Create / Enjoy

Thursday, May 21, 2015

DIY Wardrobe Makeovers BOOK SIGNING announced!!!

I am SO excited to announce my book signing on June 7th at Barnes & Noble in Portland!

June 7 is the official release date of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers, and if you pre-ordered it (thank you!!) you should receive it by then. Bring a copy with you to the signing, and I'll sign it and thank you in person!!!

If not, you can buy a copy at the store!

Please RSVP on the EventBrite event here.

My box of books arrived this week and I feel like a kid in a candy shop. I'm so happy with how the book turned out and I love flipping through them and looking at the photos and sidebars and features! I can't wait to share them with you all and hear what you like about them!

I would LOVE to meet you or see you again at my book signing June 7, 1:00 to 3:00 PM (drop in any time) in Portland at Lloyd Center Mall Barnes & Noble! RSVP here! Thank you!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DIY ribbon trim table runner tutorial

My dining table is usually bare. Except for maybe a notepad or empty flower vase, or overflow from husband's book bag. When we're not using it, the dining table sits plain in the dining area, un-decorated and un-festive.

I don't want to put a table cloth on it all the time, or place mats, because they get dirty with use and are harder to clean. I don't have fresh flowers all the time, and I don't want to scrape up the surface with living plant pots. The table is 72" long, so almost all the table runners I see in stores (while cute, and in so many fun styles!) are too short to look right. They are super easy to make, but I haven't made one in years!

So I was inspired when I saw this ribbon from Offray--I loved the bright, tropical leaf print and thought a simple runner design with a bright white would really show it off! So I finally got my act together and made a summery runner for our poor, lonely table.

Here's a tutorial for how you can make a chic, bold table runner with some great ribbon and simple fabric!

DIY Ribbon Trim Table Runner


You will need:

  • 2-5 yards cotton twill, cotton duck, linen, or linen-look fabric (depending on table size)
  • Twice the yardage of the fabric in fun ribbon (I used this 2.5" wide satin ribbon)
  • Standard sewing supplies

Instructions:


1. Cut or tear two pieces of even size. Mine were about 14" wide.

2. Sew the long seams right sides together.

3. Press the seams to one side, from the inside and outside.

4. Press flat. Fold the tube you've created so the seams are centered on the side edges, and press and pin flat.

5. Topstitch about 1/4" (presser foot width) from the edge on both edges. 

6. Cut two pieces of ribbon 2-3" longer than the unhemmed runner and remove the wires. I found it helps to stand on the bottom of the ribbon as you scrunch and pull!

7. Position the ribbon the desired distance from the edge and pin. For a narrower ribbon, father might look nicer... or closer, hard to say. Mine was 5/8" from the edge. Pin on the outer edge, with a few stabilizing pins on the inner edge to keep it on grain.

8. Topstitch the outer edge of the ribbon.

9. Topstitch the outer edge, using your hand and the stabilizing pins to keep it flat.

10. Turn ends under and press. Treat them as one piece and turn under 1/4" or so, then 3/4" or so and press and pin. 

11. Hem by machine or by hand.

Display proudly!

Here it is in my dining room, making the table look less lonely when it's not in use!

Thanks to Offray for sponsoring this post!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A book on practically everything interesting - The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook! And a giveaway

There are a LOT of great books out there on topics I care about. LOTS of beautiful real food cookbooks, lots of books on backyard chickens and urban homesteading, lots of beautiful, inspiring lifestyle photography books, lots of books on what's wrong with our food system for sustainability and health. So when Diana Rodgers (of The Sustainable Dish blog and Modern Farm Girls podcast) combined ALL those topics and more into this one amazing book, I knew it was worth having!!

And The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook has not disappointed. I've loved sharing this book with my husband (we dream of having chickens!) and am excited to read it with my mother-in-law, a pro gardener and the one who introduced us to local grassfed beef- and pastured hog share-buying.

So I was also very excited to share it with you! And overwhelmed as to where to start on this review. So much good stuff!

Check out this page on Diana's blog for more about the book, plus a beautiful video trailer!

The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook is more than 400 pages of info, including gorgeous photos (they were shot in FILM photography!! How many gardening/homesteading/cookbooks can say that?), and is split into sections about 1) the case for sustainable living and eating, and the problems with standard modern diets, 2) Raising, 3) Growing, 4) Cooking, and 5) Living. So many things I care about!

The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook Review


Here are a few of my favorite pages and tidbits from the book.

The "Raising" section talks about chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats, pigs, cows, and even bees!

I've heard about Diana's chicken coops on wheels (on podcasts), so it was cool to see this photo of them! And read about the role chickens play in a sustainable farm.

The "Growing" section is also an incredible resource. The parts about getting started with a food garden (on any scale, even porch planters) are helpful for me since I'm a newbie at it. Some great science on soil health, too.

And specifics about growing each family of produce.

Possibly my favorite page in the book is this map of what you can grow on a 1/8 acre, 1/4 acre, or 1 acre plot of land. Oh, how I hope I can one day (soon?) have a yard of any size at all, and be able to produce some of our own food on it!

Of course, there are also RECIPES! In the "Cooking" section, the 100+ recipes are organized by season. This is super helpful for those of us with CSA subscriptions, too... I've been getting a lot of the ingredients for the "Early Season Recipes" in our CSA box each week, and this book is organized for seasonal eating and using foods that are available at the same time as each other. Perfect!!

Diana took more than a year to get all the photos taken, so she was able to capture each season on the farm. It's incredible what we can produce all year 'round, and if you subscribe to a year-round CSA or winter CSA like we do, you know you get some amazing produce in the winter, too. The photos of all the recipes are so gorgeous (film photography of fresh, local food through the seasons... what more could you want in an appetizing cookbook?), every page is inspiring. And, Diana is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and notes in each recipes if it can be made nut-free, egg-free, Autoimmune Protocol-friendly, or Whole30-compliant. All the recipes are gluten-free and most are or can be dairy-free.

This roasted asparagus soup with trumpet mushrooms and sorrel recipe is also available on Diana's blog!

There are important kitchen tips in the "Cooking" section, too, like basic canning methods (I need to learn!!), how to make and refrigerate broths, how to grill... and this, how to care for cast iron cookware. We love our cast iron, but it did take some getting used to.

The "Living" section of the book has DIY projects like beeswax candles, ideas for games, and tips for de-stressing. And some tips and encouragement on eating good food on a budget/"making it work in real life."

Even if you don't have land (we have two decks, no yard) or a green thumb, the book is helpful and informational about how we buy food. The first part shares some help for being an educated consumer (like what all the terminology on egg varieties means), and I love reading stats like how Americans' budgets have changed over the years on how much we spend on food.

Giveaway!


I can't explain how much great information is packed into this beautiful book. I'm sure you will love The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook if you love cooking real, high quality food!

Diana has generously offered one of my readers a copy of this incredible book! Enter here! Ends Thursday, 5/21 at 9:00 PM PST.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Pre-summer recipe! Coconut blueberry cinnamon ice cream

I love making homemade coconut milk ice cream. I've tried a lot of different recipes and techniques, and sometimes I just wing it--but it does take a lot of trial and error and sometimes it doesn't work out! I've gotten creative with recipes and solutions for tasty dairy-free ice creams!

It's been hot this past week, and getting me thinking about summer. I love picking blueberries at u-pick farms, and we still have 2 large freezer containers of berries from last summer. Time to use them up, right?!

I used frozen blueberries for this recipe, but you could try it with fresh ones after blueberry picking in July!

A lot of the blueberry ice cream recipes I looked at (dairy free/Paleo like this one or conventional) used blended blueberry mixture in the ice cream. That sounds tasty, but I know from making fruity ice creams before that the more fruit you add, the icier it gets--less creamy from the fat in the cream, more like a sorbet. I wanted creamy ice cream, so I left the blueberries whole.

I've often used egg yolks in coconut milk ice creams, but there is some timing involved in making the custard, or just calculating the ratios of egg yolks to milk... I'm not a pro at this yet so it's sometimes a little too complicated. So this recipe uses gelatin for thickener! Another great use for Vital Proteins or other high quality grassfed beef gelatin. It's high in protein and gives a delicious smooth texture. (Read my post here on what I use their collagen peptides for!) If you don't already have some, I highly recommend some Vital Proteins gelatin for desserts and other recipes (here or here), or the peptides for cold drinks.

Cinnamon Blueberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp gelatin (dissolved into 1/4 c. boiling water)
  • 20 oz. (1.5 cans) full-fat coconut milk (this brand is amazing! and free of additives)
  • 1/4 c. honey or to taste
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c. frozen blueberries

We have a very basic ice cream maker (like this), and I'm getting to test its limitations. (My friend has this one which seems like a good upgrade). Depending on the size of your ice cream maker, you may need to make this in multiple batches.

    Instructions:


    1. Combine dissolved gelatin, coconut milk, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon in glass bowl. Heat in microwave or warm oven if needed to blend gelatin. (May not be necessary if your coconut milk was warm or room temperature).
    2. Blend together with a handheld stick blender, or use a standard blender (harder to clean!). If it is warm, cool in refrigerator or freezer until cool.
    3. Add whole blueberries to coconut milk mixture.
    4. Assemble ice cream maker and turn on. Pour combined mixture into ice cream maker and churn until done.

    Serve immediately! Top with cinnamon, coconut flakes, or more blueberries if desired.

    Thursday, May 7, 2015

    A seriously everyday look and new attitude on shoe-buying!

    As fun as it is to design cute summery dresses and tops and shorts, play with my favorite patterns and come up with cute or trendy looks to wear to parties... it doesn't help me get dressed for work every day! When I renamed and refocused this blog last summer, I counted all the dress posts I'd done - 119. That means, 119 dresses hanging in my closet (minus a few I've gotten rid of)--they don't all fit or flatter, either, and I don't love them as much as I once did. Pink, blue, yellow, patterned, lacy... they are fun, but not practical!

    So, I wanted to start talking on this blog about my everyday. I don't wear most of these dresses or wedges or bright sandals most of the time, even on weekends.

    Really, I wear a lot of black, denim, navy, and olive. I wear jeans or black pants to work, and I love button-up shirts, stripes in classic colors, and textured sweaters. I have an olive cargo vest and an olive jacket, and 3 jean jackets. I have 5 pairs of black flats of some kind. On weekends and evenings, I wear yoga pants because I'm usually going to work out or hike at some point in the day--or after a workout, I wear them so I can sit on the floor and roll on the foam roller. Floral dresses and heels do not fit into my lifestyle!

    And I've gotten rid of a LOT of clothing in the past few years. Lessons like "You wear 20% of your clothing 80% of the time," the capsule wardrobe, and this book have encouraged me. I love having more space in my closet and less to choose from!

    But, I come from a background of collecting cheap, ill-fitting clothes and shoes because it was fun to have new, stylish things. I counted my shoes in high school once and had something like 70 pairs (stuffed into my messy, small bedroom closet). Now that I want to own fewer but better, more comfortable pairs of shoes, I actually have a hard time finding the perfect pair of shoes--knowing I'm only going to have one new one that season or year.


    When I wrote earlier this year about our new hobby, hiking, I mentioned I was having a hard time finding minimal hiking and other shoes. A blog reader and fellow Oregonian, Sarah, wrote to me because her company, Soft Star Shoes, has high quality leather minimal shoes made right here in Oregon. Was I interested in trying a pair? Of course!

    For many years I had back and neck pain, and a chiropractor even ordered me custom orthotics. They didn't help. Only now, when I've stopped wearing high heels except for special occasions, stopped wearing massively supportive running shoes, and started strength training has my pain gotten better. I still see a chiro and physical therapist occasionally, but my neck, back, and hip pain is SO much better with my increase strength and movement capability. (And I stopped using a pillow at night! Crazy.)

    I've also worn ballet flats for many years, so I thought I was ready to try a pair of very minimal shoes like Soft Star flats. Sarah sent me this pair and they are SO comfortable! And they go with my usual work uniform!

    These are the Adult Ballerine Flat in perforated leather. They come in universal whole sizes so I went with a 7 regular instead of the 8 or 8.5 Wide I usually wear. The leather is soft and molds to my feet.

    They are definitely different than any shoe I've ever worn, but they are beyond comfortable and easy to wear. I love that I can wear them to work without looking like I'm wearing something as comfortable as slippers! They remind me of those packabale ballet flats Gap had several years ago, sold in matching baggies, but those were usually pinchy and fake leather. These are SO much better than those or any of my other flats!


    One of my fave movement experts, Katy Bowman, just did an interview/post feature with the founder of Soft Star Shoes - read it on her blog here for more info about them!

    A little warning... even proponents of minimal footwear say you can hurt yourself if you switch to it too quickly. As someone who used to buy the most supportive Nikes I could find and at one point wear heels to work every day, I can say making the gradual shift has been completely worth it. Back pain, neck pain, hip tightness, constantly knotty, sore quads and glutes... so much improvement after ditching the heels for flats, switching to a standing desk, and lifting heavy weights (properly and carefully). But, you do have to know your body and be intentional and careful.

    It means I'm not shopping for new wedges and heels every season, but I do value investing in really good quality leather truly comfortable shoes. If you feel the same, check out Soft Star Shoes!

    Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    How to bake ANYTHING! The easiest & tastiest way to make veggies

    Sometimes I get really excited about the simplest things. Like ingredients I've been eating my whole life, just heated up differently.

    Since I started cooking again a couple years ago, I've tried a lot of recipes and learned new cooking methods, but my new favorite, most versatile way of cooking almost anything is SO simple and easy.

    When I was a kid my mom would steam vegetables all the time. Steamed broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, whatever. She'd serve them tossed in butter or olive oil, with salt. They were fine and I ate them (and even liked them). When I was in college and ate processed, cheap, usually sugary foods, I'd sometimes realize I hadn't eaten any vegetables all day and I'd steam myself some broccoli or kale. Add some olive oil and salt, eat. They got the job done.

    But, after getting some mystery vegetables in our CSA shares the past few seasons and after getting tired of mashed sweet potatoes as our favorite post-workout carb dense side... I've tested the limits of baking my veggies instead of steaming! I now know I can bake almost any veggie I want to cook, with delicious results!

    (I organize the CSA programs at my work for summer and winter. I collect sign-ups and coordinate the deliveries once/week at our back parking lot. It's a great way for us to get our CSA share without making an extra trip in the week, and I love that I've been able to introduce people to the organic, local produce CSA system. But it also means I have a reputation as something of a vegetable expert, and I'm not sure I am. Last winter when we got some parsnips (my favorite!!), turnips, rutabagas, something like that, a coworker said he wasn't sure how to cook them. I realized, my answer to pretty much any vegetable is, 1) chop, 2) toss with choice of fat and salt/spices, 3) bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until it's done.)

    It's SO easy. No hot water to pour off, no drippy food on my plate getting cold faster. And it's SO delicious! Roasting brings out the flavor much better than boiling, and roasted veggies are much more satisfying than simply boiled.

    So, here's my "recipe" for you - my formula for easy roasted veggies, just about any kind!

    Oven-Roasted Broccoli (or ANY veggie)

    Ingredients:

    • Vegetable of choice. I've done this with all root vegetables, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and greens (though greens need way less time)
    • Fat of choice (lard is ideal - the original fat for French fries, after all - but with solid fats like lard, butter, coconut oil, you have to put it on the baking sheet/put the baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes to let it melt first. The easiest to use is olive oil or avocado oil.)
    • Sea salt
    • Pepper (optional)
    • Other spices of choice - my favorites are cayenne powder or red pepper flakes!

      Instructions:


      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Chop veggies to just-larger-than-bite size pieces.
      3. Put fat of choice on baking sheet, heat if necessary. 
      4. Put veggies onto oil on baking sheet and toss around.
      5. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and spices of choice.

      6. Bake for 30 minutes (10 minutes for greens) or until done. (You can check halfway through and toss veggies around to get all sides browning.)


      Serve!

      This baking sheet (into this bowl) was 2 whole heads of broccoli, believe it or not. It really cooks down. Unfortunately this amount lasted us about... 1.5 meals? We eat big servings of veggies!

      But, you can fit more on a large cookie sheet than you can in an a small sauce pan, so it's easy to make bigger batches if you have a bigger pan! (So tasty for lunch leftovers!) 

      Try it next time you have a mystery (or totally standard) veggie to cook!

      P.S. The napkins were a sample gift from Hen House Linens, Evans print in Lantern Indigo.

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