Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!

Weekend Inspiration: Summer colors! And, some not-so-inspiring stuff about blog reading


Weekend Inspiration: Summer colors! And, some not-so-inspiring stuff about blog reading

This week's Weekend Inspiration post is summer-themed, since it's officially summer now and getting HOT--and 4th of July weekend is coming up. In Oregon, summer doesn't truly start (consistent summer weather, that is) until after the 4th of July weekend. Sometimes it rains on the 4th of July, but never after! Not until fall. It's crept up on me this year but soon it will be hot weather all the time!

But, I must confess, this post is in disguise... I do want to share some summery inspirations I've had of late, but also, tried to make this post exciting... to cover up some boring stuff and bad news.

Pretty pictures first, then the trick... ;)

This weekend's inspiration for me: Neon. Black/white. Turquoise. I'm itching to get crafty (or shopping?) to get a few of these into my life!! How about you, what's on your mind this weekend??


Black and white


Source: via Suzannah, on Pinterest


So those were the pretty pictures. Now to business. As a blogger I'm a little annoyed about the loss of Google Reader (It DIES July 1!) That means, if you follow this or any of your fave blogs with Google Reader, you'll no longer get updates when there are new posts. Lame.

So, to minimize the negative impacts, you'll probably want to switch to another subscription service and use that instead. I follow my fave blogs on Bloglovin. Super easy, you can sign up with you Facebook if you don't already have an account, and you can easily follow blogs and organize them however you like. Pick your notification settings, all that.

I'm no pro at all the tech stuff, but there are some simple tutorial posts out there about how you can even IMPORT your Google Reader blogs to Bloglovin'!

There are other services you can use, too, like Feedly is a newer one--apparently a lot like Google Reader.

Anyway, there's some ideas for you. Take 3-5 minutes and switch your Google Reader feeds to Bloglovin' so you don't miss anything from your favorite blogs! We bloggers will miss you otherwise! And, are you inspired for brights, maxi dresses, and a vintage-ey summer feel? ;)



How to Wear DIY: Maxi skirt as maxi dress

It's been off-and-on hot here, which I am totally okay with. I love summer weather and can't wait for full-on summer!!, but the cool weather we had on Sunday was a nice break from sweating. ;) We actually played frisbee outside on Saturday and my husband taught me I've been doing it wrong since I was a kid. Yeah, well. Sports aren't my thing.

Anyway, in the hot weather I also wore the super simple maxi skirt I made last summer. I love the black and white stripe--not too much black, a little edgy... been wishing for more black and white this year! I made it feel like a maxi dress by tucking in a blousy tank and rocking the interesting waist location of the skirt. ;) The looseness was perfect for the warm weather!

Of course, it didn't really feel like an outfit till I added the fedora! Love when a hat makes any outfit look more finished. (And hides not-done-since-yesterday hair!)
Hat and sunglasses: F21 (similar hats). Tank: Gap via Goodwill. Necklace: Can't remember
Sandals: Ross or DSWSkirt: DIY, no pattern!

I see a lot more maxi skirts and dresses in my future... have you made (or worn) any yet this year?? I've pinned a few ideas lately but have yet to get sewing!



Re-DIYing! When a DIY project gets another makeover

Minor makeover, yes, but... I'm sure many of us have had the urge to re-DIY an older DIY project we're no longer happy with, right? We've been reading blogs and pinning project ideas and playing with spray paint and old tee shirts long enough to have made a few trendy projects, a few mistakes, and a few things that don't fit, right? ;)

This is not one of those, exactly, but it does get me thinking about redoing DIYs! Funny story here, actually a swap of redone vintage furniture. Back last fall when we had recently moved in, I painted some vintage nightstands this awesome pistachio green color.

They were great!! I loved them! But, I felt a little trapped into the pale grey/white/light green color scheme, ya know? I figured that might happen but it wasn't a big problem--it's not like I had any other ideas for the space. They were also a little too short for our bed once we got a new mattress set.

Wasn't going to do anything about it, until I mentioned the height issue to my friend in passing. She said she had some very similar ones that were slightly larger in her guest room, and would trade me! Like, a direct trade! Hers were painted black, with painted silver handles. (And one upside-down one!)

As you can see, they sat in our bedroom for a while (we enjoyed the extra height and width compared to the older, smaller ones, and I like the edgier black instead of pastel!!), but a lot of the other accents in our room were gold. (Like the initials, square canvas, and vanity stool.) So I re-did the re-do. Remade the makeover. Repainted the repaint job... you get the idea.

It took me literally seconds to repaint the silver handles with gold spray paint.

The black and gold is still glam, and goes with my other gold DIY decor!

Know what I mean about time to re-do a remake??! 



I can't believe I'm writing this.... Why I no longer need shampoo!

I can't believe I'm writing this. Let me blow your socks off. ;)

So you may have read about my recent diet improvements and increased focus on/education about holistic health. In short, I'm now focusing on eating whole foods from the most nutrient-dense sources, with a few other fine points... basically a version of a Paleo diet. So I've been listening to tons of podcasts and reading bunches of articles on these perspectives, and leared that some people are also into Paleo spirit bodycare. So, no processed crap on our bodies, and only the good stuff that our systems know what to do with.

That all sounds great, but when it comes down to it, I was shocked to hear that one of my favorite podcast ladies doesn't use shampoo. No conditioner, either. She washes her hair, but without any "products" at all.

I'm not a big fan of the name, but... a Google search for "no shampoo method" yields a lot of results, including a Wikipedia entry for "no poo."

I read Liz's original post and instructions on the No Poo method, her No Poo results, and even a recent post for troubleshooting the No Poo method, but wasn't convinced until I tried it. (She's not alone--I found more instructions in this post on Simple Mom.) I am seriously blown away.

Update: I love how DIY methods are always changing. I did very well with the No Poo method but have since switched to honey shampoo--read about that here and an update here!

No shampoo method results

So here goes the controversial part... hope you can handle it! ;) I tried to tone down the TMI but I wanted to be honest about how my hair and head are responding!

I tried the "no poo" route and I love it. So far I've already observed these benefits of the baking soda/vinegar method:
  • My hands feel soft and smooth after the shower rather than dry and scaly. My hands felt exfoliated and moisturized after sudsing the baking soda mixture and then the vinegar.
  • Less grease. I can go an extra day without washing it now, before it gets a little greasy by the scalp.
  • Less frizz. Since I can remember I've had to fight my naturally almost curly/frizzy-when-clean hair. It's definitely less clown-like now and curls easier with brushing! I used to have to avoid brushing while it was clean to avoid extreme pouf!
  • Less dandruff. I never had much but there's virtually none now.
  • Sounds kinda weird, but... I love the natural smell of hair, with no flowery perfumey chemicals on it. I was a little hesitant to tell anyone about this new routine, but when I told my mom she insisted on smelling my hair and was over the moon about how nice it smelled!! Who knew?!
My hair isn't at its most styled-ness in these photos, but here it is on DAY TWO. No grease at all!

My husband has also used the baking soda/water squeeze bottle in the shower, and says it's working great for him. I had a short transition period the second and third times I tried it--my hair was a little extra greasy in reaction to not being stripped every time I washed. But I just wore it up those days and it felt great on the fourth wash!

Next crazy natural beauty routine??

Next crazy alternative body care method I want to try? Alternatives to chemical toothpastes. I also want to make my own laundry and dish soap--those I know I can do when I get around to it. Here's a simple dish soap I want to try. Anyone had any success with that kind of DIY??!

Update: I also love the honey shampoo method--read about that here and an update here!


The little white dress--eyelet lace and details

I have always loved white sundresses... I had a bit of a collection in college and grad school when I bought cheap clothes and pranced around in them in the summers with chunky wedges or Rainbow flipflops. I still love them! Although now I guess I opt for slightly less bare, although still summery, sundress-ey options.

So I absolutely love this white cotton eyelet inset panel/pieced dress Kendi wore... this one is no longer available, not even sure what brand it was, but I love the idea!

So I made my own version. I had some white cotton eyelet in a funny-shaped piece, think it was probably something my mom gave me after she used it for something specific. But it's much more my taste! I love the pure white and graphic shapes.

I wanted to do some similar piecing with it, and I didn't have much fabric. So I used Simplicity 1913, just a basic princess seam bodice pattern, and cut the side pieces of the eyelet and the center front and back of a lightweight pique cotton.

Forgive the wrinkles. ;)

Here it is on. I love the white-on-white with texture!

Love the classic look! It goes with everything, right? The "little black dress" for summer!



We're back, and a new chapter begins... photos from a pretty trip to Bend

We're back from our lovely little mini-trip to Bend over the weekend. It was great and I'm feeling very refreshed and ready to start my new job tomorrow! Thanks for the well wishes last Friday and on Instagram--I'm excited but definitely a little nervous.

We had an awesome time celebrating our anniversary and chilling out in Bend, Oregon, where it was sunny and clear and the air smells like ponderosa pines.

We saw amazing mountains, walked around the tons of parks in the sun, ate pretty food, swam in the nice hotel pool and hot tub, ate more pretty food and walked around some more, and then went to Lava River Cave and went a mile underground in a cave with a propane lantern. Adventure!

Lots of parks.
I take that back. I'm almost ready for the new job. Yikes!



On trying to take a break

Today is a big day!! Two reasons, really. One, I got a new job recently and yesterday was my last day at my old one. It was not super pleasant. I will miss my coworkers!, but things were a little stressful otherwise and I'm really excited to do something new and exciting at my new job starting next week. But it's also surreal, that I won't be going back to my office of the past two whole years. That's still sinking in.

Oh, today is also kind of an important day around here since it mark 9 whole years of dating my wonderful husband (minus a few months here and there where we were "finding oursleves"--but those don't count against us! ;) ). We still like to celebrate our dating anniversary even though we've been married now almost two years, so it feels a little silly to continue celebrating our dating anniversary... but we've been doing it for 9 years, now, ya know?! We've gotten used to it.

SO, those two factors combined meant that we decided we really ought to try to get away this weekend. I don't have a job for two whole work days before I start the new one Tuesday, so ideally I'll have nothing stressful on my mind and nothing to worry about while we head over to Bend for a mini-break. Ideally. It's so hard to take a break sometimes, though, isn't it?

Trying to take a break

Since reading The Happiness Project this winter I've been way more aware of my stress level and of little things I can do to make myself more relaxed and happy. (Some favorite quotes of mine from that and the sequel here.) I love the book soooo much, and it really has taught me some things that have helped me avoid frustration and stress! But, I still struggle with letting go of thinking about my to-do list and enjoying time off. I worry I'll be squandering my free time if I just sit around and relax. I feel uncomfortable doing nothing and always want to be getting something done.

A recent weekend Instagram of this struggle

So this weekend, I'm going to try to enjoy myself with my sweet husband as we celebrate a super duper long time of dating, a new job, and (theoretically) nothing to worry about for the next couple of days! (Last year we did a pretty good job on our trip to Long Beach, WA!)

P.S. I woke up at 5:30 this morning for no reason and wrote this post. Kinda like how you can't sleep before Christmas or a big trip... I guess I'm subconsciously excited not to have to go to my old job, and for our mini-vacay!

Because old photos are funny

I posted some pretty hilarious photos of us circa 2005 and 2006, the oldest I could find last year, last year on this day. But an anniversary is a good time to dig through old photos... here's what my husband looked like when I met him. Pixies shirt and all.

Same year. (The little brother on his back is now 20 and very popular with the ladies and living it up college dude style.)

And here he is one year later, after I'd been buying him clothes at Hollister. Ha. (I think he was annoyed at me in this picture! Sorry, babe!)

His hair has gone through many phases. Here we are on my 18th birthday, so had been dating more than a year. Aaaw.

And, back to today, here's the most recent photo of us I can find. From when we visited cows on Easter.

Yeah, hoping we can get some more double selfies this weekend. It's time for some new pics. ;)

And now I'm going to go wake him up, get our buttery coffee for this morning, pack for our trip, and hopefully have a relaxing weekend!! Hope you enjoy yours, too!



Our first garden, if you can call it that, and the front porch is decorated

I am not a gardener, I'm sad to say. My mom has always had tons of beautiful flowers on three sides of the house, and my parents-in-law grow about 30 kinds of vegetables and other crops on their large lot, so my husband and I both grew up around it--but I know very little about it and never had any desire to spend much time in the garden!

But, I do appreciate doing things myself (duh), and the grow-your-own-food movement is one I can get on board with at least in theory. So this year, we're settled into our new place and felt ready to try some actual gardening! (In our rental places, I grew some herbs on the windowsill, and we have a lemon tree in a huge pot that we've carried from place to place, but I never wanted to put the effort in to really garden.)

We have two decks but no yard, so we're sticking to container gardening for now. I had no idea how to go about even something that simple, but we've cobbled together quite a nice little vegetable crop using tips from this amazing book my coworker found, tips from my mother-in-law, and the backs of seed packets.

Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening
My coworker found the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest at Powell's and picked it up because it was so simple and clear to understand, so much better than so many of the confusing gardening books I've seen before. It goes month by month, what you need to do to your garden, specific to this climate. I read through April before I had to give it back to her. ;) But we got through the planting part!

We bought some awesome railing planter boxes and some potting soil and planted a bunch of seeds a couple months ago. The lettuces grew super fast and we've harvested from them already twice now! We also got some tomato starts, and they're doing pretty well in big pots of their own. This year's been much warmer than the last two so hopefully the tomatoes will be ripe before September like they were last year--ridiculous!

We've also got a few little aluminum pots with herbs and chili peppers in them. The round one on the table there is regrown celery from this tutorial! Whoa!

Oh, about the table... possibly the most exciting part of our porch right now is the table and chairs since they mean we'll be able to actually SIT on it and spend some time out there! All winter there was NOTHING on our porch at all. Nothing. Which was handy for me taking book photos out there with the open lighting, but not fun for enjoying as a porch.

Now that the weather's been amazing, we've wanted to eat outside (and have a few times), but it's a pain to haul chairs out there and not have a place to put the plate. ;) So literally just yesterday, we picked up this bistro set from Craigslist. I think it's a few years old from Ikea, but it works just fine for now. I've been shopping around a little for patio sets, but nothing has been perfect and the $50 used set from Craigslist is more my speed right now than finding the perfect thing, anyway.

The hot pink rug I picked up at Ikea several months ago because I looooved it... those colors! So it sat rolled up in the closet until the weather got better recently and I unwrapped it. Always exciting to find new things you've already bought. ;)

So happy with how our summery porch is coming along! Hoping for more crops and meals spent outdoors soon!

Would love to hear your tips for small spaces and porches, and container gardening! Have you found any crops that work well? Particularly for the horticulturally challenged, like me?!



A happy, bright dress from a vintage pattern

Summer dress season is upon us! That means I'm designing pretty dresses in my head all the time and wish I had time (and a reason) to make them all.

This one was a super simple one that I got to finishing over the weekend, though, from this sweet vintage pattern I've had for ages. May have been my mom's, maybe was just one I inherited with someone's vintage pattern collection over the years. This cute late 70's dress pattern, Simplicity 6899, is one I modified for one of my bridesmaids' dresses (this one) and one I used to replicate a Marc Jacobs dress Zooey Deschannel wore on the cover of Lucky a couple years ago (this dress).

I had access to a bunch of this lovely lightweight bright blue cotton, a woven polka dot with a bit of shimmer woven in. (My mom buys bolts at wholesale prices and sometimes ends up with extras in fabrics I like! Sweet!!) I've wanted to make a dress of it for a while, but hadn't had anything in mind until I put these two together.

Here it is! A happy lightweight cotton.

And, after the most beautiful weekend ever this weekend (clear skies, 70s and 80s, cool mornings and warm afternoons!) I'm optimistic that I'll get to wear it soon. ;)

I also made it to JoAnn's this weekend and bought a couple new dress patterns, which I almost never do, so am excited to try those out soon!


Why I use coconut oil for everything

Hear me out.

I've never been anti-coconut oil--in my raw vegan days it was a tasty addition to desserts and smoothies. But  I didn't buy much of it, since the small jars were like $7.99, and I ate a pretty low fat, low-calorie (low-nutrient) diet and didn't incorporate it.

But now, we've been eating a Paleo diet, with plenty of good whole fat sources including coconut oil, butter from grassfed cows, and grassfed lard (great post on this on one of my favorite podcaster/author's blogs, here, and another one here).

Adding coconut oil to my diet was actually the first change I made in a healthy fat, nutrient-dense diet, and I immediately noticed positive changes. Once I understood the benefits of good fats (but wasn't ready to start eating meat yet), I started having some coconut oil and almond butter in a little dish as a snack, just as a way to get some fat and protein. I added coconut oil to my tea for an extra energizing, filling warm drink. I even ate our favorite 85% dark chocolate with some coconut oil--delicious and keeps my blood sugar from increasing too much from the (few) grams of sugar in the chocolate. ;)

Immediate benefits I found

Right away, with eating several hundred calories of fats more than usual, I noticed my digestion/IBS improved immensely. I also found my hands and feet weren't cold like they used to be--my circulation increased, along with my metabolism. My skin wasn't as dry anymore, either! (I used to have killer sugar/fruit cravings, but I realized I was just low on calories and fat, so I switched to the healthy fats and felt so much better!)

Making coconut oil a staple

Anyway, now we eat a lot of coconut oil, and found we could buy it in the 72 oz. tubs at Costco for less than $20, an incredible price (this one's a great deal, too). It's still organic and extra virgin (cold pressed, not oxidized/damaged) and everything. Now we have a system. We keep the big tub in the fridge to keep it fresh and chunk some out and keep it in a small container in the cupboard for every day usage, as you can see. =)

We use it for:

  • Snacking (literally, just coconut oil, almond butter, and sea salt--it's a little weird, but it hits the spot.)
  • Frying eggs in, and sometimes veggies (it oxidizes at a higher temperature than does olive oil, so it's safer for heating) (We've gotten used to the taste on fried eggs, and it's really delicious!)
  • Adding to tea or desserts
  • Mixing into our Bulletproof Coffee when we're out of grassfed butter

I realize this post is a perfect follow-up to the post I wrote with my hubby earlier this week on foods we're throwing out and never want to eat again! (On that list is canola oil--just use coconut oil instead! See why...)

DIY/beauty uses, too!

But, in the Paleo community people get a lot more creative than I do with uses for coconut oil! One of my favorite Paleo role models, Liz Wolfe of Cave Girl Eats, has a post about her enthusiasm for coconut oil... she's mentioned on podcasts that it has excellent beauty uses and skin heath, as well as some, um... personal care uses I won't discuss here. ;) I can't vouch for those but I'm sure it's great! All natural, soothing, non-irritating, powerful stuff!

I'm not alone here, really... Wellness Mama has a large post with 101 uses for coconut oil. Wow. That and this infographic show me that I'm barely scratching the surface of ways to use coconut oil. ;) (I also found this cute graphic with 21 uses for coconut oil, and some tips for using it.)

I love all these ideas, but let's face it, I'm kind of lazy about adopting new habits... I love the idea of using coconut oil for DIY beauty products (some Paleo moms say their kids get coconut oil for pretty much any injury instead of a chemical soother, and it's great for dry skin), but I have yet to try any out. There are tons of DIY all natural deodorant, lip balm, toothpaste, and all kinds of other recipes out there that I have yet to try!! I just feel like I don't have all the tools and ingredients I need yet, I guess! (Even just the other day, a Portland blogger friend of mine posted a coconut oil deodorant stick tutorial on her blog that I've got to try sometime...)

But I love the ideas. How about you? Have you had success with any DIY beauty products, like with coconut oil as the moisture?? I bet some of these products work even better than the storebought stuff, if I could just get myself to buy the rest of the ingredients!! ;)



A new summer dress with a cute retro caning print

New dress for summer! This one I actually started last year... whoops. Never finished it because I made some tiny mistake and didn't feel like taking it out, or got tired of reading the instructions, or maybe just was too slow so it was September and the dress was no longer seasonally appropriate. I can't remember exactly what happened, but I stopped. So when I pulled it off the shelf over the weekend and it was almost done, woo hooo! Half-done project!

I used McCall's M6331 and this super cute caning print from the JoAnn clearance. It was one of their featured collections a couple springs ago, I guess, came with some coral and brown prints... I love vintage caning on chairs and furniture, and the print was cute even though it's not my usual color--soft brown and tan instead of bright and cheery.

Here's the pattern--that pale blue thing is a romper. No, I did not make the romper version. ;) I don't remember why this odd flap thing on the bust appealed to me when I cut it out, but that's what I went with...


Haven't gotten as far as coming up with outfit ideas, so if you have any I'm all ears!



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