Saturday, January 24, 2015

Practical and Thrifty Baby Shower Gift Ideas!




Buying a Baby Shower gift really isn't very hard!

A quick trip down the baby aisle of any store will give you lots of options....

You can go into "cute overload" in no time flat!



While every new Mom loves the cute outfits and blankets....here are some practical and thrifty gifts that might be appreciated even more!

Great gifts are those that make life easier for the new parents!
Great gifts are multiples of the things that are going to get used often!


Baby Burp Cloths

There are lots of fancy burp cloths on the market....

The reality is....they don't need to be cute....
They need to be practical....easy to wash and bleach!

CostCo sells 24 plain white terry washcloths for $10.99! I also like the packs of wash cloths at HomeGoods...6 for $4.99.  They come in colors if that is your choice.

They make perfect Burp Cloths!



 Changing Pads

These hand towels from CostCo ($15.99 for 12) are super nice.  A hand towel is the perfect size to put under baby when it is time for a change.
Again....the beauty of pure white....easy to bleach!

These towels have lots of other practical uses.....it is nice to have dedicated kitchen towels for baby items. 


Baby Toiletries
A plastic bin with a cover filled with the basic toiletries for the baby is always welcome.
, , , , , and .  The plastic bin will be useful after the "stuff" is all gone!






Breast Feeding Necessities
NO......just a MOM and a BABY are not the only things needed for breastfeeding.  New moms don't always know what they need....so if any of these breast feeding items will be wonderful to have from the start.
Breast Pads, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shells, a nursing pillow, and milk storage supplies are all necessary items to have on hand. 




Nursing Shawl
 If you can sew....this tutorial for a DYI Knit Nursing Shawl is for you.  The directions are super simple and the whole project could be made for under $10.
There are ready made options out there too.
HMMMM....I am thinking I need to get into my fabric stash and make one of these for the Sweetwater Daughter!









BOOKS
 Some people might not say that BOOKS are a NECESSITY!  I would definitely DISAGREE!
My Number One "Go To Baby Gifts" are books!  Here is a post with some great suggestions!  In fact....a fun idea for a Baby Shower t is "A Virtual Book Shower".  Simply do an evite with the address of the parents to be and ask people to send a favorite picture book!  Hopping to an online site like Amazon and ordering a book is quick and easy!  This is a nice way to have a shower which includes people who live a distance away!



Did you figure out that the ulterior motive for this post was to put super cute pictures of the Sweetwater Grandbaby on my blog?

Have a Wonderful Day!
Link Parties
It's Overflowing   

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Make A Birch Branch Heart Tutorial!


This Birch Branch wreath in this photo is one that the Sweetwater Sister-in-Law made for me long ago.  It is a perfect accent for any Valentine display.

(BTW..I found this photo on last year's post with a round up of other people's Valentine Ideas....VALENTINE IDEA POST)

 Back to the wreath tutorial....

I have a whole bin full of birch branches leftover from Christmas....
They are cluttering up the garage.....

HMMMMM....I was thinking I could make a smaller version of the Heart Wreath...

How hard could it be???
Well it turns out it was a tad bit harder than I thought....but I did figure it out (with a little help from a friend)!



 I went looking for some other versions of branches shaped into hearts...!






This one is so simple and clean looking!

I couldn't find the original website...but it looks like it is from an Etsy Shop.

This would be something fun to make with kids!
Source






























This is very similar...the little stuffed embroidered heart and ivy are sweet additions.






If you have access to Red Dogwood branches.....this would be something stunning to hang on your door....


Check out the tutorial here for this one.....

























This is the Sweetwater Birch Branch Heart!
It fits perfectly in the kitchen window!
 
When I made this yesterday.....I didn't take any pictures.....so I did another one this morning to show you the step by step process.



I started with six branches.
They are about 2 1/2 feet long....but obviously the length of the branches will determine the size of the heart....so you decide how long to make yours!


Separate the branches....Three to a side!



Cross the bottoms of the branches over  each other and wire them together with paddle wire.

Make sure the wire is VERY secure or your branches will be too floppy for you to manage the next steps.


Take the tops of each side.

I twisted and shaped each side into an arch....it will want to pull back straight....but by doing this you create some bend in the branches.


Then bring the tops together in the center top and pull down.

Wire this together too.




Here comes the tricky part....

After I wired this together....the top kept springing up and not staying in a heart shape!


I had pretty much given up....
I was considering trying to shape it by soaking the branches or steaming them...

And then....MY FRIEND CAME TO MY RESCUE,,,,

I showed her the dilemma...
I showed her the original heart wreath....
SHE NOTICED....that there was a WIRE running from the top of the heart to the bottom!



 SEE.....a piece of wire from the center top is pulled down and wound around the bottom.


Now the branches make a nicely shaped heart!


The extra twigs on the branches are woven into the heart.

I did put a couple of pieces of wire around the sides to secure the branches.







Since the paddle wire is green....and...I had some red raffia....
I tied some at top and bottom to conceal the green wire!


These hearts could be made in any size.....
....maybe a row of small ones propped on a mantel
or
....really small ones tied into a garland!

  I hope YOU have good friends who help YOU solve YOUR Problems!
Have A Great Day!

Link Parties
Eclectic Red Barn   Katherines Corner   
Kammy's Korner    
Funky Polka Dot Giraffe    
Stone Cottage Adventures  I An Not A Trophy Wife  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Indoor Garden Planter


January blahs.....we all get them!
One way to combat the dreariness of a long Minnesota winter is with house plants!

Big houseplants can get expensive.....but you can get the same impact by grouping a bunch of smaller plants together in a big container!

This good looking metal container was a Goodwill bargain.
I lined the bottom with plastic (just in case the seams aren't completely water tight) .
Then I placed  a variety of plants in smaller pots into the big container.
I was lucky to have a taller plant and one that trails a bit....



Take out containers were used to raise some the shorter plants up to the top of the container.

Then some Spanish Moss tucked all around the base of the planter hides the edges of the pots.




I was at a wonderful garden store yesterday.  I splurged on some poppy pods and dried mushrooms on sticks....$20....but I knew they would take the planter from basic to pretty special!




 Guess What!  There are actual scientific studies that show some actual health benefits that house plants can provide!



 In my never ending quest to educate you all....I found some great articles about those benefits.

This article from The Mother Nature Network has a beautiful slideshow of plants that improve your indoor environment.



"Houseplants will keep you healthier and happier. Multiple studies have found that indoor plants can offer psychological and physical health benefits,* including:
  1. improving your mood
  2. reducing fatigue
  3. lowering stress and anxiety
  4. improving performance and focus
  5. boosting healing and pain tolerance
  6. minimizing the occurrence of headaches by improving air quality
  7. easing dry skin and respiratory ailments due to dry air
Many houseplants absorb toxic substances such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, found in man-made materials that are known to “off-gas” pollutants into the air in your home, school, and office. In addition, a study done at Virginia Tech led researchers to conclude that houseplants can reduce indoor dust by up to 20%.
Indoor plants release water vapor into the air, which increases humidity. This can help improve respiratory and skin health by offsetting the drying effects of heating systems.
They also increase oxygen levels in the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen during photosynthesis."  (http://swansonsnurseryblog.com/2014/10/10/health-benefits-of-houseplants/)

SO NOW YOU KNOW!

I know that this orchid certainly improves my mood  and lowers my stress!
The light in our house seems to be just what orchids need to thrive!
This orchid is the Valentine Mr. S gave me almost a year ago!
It has been blooming ever since!
 


It is sitting on a mirror on the big ottoman in the living room.







The mirror reflects the orchid....
a nice effect I think!








I plan to spend some time making sure that there are some green plants in every room!
Very Feng Shui don't you think!

Have A Wonderful Day!
Link Parties

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sometimes it's the Small Victories!

I have been spending a bunch of time with my head in the toilet bowl lately!
Anybody know the source for this? 
NO.....thank heaven I don't have the flu!
(knock on wood....or porcelain)

I have been dealing with a pesky problem!

Yup....that dreaded lime scale ring where the top of the water in the bowl sits.

We are pretty good about keeping the toilets clean here at Sweetwater.....but over time....I am afraid to say that this lime scale thing was building up!!!

Now....I know this is NOT a huge problem....in fact it is pretty minor in the big scheme of things!

But....it was bugging me!
www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au

I made the decision that I was gonna figure out the solution and fix the problem!

I did a bit of research....always the first step in the problem solving process!  
(don't I just sound like a librarian?)

I came upon this website:

Jill's Home Remedies  and she had a way to remove the ring.....you can hop over and read about it!

But let me show you how I eliminated the ugly rings in the toilet bowls at Sweetwater!

I had all of the ingredients for the secret potion:

Borax
Vinegar
Sandpaper
I definitely had the lime scale ring in the toilet bowl!
YIKES!  I am actually a little embarrassed to show you this...
BUT....truth in blogging!


I simply poured some of the borax and some vinegar into the bowl instead of emptying the water and making the paste like in the how-to article.
I suppose it was about 1 1/2 cups of borax and 1 cup of vinegar.
I waited about 10 minutes and then got impatient....go figure!

The idea of using sandpaper on the porcelain made me nervous...
I was afraid of scratching the surface....
I started using steel wool at first....no success!
Then I remembered the sandpaper covered foam block we have...
I knew that was a nice fine grit...
I checked it out by sanding a spot WAY UP under the rim....JUST IN CASE!
Really....NO scratching...
Because it is such fine grade sandpaper.....I did need a bit of time and elbow grease!
OH MY!
LOOK!
 I would definitely claim this as a success!

I was soooo excited to show my work to Mr. S....I loved his comment:
"You know, don't you, that nobody will ever appreciate all the work you did to fix this?  But they probably would notice that it wasn't done."

If you think about it....isn't that what almost ALL housecleaning is about?

I have one more toilet bowl to go....but it will be worth it!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wall Art From A Tea Towel and an Interesting Web Site!


Calendar Art is something that has been around for a long time.....

The choices abound....whatever you love....they probably make a calendar for that!
 
 But really....Techie tools make printed calendars sort of "old school"...in fact it is an ongoing challenge to keep my electronic calendar updated!

So....you won't find hanging calendars on the walls of our house.









 Mr. S keeps his favorite "Weather Guide" calendar on the inside of a kitchen cabinet for reference. I like the fact that it is hidden away!





The picture above is a great looking tea towel printed with the 2015 Calendar that the Sweetwater Daughter bought.  She wanted it framed to hang in her laundry room.
It is framed with a simple black mat in a standard poster frame!
This makes an inexpensive and nice large piece of wall art !

The mat cutter made the process simple....but if you don't have one....you could just put the towel directly on top of the mat!

Now on to the interesting new website!
Whenever I write a post....I always do a little research to find other examples of what I am writing about.  
I was looking for other examples of Calendar Tea Towels!
I did an image search.....and kept seeing the image source as "spoonflower.com" !
These are a couple of the cute designs I found!
But it was the site that is intriguing!

Spoonflower  is a site that lets you create your own custom fabrics!
Oh WOW!




It looks like the custom printed fabrics, wall paper and gift wrap are pretty reasonably priced.  Not Target priced...but for a custom design....not bad!
  • Cotton Poplin: $20/yard ($18 with designer discount)
  • Smooth Wallpaper (previously called Wallpaper): $5 per linear foot ($4.50 with designer discount)  Opaque white paper with water-activated adhesive backing
  • Matte Gift Wrap: $15 per roll ($13.50 with designer discount) Paper with a matte finish, perfect personal touch on a thoughtful gift

Go take a look...if you are like me....it will get your creative juices flowing!
HMMMM....what should I design?

Have A Great Day!
It is -13 degrees in Minnesota.....so my goal is to stay inside and stay warm!

Link Parties
  Sugar Bee Crafts  
Coastal Charm    
Bajan Texan  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How to Transition Decor From Holiday to Winter!

I am spending my time "Un-Decking the Halls" here at Sweetwater!
I bet you are doing the same thing at your house!

As much as I love the holiday season....come New Year's Day it begins to feel like much too much of everything! I’m ready and eager to pare it all down and return to simpler "uncluttered" spaces.

The obvious Christmas themed decor is packed away safely in storage bins.....
The artificial garland and twinkle lights are "ghosts of Christmas 2014"....

Uncluttered is ONE thing.....but BARE is quite another!

 Mr. S keeps asking me if he can get rid of all the left over "Home Depot Greenery" cluttering up the garage!  I keep telling him that I still need it! 

Who says evergreens and pine cones are just for December?   NOT ME!
I intentionally keep the greenery around for the whole dreary month of January!

Here are some ways to use "bits" of the holiday to transition through the long cold days of January!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Use (UP) What You Have Challenge! Cooking Edition!

Happy New Year to Everyone!


I have been looking around the place it has come to my attention that...
  "We have too much STUFF!

Sweetwater DOES NOT look like this!
Thank Goodness....
but...
sometimes I worry that it will happen!





The definition of hoard and hoarding is:


 
 

1.a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc.:
2.to accumulate for preservation, future use, etc., in a hidden or carefully guarded place:

to hoard food during a shortage.

Hmmmmm.....I am not so sure about the carefully hidden or guarded bit....but if you look in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer here at Sweetwater.....I guess we have a hoard!
 
 "Compulsive hoarding" is a very real disorder.  A compulsive hoarder is someone having difficulty getting rid of items such that these things are filling up their living space.  I don't want to make light of this in any way.  

I am also pretty sure that I am NOT a compulsive hoarder....because about this time every year I look at all that "STUFF" and think.....I better use this up!

Friday, December 26, 2014

You CAN Reuse Swiffer Wet Jet Bottles!

A few months back I bought a Swiffer Wet Jet!
I figured pushing a button and letting the solution spray out would be easier than crawling around on my hands and knees!
It was....but I really didn't like the Swiffer cleaning solution! 
I especially didn't like it because I was told it wasn't good for my newly refinished wood floors!

WHAT I really  didn't like was the fact that the bottles of Swiffer Cleaner were NOT refillable!  
Seriously.....what marketing genius this is on Swiffer's part.....the only way to save my knees....buy their expensive stuff!
Marketing genius maybe.....but I HATE when a company "holds me hostage"!
I knew that I couldn't be the only one bugged by this!
I knew that someone out there had probably figured out a solution!
Sure enough.....YOU can refill those bottles!
Here is the link to the how to I used.....pictures and everything!  http://lifehacker.com/5717409/refill-your-swifter-wet-jet-no-special-tools-required

I bet you think that this is some super sneaky trick with the need for lots of expertise!

NOT SO MUCH!

Monday, December 22, 2014

GIft Wrapping-No Muss No Fuss!

One more gift to wrap!
It feels strange to have them all wrapped BEFORE the 24th!
It must be this whole retirement thing!  Yippee!

Are you finished with your gift wrapping?

If you still have some to do....
here is a little trick that makes a lot of sense!

This technique saves wrapping paper!
This technique makes gift opening a whole lot less messy!


I use the old traditional wrapping technique for things that won't fit in a box like this....

But these plain white shirt/sweater/robe boxes get used for almost all of the gifts if there is any way to make them fit.

Yeah....I hear you saying....what's the big deal with that....everybody uses those boxes!


But here is the little secret....notice that the cover comes off?


Instead of wrapping the whole box.....I only wrap the cover!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sweetwater Spiced Cranberry Cider Recipe!

BRRRR....yesterday was a cold, gray and foggy day!
The Sweetwater Kitchen was turned into Florist Shop for the day!
(more about that later)
You might be wondering what that has to do with Spiced Cider?

On a cold...gray....foggy morning a cup of cider certainly 
hit the spot while we worked on all those wedding flowers...

The bride does love  a cup of good strong coffee....but I thought it would be better if she didn't add too much caffeine to add to her pre-wedding jitters!

I am lucky enough to have this great Faberware Coffee Urn!
It is the perfect size....22 Cups...the perfect size for parties!

It is shiny and pretty....
It was a gift from my Mom and Dad many years ago and has seen lots and lots and lots of use!
I was going to tell you that you need to get one for yourself!
I thought maybe I would buy one for the Sweetwater Daughter and the Sweetwater Finance.....

BUT....alas they don't seem to make this one anymore..
They make a 55 cup version...but that seems to be a tad bit big!




The coffee urn was filled with
"Sweetwater Spiced Cranberry Cider" for the floral frenzy!

The "recipe" is one that I have been making for a long time...
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