Sunday, September 29, 2013

Seven Sweet Things: The Last Summer Flowers

At this time of year in Minnesota, we all play the waiting game of "When will it freeze?"
Well luckily that has not happened yet....and by the looks of the 10 day forecast....the lowest nightime temp will be 38 degrees! 

That means the garden blooms will have a few more days to show their glory!
Remind me to look at these photos in the depths of January!

The Lantana loves the cool mornings and practically glows in the September sunlight!

Even the lowly petunias seem to be basking in the warm days...well at least as long as they get regular drinks of water!

The Profusion Zinnias are doing well, although I have to admit I have not been good at dead heading them.....too many flowers....not enough time!

Seems like there are deals on cheap Mums everywhere....these came from the grocery store....but look pretty fancy anyway...The red is nice with the newly painted front door!

The Dahlias in the front yard are really putting on a September show....for whatever reason...they didn't get the powdery mildew that usually happens this time of year....even though I didn't spray for it!

These Bronze Spider Mums are a favorite because they look nice with the color scheme in many rooms here at Sweetwater.
Oh...and they are sort of Golden Gopher colored too!

Last....but definitely NOT least is this fabulous Hydrangea bloom!  Sadly one of ONLY 3 that appeared this year!  Luckily...the Sweetwater Daughter took pity on me and shared a whole armload of Annabelle blossoms with me!

There you have it.....a savoring of the summer....Hope it keeps lasting!
Although.....I am kind of wanting to start wearing my fall clothes!!!

Such big problems!!!

Have A Great Day!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fall Fabric Inspiration

This fabric caught my attention on my last fabric store trip.

I love the organic shapes and subtle autumn coloring!

It was time to take the summer slipcovers off the couch and I knew this fabric would make great pillows!

The pattern on the couch is rather busy, so I always worry that if I use another pattern it will be a "bit much"!

In this case I think the 2 patterns are pretty together.

Making the pillows took about an hour.....I used the pillow sham technique (here is the link to the tutorial for how to do this)

I have switched out the coffee table arrangement from shells to fall potpurri and candles...

The mantle has a simple array of Autumn inspired objects....

The little accent pillow is the one that I made by printing an image on fabric using an ink jet printer.

I am thinking I need to make some more of these.

Here is the link to that post with the instructions!

So....even though the Minnesota weather is feeling like summer outside....there are touches of fall inside at Sweetwater!

Have A Great Day!

Link Parties
Serenity You  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Preserving Cattails for Indoor Arrangments

Tomorrow is the "real" first day of Fall on the calendar....
the Minnesota weather this week has been typically Minnesoatan...
In the 80's one day and the 60's the next! 

The Sweetwater Gardens are looking a little tired but since there has been no hard frost yet, the flowers are still in full bloom!

I have been "putting Summer away" around here.  The nautical mantel has morphed into it's Autumn look.

I love the look of cattails....and every year Mr. S and take a drive into the countryside to cut some to use in arrangememts both indoors and out!

This year we were smart enough to go on our cattail hunt early....while they were still pretty green.

The problem with cattails is that if you don't preserve them right end up with a lot of fluff on a stick....not so nice in the house!

I have used hairsprary.....not nearly heavy duty enough....and who has hairspray around the house these days anyway!!!!
I have used Spray Varnish....and that works pretty well....for a while.  But if you put the
cattails out of doors...eventually they turn to fluff!

 This year I decided to try actual polyurethane and paint the cattail heads.....

I used a foam brush....which turned to mush after about 3 cattails....

I would suggest a cheapo brush that is NOT foam...

There are no photos of me rolling the cattails in the poly with my fingers.....but you probably get the picture!!!

And it worked.......
I propped them in a bucket to dry and was thrilled to see how nice this coating is.  It feels like it will really last.  

Now to arranging them.....

I started by laying them on the table and creating a fan of stems at the bottom.  This is the same process as making a hand tied bouquet.  The object is to create a "base" that will stand up in the vase and allow the "flowers" to fan out!

Then I used floral wire to wrap around the criss-crossed stems.
You could use raffia too....but I decided I wanted to have the stability of the wire.

Then just put them in the vase and do a little "tweaking" to get the arrangement "just right"!

I hope that the rest of the cattails will hold up out doors....last year we put them in the pots by the firepit along with some Pampas grass....

But I am thinking maybe I will use them in the front on the steps.....SUCH big decisions.

In the meantime......I wish I could figure out how to keep THESE CAT TAILS.....

Somehow...I think the ASPCA would be after me if I used Polyurethane on them....
hmmmmmm.....maybe I should buy some hairspray!!! 
(JUST kidding Marvin and Maxine!)

Have a GREAT Last Day of Summer!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kitchen Organization: Use Your Pantry for Dishes!

 I love the kitchen at Sweetwater!
It is one of the reasons that we bought the house all those years ago!

It has lots of cupboards and drawers!

The layout is pretty easy to work in!

The center island is a great workspace and buffet for entertaining!

The ceilings are high!

It is bright and cheery!

BUT....I am REALLY short!  5 foot 1 on a good day!
and when we moved to Sweetwater....the kids were short too!
(the Sweetwater Son is now taller than his 6 foot 2 Dad...but not back in the day)
(The Sweetwater Daughter grew taller than me too!)
ALAS....I am STILL short!

And the high ceilings might look nice.....but it means all the cabinets are TALL!
Even on my tippy toes....I can only reach the second shelf of any of the cupboards!

Mr. S gets really bugged when he sees me standing on a chair or even worse....climbing on the counter!  (Now that is a picture you will never get to see!)

But what's a SHORT person to do?

Yeah....I know I could stand on a stool every time I want to set the table.....
That's NOT gonna happen!

My solution was to use the PANTRY for dish storage!

Look at that great big cupboard.....and even the top shelf is low enough for me to reach WITHOUT standing on my tippy toes!

 This solution allows me to indulge in my not so secret habit of buying lots of dishes!  Look at all that room.....and everything is in one central location! (well....not EVERYTHING....there are a few other cupboards that store some of the dishes that aren't used on a regular basis!

The top shelf has the wine glasses.....the everyday ones in the front....the "fancier" ones at the back.

The second shelf has water glasses....and when I pay attention...I even organize them by style...but mostly....not!  But they are all there when it is time to set the table!

Bowls and the big heavy square plates that are our current favorite dinner plates are on the next shelf.  Tucked in the back are dessert dishes and those misc. little dishes that are easy to forget you have if they are hidden away in the tall cupboards.

 The next shelf has our everyday china set.....the corn dishes....a big stack of dessert plates and my treasured artichoke plates...close at hand!

The bottom shelf carries the weight of these heavy cafe plates and large pasta bowls.  More dessert/salad plates are tucked in the back!  (told you I have a bit of a problem with "DISHES")

This solution works well for us....well....Mr. S is not terribly fond of bending down to get the stuff on the lowest shelf....but probably equals out with all the times I have to stretch up to get the stuff on the highest ones!

I do know that "back in the day"...using the pantry for dishes kept my "little short" kids from having any excuses for not setting the table or emptying the dishwasher!

Yikes....I am looking at the shelf liners in these pictures and realize that I have to get busy and find some wallpaper to cover the shelves....did you notice that they don't MATCH?

OMG....what's up with that?  Hope I can find some wallpaper at Goodwill soon! 
Ooooh.....and maybe I can find some more DISHES!!!  Shh...don't tell Mr. S!

Have A Wonderful Weekend!

Link Parties
Twigg Studios  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How Blogging Has Changed My Teaching!

There hasn't been much time to do projects here at Sweetwater these last couple of weeks.

That is because ALL my energy has been devoted to  "Back to School" projects!

Since there isn't much new to from home.....

I thought maybe you would enjoy a peek into my school world!

This post is really aimed at showing you how learning the ins and outs of blogging the last few years has changed how I teach!

I actually have FOUR other blogs besides Sweetwater Style!
You are welcome to link up and see them....but really the goal here is to think about how using a blog for "work" communication could work for you too!

 PSI Media Medley!  

This is the blog that I use to keep all of my staff up to date with the going's on in the Media Center.  The blog posts are a way for me to make sure that everyone has all the information about procedures, new books, new websites etc.!  It is fun to inject a little humor into some boring information.  The really nice part about a blog is that teachers are able to go back and read information that might get lost (deleted) if I just used email!  I can't tell you how many times I can refer questions back to the blog instead of a long detailed conversation.  It is a real time saver!  I ask all staff to I know that the information is getting to everyone!

ATPPS Alphabet Soup

Our school participates in the state of Minnesota's Alternative Pay Program for teachers. (ATPPS)  I am the lead teacher for this at our school.  It is a great program....but like ALL state run programs, there are LOTS AND LOTS of rules, deadlines and paperwork.  This can be confusing unless it is explained clearly and simply!  ALPHABET SOUP is a way for me to spread that information without holding a lot of boring meetings.  We will start needing to do this work in the next few weeks.  I will be able to post the information that my teachers need....when they need it....and because they are subscribed to the blog....they are able to read about it and get back to me with questions.  When I start hearing the same questions over and over....I know it is time to write a clarifying post!  I also love the ability to go back to the archives....and know that the excuse "I never got that email" won't fly!

The next two blogs are my favorites....because they are the ones I use with KIDS!

When I started teaching all those many years ago, I dreaded every Friday because you couldn't leave for the weekend until you turned in your written lesson plans for the upcoming week!  I HATED writing lesson plans!  Wouldn't my first principal, Mr. Sandberg, be surprised to see my BLOG version of lesson plans!  I really LOVE writing these plans.  I also think that it is good for kids to see adults writing and publishing for a purpose!  The other hidden benefit of this blog is that it also becomes my SUBSTITUTE plan.  I can actually "speak" to the kids about what the sub will be doing with them!

Every Tuesday afternoon is BAND day for 5th grade! In order to minimize the disruption of small groups coming and going....we all get together in the Media Center and have a rotation of activities.  Kids use the Productive Tuesday Tidbit to navigate through a set of "assignments" during the time they are using the computer lab!  The links they need, the directions to follow are all right there!  It would take ALL of their time if I were to rely on oral directions!  They love being independent and I often here from them that they go back to earlier posts to do the activities at home!

I think one of the best testaments to the success of these blogs at our school is the fact that some of our teachers have started their own blogs to replace the WEEKLY NEWSLETTERS.  In fact I am partnering with another teacher next week to hold a workshop for several teachers who want to start blogs of their own!

They say that technology should transform your teaching....I guess I could say that BLOGGING has transformed mine!
Finally and maybe the most important point I want to make about Blogging at school...

I DON'T use the blogs to replace my face to face teaching!

I DO use the blogs to streamline communication so that I have MORE time for face to face interactions with kids!

I would love to here from some of you BLOGGERs who are also teachers about ways that you use your Bloggy Skills in the classroom!  And of course if you have any questions or comments as teachers OR parents...I would love to hear from you!

I promised a peek into my school world....

One of the roles I have at school is "unofficial photographer"... and taking pictures to use on our school website is one of the most enjoyable jobs!

If you have a couple of minutes....take a look at this animated slide show of the first day of School celebration at my school.

Those beautiful smiling faces really tell the story of what "Back to School" is all about!

Have A Great Day!

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