Sugared Cranberries Simple Recipe

Aren’t these just beautiful?
I think they look like berries in the snow.
Sugared Cranberries are strangely addictive.
They look so tempting sitting on the platter.
The sugar hits your mouth and then the bright tart cranberry almost pops in your mouth.
Have I made you want to make them?
I think this treat would be a perfect addition to a New Year’s Eve dessert buffet.
Easy Sugared Cranberry Recipe 
  • 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • additional sugar for rolling (you can make superfine sugar in the blender if you want to get fancy)

Wash cranberries and discard any damaged ones. Place in a bowl. Combine sugar and water in a pot and heat until simmering. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let cool for a few minutes until warm (not hot). Pour over cranberries and let sit in fridge, covered at least 3 hours.

Use a slotted spoon to remove berries from syrup. Set berries on a cooling rack that is placed over foil to collect drips. Spread berries out so they are not touching each other. Let dry for 1 hour.


Roll berries a handful at a time in sugar. Place sugared berries on a baking sheet, or foil, etc. and let dry for an hour or two.
That was easy….!
The finished cranberries look amazing sitting in a single layer on a tray.
I found this when I was doing my “research” for this post!
Sugared Cranberries as a Cake Topper.
I love the little sprigs of Rosemary…or you could do mint.
Have a Wonderful Day!


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 grade…it 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!

A Charcuterie Board -Easy Entertaining

This week the Sweetwater clan gathered for a belated birthday party for little old me.
With an almost 3 year old and a two month old to work around, it makes no sense to try to serve any kind of sit down meal these days. We are all too busy holding babies and playing with toys to sit down at the table.

The solution: Charcuterie!
Ooh La La!! Doesn’t that sound french and fancy? 
So what is Charcuterie? 
The definition is actually the shop where you buy cured meats….but it has come to mean the way of serving them.
Basically it is just a fancy word for a big platter of cold meats (usually cured), cheeses, fruit and nuts!
The Sweetwater Daughter delivered a huge bag of goodies from Aldi of all places.
My job was to figure out how to make our Charcuterie look something like this!

 When I showed this photo to Mr. S….he immediately focused on the BOARD….not the food arrangement.
So off to the woodworking shop he went.

He bought a beautiful piece of bamboo and some cutting board oil.
After a quick sanding and a bit of oil….we had the perfect base for our Charcuterie Board…and I got a nice belated birthday gift!
I had the food….
I had the board….
Here is the result!

 I decided that this was a time to use paper plates.  You know I love to use all my pretty dishes….but I knew people would be filling a plate….then going back again and again.  Paper seemed to be “friendlier” for the repeat customers.

We have a whole bunch of inexpensive tongs that came from the party store.  They were perfect for this serve yourself menu.

 There was so much food….the cheeses needed to go on their own board…a slab of marble that has been laying around here for years….perfect!

 I have to say….Mr. S. was right about the board needing to be “just right”!
 After I took the photos…..the crunchy french bread was added.
And….the Sweetwater Son and DIL added some wonderful beef bites… 
Some tips for doing this:
Set out the main board and any other platters you will need.
Lay down some large colorful lettuce leaves.
Then unpack all those wonderful meats and arrange them in lovely piles. Sausages should be in bite sized chunks.  Rolled thin sliced meats and arrange them.
Tuck in grapes, nuts, olives and pickles.  I don’t like pickle juice on my meat!  Put these juicy items in small bowls or on plates.
Arrange cheeses on a separate platter/board so there is plenty of space for self-serve cutting.
Add some interesting condiments…..we had some fabulous fig preserves that paired beautifully with the cherry cheese on the board. 
When the Grandboy was running around doing what boys do….
When the Grandgirl was needing to be fed and cuddled…..
Everyone could enjoy the company and still have a pretty wonderful meal.
You may well want to try this for yourself….
Footnote:  I realized after using the french word for a food platter…..that in fact our heritage includes a lot of Swedish blood….what we really had was a SMORGASBORD!  
Have A Wonderful Day!
 Linking Here:
Sunny Simple Life

Boughs, Bows and Beverage Party

Oh my, it has been even busier than usual here at Sweetwater.
Sweetwater Floral Design had the honor of creating all the floral decor for a wedding last Saturday!
Doing the flowers for a wedding is lots of fun, but oh so stressful!  
We were thrilled that the bride was happy with the results of our efforts. 
We were also thrilled that the temp last Saturday was above freezing and not the 11 degrees it was just a week later.

The events here on Friday night and Saturday morning were a lot less stressful and every bit as creative and beautiful as the wedding flower project.

Sweetwater Floral hosted what we call “Boughs-Bows-and Beverage” events.
This is a great way to gather some friends for a few hours of fun.
The best part is that everyone goes home with something beautiful.
The Sweetwater Garage is filled with all the BOUGHS and other foliage….
There are lots of ribbons available for the BOWS…
And of course there are BEVERAGES!
This year we had a number of Mother Daughter/Son teams creating together. 
So MUCH Fun!
We do these parties as part of our business…..
But earlier last week,  my the Sweetwater Daughter hosted her girlfriends for a birthday gathering.
Add a pot of chili and a few more beverages and you have a great “Girl’s Night IN”.
I will leave you with a quote from Robin Williams that I love! 
Have A Great Day!

Minimalist and Thrifty Holiday Decor

 I wouldn’t imagine that many people would describe me as a minimalist!
In fact….someone just told me that my style was “to randomly put a whole bunch of stuff together and then stick a bow on it!”

For some reason, when I started to get out the “whole bunch of stuff” and the “bows”…I felt like taking a step back and going with a more minimalist look.


as lovely as this little vignette is…..I don’t think that I could go quite that stark!!!

minimalist is an adjective that means extreme simplification of form and color. When you call a person a minimalist, you’re describing their interest in keeping things very simple. A minimalist prefers the minimal amount or degree of something

Well….I could take that definition and interpret it here at Sweetwater this holiday season.

Wanna See?

The minimalist theme for our tree stems from the fact that first of all it was FREE!
While “dumpster diving” at the Home Depot for greenery…Mr. S. spotted this broken top of a big Frasier Fir….he negotiated with the manager for a reduced price…and she said “ah…just take it!” So that is also the THRIFTY element!

Only FOUR elements comprise the minimalist decorations.  
White Lights
Red Glass Ornaments
Red Dogwood Branches

 Burlap ribbon bows with a few copper colored ornaments tucked into the greens make a simple and elegant decor for the family room stairs.  It is a good idea make sure to tuck the decorations under the railing so that people still have a good way to hang on as they come down the stairs.  With this treatement, a simple tie of raffia secures the greenery.

The thrifty element is the fact that all the ornaments are from Goodwill.  I love finding ornaments that are interesting colors.  Funny how in July….Christmas balls are super cheap!
The ribbon is from Cost Co…the best place to buy wired ribbon.  50yards for $7.99!

The front banisters are also pretty minimalist this year.

A simple swag on each post….with a big wow bow!

The thrifty aspect is the fact that I reuse the ribbon from year to year.

The satin ribbon is easily ironed and looks like new!

In the den….just a lovely photo of a friend’s barn behind a display of the antlers from hunting trips through the years makes for a simple vignette.
The thrifty part….using the mat cutter to frame an enlarged photo!
Not so thrifty was the actual cost of those antlers!
The kitchen decorations are also minimal….just little touches in spots that catch the eye.
Nothing is “over the top” Christmas….just simple signs of the season

The little dried orange slices are really easy  to do.  Simply dry thinly sliced oranges in a 200 degree oven for an hour or so.  Add some cinnamon sticks and greens and the display can stay long after the holiday.  

More burlap ribbon ties two giant sugar pine cones to an old french horn on the kitchen window.  It seems to float there thanks to a sneaky little bar that is suspended in the window sill

The display of the collection of Fitz and Floyd holiday ceramics is maybe not so minimalist….BUT….it is thrifty.  Most of the items were found for little or nothing at the thrift store. 

I know this shelf above the desk is supposed to have cookbooks on it…..but since I mostly find recipes on the internet…
it can house the copper collection with some greenery.  Copper is such a pretty holiday color in our house.  (remember minimalist design is a simplification of color).

I spent a lot of time the last couple of weeks teaching people to make really lovely and fancy centerpieces…..

The one on our table is lovely….but maybe not so fancy.  All these things are thrifted too.  By changing out the greens….this can stay until mid-January too.

Check out Trader Joe’s for the little cypress trees that they sell for around $10.  As long as you keep watering them….they will last all the way until spring.  My tree from last year was planted in the Fairy Garden,(if they so much as dry out once….they are crispy critters).

These Santas are in keeping with the bronze and copper color scheme.

I know….these photos are awful….but I wanted to show you the minimalist dining room.

The only decorations in here are some artificial greens on the top of the mirror with a fun garland of dark red glass berries found at good will.

Same thing with the chandelier…I just wound greenery through the arms and draped some ribbon over the base.

The ribbon is very fun….with printed “FA LA LA” on it.  The thrifty part is my habit of NEVER throwing away cute ribbon….this was on a hostess gift…and it was obviously meant to be put in the ribbon stash.

The “sugared” grape clusters were another thrift store find.

Right now….Good Will has all of the Christmas Decor on a 50% discount…so get yourself over there….you don’t know what fun stuff you may find!

The living room chairs have a dose of holiday cheer with a simple red pillow sham. 

A few pretty things on a thrift store mirror.

Minimalism at it’s best.

Another Cypress tree….this one is a lemon color!

The little paper weight is etched like a globe….the little thrift store mirror got a coat of red paint and some Holiday sentiment!

The simple wreath hanging in the front window finishes things off.

Oh….here is one more decor touch that is pretty fun!
One little boy enjoying the decorations!

There you have it!  Our Minimalist and Thrifty Christmas Tour!

If I stand in the center of any room….there are nice little holiday touches in each….but nothing overwhelms me.
In fact….it is at this point most years when I start to feel like “CHRISTMAS” is closing in on me….and that isn’t happening.
Yes…there are lots of pretty things still in the boxes in the “Holiday Stash”….but they will be there next year!
In the meantime…..
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

shaker song – simple gifts – elder joseph brackett – 1848
“Simply” Have A Wonderful Day!