Monday, December 31, 2012

Cute and SImple Match Holder!




I came across this quote that is perfect for New Year's Eve Day!!!!
 It is sort of an all encompassing resolution!!




Strike the Match.... Take Action.... Be Extraordinary!





Alas....the rest of the post isn't nearly as inspirational....but hey....it's something!
 
 I saw this cute glass match holder in one of those magazine articles with clever gifts under $25


You can order one here 
Stripe Design Group for a mere $22!


Granted....the bottles are recycle apothecary jars...but hey....I figured I could do this cheaper!!
I bought a dozen 8 oz canning jars at the grocery store one day....
I had sand paper....
I had matches....well at least I thought I had matches....



and then I mentioned the project to Mr. S.....and he reminded me that I would need "strike anywhere" matches....who knew!?
The matches we have are Strike on the Box matches!









So the project was on hold until I could find "strike anywhere" matches....not so easy it seems.   Finally, I ordered 3 boxes for $5 from Amazon....with $4 shipping...don't you hate that!






In the meantime.....we were getting a little worried about an odd noise we kept hearing from the rear of our car....sort of an electronic pinging sound.....we couldn't figure it out....it didn't happen all the time....just once in a while!!!

Okay...you are probably wondering what this has to do with my match holder project?
I know I sometimes ramble on and on and on.....but this really is related to the project!!!

We finally figured out what the funny noise was.....I had left the canning jars on the floor of the back seat.....when the temperature in the car changed.....the pressure cap on the canning jars kept popping!!!!

Now back to the project!!!!

 

 The parts were all assembled....

matches

jars

sandpaper

Gorilla Glue






Circles of  sandpaper were easily attached them with some mounting adhesive.  
Using the "wrong" side of the lid made a nicer surface when it was glued to the screw top!




The Gorilla Glue didn't bond right....so out came the trusty glue gun! ....it worked perfectly....





The little gift tags are tied on with a bit of raffia.....and there you have it!!!!



10 bucks for 12 jars.....
9 bucks for matches....counting the shipping and handling....
Sandpaper....we had....but I suppose I used about a dollars worth....

So each one of the set me back about $2.....not bad....
And....
Figuring out what was making the funny noise in the car before we made an appointment at the repair shop.....saved us a boatload of money I am sure!!!

Now, when I go to the thrift store....I am going to keep an eye out for recycled apothecary jars....or something similar.......and I can replicate the match holder even more closely!!!

 



Have a Wonderful New Year's Eve.....






Friday, December 28, 2012

ANOTHER Cooking Post...what's up with that?

So I know I don't write too many cooking posts....
remember....
 But we are having a party on Saturday....

That means I HAVE to cook....
Really...I don't mind....in fact it can be fun....sort of!!!

The party is a tradition....
Sort of shocking, as we invite BOTH sides of the family...
For the SAME party.....
Risky?
Not so much!
It is always a great gathering!!!



The menu this year is simple!

White Chicken Chili
Traditional Beef Chili
Hunter's Stew
Shredded Cheese and Sour Cream Garnish
Cornbread
Nacho Chips
Selection of Breads

Since I don't do a lot of treat baking...the guests know they need to bring their favorites!
So there will be lots of goodies to add to the table!

Now for the REAL scary part!
When I make chili....I DON'T use a recipe!
 I figure if you start with good ingredients....it will probably taste pretty good!

 

White Chicken Chili For a Crowd!
A great Make Ahead recipe for a party!

This is a take off on a recipe from Byerly's....the outstanding Minnesota grocery store chain!

Start with several packages of chicken tenders....Cost Co has big packages for not too much money!

In a large roaster....cook the chicken in lots of chicken broth and water with several chopped white onions......cook the heck out of it so that it gets totally tender....like all afternoon!

Shred the chicken with a fork so you have a big mess of chicken pieces in the broth....

Add as many cans of White Northern Beans and Butter Beans as you need to fill the roaster...the more beans...the more folks you can serve!!!

Add some cans of green chilies.....again use your judgement in terms of how spicy you want the chili....

Now for the seasoning.....some salt and cumin to taste.
We had some grilling rubs in the spice drawer....one is a Chili Lime flavor....
I sniffed it....I tasted it.....seemed like a good flavor for this recipe.....and it seems to be perfect....I added it a bit a time...just in case!

Add a roux of cornmeal and water for thickening....

Then just let it simmer covered.....again a long time.....or as long as you have time for.
I read somewhere that the secret to a good chili is to let the "pot liquor" do it's thing and add flavor to the "brew"!

I made this yesterday.....now it sits in the "extra refrigerator" on the frozen snowy deck....

waiting to be reheated on Saturday morning!


Traditional Chili Con Carne Rojo for a Crowd


Cook a large Beef Rump Roast in the oven covered with Beef Broth and several large onions chopped.....again....cook the heck out of it until it falls apart and is easy to shred. 350 degrees for about 4 hours usually does the trick....

In a large roaster....shred the beef and add the meat broth and onions....
You can add water to make a larger batch....

Add lots of cans of chili beans.....again the more beans....the more chili!

I have some grilled red and yellow peppers that will go into the mix....
If Mr. S. remembers to buy a JalapeƱo  pepper...I will judiciously add some of that!

Now for the seasoning.....this chili seems to need lots of salt....and again cumin....there is a different grilling rub in the drawer...."Spicy Chipolte"....seems like a good addition for this one.

Bring the whole mess to a boil and add the cornmeal roux to thicken the mix!

Once again.... just let it simmer covered.....again a long time.....or as long as you have time for.
More of the "pot liquor" idea.....
 Setting up the table for a Chili or Soup party is really simple....even for a crowd!

I am trying to decide whether to use "real" bowls or disposable ...

The "real" bowls are nicer to eat from....and I do have a bunch collected from GW over the years...

But

The disposable bowls are easier for people to throw away if they are eating away from the kitchen...

Maybe I will put both out and let everyone decide what they like!

I will try to remember to take some pictures of the table when it is all set of Saturday....

In the meantime....the beef is in the oven and Mr. S's "famous" Hunter's Stew is simmering on the stovetop....Maybe tomorrow I will ask him to "guest post" and share his secret recipe!!!  (Do you think you can stand three cooking posts in a row????)

Pretty Stress free.....
Mr. S and I will even have time to watch the Minnesota Gopher Bowl Game tonight!!!

Tomorrow....

  • all I will have to do is get the roasters full of Chili hot.....

Make a double recipe of Never Fail Cornbread

1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 egg
1 Cup Sour Cream
Salt
1/2 TSP baking Soda
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Corn Meal



Mix together butter, sugar and egg.  Add the Sour Cream.  Mix dry ingredients together and stir them into the dry ingredients.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes!
  • send Mr. S. off to the store for lots of good bread....and all the other things I have forgotten....
(thank GOODNESS Mr. S. is such a good errand runner!!!)

  • Vacuum all the cat hair off the carpets and furniture...!!!!

  • Make sure Mr. S. sets up the drinks....and sit back and wait for the "folks" to come!












Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Cooking Post....Oh MY!!!






My "about me" blurb mentions that I am a "sometimes (but not often)" cook!

The holidays are one of the "sometimes" when I cook!

The Sweetwater Kitchen actually gets used this time of the year!!!





I think I used more butter, eggs, and sugar in the December than in all the first 11 months of 2012!!!

So now....maybe it is time to focus on eating some vegetables!

Our new favorite vegetable is Brussels Sprouts!



 
My mom will definitely laugh when she reads THIS!

Chances are....this is how she remembers me when she tried to get me to eat them....


But, as I remember Brussels Sprouts from my youth.....they were pretty yucky and mushy and smelly.....

Oh...she probably thought they were good for us...but I thought they were a form of culinary torture!





Fast Forward To NOW!
 We buy big bags of these little babes at CostCo every on every trip!
 They are usually priced reasonably and are easy to fix!

Here are a couple of easy recipes that we have been serving lately!

Carmelized Roasted Brussels Sprouts 


1 package of Brussels Sprouts cleaned and cut in half
(enough to fill a 9 x 9 metal cake pan)
Salt and Pepper
A drizzle of Olive Oil
3 TBSP butter
1/4 Cup brown sugar Sprinkled over the top

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or so....
Stir every 10 minutes to coat and evenly distribute the "sauce"...
they are done when they are nice and brown with a little crunch...

Top with some packaged French Fried Onions!!



The Sweetwater Daughter served this recipe from The Pioneer Woman  for our Christmas Eve Dinner....Delicious!!!



Brussels Sprouts really are good for you.....


Well....they would be without all the extra ingredients in the recipes above!!!

We actually like ours just roasted with a tiny bit of olive oil and a little salt and pepper....
After all the indulgent eating that has been going on at Sweetwater....
Maybe we need to get back to that simpler recipe.....
hmmmm.....100 calories for a nice size serving.....sounds like a PLAN!!!



Now....to quote MOMS everywhere.... 
eat your vegetables....
you'll like them!

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas From Sweetwater!





We Wish You.....

holidays filled with fun and family....

 and most of all....

 time to reflect on the gifts you already have....


No....as usual I didn't get everything done that I wanted to do....
Mr. S is off running last minute errands....
I have a bit of wrapping and cooking to do....

But....All is calm and all is Bright!!!! 
and
To all a Good Night!!!


 
 
 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Nutcracker Suite on the Mantle!



“The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories. 

Feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale...” 


Every year since the Sweetwater Son was a tiny tot....he has received a Nutcracker as a stocking stuffer!

Some of them are "good ones"
.....and this year the better quality ones are finally finding a spot in the holiday decor in his new home!

That leaves all the inexpensive Nutcrackers for me!!!
They may not be "good" but they are still  colorful and fun to display!

Last year.... they were showcased in the front hall...

The color scheme in the lower level seemed to be a nice spot for them this year.

I wanted to put them on the mantle....but they looked messy and crowded when they were just lined up in a row....hmmmmm.....what to do?

Then I remembered the big 4 x 4 candle stands we made for the Tonia's wedding mantle!


We made them by cutting the wood into various heights....painting them with high gloss white enamel paint and adding less expensive and shorter candles for a lovely effect for the reception mantle!

How gorgeous was this?!

The pillars were in a box in the "decor stash" and were the perfect solution for displaying the collection of nutcrackers!


The pillars give the right amount of height to let these guys really show off! They sort of disappear into the background!

Just goes to show.....you should never throw "stuff" away! 
That is....if you remember where you put the "stuff" when you want it!

Have a "Suite" Day and may Sugarplums dance in your head!



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas GOOD WILL (Hunting)!



This Christmas Carol is one of my favorites....
Do you think it is because it talks about GOOD WILL!?

Lots of the decor at Sweetwater is the result of GoodWill Hunting....
In fact...as I walked through the house....it was hard to find stuff that I actually bought retail! 
Luckily...my favorite GW has a holiday area all year long.....I buy stuff when I see it and "stuff" it in the closet!!
 

Take a Look at just a few of the GW treasures that make the season bright around Sweetwater!

If I do say so... I think these GW goodies look every bit as nice as anything I could have found in a fancy boutique!


This red Jingle Bell Wreath came from GW.....added to a green wreath with a fun bow...it adds a bright spot in the lower level.


This gorgeous ornament is one of several packaged in a baggie for $5...





They are all bronze and greens and are perfect on the family room mantel.



The two off white Haeger Vases are from GW too....they are favorites all through the year...but I really love them with simple pine boughs...


This vase isn't actually Fitz and Floyd.....but it sure has the look.....another GW score so long ago that I can't remember how much I paid...but probably not much!

But this little plaid box is Fitz and Floyd....sadly the little cover broke a few years ago so now I just put some pine in it.....and the little Golden Pine Tree is also an old GW find!


The rest of the decorations in the Power Room also have the GW Heritage.....







The wreath was sort of shabby on the shelf at GW....so I took out the broken fruit....added some greens and a bow....










The simple addition of a few green glass ornaments and a bow turned this little wire mesh basket from GW into an accent on the back of the commode!














The "basket stash" of GW finds makes it simple to find the perfect baskets for decor AND entertaining....










This fun open wire "Gift box" came with all the ornaments already in it!!!


I love the bright colors, don't you?








The set of Silver Reindeer with a rope of red beads encircle a glass bowl filled with greens surrounded by fresh cranberries.

Yup.....all but the greens and cranberries came from GW!










This box of Wedding Invitations has these great stickers....I used the printer to turn them into simple gift tags.....

The rest of the stuff is sure to find a use...."SOME DAY"!









I used to be embarrassed to give Good Will treasures as gifts....what was I thinking???



This set of 8 dessert plates have all of Santa's Reindeer on them....a perfect gift for a friend!  Of course this friend is also a GW shopper...so she didn't mind that I left the price tags on so she could enjoy the "bargain" as well as the plates!!

The Sweetwater Daughter  (another GW shopper) will be thrilled when she opens her GW gift....This is something that would have cost four times what I paid....and is something she has been wanting....Can't wait to see her face!!!!  

I hope that I have a little time between now and Christmas to find a few more treasures to give away!!!  

HMMMM.....does this mean that because I saved all that money on GW stuff.....I can splurge a little and actually go to a REAL store????

In the meantime.....I wish YOU "Peace on Earth....and GOODWILL toward Men!


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