a small budget to save for their replacements which I might need several years down the road. The shelving and cupboard in here are fine, and the baseboards look nice, but I'm noticing some painting issues. When I had almost my entire house repainted inside and out two years ago, I stupidly had them skip the laundry room. I might put it on a list of rooms that need repainting two or three years from now. Another thing to save up for!

On Sunday when I'm watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones and doing laundry, I'll have a nice clean and organized space to work in!

Do you need to Spring Clean your laundry room? What difficulties might you run into? What would you want to prioritize?

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Deep Eddy's Peach Vodka

I'm excited to try Deep Eddy's new peach flavored vodka. I think it will be perfect for serving at my outdoor parties in summertime. I'd probably put it in 7-up or in tonic, with a couple fresh peach slices and mint leaves in each glass. I'm sure it would taste nice as a near-frozen shot, or sipped cold, too!

Deep Eddy Peach Vodka

LOVELY BLOGS: A Working Pantry

The main focus of A Working Pantry is building, using and maintaining a well-stocked pantry. She also writes about frugality. The author grew up helping with the animals on a farm, assisting with the family's large gardens, and learning from her mother and grandmother how to can and preserve foods.

Recent posts include making her own potpourri; propagating fig trees; and there are several posts about her Pantry Challenges.

LOVELY BOOKS: Housekeeping for Little Girls

Here's a 1912 book that provides an intriguing peek at early 20th century attempts to educate girls on the care of a home. (I'm fairly certain no little girl at the time dove into this book eagerly!)

Chapters include "A Well Kept Home," "A Dainty Living-Room," "An Attractive Upstairs," "Law and Order in the Kitchen," and "Holiday Preparations." The second half of the book deals with food preparation, planning economical meals, and the chemistry of cleaning.

I might not read this cover to cover, but I'll spend a bit of time tonight enjoying browsing through the antique pages here. What do you think of this book?

Housekeeping for Little Girls, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY DISHES: Crate and Barrel's Silly Tiki Dishes

These new tiki themed appetizer plates make me chuckle. I thought the whole tiki craze was over as of, say, 2005. Apparently Crate and Barrel thinks it's time to dip a toe into the tiki waters again. Even though I don't personally decorate with tiki themed items, I wanted to show you in case you got a giggle out of these too. Perhaps you know someone who still has a thatched tiki-style bar in their backyard who might appreciate your gift of a few fun plates.

Tiki Plates, at Crate and Barrel


BBQ Cauliflower Pizza (The Toasted Pine Nut)

The Best Time of Day to Complete Your To-Do List (Time)

Blood Orange Mojito (Homemade Interest)

Blueberry Rhubarb Cardamom Crunch Bars (Kellie's Food to Glow)

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (The Spice Adventuress)

Creamy Three Cheese Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas (Host the Toast)

Grilled Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Pie (Therese Elgquist)

How to Add Year-Round Colour to Your Food Garden (Rose Hips and Rhubarb)

How to Break Free of Chasing Perfection (Best Friends for Frosting)

Masala Chai, Raspberry and Pistachio Layer Cake (Lili's Cakes)

Mexican Quinoa Salad (Never Homemaker)

Pappardelle Pasta with Burnt Butter and Mushroom Sauce (Cooking from the Heart)

Pea Parmesan Risotto (Nutmeg Nanny)

Raspberry Rose Margaritas (Freutcake)

Road Trip Essentials (Successful Homemakers)

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Pepper Salad (Boastful Food)

Spiced Cauliflower with Peas (Milk and Bun)

Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks (The Happier Homemaker)

The Ultimate Grilled Portobello Burger (The Roasted Root)

You Can Drink Rose Wine from a Can This Summer (Time)

--Copyright 2016 Lovely Living

Spring Cleaning: Guest Room #1

Peacock Pillow, from Pier 1 Imports

Tonight is a worknight, so my Spring Cleaning project will hopefully only take an hour or so. I plan to clean and refresh my downstairs guest room - the one we call the Peacock room. I don't have any guests arriving until later in May, but now their room will be fresh and lovely for them.


  • Let's brighten our homes a bit with some inexpensive tulips or daisies, easily picked up at our next grocery shopping trips.
  • Do you have pots of colorful flowers on your front porch or doorstep, and on your deck or patio?
  • 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 upcoming weekend.
  • Do you have any library books due to be returned this week? Any movies you rented this week from Redbox that need to be returned today?
  • I forgot to take my vitamins all week until just now. How about you?
  • Any birthday scoming up next week - the last week of the month - that you should be planning to call, send a gift or card, or order flowers for?


My guest room doesn't have much furniture - a bed, two nightstands, a bookcase, and a small storage dresser. There are two lamps, and quite too many decorative pillows. I figure the hardest part of my project today will be moving the bed to vacuum under it.

Here's my Spring Cleaning checklist for this room today:

  • Febreze the curtains
  • Wash windows and windowsill
  • Wipe lamps
  • Remove books from bookshelf; dust bookshelf and move it out of the way for vacuuming
  • Dust and remove nightstands and storage dresser from the room
  • Move bed and vacuum room thoroughly; replace bed
  • Launder bedding so it's fresh and not dusty
  • Dust walls and ceiling with broom to get rid of any cobwebs
  • Wipe down walls and light switches as needed
  • Dust door and closet doors with wood cleaner
  • Remove the two framed posters in the room, dusting them and the wall behind them before replacing
  • Empty closet of any clutter
  • Replace furniture
  • Make bed with clean sheets
  • Open window and air out room for a few hours

I don't own this "Dawn" bedding set from Pottery Barn, but wish I did!

After I'm done cleaning and putting the room back together, I'll put some thought into any maintenance that needs to be done in the room (possibly replacing an unattractive heater vent with a newer one). I'll also think about any furniture, decor or textile upgrades I might want to budget for in the future. I'm definitely saving up for a headboard or frame to set the bed in so it's not just sitting on the floor. The bed itself is only a year old so I'll get many years of use out of it for my guests.

I'm not happy with the two nightstands, but that's not crucial at the moment. I love both lamps and all the peacock themed room decor. I'll want to swap out some of the books in the future for newer ones. The carpeting is new, so I won't have to worry about that for about ten years.

If you have a guest room, put some thought today into how you could improve it for your guests, what you might want to purchase for it in the years to come, and any decor you might want to edit out of it. If you haven't spent the night in your own guest room, I highly recommend it. That really helps you know what the experience will be like for your guests!

LOVELY BLOGS: The Modern Day 50s Housewife

This blogger is taking a break from blogging for the summer, but we can still enjoy her archive of useful past posts. The current post is her thoughtfully designed Spring Cleaning Checklist.

You might also enjoy her past posts on How to Survive on One Income, her posts on Old Fashioned Parenting, and her collection of Old Fashioned Recipes.

I'm looking forward to reading her blog when she returns later this summer!

LOVELY BOOKS: The Creative Cottage

This book came out recently, back in March. It showcases thirteen American cottage style homes and their owners. I'm currently fascinated with cottages myself, and would love to have this on my coffee table for guests to enjoy thumbing through. It would be so fun to peer into the cottages and learn a bit about their eclectic owners.

The Creative Cottage, on Amazon

LOVELY BOOKS: Sunny Rhymes for Happy Children

This 1917 book is so darling. You can read it for free on the Internet Archive. It might be nice to download onto your Kindle or tablet so you could read a couple quick rhymes to entertain a fussy niece or nephew at a restaurant. The illustrations for each rhyme are sweet and colorful. Enjoy!

Sunny Rhymes for Happy Children, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY DISHES: Sur la Table's French Garden Collection

I cannot think of any excuse to buy any more sets of dishes. If I could, I'd love to serve my outdoor meals this summer on these! I'll have to console myself with the thought that once you put food on the plates, their pretty script and designs won't show anyway.

French Garden Collection, at Sur la Table

LOVELY HOME AND GARDEN: Little Cottage Greenhouse Playhouse

Alright, I can't afford to put this in my backyard, and likely, you can't either! Let's spend a moment drooling and dreaming. It doesn't get cuter than this - a playhouse made to look like a greenhouse? Too adorable.

Little Cottage Greenhouse Playhouse, on Amazon


Alphabet Pie, 1941 (The Mid-Century Menu)

Easy French Toast Casserole (Love From the Oven)

Easy Mac and Cheese Muffins (The 2 Seasons)

Italian Sausage Sloppy Joe (Our Eating Habits)

Mediterranean Omelette (Bakers Royale)

Mozzarella Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (Champagne and French Bulldogs)

Perfect Garlic Bread (Smitten Kitchen)

Roasted Beets with Dill and Chive Yogurt Dressing (The Bitten Word)

Spring Chicken Pasta Salad (Hungry Girl Por Vida)

Spring Roll Salad (101 Cookbooks)

White Lazy Lasagna (Joy Filled Eats)

Wild Berry Lavender Layer Cake (Annie's Eats)

--Copyright 2016 Lovely Living

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring Cleaning, Interrupted!

Getting my back yard ready for this summer's outdoor living and entertaining!

I had fully intended to begin my Spring Cleaning on April 1st and be done two weeks later. However, my April 2nd birthday found me at a lovely hotel in downtown Seattle, enjoying a sunny balcony, dinners and wine with friends, walks around the city, and a cold when I got back home. Being sick for a week made me behind on work and cleaning, so I never really caught up!

I do want to complete my Spring Cleaning this year - it's important to me and I don't dislike doing it. My plan going forward is to do one room of my house a day for the remainder of April.

There are 11 days left in the month, and I have 11 rooms in my home! I'll do the easier rooms on weeknight work nights, and save the bigger projects for later.

This scheme doesn't take into account my garage, which needs sorting, or my back yard, which I've already set up and tidied and decorated for summer outdoor living.

I'll show you what I'm doing for my Spring Cleaning every day - perhaps you'll share some tips on how your 2016 Spring Cleaning went too!

This year when I'm doing my Spring Cleaning, I want to prioritize thinking about the future, improving my home room-by-room, and living a lovely (yet moderate, sustainable) life. As I work in each room, I'll note things that need to be repaired, repainted, replaced, or upgraded. What's something I can do to make the room more enjoyable and livable for me and my guests; and what's something I might do to maintain the value of my home for when I sell it several years down the road? I'll make a list of things I might want to budget for - not just the money to do it, but the time to attend to it.


Method Home's "Tangerine" Air Refresher

  • Do any mid-week laundry that may have piled up. You'll keep ahead a bit so your entire weekend won't be a laundry fest!
  • Open windows and doors to let in fresh air, if possible.
  • I'm spraying some couches, rugs and curtains with fabric refresher; and making a pass through the bathrooms with air freshener. I'll use a light hand though, and let the fresh air coming in my windows do the rest!
  • A few mid-week quick cleaning tasks will keep your home fresh through the rest of this workweek. Empty trash and recycling as needed; declutter dining or breakfast table; straighten towels and rugs in bathrooms; sweep kitchen.
  • Is the weather nice enough where you are to eat outside? I'm trying to eat as many meals outdoors as possible before the rains come again to Seattle this weekend.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Spring Cleaning - Family Room

Torrens Bar Cabinet, at Pottery Barn

My family room gets a LOT of use. Here's where we watch TV and movies; read magazines; cuddle dogs; and lounge around. This room leads outside to the dog patio, so there's more wear and tear on the flooring. There are muddy footprints to wipe up, dog hair to get off the couch they run past on their way in and out, more spills and stains on the furniture from drinking wine and other beverages down here.

Tonight's a worknight, so I've chosen this room because I believe I can get everything done in under two hours. Plus, as a bonus, I can watch one of my favorite shows ( "The Americans") while I finish up!

Here's my plan for this room tonight:

  • Wash windows and windowsills; Febreze curtains. Not yet time to swap out the heavy velvet curtains for my light white cotton summer ones.
  • Move the furniture I can move on my own (couch, armchair, side table, television stand, speaker stands, floor lamp) and sweep.
  • Next, vacuum thoroughly, paying special attention to the area rug.
  • Vacuum couch and armchair.
  • Take covers off dog beds; put dog beds outside in the sunshine to air while laundering pet bedding.
  • Wipe down mantel; replace spent candles with fresh ones; dust candle holders; dust photo over mantel.
  • Replace furniture.
  • Dust speaker stands; side table; DVD bookcase; floor lamp; TV and stand; and bar cabinet.
  • Wipe down walls and light switches as needed.
  • Open up bar cabinet to dust inside, sort and organize the wine and alcohol I keep in there. Make note of anything I should pick up at the store to restock my supplies.
  • Wipe down the steel ice bucket insert and replace in bar cabinet.
  • Get out a ladder and dust the huge framed poster that sits over the bar.
  • While watching TV, realphabetize DVDs. (Yes, I'm old fashioned and still own DVDs!)
  • Wash and dry the lacquer tray that holds my beverage and remote controls.
  • Finish by burning spring scented candles that I enjoy! All done!

Improvements for the Family Room:

Aisha Printed Rug, at Pottery Barn

My area rug isn't quite big enough for the room. Since it fits in a nearby guest room and wouldn't be wasted if I replaced it, I might start saving up for a bigger, slightly higher quality rug for this room. I'll sure appreciate it, soft and warm under my feet during Seattle's cold autumns and winters!

I have a few spots that need to be touched up with paint; the windowsills need to be completely repainted; a curtain rod hangs a bit crooked; and my gas fireplace needs to be serviced (but is safe and operational). I can't think of any lifestyle upgrades I'd want to make in this room - my TV is big enough, I have a surround sound system, the right amount of DVDs, and love my bar cabinet I saved up for and bought last year. The couches in this room used to sit upstairs in the sun and are a bit faded looking, but I think I can go a few years before replacing them. This room is usually dark so probably nobody would notice the fading! The important thing is they are comfy and easy to clean!

Next time somebody strong comes over, I'll ask them to help me quickly move my bar cabinet to sweep and dust under it.

Tonight I'll be relaxing at the end of the evening in a clean and cozy family room, dogs at my feet, magazine and glass of wine nearby, candles burning and fresh smelling evening air coming through the windows!

LOVELY BLOGS: Sweet Peas and Saffron

Denise presents this wonderful blog on creating healthy meals from scratch, as a result of being a graduate student while she was also the mom of a toddler. She specializes in one-pot, slow cooker 30-minute meals, and meals you can make in under 45 minutes.

Recent posts include 24 Creative Spiralizer Recipes; Greek Yogurt Key Lime Cheesecakes; Slow Cooker Creamy Potato, Corn and Jalapeno Soup; and Honey Lime Shrimp Avocado Taco Salad. (I don't even like shrimp and that looks so yummy!)

Sweet Peas and Saffron on Facebook

LOVELY BATH AND BODY: Neroli & Orchidee

This is my current favorite fragrance for Spring! It's soft, but not powdery; and features enough of my favorite citrus scent (the Neroli part) that I really enjoy using this shower gel. I also have the lotion, but skipped the Eau de Toilette since I own enough perfume already. Next time you're at your local mall, run in and take a sniff and see if you like it. (Be careful of overly zealous pushy salesladies though, L'Occitane is bad lately!)

Neroli & Orchidee, at L'Occitane

LOVELY BOOKS: Bird Children: The Little Playmates of the Flower Children

You know how much I love leafing through these vintage children's books online! This one is from 1912 and was by Elizabeth Gordon. The vintage illustrations are so charming! I thought this might be a nice brief Springtime diversion for you, perhaps during your tea break today. My favorite is the swan, but wait until you see the peacock!

Bird Children, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY BOOKS: Pretty Party Cakes

"Sweet and stylish cookies and cakes for all occasions." Here's a nice baking book you can download and read on your computer, your Kindle, or your phone. Written by Peggy Porschen, this was published in 2005. Enjoy browsing through the gorgeous photographs of baked goods!

Pretty Party Cakes, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY GIFTS: DIY Spring Garden Gift Box

What an adorable way to present someone with garden seeds this Spring! Simply purchase the downloadable PDF file from this seller in The Netherlands, then print out and assemble as many of these cute gift boxes as you need. Perhaps you're giving your gardening-obsessed mother or mother-in-law some flower seeds for Mother's Day?

Spring Garden Gift Box, on Etsy


Crispy Paneer Fritters (Honest Cooking)

Greek Fennel Fritters (Olive Tomato)

How to Make the Lighest, Crispiest Waffles (The Kitchn)

Taco Stuffed Avocados with Chipotle Cream (Foodie Crush)

Tangerine Bourbon Sidecars (Eating Well)

Tantalizing Tangerine Crepes (Monastery Kitchen)

Vegan Lentil Kale Fritters (One Green Planet)

--Copyright 2016 Lovely Living

Lovely Living on Facebook

Maintaining a Pleasant and Peaceful Home With Two-Minute Cleaning Stints

My dining table is kept ready for someone to do homework, eat a meal, or for me to host an impromptu dinner!

One of the reasons my Spring Cleaning can be relaxed and slightly enjoyable, is I'm not starting from a place of mess and chaos.

I keep up with my home to a point I'm able to entertain on a whim, spontaneously throwing a dinner party because my home is already ready for it.

I don't have to spend every weekend cleaning (though I definitely tackle a bigger project on most Saturdays and Sundays) because I do tiny things every day to help keep the house in a lovely, livable condition.

Earl Grey Supreme Tea, by Harney & Sons, on Amazon

My secret weapon is Two-Minute Cleaning. It stems from my addiction to hot tea (usually Earl Grey). Every morning I stand around my kitchen for two minutes, waiting for my mug of water to microwave. (I'd like to tell you I take the time to boil a kettle and make a proper pot of tea in the morning, then serve it to myself in a dainty teacup, but that lovely fantasy wouldn't be true!)

Long ago I decided to make use of that two minute period of time (I drink 4 of 5 cups of hot tea a day during spring, fall and winter, so those minutes add up!) I discovered that in the two minutes it takes to boil my mug of water in the microwave, I can completely empty the dishwasher. Or sweep or mop my kitchen's not-too-large floor. I can clear and sanitize my kitchen counters the next time I come in; or fill the dishwasher and still have a minute left to take out the trash and recycling.

I so enjoyed having a constantly clean kitchen, I extended my two minute cleaning to my evening television watching habits. Though I have a Tivo that lets me skip commercials, I started letting the show play and jumping up to clean or do a quick chore during the two (or three!) minute commercial break.

(I don't count super easy, quick tasks like throwing a load into the laundry and starting it. That only takes 30 seconds or less!)

Here are some of the things I can get done during a two or three minute commercial break:

  • Completely vacuum my downstairs family room
  • Fold a load of kitchen towels and rags and put them away
  • Remove clutter from dining table, coffee table, family room tray table, kitchen counter, and other places it tends to accumulate
  • Run through a room of my home and tidy it, removing unnecessary items (lost socks, shoes, sloppy stacks of papers or magazines, drinking glasses), emptying the trash can, straightening cushions or pillows or throws, etc.
  • Sweep front entryway and dust entry mail table - with leftover time for decluttering!
  • Febreze curtains and couches in two rooms
  • Empty and clean out candle holders, refilling with fresh candles and lighting to make my evening more pleasant
  • Make my bed (which I hate doing!) and declutter my night stand and dresser top.
  • Sweep front porch
  • Water houseplants
  • Change a dead light bulb somewhere (I usually have one out somewhere!)

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My eyes and back can get strained from spending so much of my workday sitting (probably slouching!) staring at a computer, so I try to take a break every single hour during my workday. I stand up and stretch; pet my animals; go get more water, hot tea or iced tea; and do a quick chore. I have found a few tasks I can split up into two breaks:

  • Fold and put away half a laundry basket, saving the other half for my other break in the next hour.
  • Sweep back patio
  • Shake out all throw rugs that are in front of my doors or under pet food and water bowls
  • Remove all items from one shelf of the refrigerator, wipe it down, inspect items for freshness, and replace everything. Repeat next break!
  • Vacuum one set of stairs; saving the second set for the next break. (But some people might be annoyed having the vacuum out sitting around between chores, I know)
  • Wipe down all three bathroom counters; saving cleaning the three mirrors until the next hour's break
  • Dust dining table, chairs, buffet and windowsills in dining room

What do you think of my two-minute cleaning? Is it something you could incorporate into your life if you're an avid TV watcher like me? Or would you get frustrated at all the little interruptions and breaks, and you prefer to do a bigger chore for a longer amount of time?