Sunday, August 31, 2014

Simple Syrup is For The Birds (and ME)!

The Hummingbirds are out in force at Sweetwater this Summer!

This cute feeder seems to be just the thing to attract these tiny guys!

Mr. S and I are really enjoying the visits they make to the feeder!

Marvin gets soooo excited when he sees one....thinking he will be able to catch himself a treat.....NOT!

 You can buy Hummingbird Nectar already made! 

 Yup....even half is still $7.48!
In my mind...that is way too expensive!
It is a simple matter to make your own!

Make some Simple Syrup!
1 part water
1 part sugar
a few drops of red food coloring

Simply (I guess that is why it is call Simple Syrup) bring the sugar and water to a boil (stirring often)
Let it cool.  Pour it into the feeder and add the food coloring.
The cost for this must be about 25 cents!

But Simple Syrup is NOT just for the BIRDS....
It is a great thing to have on hand to use in cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages!

I keep a bottle of lemon infused Simple Syrup in the refrigerator to add to ice tea!

This is so much easier than adding sugar and lemon separately!

 Sometimes I add this to white wine, soda and ice for a refreshing wine cooler!

 These are links to some great recipes and information about Simple Syrup!

Lemon Tree Dwelling Simple Syrup Ideas

I can't wait to try some of these out!

 This recipe from Truvia looks interesting!  I will be curious to see if it has the right consistency and flavor.  If it would be great not to add the calories! 
 So at the water for the birds (and ME) is REALLY Sweet!  (get it?)

Before you go......
Give yourself a 5 minute break and watch this video of the Seals and Croft version of 
Hummingbird Fly Away!

Have A SWEET Day....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Brilliant Solution For An Awkward Doorway!

The Sweetwater Brother just reminded me that I was going to write a post about the door in the condo in Manzanillo!
You might be asking yourself....."Why would you want to write a post about a a vacation condo?"
The answer to that is that the doorway to the master bathroom and the master bedroom was a bit awkward!
adjective: awkward
1. causing difficulty; hard to deal with
difficult, tricky;
cumbersome, unwieldy, inconvenient, inappropriate, inopportune, difficult
synonyms: embarrassing, uncomfortable, unpleasant, delicate, tricky, problematic, troublesome, thorny;
antonyms: easy, convenient
The Problem: 
The original configuration of the master bathroom was that it was open to the master bedroom.
The renovation that was done created a "water closet" for the toilet.
The main door to the master bedroom is positioned in such a way that it made adding a "water closet" door impossible because the two doors would have been in conflict!
The Solution: 
Add two-way hinges to the door so that it could close the bedroom door AND close the "water closet"!
The door has two sets of hinges and the door is sized perfectly so that it allows you to close both doorways perfectly depending on which way the door swings!
 When privacy from the main living area is needed....the door can be closed.

 When privacy to the toilet area is need the door closes in that direction!

That is definitely a BRILLIANT solution!
Very elegant!

This was done by professionals in Mexico....but I can't imagine that it would be to hard as a DYI project!

Have A Great Day.....and I wish you NO Awkward Moments today!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Silver Polishing For Lazy People!

Alas....there are no butlers or footmen at Sweetwater who can polish the silver!

I imagine the Silver at Downton Abbey the silver is all real Sterling too!

The Sweetwater silver is all SILVERPLATE.....
And.... it almost all came from the thrift store!

I do love the silver pieces I have....
I do love using the stuff.....
I do love sharing it with friends...

In fact...a girlfriend is coming over this week to take inventory of the collection and see what pieces she might use for her wedding reception.


What I do not love is polishing this stuff!  But it needs to happen every once in a while!  Especially if it is going "on a field trip" to a wedding reception!

Typically, I get out the polish and just do it....
Then I remembered reading somewhere that you could use tinfoil and baking soda to remove tarnish without polishing!
So of course.....I did some research and found a bunch of tutorials about doing this!
And it WORKS!
This is what you need!
This is what you do!

Line a big pan with aluminum foil.

Pour in some baking soda.
3 or 4 Tablespoons per quart of water

Get the water boiling!

Dump in the silver pieces....

Let the magic happen....
It takes a little five minutes!

Look at the dark color the foil turned!

According to Mr. S (he is not a chemist....but pretty darn smart about stuff like this)...what is really happening is a chemical reaction that results in sort of electroplating the foil with a tiny bit of the silver.

Mr. S. told me I needed to find the scientific reason this is a link from some guy at John's Hopkins if you feel the need to study up on this....but here is a quote from the article:
"The reason that this process works so well is that it acts electrochemically. There is a flow of electrons between the silver object and the aluminum foil, and that's what removes the tarnish."
Sounds just like what  Mr. S told me....don't you think?

I decided to try this with the silverplate flatware for the first try with the process.

I hate polishing this the you can plainly see!

The results were truly amazing!
Not perfect.....but with no polishing!

I decided to try using the kitchen sink for some of the bigger pieces!

I wasn't quite as happy with the results.....probably because I couldn't keep the water hot enough!
I will figure some way to put a bigger pot on the stove next time.
I was really pleased with the way the tarnish came out of the grooves in the edges of the trays.
 It would have been a real pain to get this result with silver polish!

Remember that all my silver pieces are thrift store bargains and NOT heirlooms!
In the process.....a tiny bit of the silver is coming off and going to the aluminum foil!
Mr. S thinks it would take a WHOLE bunch of treatments to actually damage the pieces....but I thought you should be forewarned if you have precious pieces!

I don't think I will completely give up my Downton Abbey moments....but this process is one that I will use more often!

I would love to hear from anyone who has a solution for doing this on the larger trays and bowls.  
I am thinking that my roaster might work.....what do you think?

Have a Great Day!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How To Get Free APPS for your iPhone or iPad!

I love my iPad!

I use it all the time!

I am always looking for new ways to use it.....

and of course we know that there are lots and lots of apps out there.  

In fact.....there are too many apps out there!  

Mostly the basics are good enough!

Besides.....trying to find apps that are free or low cost can be pretty time consuming.

And.....I don't even know exactly what I am looking for!!!

Then when you do find something there is the decision......should I buy it if I don't know whether I will like it!


A couple of months ago, I found this great free APP!

It is available in the iTunes store for free download for iPad and iPhone!

Once you have the AppsGoneFree, you will get a push notification every day with 5-8 different Apps that you can download for free that day.   These are usually paid apps that the developer is offering the free download on that day.

For instance, this was the list from yesterday!
I have seen quite a few games.....but I am not a gamer!
Lots of photography apps.....worth trying out if they are FREE!  
Lots of productivity apps....and lord knows I need to be productive!!!

The thing I like the best about this.....if I download a FREE app that I don't like....I just delete it!
Somehow....if I pay money for something and don't like is harder to throw it away!

I tried to find something like this for the Android market....but was not successful!
If anyone out there knows of something that has free trial apps for an Android device, let us know!

Have a Great Day!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Planter Update! See How They Grow!

Minnesota has been "blessed"??? with a lot of rain this summer.
That is good news for the big planters at Sweetwater.
Do you remember way back in May...
Well...What a difference after three months of rain and fertilizer!

These planters have really done well!

Notice  that the grapevine that I put into the planters as an accent is actually growing!
Who would have thought?!
Maybe I will be able to make some wine!!!

Here are the way the big planters by the firepit looked in June.
The sedum was in full bloom and the Fountain Grass was pretty small.
The Celosia was just getting started.
 Fast Forward to Mid-August

Now the Fountain Grass has become the "star"!  The Celosia is growing as a bright accent.
The Fountain Grass will stay looking nice all through the fall. It will make a nice backdrop for our evenings around the fire throughout the fall!

Now for my Public Service announcement!
Say What?
Say what does that have to do with how the Sweetwater Planters grow?
Of course there is a Sweetwater Story to go with the Public Service Announcement! does have to do with Planters!
 I bought this cool looking plant early this spring.
I figured those curly cue spikes would look great in my floral arrangements!
The plant is called: Curly Wurly ( Juncus effuses)but is actually a corkscrew rush!
So far so good.....right?
After I added this to a couple of flower arrangements, Mr. S reported that there was something pretty nasty going on in the cat litter box!!! (For you NON-CAT people...this is probably TMI and I apologize)
After doing a little research, I discovered that there is some evidence that this plant may be toxic to mammals!  Let's just say that at Sweetwater there was a lot of evidence that this plant IS toxic to our feline mammals!

Now this pretty plant sits on the front steps away from the cats.  I suppose I could use it in arrangements that are going to a "mammal" free spot!  

I spent a few hours weeding the rest of the gardens yesterday.  All the rain makes those weeds grow almost faster than the flowers.  Hopefully, I will find another couple of hours today!

How does YOUR garden grow?  I would love to hear what your August gardening plans are....maybe it will keep ME motivated!!!

Have A Wonderful Day!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Roadfood: A Book Review And Give Away

 I just discovered Blogging for Books! 
Yup, it is perfect for me....I love to Blog...I love to read!
This site lets me combine the two...
The good folks at Blogging for Books send me the book I want to review...
All I have to do is read it and then tell you all about it!
(Oh and that's another thing I love to do!)

This is the book that I chose to review.

The Coast-to_Coast Guide to 900 of the Best Barbucue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much,More

by Jane and Michael Stern

I figured that now that my retirement is here, there are probably a few Road Trips in the future....this seemed like a good choice.

When I was little and our family went on roadtrips....
ROADFOOD was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water in a mayonnaise jar!  We would beg and beg to stop at a "Rootbeer Stand" or a "Dairy Queen" and when that happened we thought we were the luckiest kids!
Back then, I would never imagined that there were so many cool places that you could stop along the way and elevate eating on the road to an experience!

"ROADFOOD" is well organized travelogue of unique roadside eateries. It lists over 900 one of a kind spots by region and state.  At first, I was disappointed that there were no photographs.  That disappointment disappeared when I read the descriptions of the food at the different eateries!  The authors do such a great job of describing the food, you can almost taste and smell it!  Each dining destination includes hours of operation, phone numbers, and general cost information.  The tip sheet and the easy to read Table of Contents and Index make it easy to use when plannning a trip or on the road.  In short, this book would be a great to have in the car on any road trip.  If you are an arm chair traveler, reading about the wonderful out of the way spots is almost like being there.

After reading the book, I went to the authors' website  and found even more great spots to try on our next roadtrips....
I signed up and now get updated reviews that make me want to start planning a trip!
It also looks like there is a mobile app available....something I will be looking into soon.

So no longer will I be satisfied with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or ice cream from the franchise spots.....
Now we might try our luck at The Enrico Biscotti Company, Wein-O-Rama, or Bozo's the next time we are close by!  If not, just reading about these spots is enough to make your mouth water!

 Jane and Michael Stern are the authors of more than twenty books about America. Their "Roadfood" column for Gourmet has won three James Beard Awards. Their Roadfood segments appear regularly on the Television Food Network, and their Web site,, was selected 2001 site of the year by Yahoo. Also regular contributors to NPR's "The Splendid Table," the Sterns live in West Redding, Connecticut.

"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Since I got the book for free.....and have enjoyed it.....and now am signed up for the website...
How would you like to "win" my copy?
Just post a comment......I will do a random drawing next Thursday and let you know if you are a winner!

Have a Great Day!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wedding Flowers on a Budget!

We attended the wonderful wedding of one of my favorite co-workers on Saturday!  Everything was absolutely beautiful!

If you have ever been involved in planning a wedding you know that all that "wonderfulness" comes at a pretty hefty price!

"THRIFTY" and "WEDDING" almost seem to be ANTONYMS!!!

AHA....let's look at what thrifty really means.....

thrifty [t̸hrifadjectiive

  1. The definition of thrifty is someone who is frugal and who is careful about where their money goes.
    An example of someone who would be described as thrifty is someone who makes wise and careful buying decisions.

    HMMMM......wise and careful buying decisions!

    I researched the typical cost of flowers for a wedding in Minnesota!  Real Simple has broken the typical wedding costs out by state!  Guess what!!!  It said that the typical flower budget for a Minnesota wedding is $1643-$2713!

     This site is an interactive cost calculator for wedding flowers.


    When I ran the numbers using this tool and the amount of flowers needed for this wedding totaled $1500!  (And that was using the least expensive category of flowers)

    Somehow, that doesn't fit my definition of careful and wise buying decisions!!!!
    The challenge for this project was the size of the wedding party!  
    A wedding party of 10 Bridesmaids, 8 Groomsmen, 6 ushers etc....etc....etc!

    Come along and see how we did just that and saved a boatload of money on the flowers for this beautiful wedding!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Come Look at My Fairy Garden Board on Hometalk!

You all know how much fun I have had creating my little Fairy Gardens at Sweetwater!

So you can imagine how excited I was when the people over at HOMETALK invited me to curate a clipboard devoted to all of the super ideas that other people have for their Fairy Garden projects.

If you are not familiar with HOMETALK, you should really check it out!
It is kind of like Pinterest.....with some added features!
You can actually post on Hometalk with pictures and text.
If you are a blogger, you can link your Hometalk Post and your blog post.

Anyway.....the Clipboard I created is called.....

DYI Fairy Garden Ideas

You can click on the image and hop over there to see it!


Another great feature of the HOMETALK site is the ability to ask a question......join into a conversation or find "an expert" for advice!

 It was amazing to see all the clever Fairy Garden Ideas out there.  I will continue to clip to this board for my own inspiration.....and I invite you to join Hometalk and post your own ideas on the site!

Wish I had time to work on my Fairy Garden to day.....but the REAL garden has more than a few weeds that need tending....wish the Fairies could come take care of that for me!!!

Have A Great Day!

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