Old Sweetwater

Old Sweetwater

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Start Fresh

i don't do Spring cleaning; i do January cleaning.  It just seems right to thoroughly clean the house while taking down the holiday mess decorations.  At the end of year i throw away or repurpose frayed and hole-ridden towels. I say "goodbye" to the cracked dinnerware and get rid of the thirteen Cool Whip bowls that have  piled up for the last 11 months and 29 days.  i chuck the chipped Teflon pans and generally get rid of everything broken, stained and completely worn out.
With the new year a day away, i want to start fresh. I'll finally toss out the old, dusty potpourri in that covered dish by the tub and replace it with potpourri that actually has a SCENT.   i will buy a new, fresh white Egyptian cotton nightgown with the money i got from taking back that horrid, unique jacket.  i have begun a fresh List:  Replace water filter in 'fridge.  Give myself a mini-pedicure because those callouses are taking on a life of their own. Remember to breathe, etc.  You get the idea.  Does anyone else to January Cleaning?  What fresh thing do you look forward to in 2010?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aqua Reminds Me Of.....

Isn't this butcher's block FAB? Everyone seem to like them; especially antiques.  i was drawn to this butcher's block because of its aqua color.  
When i was six, my parents and i lived in an old, old rectory (parsonage) where my father was the caretaker for a church. Just three rooms for three short months, but i adored that place - smitten to pieces.  
One reason was that the kitchen and tiny stairway was painted a warm aqua.  It was my first meeting with aqua and it truly agreed with me.  I felt sooo happy surrounded by this color.  Funny thing.  I've never had it in my home since.  Huh.  Maybe in 2010 i'll try something in aqua? At least an apron or SOMEthing!!   What color makes you happy?
The first Etsy apron below has a bright aqua-turquoise band that would look sweet in behind this butcher's block!  The second is a "clothespin" apron - click on photo to link.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Know I Shouldn't But....

Okay, i know i shouldn't but...i need energy.  We bought four boxes of those protein-energy bars at the store.   My honey (not your health-nut eater) kept going to the cupboard for an energy bar -- two or three times a day!
"May i try one of those?" i asked.  I bit into wonderful chocolate and peanut butter!   "How much sugar do these contain?"
He shrugged, "I don't know, but they're energy bars. It says right here on the package. A-n-d, they have FIBER!" he gave a single nod and smiled back all toothy-like. 
After reading the ingredients, i laughed, "They're nothing but candy bars....or glorified cookies!"   i had a light bulb moment:   Cookies are a great source of energy, at least my oatmeal raisin cookies. They have protein and fiber.  
I know I shouldn't but.....i ate a two  three  four. Know what? I was tired, but now i'm good!  
Changing the subject on purpose....What do you think about incorporating a piece of furniture like this hutch into our painted Barn House kitchen? Quaker old fashioned disappearing oatmeal raisin cookies and milk below.


Monday, December 28, 2009

What In the World???

Most years i make those clove-stuck oranges and have even made my own natural mixed potpourri. One year I was cleaning (i mean REALLY cleaning) for company and was scared out of my wits when i found an object that i didn't recognize.  All grayish and weirdly shaped. It's a dead animal!  No. It was one of my clove-stuck oranges that had (somehow) gotten under the love seat.  Now understand this was hours, days, weeks, months later.  Did I just admit that?  Anyway, before January gets here, if anyone made those clove-stuck oranges, you might want to do a "headcount."   Uh-huh, it's not a pretty sight as you can see by the second photo below.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Toasty Sunday

I get on food "kicks."  Do you? i won't eat toast for months, then that's all i want.  That's where i am now.  We've only owned maybe, two toasters in our married life.  Our current toaster is a nice Cuisinart, pictured below.  So due to my toast kick, this Sunday there's whole wheat toast.   Of course, there's always steaming coffee, ice-cold apple snow (apple juice and honey over crushed ice) in frosted glasses....and butter.  Not just any butter, but whipped butter.  I got the recipe (below) from a wonderful old restaurant whose next generation did not want to continue.  It's not like what you buy at the store.  What will you have on your toast? 
Whipped Butter
With an electric mixer at medium speed, mix 1/2 pound of real butter and 1/2 pound of good quality margarine (sticks slightly softened) until well blended.  Beat in 1/4 cup of sour cream, a tablespoon at a time until smooth and fluffy. 

Sunday's Scripture: "I Am the Bread of Life" --John 6:48

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Now What?

The house is wreck. A couple of toys at your home are probably broken.  You're "worn slick" from cranky kids, cooking, eating too much with too-little sleep, late nights and your "special" pain-in-the-neck inlaw.  Ye-ah.  
One such year our (then) young son came up to me the day after Christmas and asked in a snotty, bratty, bored tone, "What now?" Obviously he was tired of his day-old toys.

In tired bewilderment I stared back.  "I don't have a clue."  "I cry from exhaustion."  "I vow to not do all this next year."  *deep breath*

"We make a place for all our new things and donation box for the less-used.  We clean up. We nap. We recuperate," I finally answered with authority.  He ran straight back into his room.  Phew!   Anyone know where I'm coming from?    This is not our son, just a stock photo, but it captured his look. LOL. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Is Today Really Tough For You?

Merry Christmas to those fortunate enough to have cause to celebrate! However, I know that not everyone is celebrating.   Everyone doesn't have a house full of laughing, happy guests dressed in green and red gathered around a beautiful, food-laden table.    This may be a very difficult time of year for you.   You are who I want to speak to.  You may not have funds, friends or family.    You may have lost a companion, friend or family member and cannot say, "Merry Christmas," because your heart is raw.   This time of year may bring up horrible or painful memories.   
Let me help gently remind you in just a few more hours, all the hoopla will be over.   Just hang on.   You're not alone in your suffering.   Not only do millions share your station in life right now, but there is One who completely understands and wishes to alleviate your pain.    If you want prayer, click here to submit a written need today or you can email me today and i promise i will pray.    If not, here's my ((hug)) to you.   To the rest, Merry Christmas!   

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Surprise


One Christmas Eve my family and our best friends went out to a wonderful dinner.  The streets were busy with shoppers.  The Christmas lights, stores and stoplights reflected off the wet sidewalks.  When we all arrived at our little bungalow a couple of hours later, imagine the utter surprise to find Santa placing gifts under our Christmas tree!   My five-year-old brother and his best five-year-old friend actually gasped and stood frozen.  Then they came to their senses and ran around like chickens with their heads cut off....until Santa spoke.  My brother stopped dead in his tracks; crinkled up his freckled nose and squinted one eye.  The jig was up.  It was our dear retired neighbor Ed, who had graciously donned the rented Santa suit.   After my brother was an adult, he told me he knew it was our elderly neighbor all the time.   Uh-huh.   Does anyone have a "Santa"-type story?   To me, Jesus is the entire reason to celebrate Christmas and i base my idea of a "Santa" on St. Nicholas of Myra.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White (Christmas) Wednesday

Wordless and White...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

City Sidewalks

"City Sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style. In the air there's a feeling of Christmas!" We went to the Country Club Plaza a couple of nights ago and experienced the lyrics of the song! It was the first shopping center in the WORLD designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile, but you'll not find stop lights! It's very European influenced, especially Seville, Spain -- hence the half-sized Giralda Tower of Seville (on the left in first photo). These aren't great photos because we couldn't sit in one place for more than 8 seconds, but I hope you get the idea. The sidewalks were crowded with shoppers and people dining out. The sights and sounds of Christmas surrounded us! Speaking of "Silver Bells," what's your favorite Christmas-holiday song?


Monday, December 21, 2009

Old Fashioned Christmas

When i was a teen, my best friend Becky, and i used to decorate my family's Christmas tree.  My parents usually bought a live tree and new (inexpensive) glass ornaments and those big lights each year.  When we were fifteen, Becky taught me how to string popcorn and fresh cranberries to hang on the tree.  Now we're not talking microwave popcorn, but the old fashioned kind where you pour oil in a heavy skillet; throw in a handful of popping corn and shake!  We had to make several skillets because we ate half the popcorn.  I remember thinking it was the most beautiful tree i ever saw with the white popcorn and red cranberries.  Anyone else ever string popcorn?   Anyone do it this year???  BTW, i'm posting on the road -- "long distance" right now, so i'll be checking comments once a day, so bear with me. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Extrodinary Formal Christmas Dinner

Any holiday dinner needs to be extra-ordinary, and I prefer to lean toward formal.  When hostessing a holiday dinner,  i use my best china, crystal, flatware and silver.  Here is what a formal table setting looks like.  
i also used individual salt cellars for my extra-special touch.   It took me a couple of years to find twelve sets of cut glass cellars.  Don't ask me why, but when we moved from Georgia to Missouri, i sold them all at a garage sale!  Temporary insanity is my plea.  This is a decision i've regretted over and over.  Now i see the silver cellars pictured below and the inexpensive individual shakers (pictured below the cellars),  and wish i had mine again. I didn't have all the little spoons yet, so we allow "pinching" the salt.  If you have either cellars or shakers, may i suggest keeping them even if you don't think you'll use them again?   if not, you can find them for a few dollars each up to nearly $1,000 a set like the silver pair below.   No matter the cost, they add that "little extra-ordinary" touch to any table.  Anyone else have salt cellars or individual shakers?     The sterling silver salt and pepper cellars are available at goantiques.com. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How To Make A Primitive Tree

I was asked to show how I made my primitive (feather-type) Christmas tree for FREE. I want to say, there are beautiful primitive trees available in stores and online.  Mine is not made of feathers. I wanted something sturdy and for zero cost.   I also could not find any tutorials, so this was my last year's "trial by fire" and has many imperfections.  IT TOOK THREE HOURS TO MAKE IT.  I apologize for non-fancy fixed up photos.  This is a longer-than-normal post for me.  Remember,  click on the photos below for larger image. 
You'll need:

  • green silk garland that has a metal core
  • good quality heavy-duty wire cutting pliers  
  • measuring tape
  • sharp, but not expensive scissors because you may accidentally catch the wire core while trimming
  • gloves to protect your hand from getting scraped by the wire
  • optional duct tape - I know, but it works and it will be covered!
  • brown floral tape or plain brown paper such as a grocery sack and hotglue gun
  • a sturdy stand for the dowel - I used a metal container filled with landscape stones. Other ideas - large bowl, crockery or other container filled with cat litter** or heavy iron ornate tree stand...
  • 1 wooden dowel 3/4" or so in diameter,  4 feet long   See Collage
My garland was composed of shorter pieces of silk greenery wrapped and entwined around the main silk-covered wire. Remove each shorter piece by cutting or simply pulling the short pieces out.  (greenery photo 1 under collage photo)    If you find your garland is braided, undo braiding and separate about a 3 foot section to begin with.

Tip: it is better to make each cut LONGER because you can always trim away.
Tier 1 - bottom tier. CAREFULLY using your wire-cutting pliers, cut six -12" long pieces from the main trunk. Straighten. CAREFULLY trim the greenery down to about 1/4 inch of the metal center - it's a little messy, but this is what makes it primitive looking.  You should have six pipe-cleaner looking stems at least 12" long.  Set aside.  Photo 2 under collage shows a less expensive branch with the top half trimmed short and a plush garland that I used before trimming down.
Now cut twelve pieces that are 6" long. Straighten and trim greenery. These will be referred to as "end stems."  Photos 3.
About 1 1/2" from the tip of each 12" piece, attach one of the 6" pieces by holding one end, looping around the branch once and pull, straightening out other end. Make sure its fairly even on either side.  About 2" in from the first set, attach a second set of end stems onto branches (as shown). It resembles a old TV antenna. Photo 4
Tier 2  Cut six 10" long pieces. Straighten. Trim. Cut twelve - 5" long end stem pieces. Straighten. Trim.  Attach first end stems about 1 1/2" from outer tip. Move in another 1" or so and twist on second end stems. Lay aside. 
Tier 3  Cut six - 6" long branches and only six - 4" end stems. Straighten and trim. Attach one end stem per branch about 1 1/2" from end in the same manner as above. 
Tier 4  Cut six -  4 1/2" long branches and six - 3 1/2" end stems. Straighten and trim.  Attach each end stem about 1 1/2" from end of branch. 
Tier 5  Cut six 4" long branches. Straighten and trim. Do not cut any end stems.
Tier 6 (top) Cut six 3" long branches. Straighten and trim. Do not cut any end stems.
Prepare:  Bend each branch end, opposite of stem end, as follows: Tier 1 bend each branch down 3 inches. Tier 2 bend down 2 inches.  Tier 3 bend 1 1/2 inches.  Tiers 4-6 bend down 1 inch.  photo 5 under collage 
Attach Branches: About 18" from bottom of dowel, duct tape the six - 12" branch bent-sections onto dowel, spacing evenly. Don't worry about the nub or bump now. 

Attach Tier 2 about 6-7" up from Tier 1.  Continue up the dowel spacing Tiers 3 through 6 about 4" apart vertically.
Wrap entire dowel with brown floral wrap which sticks to itself as it's stretched...or use wrinkled brown paper torn into narrow uneven strips. Do this however is easiest for you to cover dowel. CAREFULLY hot-glue the paper around dowel. 
This hides the stems and resembles bark. You can also dry brush some blackish-brown paint on the paper to give it a bark look (the messier the better).
Another idea is to cover the dowel with grayish lichen or Birch bark! If you used the bent branch method, you can "build" up the rest of the dowel to be even with the bump caused by branches by using more paper in between tiers. I didn't, but will if I remake this tree. 
Secure tree in container. **If using cat litter fill, put tree dowel in container. Add cat litter until full. Add water to the litter, which hardens the clay. Push on litter until dowel is firmly in place!
Hang vintage ornaments (which i don't have any of yet) and enjoy the fruit of your labor!  This was my first attempt, and so I put icicles on it (not shown) --- icicles hide all imperfections. *wink*

If you have a question or suggestion, please feel  free to email me.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I did not grow up with Advent.  i "discovered" it one year at a Christian bookstore when i was looking for a way to cope with Christmas after a close relative had done something that ruined the Christmas spirit for our extended family.    That year i learned when participating in Advent, you spend the time before December 25 solemnly waiting and preparing for the celebration of Christ's birth.   My focus was changed from a person (with faults) to the Person of Jesus (faultless).    i fasted.   i cried.   i focused.   i forgave.   That year we set up a nativity and added each figure - saving baby Jesus until Christmas morn.   We didn't buy a live tree until December 24 and then celebrated into January.   It ended up being the most spiritual and fulfilling Christmas i could have imagined.  It saved my sanity.   Has anyone been there? 

Wouldn't this Etsy knitted hat would be so warm as you choose a live tree on Christmas Eve?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Natural Christmas

Some years our tree has been all frou-frou, as in my (now old) ballet toe shoes and angels hanging from the branches, but most years I do a more natural look, even when tree's theme color was blue or white.   When I lived in the South, my favorite things to put in the tree were from our yard: pine cones, large dried hydrangeas, late-blooming roses, magnolia leaves, red nandina leaves, peeling river birch bark, and my very favorite were large branches of dried Italian Basil!   Dried basil smells divine -- very peppery. I also like the idea of putting the "decorations" on the compost pile after Christmas. Talk about easy clean-up!  A few years ago I bought 18 of these lichen ornaments.   They're died red and have a velvet look.   Are you a "natural" or "frou-frou" tree trimmer?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Let It Snow!

"Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow!" The year before I got married, it snowed on Christmas morning. I remember being too excited to stay asleep, so I got up and looked outside.  The street lights illuminated huge snowflakes lazily drifting down from heaven.  I quickly tip-toed into my little brother's room about 5 o'clock in the morning to find that he was awake too.  I snuggled under his covers while we made our plans which consisted of turning on tree lights, Christmas music, making coffee and getting large trash bags out for discarded wrapping paper and boxes.  Later when we woke our parents up, we opened the family room drapes with a flourish to present the glistening wonderland outside our window.  What a fantastic "last Christmas at home!"  Do you have a Christmas snow memory?   These two ornaments, once again, were from Cracker Barrel last year! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Christmas Joy

Christmas joy. It's different for everyone.  Some of us feel joy at the sounds and sights of the holiday.  Others feel joy over good news or a good report that came during this time of year.  There are those that have joy due to a special gift waiting under their tree.  Quite a few get joy from helping those less fortunate.  Many feel joy because they personally know the One whose birth we celebrate!   What gives you joy at Christmas?   
I got these two ornaments last year at Cracker Barrel.   The rusty JOY is a favorite.  Call me a hick, but I like Cracker Barrel's  "store goods."

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Primitive Tree

About a week ago I posted a white  feather tree. Today I'm showing a small  traditional green one. They make wonderful accent trees like Country Living shows below on a coffee table.  To have a primitive look,  just hang muslin, clay and organic ornaments.

The small ones I wanted last year were $50.00, so I just made one (partly pictured in the top photo)!  It's far from perfect; therefore it's primitive!   I also made these little 2-inch mittens myself to hang on it.  The wooden star is store-bought.   Have you made any of your ornaments?  

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Robe

Especially during the Christmas holiday I enjoy lounging in my robe. Scuffing around in my house shoes and the biggest, fluffiest house robe made, puts me in a wonderful mood.   I don't care if it add 20 pounds to my "curves,"  as long as it's comfy.  When I come home from church today, the first thing I will put on is one of my "polar bear" robes....always white.

On this Sunday do I have any other robe sisters?