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!


Bedroom decor update, and another vote!

Last summer I had a...pillow crisis?... decorating our bedroom with some new pillows. I loved reading your ideas on that post, and have been playing with options since!! But now I've made a bigger change, and it's back to the pillow organization drawing board.

In some ways, it's funny how little our bedroom has changed in 8 months... same DIY headboard, same lamps, same vintage black nightstands (the ones I traded for these green ones), same starburst mirror above the bed. But there are different books on the end tables (we actually switched sides, we do that sometimes) and the big difference is I strayed from my conventional solid color bedding to the fave stripey duvet cover I'm here to talk to you about today.

For a while in the summer we used the lighter grey blanket from that post, but most of the time we use the white woven stripe duvet cover, because I love white bedding and it goes with everything (see it near the bottom of my home tour). Love it. Love white bedding. We also have it in our guest room (also in home tour, and see below) - a great white quilt from Target that I got brand new at Goodwill.

I guess I got a little tired of the white, though, and I pulled out our old West Elm grey and white stripe duvet cover. This thing's a classic (although it always bummed me out a little that it doesn't look like the one in the catalog because I like to use a king size comforter (and cover) on our queen size bed so that it's long enough--so I buy king size and turn them sideways. Sigh.). But anyway, I like the grey and white stripe, and it goes with anything, so I pulled it out again and now I'm wondering if it goes with the princess-ey tufts of the velveteen headboard I made... what do you think? Too preppy?

Anyway, that's not the main dilemma today. Nope, I'm having another pillow crisis, like I discussed in this post, and I'd love to hear your vote on which of these lovely 5 options works for our room! And what to do with the other pillows!!

Changing up the bed with throw pillows

One of my oldest friends taught me to decorate with pillows and accent colors. My mom doesn't change her decor much, so I had never been to a house where you could express changes in season or style by swapping out fabrics, textures, and small pieces of furniture. My older gal pal had a nice, small house and would ask my opinion on new fabrics and pillow forms from JoAnn plus great combinations of vintage Ralph Lauren pillowcases remade to the right sizes, and spray paint colors for thrifted wicker and small wood items. She taught me the ease of DIY decorating in a small space with a small budget! I keep those lessons with me to this day (as you probably know!)!

So when I look at our room, I see the potential for a different look every few months, though when it comes to changing I'm never 100% sure. I throw pillows on the bed in different positions, take a few steps back, squint, and tip my head to the side. I pull more fabrics and pillow covers out of the closet and see how they look with the others. Sometimes I walk back to the office and look through my recent pins for a recent inspiration image I'm trying to remember. But normally the room looks like a bit of a disaster zone, like this.

I have many choices. See some of the pillows, pillow covers, and curtains below - who says curtains are just curtains? I've thought of making pillow covers out of them since they're too short for any of our windows. Playing with colors and patterns...

Master bedroom bedding options...

But I think I've got it narrowed down to 5.

Options 1 and 2 feature the two-sided linen print/shimmer pillows. Option 1 also features these pink patterned ones I sewed

Option 2 mixes things up a little and features sideways standard sized pillows. Feels a little more modern, I guess...

Even more modern, Option 3 includes the grey and white stripe pillowcases that are meant to go with the duvet cover. No throw pillows. So bare!!

A little more decorated in Option 4, with some summery colors added in with this bolster and the hot pink pillows I made.

Back to an old favorite with the old white duvet cover for Option 5. The hot pink pillows on top of two standard pillows, plus a round ruched silver one.

Five pretty good options! Which are your faves, with the striped cover instead of a solid? And should I be using the other pillows to jazz up the guest room, while I'm in the business of redecorating with pillows?

Guest room pillow options...

It's really cool how when you have your own space, and a few room to decorate within it (this was the dream of my teens and early 20's, and I'm grateful for it now!), you can move things around and like where they look anywhere. Most of my pillows would work in almost any of the rooms in the house where pillows go! It's nice to update the couch or TV room couch with new ones, too. And those hot pink square pillows I made--ohhhh, I love them, and I love how they look in our guest room as well! What about these options, if I don't use the hot pink ones in the master?

So see the pink pillows in Guest Room Option 1 (I love the colors together! Makes the stacked pillows a little more girly, too.)...

And Guest Room Option 2.

Best bedroom decor choice?

So. To recap.

Master bedroom: options 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. What's your vote? Why?

How do you like to change up pillows and blankets with changing seasons and attitudes?



Seriously amazing - sweet potato ice cream. Yep.

I've been all about this ice cream since I made it Sunday. I've been thinking about a seasonal, homemade ice cream-like creation since having my mind blown when I read about butternut squash ice cream, and have been really enjoying "not sweet treats" made at home with things like coconut milk, cocoa powder, frozen banana for sweetener, almond products... since our 21 Day Sugar Detox in January. So, I am sooooooo excited that I successfully made my own variation on a winter slightly sweet vegetable dairy-free ice cream dish, and after the interest it got on Instagram on Sunday, I got my act together and got ready to post about it!

Sweet Potato Ice Cream Recipe

  • 1 medium sweet potato (mine was 12 ounces)
  • 1 can coconut milk (this brand is free of additives and is BPA-free)
  • 3-5 tbsp coconut oil (the more you add, the better it will freeze and thaw for later eating)
  • 2 eggs (or 4 egg yolks, if you have uses for the whites elsewhere - I don't, usually, so I like to keep it simple and just use the whole egg, although it makes it not quite as rich and creamy--so you can add more coconut oil!)
  • 2 tbsp (or to taste) maple syrup (honey would also work)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (plus more for decorative sprinkling)
So simple, right!?

Note: You will need an ice cream maker for this recipe - we use a very basic on/off ice cream maker from my mother-in-law - you may be able to find a friend or relative who will lend you one, or treat yourself and buy one of these Cuisinart ones (they come in cute colors!) for only $40! Most basic ice cream makers involve a metal insulated bowl you store in the freezer when not in use, and a simple motor base you put it on with a cover. Or, you can go all out and buy this plug-in one that freezes it for you while it works. My friend Jessie bought one of these and it is very cool!!


1. Bake or microwave the sweet potato till it's soft. Baking is probably better but I didn't have my oven on and didn't want to turn it on for one little sweet potato, so... I microwaved mine for 7 minutes.
2. Blend the sweet potato, coconut milk, coconut oil, and maple syrup or honey in a blender till smooth. This will also cool it off a little.
3. Add eggs and spices, blend.
4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and turn it on. That's it!!

When I served this to husband we got a little ice cream sundae bar going and I brought out toppings--coconut flakes, raw cashew chunks, nutmeg for sprinkling... yum yum! It really does taste a lot like pumpkin pie, although less plant-ey, you know how pumpkin sometimes has that taste? This was pure richness and delicious spice. It got all the raves from husband. And hey, what a great dessert; it has vegetables in it! ;) And it was the perfect dessert after dinner last night following a kettlebell class workout. Yay safe starches!

Try it at home!!



Yes/No lace party dress--yep, pretty much how it sounds.

Let's get creative and brave!
I love dresses (duh), but I get a little bored of the same types of fabric and same combinations. So I tried to get extra creative with this one, aided in part by this funky lettering lace and by an epiphany I had while cutting it out (my thought exactly: "Aha! Pink piping!" I literally wrote it on a sticky note and put it with the just-cut-out dress).

For this dress, I used an old standby pattern, McCall's M5849, which I use for most of my strapless and strappy dresses and even used for my wedding dress (scroll down to see my post about bodice construction and fit). In fact, for this dress I used the same grey fabric that I used as the base of my wedding dress and for all of my bridesmaids' dresses. Recognize it?

Of course, the really funky part about this dress is the lace. WholePort often sends me supplies to try out, and I picked out this lace from their many beautiful and interesting lace yardage choices. I love the florals, too, but I wanted something different this time!, so I got this lettering lace! YES NO YES NO YES NO, it says... and it didn't need a hem because of the edge print! Convenient.

And like I said, the pink piping just popped into my head right after I finished cutting it out, and I think it was a good choice. I already had a belt that goes, too!

Because the grey fabric is so substantial and because neither it nor the lace frays, I was able to use only the lace layer and the grey as a base/lining. (See popular Sewing Circle questions for more on lace and linings.) So only two layers here, despite the sheer lace layer on top. I used the pink bias tape for piping and as a bias binding around the top edge, although you can't really see it. I thought it might peek out and I hand stitched it very carefully, but it hides. Oh, well.

Super fun, right?! How soon can I wear it, considering it's still winter and I don't have any spring weddings coming up?!


How to Wear DIY: The greatest glam grey sweatshirts

Sometimes I remember my weekends by what I wore. I can mark the changing seasons by if I wore the puffy vest/plaid combo I lived in around New Year's, my red Christmasey, fair isle-ey sweater, or even farther back, the burnt orange jeans I wore with brown boots in the fall. This time of year, I'm trying to transition a little away from the cozy plaids and sweaters and am beginning to fantasize about wearing mint and yellow and cropped jeans, but it's still dang cold outside and layers and long sleeves are a must.

So I made myself feel a little better last weekend by glamming up a sweatshirt and jeans outfit for some errands and visiting with family. Remember the three grey sweatshirts I DIY'd with some different embellishment ideas in this post?

I seriously love these sweatshirts--I am basically crazy about them. I've worn the dark one with a warm vest when it's been really cold, felt sporty on vacation in the lettered one, and now, last weekend, worn the gold sequin braid trim one out.

The thing about these is, they're still sweatshirts, so it adds to the irony to pair them with something a little more glam than yoga pants or a utilitarian parka. I pushed the envelope a little by wearing mine out with basic jeans (I've had some success online thrifting from Twice lately! Have you tried it!?), Converse, and - to mix it up and go with the gold glam! - my chicest coat and red lips.

My thought with the gold sequin trim on this one of my three embellished sweatshirts was that I wouldn't need to accessorize as much but could still feel cute in a basic great sweatshirt. And I think it worked. Just added the simple initial necklace for some extra gold, and felt dressed!
Hat: ? Necklace: Kohl's (similar/similar). Coat and bag: Old Navy (bag). Jeans: Gap via Twice.
Shoes: Converse. Sweatshirt: DIY, here!

What have you been wearing these almost-late-winter weekends?? Have you tried dressing up a sweatshirt?


Sewing with Friends: Alyssa's black satin and tulle party dress

Hope you all are as excited as I am for another gorge dress by my friend Alyssa in my Sewing with Friends series!

This time, she's sharing a fancy black dress she wore for some of her engagement pictures, actually--black poly satin and black basic tulle, a combination of two patterns for the bodice, and a fab tulle ballet skirt.

(She's the greatest at using my hashtag, #howtowearDIY! You can join, too!)

For the base of the bodice, she used Simplicity 1876, a super essential and versatile strapless dress pattern (I use a McCall's one of basically the identical shape--princess seams--for SO many strapless dresses.) She also cut out the midriff panel from Butterick B5457 and...

I cut the front of the simplicity pattern two times. at the side I gathered the top layer to one side, and sewed it on top of the other piece.

The skirt is just the one sheer layer of black tulle over a gathered lining. I love this idea!! Fluffy and ethereal without being overwhelming to sew on. ;) (See my recent post on my tulle puffy party skirt and my wedding dress construction for my tales of sewing with bouncy, weightless tulle!)

Here's the dress!

I love the simplicity and versatility of the solid, basic color but such pretty fabric! Like, the most fun "little black dress" ever!

So grateful again for my talented and inspiring friends! Thanks, Alyssa, for sharing and getting me excited about sewing party dresses!



Valentine's-ey, festive real food treat: Chocolate covered candied orange peels

Happy happy Valentine's Day!!

My most festive project this week was the DIY heart appliqué‎ pillow tutorial I shared on Wednesday, so if you still have time for some holiday craftiness, that post is for you. But if you have time for a little extra prep in the kitchen today (or any time, really), do try these candied orange peels! Perfect for Valentine's Day or whenever you want a wintery, chocolate-ey, citrus-ey treat!

I like to think of these as a real food dessert treat--nothing heavily processed, and not too much added sweeteners or hard-to-pronounce ingredients. You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand, but these are definitely a good gluten-free, grain-free, processed sugar-free treat you can feel good about indulging on! (We did a 21 Day Sugar Detox in January, so anything even slightly sweet still tastes like a real splurge to me. Especially something super sweet like oranges and chocolate!)

Chocolate covered candied orange peel recipe


  • 2 oranges
  • 2-3 cups plus 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or other natural granulated sweetener would probably work)
  • Chocolate chips (these are great and soy free) or dark chocolate (or make your own with cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sweetener, and vanilla)
Optional equipment: Dehydrator (this is mine and I love it!) 


1. Score the oranges into quarters and carefully peel off the quarters of skin. Slice it into very thin vertical slices (mine were about 1/4" thick).
2. Boil the 2-3 cups water in a small saucepan and blanch the orange peels (this removes bitterness). Some recipe skip this step, but it does help, and you can do it as many as three times if you really want to take out the tang.
3. Heat the 1 cup water and 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar in a small pan and add the orange peels; coat them with the sticky sugar water. Heat on very low 20-30 minutes until the peels have soaked up almost all the water. (If using cane sugar, you can't stir the mixture because it can form sugar crystals, but I stirred mine a ton to coat the peels plenty and had no issues with crystals forming.)
4. Dehydrate, bake, or dry the peels (time depends on heat). I did mine in our dehydrator at 125 degrees overnight and they came out perfect. (You can get the most basic or the most fancy dehydrator as well!)
5. Melt the chocolate on a double boiler or in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Pour it into a skinny container (I used a shot glass!) and dip the peels into it at least halfway or as desired.
6. Lay chocolate-ey peels on wax paper and refrigerate to cool. Serve and impress your guests!

Of course, they go a little better in an orange dish...

Great for any time (especially in the winter, warm weather orange season!) when you want a tropical, fruity, chocolate-ey treat!

Better than any storebought candy I've had in a while!!



DIY heart appliqué‎ pillow tutorial - for Valentine's or any day!

I'm finally getting into the Valentine's Day spirit (late to the party most holidays, actually) after being on vacation last week and pretty busy last month. But, we were snowed in last weekend (3 solid days!) and I got some gooooood festive crafting in while watching the Olympics and cooking delicious root vegetable dishes because that's all that was in our fridge.

I'm not huge into lace and ruffles and frilly hearts, but I do love a good heart shape element (who doesn't?) and I really enjoy playing around with appliqué‎s while watching TV with the husband or spending a quiet afternoon feeling creative.

But I don't think this heart pillow will be retired after this Valentine's Day! I think it works in the living room any time, don't you?

Follow along for the simple tutorial!

 DIY Heart Appliqué‎ Pillow Tutorial

You will need:

  • Pillow form
  • Main pillow cover fabric (two pieces the size of your pillow form)
  • Zipper (I prefer invisible)
  • Scrap fabric in one or more colors (this is a great scrap-buster project for those extra little pieces you have stored!)
  • Iron-on adhesive like Heat N Bond Lite (Kollabora sent some to me for my book projects)
  • Contrasting thread (optional)
  • Basic sewing tools


1. Cut two pieces of main pillow cover fabric. Tip: professional-looking pillow covers fit very tightly to the pillow, so I normally cut them exactly the size of my pillow form (in this case 16"x20") and use 1/2" seam allowances. You can cut 1" larger in width and length to allow for a little more ease if you like, e.g. 17"x21", but much larger than that will look a little loose on the pillow.

2. Mark the centers of the pillow cover pieces (front and back sides) by folding it in half and clipping at an angle. I also marked the absolute center of the pillow with pins (you can use pins or a fabric marker) horizontally and vertically, with the intersection of the pins being the true center. You'll use this when you place your hearts in a symmetrical pattern, if you choose to do it that way (randomly placed hearts would also be cute!).

3. With paper scissors, cut out a heart shape from the iron on adhesive. Copy it as many times as you need for your heart pattern (I used 8 hearts).

4. Iron the paper hearts down onto your contrast fabric, sticky side down, and press them down carefully. (You can see I did this efficiently, fitting the hearts in close, although this is not necessary since you're using scraps!) With fabric scissors, cut out the hearts around the edges of the paper.

5. Now the fun part. Peel the backs of the fusible adhesive off the hearts and place them in a pattern you like on the front piece of the pillow cover.  I did this by measuring along the grain of the fabric and placing my hearts equidistant from each other, splitting the distance between the center lines of the pillow cover. Do whatever pattern you want!

Iron the hearts down onto the pillow cover piece; they will adhere but can't take a lot of wear and tear, so be gentle.

6. At the machine, top stitch the contrasting hearts onto the front pillow cover piece. You can use a tight zigzag (like I did with only moderate patience in this appliqué‎ project and with better effect but worse close-ups in this project), which perfectly hides all the raw edges but takes forever, so depending on how many hearts and how big (I had 8 tiny ones, so no way was I gonna cover all their edges with a short length zigzag!), you may want to do what I did and do a simple straight stitch. Tip: a shorter stitch looks neater and is a little easier to manipulate as you sew.

7. Assemble the pillow cover the same way you would any front and back of a pillow cover. (Insert zipper, match centers and sew front and back right sides together, clip corners.) (I detail this process in this tutorial and this tutorial if you want more detailed photos.)

8. (Optional) Depending on your fabric and how much you plan to open the pillow cover!, finish the inside edges with a serger, zigzag stitch, or pinking shears. My fabric was raveling a ton, plus I love the sound of cutting through crisp fabric with pinking shears. ;)

9. Press seams open and turn right side out. Put on pillow and admire!!

Ta-da! I said this would work for any time, not just Valentine's Day, and look--it goes so many places! I have a lot of grey and pink in my living room, so it works anywhere.

On my recovered Louis XV chair...

On the vintage slipper chairs with the white slipcovers I made (next to the pink curtains I made)...

On our grey sofa with the black/white pillows I made and the painting I did!

Hooray for appliqué‎ scrap projects!


How to Wear DIY: The neon maxi with chambray (for the air conditioning!)

Finally through the photos, and here's the last of my How to Wear DIY opportunities shared from our trip. I wore this bright maxi dress on one of the last days of the trip, in Orlando for an evening and dinner with family. Their Baldwin Park neighborhood is so cute, and we loved all the restaurants within walking distance of their house! Here we are headed to dinner that evening.
Going on vacation with my husband and my parents was super fun, but you can see my mom's influence in this outfit. ;) She always wants to make sure people will be "warm enough," so the extra layer was her idea in case we went somewhere with air conditioning and in case it was too cold. Moms are sweet that way.

I do really love this dress, in this bright knit! And, a great thing about knits--easily packable! Way fewer wrinkles on this than on some of my woven things. ;)

(I didn't really need the extra layer. ;) )
Shirt: c/o Lucky Brand. Necklace: Kohl's. Watch and Sandals: Ross. Dress: DIY, here!

Here's to warm weather! I look forward to digging through my closet for more bright DIY dresses in the next few months!
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