Hooray For The Red White and Blue!

Happy Fourth of July!
The flags are flying and we plan a simple celebration with family to view the fireworks from the dock at the Sweetwater Mom’s lake house!
It is a beautiful summer day here at Sweetwater!
Take a peek at the simple patriotic decorations around here.
I have a collection of “stuff” and just plop it here and there!
Really….what is more like summer than the Red White and Blue?
Flags line the front gardens and the bakers rack gets some bunting!
The little fruit box is painted and stenciled to look like a flag!
This flower arrangement of Daisies, Red Bee Balm and Campanula sits on a patriotic runner on the Kitchen Table.
The framed postcards and painted baskets with a few flags decorate the bakers rack.  The big bow is made from a piece of gorgeous ribbon I splurged on long ago…..I felt guilty when I spent ten dollars for a yard of it…..but in hindsight it was worth it!
Even the Fairy Garden House is “Flying the Flag”!
You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  ~Erma Bombeck
Have A Wonderful 4th of July!

Easy Thrifty Easter Centerpiece!

Easter is sure late this year…..hard to believe it is April 9th and Easter is still more than a week away!

And still….he daffodils in the yard haven’t peeked up through the leftover snow piles quite yet….but they are available in abundance at the grocery store for very little money…..

They are a little luxury that I treat myself to!

And if you have vistited Sweetwater Style before….you know that I plant an awful lot of wheat grass… just makes me feel good to see a little green around here!

I also had this Easter Egg wreath that came from Goodwill long ago….in fact so long ago that it was getting pretty shabby looking!

I took it apart and tucked the little eggs away….knowing that they would find a use one day!

I decided to use all these elements to create a simple and thrifty Easter Centerpiece this year!
All you need is $2 bunch of grocery store Daffodils….
a block of floral foam….and a big bowl of wheat grass!
I cut small blocks of floral foam that I presoaked in water….
I tucked them throughout the wheat grass….and pushed the grass back up around them!
Then it was a simple matter of cutting the Daffodils and pushing the stems into the floral foam!
Then I added the little eggs I had saved from the wreath along the outside of the bowl….
I did add a bit of Spanish moss too!
I tucked a few more eggs around the Daffodils to further disguise the floral foam!
I am really pleased with the finished product…..and Marvin is TOO!
I have some more wheat grass sprouting because I know this won’t last until Easter….!
Maybe by the time I am ready to redo this….t
here will be Daffodils growing in the Sweetwater Garden!
Have A Great Day!

Sunday Snippets From Sweetwater

Happy February! 
I would have to say that I am awfully glad that January is behind us!  If it wasn’t snowing….it was blowing and below zero!  A total of 5 days of school cancelled because of extreme cold has to be a record!

snippet (n)

1. A bit, scrap, or morsel: “sparkling black bass … strewn with snippets of coriander and basil” (Gael Greene).
2. Informal A small or mischievous person.
I had no idea that a snippet was a small or mischievous person…..but since I am BOTH….here are a few snippets from around Sweetwater this week!

A good friend from school retired this week.  JoAnn and I worked together for more years than I want to admit to. We celebrated with great stories!  This is the little gift I gave her….

The fun story about the little frame is that the tiles that are glued on to the simple frame are some that I rescued from the school that we worked at together for all those years…..I scored a bucket of these little tiles from the trash when the school was being remodeled….and now JoAnn has a little piece of her history to put on a shelf!

Our new car arrived…..luckily we were scheduled to pick it up on Monday…when we didn’t have school because of the cold!  Why you ask?  Well, it took over 2 hours for them to teach me how to push all the buttons so I can drive it!  Go Figure!!!  Then it sat in the garage on Tuesday because of another cold day off!  I thought Mr. S was going to cry on Wednesday morning when it was time to drive to school for the first time…..there was a SNOWSTORM during morning rush!  Long story short…I love it….or will when I figure out all of the new technology!

I planted some wheat grass… is happily sprouting in the front window along side the Holiday Poinsettias!  I hate that they still look too nice to throw away…..but really….it IS February…..maybe I need to hang some hearts on the and call them Valentine Plants!
Anyway…..the wheat grass is a little bit of summer in the house! 

I splurged on some fresh flowers for the house!   Well…..they are from the grocery store… for $12 I have flowers that will last a couple of weeks.  The mums are already a week old and still look great.  Yesterday I got some Astromeria….another long lasting flower!

Today I am going to do a little Valentine’s decorating….the nice thing about blogging…I have a pictorial history of what I have done in the past…..hmmmmm…..maybe I will just totally copy last year’s decor!

Since learning that I fit the definition of a SNIPPET….I wonder what mischief I can get into THIS week!

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!

Decking the Halls-Sweetwater Style!

Christmas Decor Sweetwater Style is all about NOT spending a fortune on beautiful decorations!
I didn’t say that I don’t spend ANYTHING….but many of my favorite decor items come from….
GOODWILL or as I prefer to call it
Boutique Bon Volanté!
Here are a few of the items gathered from there!
I love Fitz and Floyd….these are all from Bon Volanté….the Sweetwater Daughter has been really lucky…she found the cookie plant and Holly Berry Bowl for less than $5!
If you read Sweetwater Style on a regular basis…you know I collect old Silverplate from GW!
I have this pair of Silver Loving Cups….they are perfect for the poinsettias…
The Holiday Crackers are the perfect color….so nobody gets to crack them and get the goodies!
I think they look great with the bowls of red Christmas balls…
I have bought them over time at GW too!
The pretty red runner is actually 4 place mats I bought for $.99 each (yes….GW)
The mantel decor this year really is all Goodwill!
I just started layering all kinds of sparkly foliage and fruits….
they have been collected from GW over time!
I found some gilded Magnolia leaves and the sparkling grapes this fall….
the wreath has been around for lots of years…
I know I told you about the pears…I laugh when I think that I hesitated buying them because they cost a whopping $7… I just bought some REAL pears for that same amount of money and they don’t even look that good!  
The little copper Jingle Bell wreath goes beautifully with the other copper accents. 
I am always on the look out for “special” ornaments that are under a dollar…these are a couple I found!
The strand of glass berries are strung on some thick wire…that makes them easy to arrange.  I wonder how much they would cost in a “real” boutique?

The basket of greens got some illumination when one of the strings of lights was half unlit….no one can see the tangle of unlit bulbs under the greens!
The little twig tree was a find at Bon Volanté (although I did pay $8)…but I knew it would be perfect with the wire chicken!

There aren’t  8 of these Reindeer prancing along the bookshelf
…..but they are silver and they were cheap!
Don’t you love this little golden “gift box cage”?
It was sitting on the shelf a couple of summers ago….with the ornaments and everything!
The only problem with my favorite boutique….
you can’t really order online!
You actually have to go out in the cold and the snow!!!
Now…..I am off to do some last minute shopping…..even though…
the weather out there is frightful!
Have A Wonderful Day!