I totally needed one of these! Amaze new mannequin!

12.30.2013

So super excited about this new dress form!

A while back I got an email from The Shop Company; they make dress forms and display equipment for stores, photo studios, etc. as well as professional body forms for sewing. I've never had a dressmaking mannequin before, and I sometimes get questions from readers about what I recommend (see How to buy a dress form). Cara from The Shop Company suggested this one for a sewist like me, and sent it over!

Look at this beautiful thing...


The lever lets it move easily up and down, and the cage keeps skirts and dresses from collapsing at the hem as you work.

It came in this mysterious, large box, right before Christmas. Husband and I were both afraid to open it at first, if it might be a present!

But nope, it was the dress form, in two or three pieces--it took literally like 3 steps to put together, very simple. Just the feet and raise/lower lever. Very heavy, though, and great quality. 

And now it's ready to hold lovely things I make for myself!

I'm so excited to start using it!!

Have you had successes with using a dress form or pinnable mannequin? What are the major benefits to you? Or, are you like me, having gotten along for a while without one?!

I didn't receive any compensation for this post, just the dress form for a review.

How to Wear DIY: I love this skirt! High-low shimmery vintage skirt makeover in a winter party look

12.27.2013

Happy holidays! Hope you had a great Christmas and are enjoying this magical-but-kind-of-awkward in-between time of year before New Year's. We're on a little holiday this week but I brought my laptop, and have a How to Wear DIY to share with you, perfect for the holidays.

I'm super excited about this look because this is exactly what I had in mind when I saw this funky 90's vintage skirt at Goodwill and brought it home to make over. I wore it last weekend for a holiday get-together with family, and it was perfect!

I got a little creative and paired it with my new fave cozy cable sweater and black tights, because... brrr. Contrast!

I also got a chance to wear (well) this gorge necklace that was a gift from Favery, a flash sale jewelry site started right here in Portland. Anne from Favery has had us Portland Bloggers over to their super cute space a couple times now, most recently for a trunk show!, and I got to try this lovely rose gold long necklace by Jules Smith.

Source:  My pal Sam Rosen's lovely blog!

Sweater: Old Navy. Shoes: Target via Goodwill. Necklace: Jules Smith, c/o Favery Skirt: DIY makeover, here!

Simple but special, with shimmer and rose gold! And the funky high-low skirt with tulle petticoat sewn in.

What are you wearing to parties this Christmas-New Year's time of year?!

How to make any holiday baking recipe healthy - with real, whole foods ingredients!

12.23.2013

WOW, how is it that there's basically only one or two days until Christmas? Like everyone else this year, I'm surprised that Christmas has shown up so fast, but I'll take it. I love this time of year.

I love national and international traditions, like holiday baking around this time of year, and I'm particularly excited now because I get to participate again! It's been almost a year since I changed my diet and started eating more nutrient-dense foods, and I love that that change has allowed me to bake again. I loved baking in high school, even though I didn't know much about it and didn't learn from my mom. There were some seriously ugly cakes in those years... but I learned by doing.

I'm learning again, now, and having a lot of fun baking with super high quality ingredients like homemade nut butter and pure cocoa powder and sea salt. No more boxed cake mixes for me! The stuff I'm making now tastes delicious and is pretty much as healthy as a Lara Bar. Not part of my diet for everyday, but a great guilt-free treat!

And with the holidays around, I've had occasions to make treats to share with everyone, and have definitely been looking for good real foods dessert ideas. My baking skills are a little rusty, though, so I'm sticking to simple recipes and I've been comparing them to classics like the Martha Stewart version of the same dish to balance proportions and flavors, e.g. (Some of my biggest successes so far: my freaking incredible chocolate chip sunbutter cookiessuper moist delicious sweet potato brownies, almond flour crust pumpkin pie!)

Of course, I can't always find exactly the recipe I want in a grain-free, gluten-free, processed sugar-free, real food version, so I'm learning to make substitutions and adapt old favorite recipes! Here's how:



Healthy Substitutions for Classic Baking Ingredients


You can make any baking recipe healthier by option for real, whole food ingredients from high quality sources rather than their cheaper, frankenfood conventional alternatives, or things that are often irritating to many people. These options will make even more delicious recipes!!

Try these substitutes:
  • OIL (vegetable, canola, whatever): Real butter (preferably from grassfed cows!), coconut oil (you all know I love it), or lard (also preferably from pastured pigs). Butter is an incredibly dense source of nutrients and heart-healthy saturated fats, particularly when it's from a grassfed cow. Incredible article about that here and great summaries here and here.)
  • FLOUR: Almond flour (or any nut flour). Make your own like I do, or purchase. (Danielle of Against All Grain is a serious baking/dessert expert and has this advice on almond flour.) (Note that coconut flour does not subsititute 1:1 for flour! It needs a lot more oil and gets really weird and dry if you use more than a couple tablespoons, in my experience.) 
  • MILK: If you can tolerate dairy, use full-fat milk, raw if you can find it at a store. I don't do dairy except butter, so I use minimally processed coconut milk instead. (Do not use soy milk--Soy products contain a number of anti-nutrients and hormone compounds that really disturb our hormones and metabolisms. It is also commonly genetically modified and highly processed. There are a million great articles about why we should avoid soy, too--here, and here are a couple.)
  • SUGAR: xylitol (or erythritol) taste exactly like sugar and are excellent sugar substitutes for baking or anything texture-dependent. Coconut palm sugar is also a good natural one. Honey is also fantastic, but you may need to adjust the proportions (here's a converter) and it may make dough too soft or spread-ey.
  • EGGS: Eggs. Unless you're allergic, no need to substitute because eggs are an amazing source of vitamins and Omega-3 fats. Yolks and all--the yolks are the healthiest part! (Amazing data on that in this article!)
  • SALT: Sea salt. For most people there's no need to reduce the salt content of homemade foods, but conventional table salt is a highly processed sodium product, not naturally occurring salt, and can contain toxic aluminum anticaking agents and other junk we don't want. You can substitute sea salt 1:1 for table salt and get a much purer taste!

With everything I choose to make and eat, my goal is for healthy, nutritious, delicious food! And I love how I can achieve that even with dessert treats with whole, unprocessed foods and healthy fats!

Here are a few of my fave recent real food baking successes:

It's insane how good these sunbutter chocolate chip cookies are.
my recipe post
My lard pie crust from the Paleo Parents recipe in Beyond Bacon... Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, also egg-free but I think I might try with an egg next time... made with an almond flour blend.
my IG


This Boston Cream Pie recipe I made for my birthday blew my mind!!
my IG
The peppermint chocolate macaroons I made for my coworkers...
my IG
A grain-free version of classic "sugar" cookies--so many choices for grain-free versions, but I ended up using this recipe but half almond flour, half cashew flour because it's what I had. We'll be decorating them tomorrow!
my IG

The possibilities for baking with real, unprocessed ingredients are endless--and this is a great time of year to play around!

What are you making this season??! Find any new recipes this year, or do you stick to the same traditional ones every year?

Weekend Inspiration: My top 7 fave holiday crafts!

12.20.2013

What better weekend for a Weekend Inspiration post than the last weekend before Christmas?!? December weekends are always so busy but yet aren't we so inspired for crafty projects, for gifts and decor and coziness?! I did this inspiration post early this holiday season, and I stand by my recommendations (I just made those cookies this week! IG'd here!) But here are seven of my fave DIYs and crafty project ideas for this year!!


Ornament garland. This has to be like the easiest Christmas decor DIY. And nowadays the plastic ball ornaments are everywhere (already 70% off at JoAnn!), you could do this safely!
Source
My easy DIY bunting flags from last year. These babies are hanging on the mantel again this year!!
Source
Sparkly holiday throw pillows. (I'd do a sewn version, but this is "no-sew.")
Source

Been super into fair isle print and red and white this year! This photo inspires me to make some DIY sweater pillows!
Source
And, having wrapped quite a few presents already this year, I can totally vouch for the simple glue gun felt present tie-ons I made and blogged here. I've made a second batch already with some more ribbon and may need to make more! I'm happy to give them away along with the gifts!
Source
(We all know I love gold spray paint.) Spray paint old accessories like nutcrackers gold--or white, or any festive color to match your decor.

And, more garlands... how about these huge pompoms and bells?
Source

OMG. Christmas crafts are so fun!!

Are you doing any craft projects or gifts this weekend? What should I try if I get a chance after baking, felt gluing, and playing with glitter?!

How to Wear DIY: The coziest sweater and DIY lengthened flares

12.19.2013

Now that's it's back to normal winter weather and not 10 degrees out!!, I'm back to dressing for Oregon winter and am able to throw in some How to Wear DIY-appropriate pieces!

A while back I made these jeans longer with a hem facing, and remain super proud of myself. Lengthening jeans is a super handy skill!! Especially for flares, because too-short flares are THE nerdiest. So now I can wear them with wedges (also DIY!) for a little extra glam with a cozy outfit!

Cozy necessities: ridiculously large sweater, comfy jeans, red lip.

These jeans are seriously comfy. Stretchy and soft. Making them longer made them even better for winter, too--longer = warmer!
Scarf: H&M. Sweater: Goodwill. Jeans: Gap via Grocery Outlet!, DIY lengthened here

Have you tried making jeans longer??

What are you wearing this early wintertime weather!?

2 Tips for Saving Holiday Cards and Mementos

12.18.2013

I have a very seasonally appropriate guest post to share with you all today, by a very old blog friend/reader of mine, Katie of blog Making This Home and journaling shop Gadanke. Katie and her husband have redone three amazing homes, one made of recycled materials in the back country of Montana, one in a historic apartment in Berlin, and their current home in a remade airplane hangar! She also did a "no new clothes" challenge for a whole year and wore lots of self-made things. 

Katie reached out to me this Christmas with this guest post for you all, and I love the topic because I never know what to do with old holiday cards and sentimental things! All of ours from last year are still in the tiny drawer in our console table, and I think I tossed the others before that because I didn't have a good place for them. When I was a kid my mom would always tape the cards up on the panes of glass in their historic 1909 home glass door panes in the dining room, which was perfect, but now we just have a mantel and they get crowded and fall over up there. I used to have a big cork bulletin board for keeping favorite cards and tickets and photos, but I retired it years ago after its many years of service, and I haven't replaced it in any way. I've always wanted to make some great DIY storage system or book, but no idea what. I guess I need some journaling or keepsake inspiration!

So here's Katie's post on what to do with holiday cards and mementos! (This isn't a sponsored post or anything, just something that caught my attention and I hope you'll enjoy, too!)

2 Tips for Saving Holiday Cards and Mementos

By Katie Clemons
shop : Gadanke
blog : Making This Home
TEDxTalk: www.Gadanke.com/tedxtalk

‘Tis the season for sending and receiving holiday cards, newsletters from friends and neighbors, and photos. I love this part of the season — walking through the snow and past the frosty trees to collect the mail, knowing the mailbox will be stuffed with well wishes and news. I always treasure those quiet moments of sitting down with a cup of tea to open cards, each one of which is a chance to think about the special person who sent it.

But what do you do with that stack of cards once the holidays are over? Here are a couple of tips for saving those mementos — and making them matter — without resorting to a shoe box.

1. Hang onto cards from dear friends, then return them.


Several years ago, my grandma’s best friend from college was moving to a retirement center. She sent my grandma about forty holiday cards that my grandma had written to her over the years.

Who would have thought to keep such a collection? It’s one of the greatest gifts my grandma or any of us could have received. And I got to read about my dad’s first Christmas from my grandma’s perspective!


A collection of cards between friends creates a time capsule of sorts: The cards document things like trends in colors and card types. They chronicle life events, such as moving homes or having children. And most importantly, they become a beautiful souvenir of enduring friendship.

So keep all the warm notes and photos from a few good friends. Don’t tell them. Then one day, mail those letters back.

2. Corral cards in a book.


Here’s an easy way to bundle all those cards into one spot so you can enjoy them year after year. I use my ‘Tis the Season Christmas journal from my shop, www.Gadanke.com, to collect and keep treasured holiday cards, letters and photos.

The journal has easy-open ring closures, so you simply hole punch your cards and pop ‘em into the scrapbook. There are also pages in the journal with writing prompts, such as “They lifted the lid on the box marked ‘Christmas decorations’ and shared sweet stories of years gone by.”

The prompts really help get my brain thinking about the moments that holiday memories are made of. And jotting them down in my journal means I will remember them year after year. I also like to include things like recipes for our family’s favorite holiday treats plus photos from the season.

What do you do with the cards you save each year?


Thanks for sharing, Katie!! And thanks for the keepsake ideas!

What do you do, readers!

The easiest, coolest stripe tee DIY tutorial

12.16.2013

It's been ages since I did a J.Crew tee knock-off... I used to do them all the time, back in '09 and '10, I guess... ruffles, fabric flower shapes, even some painting... very trendy back then. But I saw this one randomly on J.Crew the other day and figured it was time to do another!

It's way more fun for me to make my own version of a cute tee, and it's not realistic for me to spend the big bucks for the real one every time I like something. So while I feel a little bad copying, in this case, it was time to DIY.

So here's the original: the gold/natural J.Crew bar-stripe tee.


And here's my version! Plus a few photos for the tutorial, nothing too in-depth, because, do you really need a tutorial for this? Well, you'll see in a bit...


DIY Gold Spray Paint Bar-Stripe Tee Tutorial


You'll need:

  • Tee (I used the pocket kind from Target, so I carefully removed the pocket with the seam ripper first)
  • Masking tape (perfect width!)
  • Spray paint!


Instructions: Tape the pattern onto the tee. Tape some protective paper or plastic around the edges so you don't get paint anywhere but the stripes. (I recommend folding the tee in half lengthwise after each stripe to make sure they're straight and even. I also recommend doing this while watching Elf, because it worked well for me! ;) )

Oh, next step--go into your garage because it's way too cold to do this outside this time of year, and spray evenly over the taped area. I gave it one heavy coat, maybe three passes all at once.

Ta-da!!

Success!!!
It would be really cool in the black stripe-on-grey version, too, edgy but simple. I guess you could do all kinds of shapes, but I love the constrained stripes, and so easy to do with straight lines.

Simple holiday party DIYs, and How to Wear DIY: leopard for the holidays!

12.13.2013

It's a funny combination, but here goes. Last weekend we had a lovely holiday party at our home for family and friends. Pretty proud of myself for DIYing this little invite in PicMonkey and sending it out; it was just what I wanted for the simple potluck get-together. Sweet, not too fancy, festive, natural elements...

Here it is without the address and such!

(You can use it if you want, too! Just save to your computer, open this baby in PicMonkey, and add the date, time, address, and RSVP info at the bottom! Font is Quicksand.)

I also made these little printable food signs that people filled out as they brought things to the table. It's always nice to tie in the theme of the invites with the decor, and these simple paper folding tents were easy and practical! (Here they are below advertising those amazing chocolate chip sunbutter cookies--I made a double batch for the party!)

I even tried to set up a pretty bar! No pro hostess here, just trying with some things I have all year 'round.

As you may have seen on my Instagram, we have two trees this year. Well, the white one is technically not a real tree, if you ask my husband--it's a "Christmas decoration" and does not count as a real Christmas tree! So we have another one that we cut down in the snow, literally, and both were lit up and on display for the part. Great thing about Christmas parties, right? Practically no decor necessary since you already have a tree and probably some candles or Santas up! ;)

And of course a holiday party is a great opportunity to dress up!! I wore this skirt that I made last fall, and I never would have thought it would look festive, but... I think it did! The bright red sweater and TWO shiny gold necklaces helped.

And honestly, black leggings under skirt? Best thing ever in the winter. Especially when the party is at your house and you don't have to go outside in the cold... but still, cozy and comfy! A great hostess outfit!

There were other people there, I swear. ;) Husband took these before anyone arrived. We played Cards Against Humanity for about three hours, I swear!

So print out some cute invites, have some friends over, and pull out the leopard! Or your fave DIY elastic waist skirt!
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