Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Year's Festival of Trees Contribution

Once again the Sweetwater Daughter and I were privileged to participate in the Auburn Homes Festival of Trees.
Our mission was to create a specific look using a white flocked tree.  
Our color scheme needed to be red, black and green.  
The theme was " I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas".....but I would add "Oh what fun it it....!"

How to get this look:

The oversized ornaments came from (would you believe) Costco and Menards. They didn't cost much so we could use a lot.  Some of the ornaments got a coat of black spray paint.  (Finding oversized BLACK ornaments just wasn't possible.)
The plaid ribbon is woven deeply into the came from Tuesday Morning.
The "Christmas Crackers" were constructed from a piece of pool noodle and some black and white wrapping paper.  The red bows added a bit of color.
The glittery red and green sprays were probably the most expensive thing.  We found them at a wholesale place, but you could do glitter free branches for next to nothing.
The top hat tree topper was a real find at Pier One.
Faux packages wrapped in our color wave took the place of a traditional tree skirt.

It has been so much fun to create these trees over the past few years.
One of my favorite parts of being a blogger is being able to go back a look at projects from past years.

The Mitten was the theme....
Big Woolen mittens and plaid ribbon....
Slices of wood with the book characters modge podged on them. 


Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Full sized records....
Black and White checked ribbon....
Cardboard Jukeboxes and Classic Cars....
A Poodle Skirt tree skirt.....

And All That Jazz!

Gold and Glitz...
Big Instrument ornaments....
Jazzy Black Top hats....
Piano Key Fleece tree skirt....

A Walk in the Woods

Lots of Gnomes....
Woodland Creature Ornaments....
Big Sugar Pine cones....
Resin Antlers....
Rustic floral accents....

Wow...looking back makes me anxious to get started decorating at home...
NOT until after Thanksgiving!  MY RULE!

Have a Wonderful Day!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Easy Decor: Dried Orange Slices

If you buy a few oranges on your next trip to the grocery store, you have the makings for some decor accents.
Dehydrated orange slices are simple to make.  They are a great transitional decoration to use all through the fall and into the Holidays.

The process is so simple that I feel sort of silly telling you how.

Cut some slices.....

Blot as much juice as possible with a paper towel.

Place the slices in a single layer on baking sheets.

Put them in a 200 degree oven.

Let them dry for about 2 hours.

Be sure to check them often in the last half hour.  Sometimes a thinly sliced section will burn.

Take the dried slices out of the oven and cool on a wire rack.

That is all there is to it!

The dried fruit looks nice mixed with some cinnamon sticks and baby pine cones.

The little copper strainer is just the right size for the windowsill over the sink.

 I added some pine cones and orange slices to a small potted plant.  It is a nice transitional Thanksgiving vibe.

I found these inspirations for other uses of dried orange slices.


 The thermometer here reads 19 degrees....a great day to have a slow oven toasting some orange slices.

Have A Great Day!

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Get Your Holiday Tool Kit Ready

Don't you admire/hate those people who have all of their holiday shopping done before Halloween is past?
I know I should be doing this....
Somehow...I really don't get in the spirit of shopping until at least Thanksgiving.

I do start to put together an essential Holiday Tool Kit to have ready for the hectic holiday decorating, wrapping and shopping!
I thought I would share my "gotta have" list with you.  I would love to hear what your essentials are.

Paddle Wire

You won't believe how many times you will use this.
It costs about $3.
I keep a paddle in the craft room and the junk drawer.

It is great for hanging decorations....without damaging surfaces.

It is the way to secure the center of a fancy bow!

Paddle wire is available at craft stores and on Amazon.

Wired Ribbon

Costco has 50 Yard spools of wired ribbon for $6.99.  I don't think there is a better deal out there.
This ribbon works for everything.

I always buy a pure red and a burlap look.  
You won't believe the ways this will work in your holiday wrapping and decorating. 

Here is a link to a tutorial all about tying fancy bows.

Pine Cones 

Pine cones are accents that work in November as well as December...and even up until Valentine's Day.

If you have pine trees or access to them.....start collecting all sizes of pine cones.  We have trees with those tiny "mini" cones.  I gather tons of these to use as filler. 

Start watching at the grocery or craft store.  You can find deals on those wonderful cinnamon scented cones.  Instant Holiday atmostphere is just $5 away!

If you feel like splurging....invest in some giant Sugar Pine Cones.  I have been able to order them in bulk for around $3 a cone....but even at twice that....they have a dramatic impact. I think this arrangement could work from November to January.

 Cellophane Wrap

I love to use this simple clear cello wrap to dress up a hostess gift.  If you buy food can make that home baked treat look pretty upscale.  If you have some on hand you can add some instant glamour without much expense or fuss.

All Kinds of Tape/Adhesives

This is the time to buy those 3 packs of clear tape both single and double stick.  The ones at the dollar store work great for most things.
Zots...are great for sticking paper to paper.  You can also use them to put paper on glass....easy to remove.

Command Strips...great to have on hand to temporarily put up holdiday themed art.

Spray Mount Adhesive....make sure to have a full can.

Modge Podge...even a small bottle from the dollar store may come in handy.

 Picture Frames
Start gathering small sized frames from the thrift store.  You can frame cute family photos with a holiday theme or a beautiful holiday card from the past!  Print out a favorite quote captured from the internet and present it in a frame.  (wrap it in cellophane for a classy touch)

Those are just a few of the things that are in my arsenal. 
I know I won't have the ambition to get the big shopping items purchased before mid-December....but I can be ready to do some small things.
The whole idea is to have things on hand so that you don't have to take time out to go to the store when inspiration hits you.

What are the things you deem essential for your holiday preparations?  I would love to hear from you!

Have a Great Day!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Paint You Will Love!

If you are wondering why it has been more than 2 weeks since my last is kind of a long story.

It has been an interesting couple of weeks around Sweetwater.
Mr. S had his right ankle totally replaced 3 weeks ago! 
The surgery was very successful....but...the recovery time is LONG. 

The guy who spends much of each day out and about is now unable to put weight on his foot for another 6 weeks and then slowly working to walk on it. 
Poor guy...not being able to get out on his own is driving him crazy.....but the good news...his ankle doesn't hurt anymore!

And...the Sweetwater Grandboy thinks Grandpa's Scooter is fabulous!

After a couple of weeks of "nursing" and "fetching and carrying", things are getting back to normal for me at least. can imagine that I have been putting off doing any projects that might get in the way of the scooter!

But finally...we said..."enough is enough" and it was time to get busy!

This painting project is the result of one of those "If you a mouse a cookie" scenarios.

A few weeks ago.....our refrigerator gave up the ghost!
When we went to buy the new one....we chose a different stainless steel!  Gorgeous!
That meant we needed new dishwasher, oven and microwave too! And new cupboard hardware too!
Long story and installations later....the kitchen looks amazing!

So what am I painting?
Note the green wood on the table and chairs that Mr. S and the Grandboy are standing next to.
They no longer looked "just right" with the new appliances. 

It decided to paint them a soft griege color!

Finally....the point of the post!
THIS PAINT.....I am absolutely in LOVE with it.
It is amazing!

Heavy Duty– Premium 100% Acrylic Interior/Exterior Eggshell
Heavy Duty 100% Acrylic Enamels are an excellent choice for a multitude of applications including interior walls and woodwork as well as exterior trim applications. This finish is ideal for use in new home construction, existing homes, schools, nursing homes or anywhere that extreme durability is required
Features & Benefits
• Interior/Exterior
• Manufactured with the finest titanium dioxide
• Excellent Hide
• Good Burnish Resistance
• Very Good Washability is expensive...about $60 a gallon...but worth every penny. It is one of those spend to save deals.
The surface that you are painting only needs a good clean surface...
I suppose you could sand too, but I didn't and the coverage is great. 
It goes on so smoothly....
It dries in 30 minutes and ready for the second coat in an hour.
It cleans up with water!

 If Mr. S was at full capacity....the chairs would have gone to the basement and I would have done them all at once....

Instead, I put a tarp down in the dining room and did them one at at time.
This is when the quick drying and second coat time was nice.

When one chair was done....I moved it back and then did the next one.


It took me 6 days to get it all done.

I cannot tell you how wonderfully the paint covered in 2 quick coats.
I love the quality of the finish.  It feels almost like the original factory paint.
I love that the new color isn't all that different than the old....just the RIGHT color.

If you have a painting project that you are putting off because you don't want to do a lot of sanding and priming.  This is the paint for you.
I think it would even be a good paint for kitchen cabinets ....but I am not quite that crazy a DIYer.

Have A Great Day!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

How To Cut Your Own Custom Picture Mats

Custom framing is soooo expensive!
Even when you take advantage of deals at the frame shop, a typical framing job will cost you a bundle.

I found this great website that has a princing estimator built in:
I ran the numbers for a 16 x 20 print....
YUP....$99!  Now that might seem reasonable to you....but NOT to me.  Especially because I am someone who wants to change out the stuff on my walls a LOT!

Here at Sweetwater, I have found a way to mat and frame things without spending this kind of money.

Sometimes you have to spend some money to save some money.

This post is all about that!

A few (or maybe many) year ago, I invested in a professional mat cutter like this one.

Okay.....$220 seems like a lot of money.....but remember how much ONE 16 x 20 picture cost?

You also need to buy matboard and frames.
I buy matboard at Dick Blick.  A 32 x 40 inch piece costs between $8 and $10 depending on how fancy it is.....
I buy my frames at the thrift store.  The array is pretty amazing.  You look at the FRAME not the ugly art that is in there.

Any new tool can seem intimidating.....but once you learn the can mat and frame your piece in less than 30 minutes.

So let's get started on the tutorial!

I was "just gonna" go down to the craft room and do a step by step photo shoot for you....
And then I realized that....hmmm.....somebody probably already did that on YouTube!
Watch this and see how it is done!
(this is the link if the video doesn't load)

It really isn't that difficult after you have practiced a bit.

Now the fun begins!
With a few pieces of mat board and some thrift store frames....the sky is the limit!

Framed Projects Around Sweetwater

A spooky photo of a graveyard in a thrift store frame.  Instant seasonal decor.
  Favorite photos from Halloween past.  Mats only....displayed on the big chalkboard in the stairwell.

 Gallery style display of photos taken by the Sweetwater Son.
 This old window is from the childhood home of Mr. S.  The poster was a gift from the Sweetwater Daughter and SIL.  The Minnesota Home print from the Sweetwater Son and DIL.
My family always gives me fun things to frame because they know it can be done inexpensively.

Nobody wants to see ALL of our vacation photos....but making a quick collage is a fun way to display just a few.  This is an unframed mat with a foam core backing.  The back has magnets that let it hang on the refrigerator.  A quick way share without "oversharing".  BTW....Ireland was amazing! 

This is a tea towel that I picked up in a fun boutique on a trip to Florida.  It can easily be switched out when I want a new look....or find a new tea towel!

More Minneapolis themed art....would you believe that I actually took the top photo....good for me!

A cluster of framed posters and photographs lean against the wall on Mr. S's desk in the office.
I love the look of the vintage posters....The blue and green one was purchased on a trip to Voyageur National Park.

We have had this chalk pastel for many years.  I love being able to change the mat color to coordinate with what ever decor scheme we have.  No need for new art.....just $10 for new mat board.  I am always amazed that you can find a color in your favorite image that goes with any scheme.

These white mats look nice with the off white walls.  This is another photo by me and the New Orleans scene is another we purchased at an art fair in Memphis....go figure. 
These are just a few of the ways I have used the ability cut custom mats....
Even better....
Now that people know that I have the mat cutting system...they come over and either mat their own things or let me do it for them.

I always tell folks...."I MAT FOR WINE"....

Hope this inspires you to spend some of your crafting or decorating budget on a mat will be glad you did.

Have a Wonderful Day!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Quick and Easy Halloween Decor Ideas!

What is your Halloween decor style?
Do you go all out Haunted House....?
Do you settle for a simple Jack-O-Lantern or two?

I like to find a middle ground....that pretty much eliminates the "haunted" stuff.

Here is a round up of some simple decor ideas that have a Halloween feel with a bit of elegance and/or whimsy.

Display old and new photos of Halloween's of the past!

I have so many fun photos of the Sweetwater kids in costume.  It is simple to have prints made and then find a fun way to display them.  I have framed them and clustered them around the house.  This year the display is a simple "gallery" of the photos matted and mounted to the big chalkboard in the stairwell. There are some spaces left for some new photos I need to get printed....but I wanted to get the post done!

Get Your Pumpkins ON!

Simply placing these interesting pumpkins in odd spots through the house makes a Halloween statement with out SHOUTING!  The thrift store is a wonderful source for interesting Halloween themed decor.

Keep those Real Pumpkins Looking Good!


This trick will keep your real pumpkins and gourds from getting rotten.  If you follow this "recipe", you may still have usable gourds at Thanksgiving!  

Inject some Humor!

These little plaques are easy to make....but would also be simple to print and frame.
Check out the tutorial here or take a few minutes to browse for some funny quotes to use on a chalkboard.

A trip to the craft store is the start of this craft project.  These little books tucked on a shelf or set on a table are a subtle seasonal touch.  TUTORIAL HERE

Don't Forget Accent Pillows!

A few whimsical pillows can add a touch of seasonal decor too.  If you have never tried printing images on canvas using your inkjet really should check out these directions.  The possibilities are really endless.

So there you have it....a few little ideas that might inspire you to get your Halloween on in a tasteful way!

Have a Wonderful Day!  It is gorgeous outside today....maybe a trip to a pumpkin patch is in order...oh wait...I seem to have ENOUGH pumpkins!