Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quick Halloween Decor Ideas!

Sadly....Halloween is cancelled at Sweetwater this year!
We were away on our trip for most of October...
and now the house is completely torn up for the floor refinishing....until November 1st!

The living room furniture is all moved to the family room....
The powder room floor will get a much needed floor repair....(Marvin is in charge of THAT!)
So you can see....there isn't much point in decorating for Halloween!

So the Halloween Decor this year will have to be virtual!
I decided to share some ideas from Halloween Past at Sweetwater!
There are only a few days until the big day....but these things could be done quickly!

Here are some links to free printables with a KEEP CALM theme.....
I used them to decorate some little painted plaques!
But you could just print them out and frame them.

Check out these DYI Knock-off Halloween Spell Books ...
This is the link to the tutorial.....worth the time....and you will enjoy them next year too!

Last but not least....this is a link to a great list of Halloween Themed books for kids!
It is a great resource if you are slated to help out at your child's school celebration....
There is plenty of time to get to the library and check one out!

I imagine that the little trick or treaters will think Sweetwater is really haunted when they look in the window and see the empty living room!

I hope you don't have to cancel your Halloween Fun!
HMMMM.....BUT... I am still gonna buy some candy.....wonder WHO will eat it!?

Have A Wonderful Day!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Crock Pot Carmelized Onions

Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.

Carl Sandburg

 Onions are a staple here at Sweetwater....and the sweet goodness of carmelized onions make so many dishes extra special.

 Carmelized onions are pretty easy to make!

 All you need is a few onions, a pat of butter, a pan, and some time.

BUT......I really hate to cut/chop/slice onions.....and carmelizing them can be time consuming.  Often when I want carmelized onions for a recipe....I only need just a few...and taking the time to carmelize just a small amount can add to the recipe prep time!

I have come up with this trick....which I am happy to share with you!
I do a whole mess of onions all at once and use the crock pot to slow cook them to perfection!
The recipe:
 6 cups of raw onions
1/2 cup of real butter
Cook in a crock pot on high for about 4 hours stirring often!
Now....cutting up that many onions means I did a little research and found these tricks from Life Hacker
Of course...I didn't do the research for this until AFTER I had cut up a crock pot full of raw onions!
There were more than a few tears running down my face....
but now I know these never again.!

Once the onions are done....they are ready for the next step!
I get out the big muffin tins and put about 3/4 of a cup of the onions in each section.
Then into the freezer they go....
but be sure to cover them with foil to avoid having everything in the freezer smell like onions!

Once the onion cups are frozen solid....take them out and put the individual portions into a freezer bag! 

Whenever I need to add the flavor of carmelized onions to a is a simple matter of popping one or two of the portions in the pan or microwave.  Instant flavor!

Here are some wonderful recipes to use them in.

carmelized onion spread

French Onion Soup

Pasta with Carmelized Onions, Goat Cheese and Portobello Mushrooms
If I cook all of these great sounding stash of onions will need replenishing soon!

What are your favorite carmelized onion recipes?
I would love it if you would share!

Have a Flavorful Day!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Where Have I Been?

There is a very good reason that my posts have been so few and far between these last few weeks!
Mr. S and I have been traveling since October 4th!
I hate posting for the world to see that only Marvin and Maxine are home to "guard" Sweetwater!

We have spent the last 20 days traveling to 5 locations in Asia.

Hong Kong

Oh MY!


That's a lot of countries....
That's a lot of going through customs!

Now....I won't bore you with the details other than to show you just a few of the hundreds of photos we took along the way.....

Our Hotel had an amazing roof top bar with a view of the city!

We learned to navigate the city by subway.....

The Temple Street Night Market, viewing the city from Victoria Peak, and a Harbor Tour were highlights for us in this city.

On to Manila....where we stayed in a Hotel in the Alabang Area.

The Hotel buffets were we spent our time exploring the city and the countryside only to return to the hotel for dinner.

A trip down to the Taal Lake Volcano and an The old fort in the city were interesting....

We learned that if you talk to your driver....he will take you to his business and treat you to the famous "Buchi" and lunch in his restaurant!

Next stop....Singapore

What an amazing city!  Again we used the subway.  Public transportation in these cities is so organized and easy to use.  The $15US tourist pass gave us access to the entire city for 3 days!

We learned that going to the zoo for the Night Safari with 2 kids who live in Singapore makes the experience a whole lot richer!

We learned that drinking a Singapore Sling in the bar where the drink was invented might be expensive.....but a great memory!

 In Penang....I learned what "heat and humidity" really mean....

Touring the temples and old houses was incredibly interesting.
Then on to a spice forest and a batik factory!

Mr. S does a lot of business in we had a "tour guide" not to be beat.

We ate food in "Hawker" stands and in fancy restaurants.

We learned that a $6US lunch could taste every bit as good as one that costs 4 times as much!

I learned to carry my own napkins...AND toilet paper!

Final stop....Bangkok!

We learned that in Bangkok....old means centuries and centuries old!

Our driver is a longtime friend of Mr. S!  He took us to temples and the palace!

I road a TUK TUK (a scooter taxi) and a ferry!

We visited the floating market....and the biggest "flea market" I have ever seen....only to go to the "fanciest" Mall with every name designer you could think of the next day!

I learned that after a day of trudging up step after step to view the hour long foot and leg massage is priceless!

I could go on and on and on.....but I know how boring that would be for you....I am going to put together a longer version of our travels just for us....but hopefully you see that this was a pretty amazing way to spend 3 weeks!

Now....back to the "real" world for Mr. S and I!
We are getting ready to have the wood floors in the house refinished....we have to pack up and move to my Mom's for 4 days....
I am not looking forward to living out of a suitcase again....but this time Marvin and Maxine get to travel with us!  HMMMMM....wonder how THAT will go!

And...I promise to get back to regularly posting once again!

Have A Great Day!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DYI Cornice Board Tutorial

There is some pretty big news here at Sweetwater!
The Sweetwater Daughter and Son-in-Law are just weeks away from making us proud Grandparents!
We couldn't be more excited!

The nursery is almost finished!

What I love about the decor in the room is that it isn't "too BABY"!

Helping with the nursery has been alot of fun!

When I told Mr. S that I was "in charge" of creating the fabric covered cornice for the window, he suggested that perhaps my usual Styrofoam cornice wasn't quite good enough for our "grandbaby"!

Never one to turn down assistance with my projects.....I let him have at designing a wood base for the fabric upholstery!
He used 1/4 inch plywood and 1 x 2 boards to create the cornice. 
The light weight of the wood makes it perfect for this project.
I just stood back and let him build the base....and I have to give him a lot of credit for how it turned out!

Once the base for the cornice was complete, it was time to cover it with1 inch batting.
Spray adhesive helped to stabilize the batting on the wood.

This molding was attached to the top of the cornice to make a nice top edge.

The pattern on this lovely fabric wasn't quite so "lovely" to match and align....
with some careful planning and got done!  
 I have to say....the design is so was worth the effort!

The next step was attaching the fabric with staples.

I couldn't use my trusty power stapler because the only staples available for it are too long...they would end up going through the quarter inch thick board.

I have a simple electric stapler that uses shorter I used that for most of the attachment.

In areas where there were support boards that could be stapled into....I could use the power stapler!

So with lots and lots and lots of staples.....the job got done!
You might notice the "tools" of the trade that helped a lot....the tape measure to be sure the fabric was centered....and the T-square to make sure the vertical line was straight!

The last step was to add this great looking navy and white trim to cover the seams.  It really has a nice crisp look!

Mr. S was in charge of installing the cornice in the nursery.....he used L brackets attached to the top of the cornice....Kudos to him!

Stay tuned for a guest post from the Sweetwater Daughter about how she painted the campaign chest that great looking shiny green.  The chest is the one that we bought for HER nursery....just a FEW years ago!

I think I need to get out and do some shopping to fill up all those drawers!

Have A Great Day!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Copper Cleaning Magic!

 I always keep an eye out for interesting copper items at the thrift store!
Over the years, I have collected quite a few pieces.
The earth tone of these pieces make them a natural choice for Fall D├ęcor!
Now..some people might like the look of the aged patina of old copper.....
but sometimes a good polishing is in order.

Just like polishing silver.....polishing copper can be a real pain!
Enter my secret weapon!

Seriously.....this easy to find like magic on copper!
I got to work the other day scrubbing the "patina" off of some of my favorite copper items.

Yeah....they really were pretty awful looking!

This little colander or berry bow is one of my favorites.

Can you believe how grungy this looks?

I spent a chunk of time with the scrub brush and it came pretty clean.

Now...all that scrubbing wasn't really my thing....and I had a few more pieces to clean!.

Then....I had an aha moment!

Remember the "lazy woman's"  way to polish silver?
That method relied on the chemistry of baking soda and aluminum foil in boiling water.

Well... I got the idea that maybe hot or boiling water might work with the bar keeper's friend to magically clean the copper!
So...I mixed some up in a pan and brought it a boil!
I used 1/4 cup in about 2 cups of water....but there really isn't a "recipe"!

Look what happened after 30 seconds!

And...after only  2 minutes!
Needless to say....
this is my new method of choice for copper cleaning!

The collection is all bright and shiny now!
In fact...the pieces  might be a little to too shiny!
Not to worry...the patina will come back gradually....
I just need some inspiration to figure out how to display them!

Hope you have a "bright shiny" day!

Friday, October 3, 2014

I Need Your Ideas!

The Sweetwater Daughter and I are doing another Christmas Tree for the Auburn Home Charities!

The theme for this tree was the book The Mitten by Jan Brett!

Our budget was $400 (go figure) and we did the whole tree for less than $150! 

That still seems like a lot for a Christmas tree....but all the money goes to the charity.  

With thrifty planning, we were able to add $250 to the charity!

This year the theme for all of the trees is "Christmas Carols"!
We want to do something that is a little out of the ordinary!
No "White Christmas"
No "Silver Bells"
No "Jingle Bells"
We decided to do....

This is where YOU come in!
Our ideas are starting to form.....the tree should have a 1950's Rock and Roll Vibe!

A few trips to Good Will should provide a bunch of vinyl records that can become giant ornaments!

A Poodle Skirt for the Tree Skirt makes sense!

Now I want to hear from you!
I want to pick your collective blog reading.....pinterest pinning brains!

What other fabulous and thrifty ideas do you have!
Nothing is too silly to hear about!
What do you think?

Can't wait to hear all of your "brilliant" ideas!
Then we will get to work creating a unique and thrifty tree!


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