Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gnome for the Holiday! A Tutorial

 Gnomes or Tomte or Nisse.....Oh My!
Whatever name you give them, you have to admit they are awfully cute!

I guess I am a little "GNOME obsessed" this year. 

When you see how easy it is to make your own Tomten I am sure you will want to join in the fun!

 I have always loved the wonderful book by Astrid Lindgren about the little Tomten.

These are the 8 inch versions that we made for the Festival of trees decor.

thrift store sweaters
costume wig
fiber fill
styrofoam ball
glue gun
wooden bead
  • Cut the sweater sleeve long enough to tuck into the top and bottom of the toilet paper roll.
  • Glue the styrofoam ball on top of the sweater.
  • Glue on some fiber fill and a fluffy piece of the wig.
  • Sew a triangular hat out of another sweater sleeve.  Use an area that has ribbing for the bottom of the hat.
  • Glue the hat over the ball.  Fluff the beard and trim as needed.
  • Glue the wooden bead nose very close to the edge of the hat.

After we made these Gnomes, I started to see the little creatures everywhere in all the fancy gift shops.

These are for sale on Etsy for $35.

Look!  You can buy 3 Gnomes for a mere $19.00 marked down from $24!

And this guy is super cute....but costs $19 too.

You know me....this was a challenge to see if I could DIY some little gnomes for our Christmas tree.
Instead of cardboard tubes and sweater sleeves, this version uses 3 to 4 inch chunks of birch logs.
These Tomtens are pretty fancy with their "cashmere caps" made from a worn out sweater.
The beards are made from the costume wigs.

Ahh....then I remembered that our AxMan Surplus store always carries scraps of sheepskin that must be left from cutting rugs or something!  I scored a great big piece for $3.50. I knew it would make a perfect Gnome beard!

You can certainly use the cardboard tube and sweater technique if you don't want to take the trouble to cut up a birch log.

The end result is every bit as cute!

I hope this has inspired you to create some elfin magic of your own!

Have a Wonderful Day!

Link Parties
Mila's Little Things

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Festival of Trees 2016

Every year the Sweetwater Daughter and I have the delightful task of creating a tree for the Auburn Homes Festival of Trees event.  We have so much fun designing something unique for this wonderful charity.  The theme this year was "A Moravian Woodland Christmas".  Here is our take on "A Walk in the Woods.
Sorry that the photo doesn't show how interesting all the elements were.....but I took the photo with my phone.  I guess I was more interested in doing the "job" than recording it.
The project comes with a hefty budget.  This is a big switch in thinking for actually NOT have to think "thrifty"!

Here are the elements:

 Giagantic Sugar Pine Cones
We sourced these from Mountain Farms....loved the price!  $35 for 20.

 We scored these resin deer antlers at Koehler and Dramm a wholesale floral market we use for Sweetwater Floral events.

This chocolate brown mesh ribbon was a great base for the tree design.
 These sprays of orange magnolia blossoms and artichokes were 70% off at Michaels.

No walk in the woods would be complete without some woodland creatures.
These were also 70% off at Michaels....and just the perfect touch.
Our design started with the idea of using Swedish "Tomte", the little elves that watch over the forest creatures.  We created these using Goodwill sweaters and some other interesting tricks.  Stay tuned for a post on making your own Tomtens!  But you have to admit they are pretty cute!

The Sweetwater Daughter found this 18 inch Tomten for the perfect centerpiece accent!

The last touches were sprigs of white painted birch and
some fiberfill "snow" tucked into the branches.

We so look forward to this project every year.
The planning is almost more fun than the execution!

I just hope that the tree at Sweetwater turns out as well....

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cornucopia 2016

What could be more iconic than a cornucopia at Thanksgiving?

The cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae) or horn of plenty is a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts. The horn originates from classical antiquity, it has continued as a symbol in Western art, and it is particularly associated with the Thanksgiving holiday in North America. (Wikipedia)

This is the 2016 version here at Sweetwater.
I used a collection of artificial fruits and vegetables
with bittersweet, magnolia leaves and pheasant feather accents.
It is finished off with a burlap bow.

I have blogged about arranging a cornucopia in past if you are interested in a tutorial of sorts, click here: Tips for Arranging a Cornucopia.

Probably the most important tip is to look for the horn shaped baskets at the thrift store.

Setting the Cornucopia on a tray or basket is a simple way to give your arrangement some substance.

Using a tray makes it look like the stuff is tumbling out "on purpose".

I used raffia as the fill this year.

There were enough items to fill the opening and the basket.

If you don't have as many items, you can use a block of dry floral foam and insert picks into your fruits etc.

A piece of burlap or other fabric can cover the foam block.

You know....I really believe that making something pretty is very therapuetic!

I just had to share this tutorial for a cornucopia favor made from a waffle cone!
Too Cute! 
On the to do list for sure!

Have A Wonderful Day

Link Parties
Happiness is Homemade
Create With Joy

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Texas Road Trip -Fixer Upper Fix!

A couple of weeks ago Mr. S and I took a trip to Texas.
We flew to Dallas, then drove all over the place!

I am a regular watcher of the HGTV show Fixer Upper.  It made sense to take the time to stop in Waco on our way from Dallas to Corpus Christi.  I wanted to go to Magnolia Market and see how those Silos turned out.
It was a rainy Friday morning.  There was a large crowd gathering at 10:30.  HMMM.....there didn't seem to be any dedicated parking other than some smart folks like the neighboring church who were "letting" you park for a mere $10!  Since Mr. S is less of a fan of the show....he dropped me off and went to find a spot to sit for a spell!
Let me start by saying that I am still a fan!
BUT...I left the Silo's thinking....."Wow!  Joanna and Chip are marketing geniuses who have taken advantage of the popularity of their show to create an empire!  More power to them!
It is kind of like a grown up version of the American Girl Doll phenomenon!  But hey, if you can get crowds like this to come to your store and wait in super long lines to buy stuff.....go for it!

 I enjoyed looking at all of the "stuff" and you know how much I like "stuff".  
But the check out lines were super long....
The prices were pretty high....
and I knew that I could get a lot of this stuff cheaper in other places.
Sooooo...I didn't buy anything!
Was it worth the trip?
Just remember....a trip to Magnolia isn't really a trip to a homegoods store ....
it's a trip to Disneyland for homeowners who love HGTV.
Check out these posts from other fans if you need more of Fixer-Upper Fix.....


The Magnolia Market Website

This was a fine side-trip and then we were on to other adventures!

 Aransas Beach  (Mustang Island) was a wonderful way to spend some 90 degree days!
Those $6 chairs from Walmart were a bargain!

This is my idea of tailgating!
The San Antonio Riverwalk was beautiful!

We had a wonderful Autumn Road trip.....

And just so you know....there isn't a bit of SHIPLAP at Sweetwater!
I am looking forward to the new season of Fixer Upper!
I can say....BEEN THERE...DONE THAT!

Have a Wonderful Day!
Link Parties

Sunday, October 23, 2016

How to Clean Cast Iron

The pots and pan cupboard here at Sweetwater is really pretty basic.
We have a set of Calphalon cookware that has been around for a lot of years.
We also have some great cast iron pans that are real work horse pieces.
These have been around for even more years.

 These pans, a frying pan, a round griddle and a reversible double burner sized griddle get a fair amount of use because of their versatility.

A well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is naturally non-stick. ...

Cast iron cookware retains heat — that is, they stay hotter —

Cast iron pans can be used on the stove top as well as in the oven.

And did you know that cooking with cast iron pots and pans can boost your iron intake.

These lovelies DO have some down sides!
They are super heavy.....and since the handles get have to be pretty careful.
They need to be seasoned well and cleaned carefully to retain the non-stick surface provided by that seasoning.

Read this article from Lodge, the premier maker of cast iron pans to learn how to season a new cast iron pan.

 We store our cast iron cookware on the shelves in the basement.  I went to get my favorite pan the other day and....
It looked like THIS!
Mr. S told me that it was okay....and that I should just give it a coating of oil and heat it up!
BUT....UGH! to the GOOGLE!

So Simple!
All that is necessary are just two "ingredients" and a little elbow grease 

A potato cut in half....
A hefty amount of salt.....

I was amazed at how the moisture from the potato and the salt rubbed away every bit of rust.

 There was still some of the "old seasoning" left, but a little oil and some heat couldn't hurt.

A 10 minute project well worth it!
Now....I just have to take some time and do the other cast iron pieces....
Another day....Another project!

Doesn't this just make you want to go cook some eggs and bacon?

Have A Wonderful Day!