I MIGHT Be Sick of Flowers! NOT!

Whew….last week was a really busy week around here!
What fun to help with a wedding….
The Bride made her own bouquet!
The Mother of the Bride came with buckets of flowers and Hosta as well as friends to help!
Would you believe….96 little bouquets of flowers plus lots of table arrangements.
Note that the view out the window of the venue is THE GOVERNOR’S MANSION!
The second event was the creation of floral decor for a Golden Wedding Celebration.

The BRIDE, her Daughter-in-law and Grand Daughter came to Sweetwater to create the centerpieces, corsages, and boutonneires.
I think Grandma was proud to watch her Grand Daughter’s confidence grow as she became accomplished at creating the arrangements!
The view from the tables was spectacular Lake Minnetonka on a gorgeous Sunday. That is pretty hard to beat!

Wednesday was a trip to Koehler and Dramm
to buy bunches and bunches of flowers.

All those flowers needed conditioning….more playing with flowers.

Thursday was spent creating all the wedding flowers.
Friday we spent setting up the wedding venue.

Saturday we made the Anniversary flower arrangements, corsages and boutonneires.

Sunday the Anniversary flowers were set up!

Then….I needed to make use of all the leftovers…because you really can’t throw away a good looking flower!

And NOW….
The garden is in full bloom….so those flowers really call to be cut for the house!

You would think that I would be SO OVER flowers…..but NOT!

They say you can’t be too rich or too thin….but I would say….
You can never have too many flowers!

Have A “Blooming” Great Day!

Bar Table from a Wine Barrel

Today’s post is brought to you by some dear “old” friends of ours.
You know those friends that you have and don’t see often enough?
But. when you do see them….it is like you were still hanging out in the old neighborhood?
Well these are THOSE friends!
Thank Goodness for Facebook to help us stay connected.
When our friends posted about a fabulous DIY project, I just knew I had to share it with you.
 Is that cool or what?
Even better….I asked for specifics and directions and my friend basically wrote the post for me!
Tutorial for Wine Cork Topped Bar Table
Acquire a wine barrel. 
Drink copious amounts of wine, reserving the corks. 
Purchase a glass top (we went to Pier 1). 
I organized the corks by length, although it’s not necessary. 
Then by trial and error, place the corks on the barrel top creating your own design. 
Finally, place 8+ vinyl or silicon cabinet door stoppers on the barrel top. 
Put on the glass top. Super easy!

I feel a little embarrassed to show you the Sweetwater Wine Cork Projects.
They are pretty simplistic in comparison…
The “drink copious amounts of wine” part holds true!
These trays or trivets are made by hot gluing corks into thrift store wood trays.
They come in very handy and save the surface of your table.

Corks were the perfect border to hide the raw edge of the wool shirt!

So I challenge you to “drink copious amounts of wine” 
or make friends with a bartender and ask her to save you some…

And to my old friends…thanks for sharing!
Wish the house that this bar is in wasn’t so far away!
and remember….
Have A Wonderful Day!

Volunteers in the Garden A BONUS!

What a nice surprise it can be to notice new little plants coming up around where last year’s plants were.  Now…people who like tidy organized gardens would say that these plants that are “out of place”!  They might even call them “weeds”!

Here at Sweetwater…..we believe in this old adage!

Some of you may not know that these little plants are called “volunteers”!

I have been finding many, many, many little volunteers all over the Sweetwater Garden!

Finding wonderful websites and resources for my projects and posts is a happy part of blogging!  All good posts have a little research behind them.

GARDENING KNOW HOW is the most amazing website!  You really should take a minute to hop over there and visit! I kept linking from one great article to the next!  But this quote from the article about “Serendipitous Gardening” was the perfect rationale I needed to “save and rescue” my little Sweetwater Volunteers!

“What is serendipity in the garden? Serendipitous gardening is and can be an interesting alternative to traditional gardening. Rather than going through the task of designing your garden to perfection, just sit back and allow nature to do all the work for you. This is, after all, what she does best, harmonizing the landscape by letting the plants choose what type of soil they prefer and in what area they would like to grow. Most of us are taught to take complete control of our gardening environment, but sometimes nature understands, better than we do, how to keep our gardens balanced.”

Sometimes the volunteers end up in spots that really can’t have plants….on pathways or next to plants that would suffer with the competition!

 These little Violet plants popped up in the rocks next to the front walk garden!

I dug them up and planted them in some of those little pots that are taking up space in the garage!

Look how happy this plant is in it’s new planter!

By doing this….I have potted plants to enjoy until the annuals go on sale at the nursery!

Mint is a plant that likes to spread all over.  It is so hardy that you can literally rip it up and plant it.

At the nursery….a mint plant costs like $4….and this one is FREE!

There used to be two pots of Hyssop….a licorice scented plant that pops up all over the gardens here!

I kept one and “gifted” the other to a friend who came to lunch this week!

The planters on the front steps are also waiting for annuals!

The plants you see here are snippets of Lady’s Mantle.

This lovely perennial is a favorite of mine because of the wonderful chartreuse  colored blooms that will come in a month or so!

They create a nice “fill” for the early season.

I will add a couple of bright colored Geraniums and some other annuals this week.

This is a great way to avoid having to buy all of those expensive accent plants at the nursery!

When the Lady’s Mantle is done blooming and starts to look “shabby”, the annuals will be on sale at the nursery!

Thrifty….if I do say so myself!

I challenge you to wander your garden with your little shovel and take advantage of some “volunteerism”!

I am off to school today to “Be a Volunteer” for some terrific kids who need a little help “blooming”….how serendipitous is that?!

Hope YOU have a Wonderful Day!

Link Parties

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!
    Market Flowers at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market
    Market Flowers at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market has a wonderful DYI program.
    You can go there….purchase your flowers and create your wedding bouquets on site!
    Well….you can if you make the reservation in time!
    Since we didn’t get a reservation…..
    we brought the flowers to Sweetwater and turned the kitchen into our “Flower Workshop!
    This was actually more fun because it was a nicer “venue” complete with refreshments and fresh from the garden greenery!
    The “Floral Design Team” included the Bride…..3 of the Bridesmaids and Me!
    This amazing and creative group put together all of the bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages in less than 3 hours!  In addition there were flowers for the 10 Aisle decorations!
    Guess what!   The total costs for everything including the raffia and other supplies was under $400!  HMMMM….that seems to fit the definition of THRIFTY in my book!
    I wish I had pictures of the “workshop”……but to be honest I was too busy making arrangements!
    I DO have photos at the wedding… enjoy!

    What a beautiful Bride….and you would never describe her bouquet as “inexpensive looking!
    The Bridesmaids bouquets looked nice at the ceremony and then were lovely decor for the tables during the social hour!

     The Sunflower filled vases graced the aisles during the wedding and then moved inside to decorate the “largest head table” ever!!!

    I guess what I hope you take away from this post is the fact that it is possible to make “WEDDING” and “THRIFTY” synonyms and not antonyms!
    Besides…..we had a lot of fun in the process!
    Have A Great Day!

Pasta Bar For a Crowd!

Four Parties in Six Days!
What was I thinking?
 Christmas Eve…. 
Christmas Day….
A Cocktail/Fondue Party…
 and finally a Pasta Buffet yesterday…
There was lots of celebrating here at Sweetwater!
We had lots of fun through it all….
(but I do have to admit that I am a bit tired of cooking)
I had never attempted a pasta buffet before…. 
there were some moments when I wasn’t sure it was going to work….
but we were pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it all went.
In fact….this might just become a go to menu for future gatherings!
The menu was simple:
Kale Salad
Caesar Salad
French Bread
Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese
Swedish Meatballs in Gravy
Alfredo Sauce w/chicken-broccoli-roasted peppers
Fettucini and Wide Pasta Noodles
 Various Desserts and Sweets contributed by the guests
Swedish Rice Pudding w/Lingonberries

Recipes Tricks and Tips

  • Best recipe for chicken strips for the Pasta:  Buy them…..Already cooked….in a package….  The texture and taste of the already prepared chicken strips from CostCo were more than acceptable when covered with sauce!

  • DON’T blanch your broccoli ahead of time….I thought this was smart and did it to save time….except I left it in the pan with the cover on and ended up with mushy over cooked vegetables….won’t do THAT again!
  • Cook the pasta ahead of time and keep it in the oven with the absolute lowest temp….in fact…I kept turning the oven off to just have the tiniest bit of heat.  The pasta was in those aluminum catering trays.   A little pasta water poured over the pre-cooked noodles brought them “back to life” when it was time to put the pasta on the table.  (a warming tray kept the temp “lukewarm”)  This also allowed an easy replenishing of the pasta when needed.

This Sweet Kale Salad from CostCo is a new favorite at Sweetwater.  It comes with all the fixings. Just pour into a bowl…add the dressing and “stuff” that is included and enjoy!  It was simple enough to make a second batch when it ran low during the party….maybe people thought a little crunchy greens would make for something “healthy” given the decadence of all the pasta!

  • The Bolognese sauce was “almost homemade” by using prepared Spaghetti sauce with meat and spices added.  I really made this for the kids….but the “big” kids seemed to enjoy it too!
  • I sort of stressed out about finding the “perfect” Alfredo Sauce that could be made ahead!  This recipe worked very well….in fact the teenage boys at the party told me they thought this would be great for their own sports “Pasta/Carbo loading parties….which I took as a “high compliment”

Do Ahead Alfredo Sauce

1/2 cup real butter
3 TBSP Cream Cheese *nuefantel worked fine
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Cup grated Parmesan  (store brand cheap stuff worked fine)
Melt the butter, cream cheese and cream in a saucepan,
Add the cheese and stir until it is completely incorporated.
Cool and keep until you are ready to heat it up in the microwave and put in the crockpot to serve.
YES….it is that simple!
Simple….but rich, rich, rich and YUMMY!
This sauce stood the test of sitting for more than 4 hours on the buffet without losing texture or taste!
It is definitely a KEEPER!

  • Mr. S decided that pouring frozen bags of prepared meatballs and adding mushroom soup and beef broth would NOT do for this buffet.  He painstakingly prepared meatballs from SCRATCH using a recipe from his mom’s Swedish Woman’s Cookbook!  I have to say they were delicious!  (maybe I can convince him to write a guest post and share the recipe with you some day!)

  • Add some crusty sliced bread and butter…..A bowl of nice Parmesan Cheese and you are DONE!
The party was lots of fun and there were plenty of entertaining activities!
….the Vikings WON the final game in the Metrodome….Surprise!
….The Packers pulled off a last minute victory…..amazing!
….the slide show on the computer of hundreds of digitized slides of the family history going back 50 years made for some wonderful trips down memory lane!
Now…..I am going to heat up some of the leftover Cider…..start a fire…..and read a good book….
ALL DAY…..since it is 10 below zero outside and I don’t have anywhere to be!
Have a Great Day!