Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Read-A-Loud List!

You'd Better Watch Out!
You'd Better Not Pout!
You'd Better Not Cry!
I'm Telling You you Why!

The Sweetwater Retired Librarian  Is Blogging Today!

I've Made You A List...
I checked it twice....
These Holiday Themed Books are really Nice!

Enough with the lame Christmas Carol Parody....
 This is essentially a repost from several years ago....but the booklist is still relevant!
I have added a couple of titles that have become favorites since the original post!

On to the list of books.... Whether you are a kid or a kid at heart...
one of the best treats of the season is a cozy spot on the couch and read a loud time!









The Christmas Wish is the most beautiful book!  The story of a little girl on a quest to be one of Santa's Elves is very sweet....but it is the photographs that are so amazing.

The book was written by the little girl's mom and the photos taken by her father.

This looks to become one of those classic books much like The Polar Express!
I tried to buy this last year and it was sold out everywhere....but it is now on it's way from Amazon....I can't wait for it to arrive!











The Cajun Night Before Christmas by "Trosclair" and illustrated by James Rice is a book that makes me want to have a Cajun accent.  

Take the traditional Night Before Christmas poem and have Santa dressed in muskrat from his head to his toes, pile his skiff high with toys, and hitch it to eight friendly flying alligators.....and you will have some "bowl full of jelly" laughter!

There are some fun versions on You Tube if you want to hear the tale with a genuine accent!


 Now on to the oldie but goodies!

Jan Brett is famous for her Christmas/Winter Themed books....Don't miss these!


When a little Reindeer Herder thinks she needs to be bossy....and this doesn't sit so well with her charges....She has to figure out something else so they will be ready to help Santa!   Who knows....maybe you know a bossy pants who might learn something from the story!


This is a classic  Jan Brett story....all the animals are beautifully drawn and the secondary story found in the illustrated borders is a fun discovery!



 More Jan Brett with the Gingerbread Baby and Friends




A little different take on the classic story with illustrations so beautiful that they make you hungry!








Don't miss Jan Brett's Website either!
Here you will find coloring pages, videos, and hours of fun activites that relate to her wonderful books











I always bring along my almost antique Gingerbread Boy when I read these stories....














And Patricia Polacco....what a story teller she is!

I especially love how she weaves tales that have multi-cultural themes without being preachy about it!

In the Christmas Tapestry, we see love and generosity played out in a holiday story....a true connection to what the season is all about!

Oh and I love that the tapestry comes from a second hand store!








The Trees of the Dancing Goats is a story of friendship as well as a lovely way to highlight some of the wonderful Hanukkah traditions.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah....this is a true example to show the miracle that comes from giving and sharing.






 The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is another magical tale.
If your kids say "I saw the movie"....tell them that the book is WAY better!

The illustrations are amazing....and why the book is a Caldecott Winner....



The book with the addition of an antique looking bell makes a wonderful hostess gift for a family....



While not a "Christmas" Story....Shel Silverstein's book The Giving Tree should make all of us stop and think....

This is a finely wrought tale of the meaning of gifts....and giving!





The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren of Pippi Longstocking fame is a lyrical vision of the dark winter nights in the far north....
and the magical little creature who watches over the cold and wintry wonderland that is Sweden!





My own little Tomtens join the story and make it even more special!

It just wouldn't be Christmas without our favorite Christmas books waiting to be read!
The collection continues to grow....and grow and grow!

 Remember.... if you want to be thrifty....or love the library like I do....

Over the highway and through the town...
To the local Library You need to go!
(oh yeah...now I am REALLY done with the song parodies)

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fast And Simple Table Decor!

Dining Table Centerpieces are always a bit of a conundrum for me!

The decor needs to be something that can be on display when the table is not being used....

The decor needs to be something that doesn't get in the way when we are actually using the table for dinner....

The decor needs to be something that is long lasting....

This is my solution this year!

These hurricane glass lanterns are something that I have had around for a long time!
I had three of them.....and then one crashed to the floor this summer!
The Sweetwater Daughter to the rescue!  
She found Three at Goodwill and donated them to me!
Do the math and now I have a nice set of FIVE!

Putting them together is super simple!
The wine glass creates a pedestal to lift the votive candle.
It is clear...leaving space to add some greens and colorful accents!
(The accents I used are things from some holiday potpourri )
 Then the whole thing sits on a plate...
Making it easy to move when the center of the table is needed for dinner!
Raising the votive on the wine glass stem keeps the flame away from the greens!


Remember that I told you that my silver collection is going on a field trip this weekend?
When that happens....my dining room shelves will be pretty bare!
I want to put the lanterns on the shelves to fill the space....
but don't want to have real fire that close to the underside of the shelving!
I think I am going to get some battery powered votives for them this year...
That will solve that problem!

But.....what if you don't have lovely Hurricane Chimneys?




You probably DO have some plain glass vases.....







But if you don't....you COULD go get some at the thrift store for almost nothing!




































It would be simple to create a similar look....and the solid bottom would make this even simpler!












 So if you are looking for a quick, easy and low cost solution for a tablescape......this is one possibility!

Here are some other versions I found on line for your inspiration!


Hope you are inspired to try something like this!

Have A Wonderful Day!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Simple and Elegant!

I was standing there in the middle of all of those boxes of Holiday Decorations!
Suddenly....I remembered this quote by Coco Chanel.
I decided that this would be my mantra for putting up the decorations around the house! 

For some reason...the idea of lots of "Stuff" all over the place was making me "itchy"!

The mantel in the family room was the first stab at simplicity!
Instead of lots of "stuff"...... just a giant wreath and some greenery!

Funny aside:  the wreath was up for our late Thanksgiving celebration...the family was sitting around in the family room....YIKES!...half of the twinkle lights on the wreath had burned out....AND it wasn't centered on the mirror! 
I noticed the Sweetwater Son looking at the mantel....I am sure that he was thinking that his Mother was losing it!  Hopefully he will notice that I FIXED it!


The bannisters in the family room and front entry are simpler this year too!
Instead of big fancy bows....these simple bows look nice and hopefully elegant!


Another funny aside:  The reason the greens and bows are on the underside of the bannisters....to avoid Mr. S complaining that he is "gonna fall and kill himself if he can't actually use the railings to walk down the steps!"

The mantel in the lower level is simple too!
Just a bit of greenery and the elk antlers!


The simple pine cone decoration hanging in the kitchen window has a clean look!

On Top of the refrigerator....I simply gave my "recipe pig" a bit of Christmas Cheer!

Now here is the "real" simplicity this year!
We are not having a giant tree!
Don't call me Scrooge.....but since the Sweetwater Kids have left the nest.....
decorating the big tree has fallen to me!
Mr. S does "other stuff" so I usually take on the tree decoratiing!
I can do it....but it is a lot of work....and with all the other decor around the house....
it seems almost extraneous!
When a friend brought this little tree top from the woods....it seemed the perfect solution for our tree this year!
I had scored this fun urn at Goodwill....waterproof and just the right size (and price $1.99)!


Down in the lower level....this simple galvanized tub is filled with greens, birch, pine cones, pomegranates and twinkle lights....it is "sort of" a Christmas tree!

The dining room will also stay simpler this year!
The big mirror just has a garland and the chandelier some greens and ornaments!
Would you believe it.....I am not even adding bows!


The shelves in the dining room are going to be a work in progress!
All my silver is "going on a field trip" this year.
One of my girlfriends is using it for her wedding reception the Friday before Christmas!
I guess "empty shelves" are the epitome of simple!
I will figure something out....but that is a project for another day!

Well....I hope all this simplicity actually looks elegant and NOT like I was being lazy!

Have a wonderful day!
 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On Thrifting -An Essay!

source goodhousekeeping.com
At this time of year everyone seems to be focused on saving money!

The Holidays are an expensive proposition!

I was having an interesting discussion yesterday about the attitude surrounding saving money!

It got me thinking about the difference between being PARSIMONIOUS and being THRIFTY!
Are you ready for your language lesson for the day?



par·si·mo·ni·ous
adjective \ˌpär-sə-ˈmō-nē-əs\

: very unwilling to spend money
1: exhibiting or marked by parsimony; especially :  frugal to the point of stinginess
2: sparing, restrained
par·si·mo·ni·ous·ly adverb
 Synonyms
cheap, chintzy, close, closefisted, mean, mingy, miserly, niggard, niggardly, stingy, penny-pinching, penurious, pinching, pinchpenny, spare, sparing, stinting, tight, tightfisted, uncharitable, ungenerous
 YIKES!  I don't think that I want to be PARSIMONIOUS!
But.....I do want to be THRIFTY!
thrift·y

adjective
1. using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.
Synonyms: frugal, economical, sparing, careful with money, penny-wise, provident, prudent,
Do you see the HUGE difference here?
It really is about the attitude about how you spend whatever resources you have!
Personally, I also think that it is about style!  I love beautiful things!  I love quality things.  I know that if I only shopped "retail".....I could have a FEW of those beautiful things....so I choose to be a thrifter so that I can have MORE of those things!
style

noun

1.
a manner of doing something.
Synonyms: manner, way, technique, method, methodology, approach, system, mode, form,



  Christmas Decor at Sweetwater!

Have you SEEN the prices that the retail stores are charging for centerpieces and outdoor greenery!

Beyond MY budget.....but NOT beyond what I want!

DID YOU KNOW?  Home Depot and probably other places that sell Christmas trees will let you take the greens that are cut from the bottoms of the trees....FOR FREE!

So with a little bit of planning and DYI skills...and absolutely NO $$$$....you can have lots and lots of fresh greenery for your decor!
Here are some examples from past years......



This swag was made by simply bunching the "free" greens and adding a few dried berries (Goodwill finds) and a bow!

There is no way I would invest $$$ for a swag for the window!






 Adding fresh greens to a copper bowl with a candle and some items from salvaged potpourri creates a lovely centerpiece!

Again....no $$$ just a little time and creativity!





I saw these porch decorations for sale at a nursery for $40!

They make wonderful hostess gifts.....and really only take 10 minutes to make.

Three birch logs (free from the hunting land) some pine cones, greens, and a ribbon! 

More free greens pushed into a chicken wire frame is the base for this porch light decor!  

At Sweetwater....we have FIVE front lights....can you imagine what it would cost to buy one of these for each light...

That means....without the free stuff....my poor lights would have to be NAKED for the holidays!








Back to the language lesson!
If I wanted to be PARSIMONIOUS.....I would do without....and probably feel like Mr. Scrooge before his transformation!

Instead....by being THRIFTY.....I not only have lovely things for myself....It is fun to share and create with family and friends.  
Tomorrow and Sunday I participate in  "Make and Take" Workshops where friends come together and use all this FREE and THRIFTED stuff to make their own creations!

Not to mention....when it is time to give small token gifts to friends....I can do it in STYLE for very little money but lots of thought and love!
HMMMM.....hope that gets YOU thinking of the ways that being thrifty enhances YOUR life!  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this subject!
Have A Wonderful Day! (and hope you get to Home Depot to get yourself some free greens!)

Link Parties
The Answer is Chocolate!  From My Front Porch to Yours  
I Am Not A Trophy Wife    Sunny Simple Life  
Between Naps on the Porch  Funky Polka Dot Giraffe   

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Simple Solution For Hanging Decor in the Window!

Putting up decorations in the big window over the kitchen sink has always been a challenge!
Flashback to last Christmas!
There I was crawling on the counter....
Stepping around the sink....
Holding up the big wreath and trying to securely wire it to the window frame!
YIKES....If Mr. S had seen me....he would have been scolding me big time!


I got it up there!!!

It stayed without falling down!!

It looked nice!


This year....I decided to use the big wreath on the mantle mirror....

But....
I wanted some kind of decor in this window!


It was time to call in the expert!!!

Mr. S of course!



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