Create / Enjoy

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bare minimum Thanksgiving & Black Friday sales 2015 - keep it simple with these few online deals!

You guys.
It's a conflict every year. This year in particular (I think), I really want to get my holiday shopping done early, and of course I appreciate discounts like Black Friday sales. But I get so stressed around big crowds! But I'd really like to buy a few things for myself (this year: new slippers) and also get gift-shopping done.

So I've identified a few key online Black Friday sales for us to enjoy from the comfort of our own homes! Some of them start today (Thanksgiving) so if you've got some time before or after cooking, eating, and celebrating, you can get it done even earlier!

My Picks: Black Friday 2015 Sales


Black Friday 25% off everything
DATE: 11.27-11.30


50% off everything
DATE: Now – 11.27 11:59PM EST


Black Friday 50% off in stores and online + Free Shipping with orders $50+
DATE: 11.23 – 11.24


Thanksgiving 50% OFF almost EVERYTHING!
DATE: Now – 11.27 3:00AM EST

Black Friday 40% OFF almost EVERYTHING! (only exclusion: Lou & Grey new arrivals)
DATE: 11.27 12AM EST to 11:59PM EST
CODE: Use code BF40


25% off your entire purchase
DATE: Now- 11.29
CODE: Calmdown

Hope your Black Friday is whatever you want it to be! (For me, that's 1) productive in getting gifts and 2) fun and not too stressful!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Special for my readers! DIY Wardrobe Makeovers personalized gifts

I hope you guys are as excited about this as I am!

I really want to share DIY Wardrobe Makeovers with as many people as are interested this holiday season, so if you like to sew and share your love of sewing with others... please consider giving a copy of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers to friends and family, and/or putting it on your wishlist!

As an added incentive... I'm going to write personalized holiday cards to anyone who orders the book between now and December 18! (I wish I could write personalized thank-yous to every single person who's bought the book, but I can't--so the best I could come up with is sending a little something extra to those who buy it this holiday season!)

If you want to give an even more personalized gift to someone, give a copy of my book plus a card from me with a holiday hello, or even an inspirational message if you want!

How do you do this, you ask??

  1. Buy the book (anywhere)
  2. Email me the following: 
    1. A PDF or photo of your receipt 
    2. Your name and the name of the recipient (or just your name, if it's for yourself!)
    3. A little bit about who the book is for--does the recipient need a little help mending or getting new sewing ideas? It it someone you taught to sew, or you want to teach you to sew? What would you like me to share? Maybe it's just Happy Holidays, but let me know!
    4. The address where you want the card sent (I can send to you, if you're delivering the book in person and want to wrap it together, or can send directly to the recipient)
  3. That's it! I'll ship the cards December 19. (International readers can participate, too, but cards may not arrive to you by Christmas unless you get requests to me early.)

Won't this be fun!!

Here are some of my fave photos from DIY Wardrobe Makeovers. There are projects in it for every season and skill level!

You can read more about the book, including the chapters and types of skills/projects you'll find, in this post and this post. I've heard from experienced sewists and folks who are brand new that it's helpful, fun, and inspiring, which is so awesome. I hope you agree!

Please check out DIY Wardrobe Makeovers and email me your receipt and the address of the person you want a card sent to (as described above)! Thanks so much for your support, and happy holidays!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Winter weekend travel: Smith Rock!

The other weekend we took an impromptu trip to Smith Rock in Central Oregon! We had started planning for a road trip to four or five of the Seven Wonders of Oregon in June but then we started talking about selling the house and had too much going on. But Central Oregon is usually pretty sunny even in the fall/winter, so it was a great trip for us to do in November for a weekend getaway!

We escaped from torrential rain in the Portland area on a Saturday morning and took a one-day trip to Smith Rock and Bend!

There are miles and miles of hiking trails around Smith Rock but the first thing you notice is the rock itself. First thought: awe. Wow, that's a lot of big rocks.

Next thought: This is an amazing, beautiful place.

Next thought, as you look across the river and up at the rock again: Wow, really big rocks! I'm going to climb that, you say?

Here's some of the rock itself. Pretty hard to capture it all!

We climbed that trail! Look at all those switchbacks! And that's not even all of it, it wraps around the rock!

Some of the payoff from the top. There's a loop you can hike back down to the river on the other side, so you don't have to go back down all those switchbacks (my least favorite part of hiking - the gravely, steep downhill climb).

Trips like this make me so grateful to live in a beautiful state, and so grateful for state parks like this one - a $5 parking pass got us full access to this amazing place!

We will have to go back soon and explore more of the zillions of trails and rest of the park!

The trip was awesome and relaxing and it was great to get away. Unfortunately, it took me another week + weekend to get caught up with stuff I normally do on the weekends... lesson learned: take a Friday or Monday off even if you're only gone one night!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

DIY mini canvas Christmas ornaments tutorial

I'm ready for Christmas DIYs already!

My mother-in-law has a tradition of a new type of ornament crafting project every holiday season. They've done the glass globes, some great spiraly wooden trees, little t-shirt-shaped ornaments... usually painting, but not always, always something creative and new. That inspired me to do my own painted ornament project - actual tiny canvases! This tutorial uses FolkArt® Multi-Surface Paint and Mod Podge (have you heard about the new Mod Podge Pearl?)!

I've developed my own style of acrylic painting on canvas since my huge living room ikat-ey zigzag painting. One of my fave creations is the abstractish blended color vertical stripe piece I did in pretty colors.

So, I wanted to try that easy painting style to these canvases for some simple DIY ornaments!

DIY Mini Canvas Christmas Ornaments

You will need:


1. Pick paints! I laid mine out on a paint tray. Don't mix the colors on the tray, though; that'll happen as you paint on the canvases.

2. Paint. Starting with the darkest color first, paint vertical zigzags here and there across the canvases. Let dry an hour or two (this paint dries fast!). Don't forget to cover the entire sides of the canvases, too--looks much nicer that way.

3. Mod Podge. Pick your podge--I used the original gloss finish for a shiny look. Let dry 15-20 minutes. (Mod Podge dries that fast!)

4. Loop and glue. Make loops out of ribbon and glue onto centers of ornament backs. (Get the undersides of both pieces of the loop with the glue gun glue.)

All done!

This kind of project is the perfect use for craft paints and Mod Podge! FolkArt® Multi-Surface Paint can paint anything--wood, glass, ceramic, metal, terra cotta, rigid plastic, canvas, styrofoam, slate, paper mache, and fabric and has a self-sealing formula with superior coverage for fewer coats and quicker drying times. It's dishwasher-safe, water-based, and non-toxic formula and resists moisture and rust.

I don't use Mod Podge a ton but for things like holiday ornaments I'm so grateful for it! It’s an all-in-one formula provides sealant, adhesive/glue, and finish. It's also non-toxic and can be cleaned up with water (this is a great project to do with kids!). And it's made in the USA! The new Pearl formula gives decoupage projects a pearlescent topcoat/mother-of-pearl effect.

This post is sponsored by Plaid Crafts, who make FolkArt® Multi-Surface Paint and Mod Podge. Visit them around the web for project ideas this holiday season!

Plaid Website:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

6 tips for a low-key holiday dinner party!

Before we bought our townhome we never did it, but in the past few years we've learned a few things about having friends over for dinner and having holiday parties! It's so out of the ordinary for us that it's a little emotionally taxing just to think about it... but this year, while planning a dinner party we're having with a few friends, I realized I've identified a few key tips and steps for planning the evening that have made it easier in the past. Hope some of these will help you!

I'm a seriously low-key party planner, with no room to store special multi-dish slow cookers, food warmers, fondue pots, or other specialized tools... so I stick to the basics. However, I do love essential pieces with a few extra features! This post is sponsored by Sears Home Appliances and Services, whose brand new Kenmore PRO line has some models and features perfect for a dinner party! For this post, I recently visited a Sears Home Appliances and Services store and learned about the Kenmore PRO line. Sears Home Appliances and Services has very knowledgeable staff to help customers navigate the (sometimes confusing) appliance-shopping process. And, they have some of the best warranties and service packages in the industry. They are also the leading retailer of home appliances in the U.S., #1 in home services, parts, and protection agreements. And they provide one-stop shopping and advice for homeowners looking to buy new or maintain appliances. 
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6 Tips for a Low-Key Holiday Dinner Party

1. Schedule on a weekend when you - and probably your guests - don't have much going on. 

Last year we picked the second weekend in December and I'm pretty sure 8 people had their or their spouse's company holiday party that weekend or day. You may have to schedule pretty far in advance, too.

Since it gets dark so early here in the evenings, we've done dinner parties on Sundays (starting around 5:00 PM!) and gotten creative with schedules and done Friday evenings as well.

2. Don't decorate much. 

If you have a tree up already, just put something like festive plaids or greenery on the buffet table and dining table. No one will notice much else if the room is a little dark, anyway, and you can save energy making the food and being friendly!

Remember the saying, "It doesn't have to be good; it just has to be done." This is especially true for the decor!

That's part of why I love decorating with natural pieces. How pretty and simple would a centerpiece like this be down a buffet table??

3. Make many dishes the day before.

(By the way--some of my learned food tips come from my friend and party blogger Jenni who's a natural pro party planner. Thanks for the party-throwing wisdom online and in person, Jenni!)

Make food ahead! Dessert can usually be made the day before, no problem, but you can also make some sides the day before or morning of and just warm them up before the party.

The Kenmore PRO standard size fridge comes with so many features that would be SO handy when having people over and prepping beforehand. The shelves are not only movable up and down, they're also retractable front-back so you can put tall dishes below them without taking the whole shelf out. There's also a pantry drawer at the bottom of the fridge section so you can store flat platters easily, without disturbing smaller items on the shelves. There are also TWO ice makers! One on the front of the fridge, on the left door, and one in the freezer. Would be pretty hard to run out of ice!

Make space in the fridge in the days leading up to the party if you need to (i.e. repackaging leftovers into smaller containers, eating up containers that are mostly empty...) and make and store dishes like desserts and mashed potatoes so you don't have to worry about them in the hours before guests arrive.

4. Eat family style! (Mostly.)

For the most part, we do even formal dinner parties family style and it makes things more relaxed for everyone, guests included. You may need to set up a side table for extra dishes, water pitchers, etc. if the table is too crowded, but keep them nearby and people won't forget about them.

Serving family style also means fewer dishes when you're done.

However, a few things can be easier plated - you can pre-plate salads 1-2 hours before guests arrive and keep in the fridge wrapped in plastic. Desserts often look prettiest in individual dishes, and serving them that way makes for much faster distribution--you won't have to spend time cutting a pie and scooping ice cream, for example, if you serve panna cottas like this recipe in individual dishes! And people think it's so fancy, but really it's not much harder than heating and pouring into dishes!

5. Manage temperatures.

If you can have some flexibility for what will be served hot, it's a lot easier to get everything ready at the time you want it. A lot of appetizers can be done room temperature or cold, and so can dessert.

Serve appetizers on pretty platters on the eating and/or buffet table areas.

For the hot food... if the main course of protein and 1-2 veggie sides all need to be served hot, keep them warm in a bottom oven or warming oven drawer. (Don't let hot food dry out in the warmer - cover it in foil or use a dish with a lid.)

The Kenmore PRO double oven would be ideal, of course! Plus, the most amazing feature of this oven is the shelves on a track--so you can glide the whole shelf out before grabbing the hot dish with pot holders! (I've burned myself on the top of the oven or a shelf above my dish before!)

This oven also has SO many settings, specific to the food item and method of cooking. Broil, convect, roast, bake, accella-heat (fast pre-heat)... I bet I could make a perfect ham in one of these. (We've ordered several hogs or half hogs from a local farm and they give us 2-3 smaller hams and I love serving them when people come over since it feels like such a special meal! I'm still perfecting my cooking method for them, though!)

All the Kenmore PRO line ovens, like this all-in-one gas range/oven also have the shelf on the track and the millions of settings.

6. Stop working!

Don't do the dishes until everyone is gone. Even if you don't mind doing it, it ruins the fun mood! (This one's hard for me since I hate having dishes on the counter. But I've felt really bad the few times I've gone overboard clearing people's plates after the meal!)

The work (hopefully not too much) comes before the party - from the moment the first guests arrive till the moment the last ones leave, relax and keep a positive attitude! No need to worry about chores while friends are over.

What about you??

What are your tips for keeping parties low-key and low-stress? I love how every year we've had people over we've learned a few things and I plan to continue to get better at hosting! So I'd love to hear your ideas.

Thanks to Sears Home Appliances and Services for sponsoring this post!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Grain-Free Cranberry Apple Tart Recipe - great for Friendsgiving!

This recipe received some of the best reviews from my food critic (dear husband) than anything in my recent memory. He loves cranberries, so that's a big part of it, but I agree that this (pretty experimental) grain-free crust and cinnamon-ey apple creation turned out fabulous.

Excited to share it with you! Keep it in mind for holiday parties this season - or if you're tired of all the classic desserts at Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving!

You'll notice that these ingredients are very similar to those in my grain-free apple/pear crumble recipe... it's kind of that recipe minus the sauce and flipped upside-down! Which does help with the elegant presentation.

I used local, organic apples we picked late this fall (we literally have a drawer in our fridge right now that is only apples) and I chose thin-skinned ones, kind of Golden Delicious-ey but a little greener, and the skins didn't get in the way of the slicing.

Grain-Free Cranberry Apple Tart



  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c. walnuts (or try any nut - pecans? cashews?)
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 c. almond flour
  • 1/4 c. coconut palm sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 5 tbsp. butter (cold)


  • 2 apples with thin skin (I think mine were a Golden Delicious-type) (or any apples, peeled - but I'm not a big fan of peeling apples!)
  • 1/2-1 c. fresh cranberries (I used 1/2 c. but husband said he wished there were way more!)
  • 1/4 c. coconut palm sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon


For the crust:

  1. Pulse sunflower seeds in a small food processor, until finely ground. Add walnuts or other nut; pulse until finely ground. Add other dry ingredients and pulse until combined.
  2. Chop butter into small chunks and add to processor; pulse until combined. Mixture should be thick and chunky. 
  3. Spread crust mixture into baking dish or springform pan. (I used one like this with a circle of parchment paper cut to size on the inside). Flatten with spatula or fingers to get an even layer.

For the fruit:
  1. (Peel apples if desired, but again - no way did I have time for that so I used delicate-skin apples.) Thinly slice the apples. 
  2. Arrange apple slices in the pan on top of the crust, starting at the outside edge and working in.
  3. Combine the remaining sweetener of choice and cinnamon in a small dish and sprinkle over the apple slices. (You may not need all of the mixture.)
  4. Slice cranberries in half and distribute over the apples.

If using a springform pan, put on a baking sheet to prevent melted sugary butter from dripping onto the oven bottom. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and apples are soft. 

This was SUCH a treat when I made it the other weekend and would be great at a dinner party! It's so sweet it hardly needs ice cream or whipped cream on top so we ate it plain. The sugary cinnamon mixture adds a great extra touch to the apples and cranberries! The crust is sweeter than we're used to most of the time which is part of why husband wanted more cranberries!

This post was brought to you by the Cranberry Marketing Committee, USA who has partnered with Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess to help you plan a great Friendsgiving (with cranberries)! See their The Ultimate Friendsgiving Guide hereFor more inspiration on how to feature cranberries at your Friendsgiving, follow @uscranberries on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, 'Cranberry Cravers' on Facebook.

And, if you make something with cranberries, enter a photo of it at for a chance to win a $2,000 dinner party!! Let me know what you're making!!!!
  • As America's Original Superfruit®, U.S.-grown cranberries are a star at any Friendsgiving feast. In sweet or savory recipes, crafty cocktails or fashioned into elegant décor, cranberries are THE fruit for this holiday celebration.
  • Get creative with cranberries this holiday for a chance to win a $2,000 dinner party in the Cranberry Friendsgiving Photo Contest. Enter at and check out The Ultimate Friendsgiving Guide, which provides a complete party planning checklist, as well as inspirational cranberry ideas – from décor to dessert
  • Don’t forget to tag your cranberry creations on social media with #FriendsgivingCranberryContest and enter them at

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