Blog Posts by Sunset Magazine

  • Top 15 Beach Hotels

    Don't end summer without sneaking off to the coast--even if it's just for the weekend. Here are our favorite hotels by the sea.

    Sheraton WaikikiSheraton Waikiki

    Ride the bunny waves at Waikiki
    Maybe you think you're not a Waikiki person. Maybe you think you prefer something a bit more secluded and exclusive. But consider this: With its warm water, dependably gentle waves, and novice-nurturing surf schools, Waikiki Beach remains the most forgiving place in the world to learn to surf or steer an outrigger canoe.

    The Sheraton Waikiki stands midway along the 2-mile-long beach, and while its high-rise architecture shouts 1970s, a $187 million renovation has given it 21st-century polish. And those Waikiki waves are timelessly perfect. From $225; 800/325-3535.

    La Jolla Shores HotelLa Jolla Shores Hotel
    La Jolla, CA

    Give the stand-up craze a try
    Anyone ready to try stand-up paddleboarding can get a thorough intro at Surf Diva's three-day SUP & Yoga Getaway. Both sports are all about core strength, balance, and flexibility, making them a natural

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  • Top 10 Iconic Western Homes

    We dug into our archives to find historic, iconic homes and moments in Western design we had to share.

    A great roomA great room
    Open-plan living begins
    We take the "great room"--a no-barriers room with the kitchen, dining, and living room all within four walls--for granted now, but when we featured it in 1955, the "studio room" was a revolutionary concept. As our lives became more suburban and more casual, the walls separating spaces to prep meals, eat, entertain, and relax came down.

    Thick walls kept the interiors comfortableThick walls kept the interiors comfortable
    Solar adobes in New Mexico

    Architects in the 1970s re-embraced the adobe, the ancient building material long used to help temper the sun's heat in the southwest and Mexico. When we featured it in 1978, we noted the thick walls kept the interiors at a comfortable 70 degrees, regardless of the temperature outdoors.

    Finding room for technologyFinding room for technology
    The home office arrives

    It's the early '90s and the personal computer is just beginning to land on the desks of forward-thinking innovators--including many of our readers. This 1993 home office marks the

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  • How to Create a Sea-creature Succulent Garden

    Boldly colored. Drought-tolerant. With the wonderful world of succulents, you can mimic an underwater look with plants.

    The faux ocean merges with the real oneThe faux ocean merges with the real one
    Create a land-sea connection

    Succulents are terra firma's answer to sea creatures, as jewel-toned as shells, sculptural as seastars, or fluttery as sea anemones. This garden, in Orange County's Corona del Mar, shows off succulents' wilder, more colorful side. The plantings create a spot-on connection between land and sea, as though they simply arose from the waves complete, like Venus on the half-shell, to their perch atop the bluff.

    When succulents expert and horticulturist Joe Stead saw Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom's patio, he wanted to edge it like this to set off the Pacific below. "As a kid, I explored tidepools down there," Joe says of the rocky coastline. "I marveled at the starfish and sea anemones. I wanted to bring that sense of wonder to this garden."

    In beds around Anton and Jennifer's patio, Joe planted purple echeverias, orange "Sticks on Fire,"

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  • 8 Succulent Shrimp Recipes

    Love shrimp? You'll adore these fresh and easy weeknight dinners and party pleasers.

    A Chinese takeout favoriteA Chinese takeout favorite
    Salt-and-Pepper Shrimp

    A Chinese takeout favorite--only lighter and quicker when you make it at home. A mere 20 minutes, and you can serve up juicy shrimp flavored by a rainbow of peppercorns.

    Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
    Total: 20 Minutes

    1/2 teaspoon each black, green, red, and white peppercorns
    2 pounds shrimp, shells on
    2 teaspoons salt, divided
    2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
    4 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

    1. Put peppercorns in a mortar and crush roughly with a pestle. Or put peppercorns in a large resealable plastic bag, spread out on a hard, flat surface, and crush with the bottom of a heavy frying pan or rolling pin.

    2. Put shrimp, half of the crushed peppercorns, and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl and toss to coat shrimp evenly. Set aside.

    3. Heat a wok or large (not nonstick) pot over high heat. Add oil,

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  • 16 Family Room Ideas

    Design a gathering space the whole family will love with these family room ideas for both indoors and outside.

    Old-fashioned funOld-fashioned fun
    Encourage free play

    A media center doesn't have to be the focus of the room. Consider going unplugged instead and providing ample play space for games and puppet shows.

    pigeon-pen playhousepigeon-pen playhouse
    Transform unused space

    Once this small building was, literally, for the birds. It was a pigeon coop, abandoned long ago, and it was falling to the ground. But it sat at the end of the lawn and screened a view of the neighbors' yards. The family wanted a play area for the kids, so it made sense to save it. Now there's room to relax on a daybed with a book, draw on a chalkboard, or play at a kidsize table. Later the family may turn it into a studio, office, or guest house.

    Artifacts reflect personalitiesArtifacts reflect personalities
    Design a social space

    A functional seating area, placed in a U-shaped configuration, encourages conversation. Artifacts from family travels reflect the personalities of those who live here, while the fireplace and television anchor the space.

    A fun display boardA fun display board
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  • Top 9 National Monuments

    Build a great vacation around a spectacular island, forest, cliff dwelling, canyon, fossil bed, tower, or volcano.

    Bandelier National Monument, NM
    Bandelier has been entrancing people for nearly 1000 years--from when the Ancestral Pueblo people first began building homes in the cliffs of Frijoles Canyon.

    They're easily seen on the monument's Main Loop Trail; more ruins can be glimpsed in Tsankawi Canyon to the north.

    But archeology isn't the only reason to come here--the monument is stunningly beautiful, with dramatic mesas and broad views across Northern New Mexico. All this only a 45-minute drive from Santa Fe.

    More: Exploring New Mexico on horseback

    Admiralty Island Admiralty Island
    Admiralty Island National Monument, Alaska

    Everything you want from Alaska is here. Deep green old-growth forests (thanks to 100 inches of rain a year), rushing streams alive with salmon, a rugged coastline, and the largest collection of brown bears--AKA grizzlies--anywhere in the world.

    In fact, one of the best places

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  • 23 Knock-out Native Plants

    Incorporating plants native to your climate means less water, less maintenance, and more wildlife. Here are our top picks around the West. Find out what grows best in your climate zone here. And if you don't know your zone, you can easily look it up.


    (Lewisia cotyledon)

    Native to: California and southern Oregon

    To about 1 ft. high, 10 in. wide. Rosettes of narrow, fleshy, evergreen leaves bear 10-in. stems topped by large, extremely showy clusters of 1-in. white or pink flowers often striped with rose or red. Blooms from spring to early summer. Lewisia cotyledon howellii is similar but has wavy-edged leaves and somewhat larger flowers. Prune out side growth to maintain air circulation around root crown. Can be grown in pots of fast-draining sterilized soil or growing mixes.

    Penstemon Margarita BOP

    Native to: California

    These deep blue beauties have purple throats.

    Common thriftCommon thrift
    Common thrift

    (Armeria maritima)

    Native to: California, Oregon, Washington, and B.C.


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  • 8 Delicious Recipes with Fresh Corn

    Grill it to perfection, turn it into the perfect summer salad, make soup, and more.

    Especially good with grilled meatEspecially good with grilled meat
    Grilled Corn on the Cob with Cilantro Queso Fresco Butter
    From Mark Fischer, chef of Restaurant Six89 in Carbondale, Colorado, here's a decadent combo that's especially good with his "Achiote Short Ribs with Ancho Barbecue Sauce and Avocado Relish." Offer any leftover butter to spread on warm bread.

    Yield: Serves 6
    Prep Time: 30 Minutes
    Soak: 1 Hour

    6 ears corn on the cob in husks
    About 1/4 cup kosher salt
    1/2 cup queso fresco (Mexican-style fresh cheese)
    1/4 cup butter, softened
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    1 teaspoon lime zest
    2/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

    1. Remove silks from corn but leave husks intact. Put corn in a large bowl with 1/4 cup salt and water to cover. Soak about 1 hour.

    2. Heat a grill to medium-high (350° to 450°). Meanwhile, whirl queso fresco, butter, mayonnaise, and lime zest in a food processor until fairly smooth. Add cilantro and pulse to blend.

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  • 5 Easy DIY Paint Projects

    Get inspiration for how to spruce up your home with a fresh coat of paint and vibrant decorating palettes.

    Create a complete sealCreate a complete seal
    Perfect stripes

    Paint experts share their tips for getting crisp lines for striped walls. Here's the step-by-step tutorial for using their techniques to create perfect stripes in your home.
    More: How to paint stripes

    Balance the bright wall with a grounded colorBalance the bright wall with a grounded color
    Bright accent wall

    If you've been itching to paint a wild, bright color but don't want to overwhelm the room, paint an accent wall. It's like adding just the right amount of spice to a meal. The best wall to accent: The one where your eye naturally wants to go.
    More: How to paint an accent wall

    Choose chairs with interesting frame detailsChoose chairs with interesting frame details
    Chair makeover

    Do you have an old, beaten-up chair that you still love? With some paint and a little fabric, you can turn a tired chair into a fresh, stylish eye-catcher.
    More: How to repaint a chair

    A playful, modern feelA playful, modern feel
    Painted tub

    A claw-foot tub looks luxurious no matter what, but painting it a bright color gives your bathroom a playful, modern feel.
    More: How to paint a bathtub

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  • 8 Tasty Pickling Recipes

    Making pickles is fun--and easy. Capture crispy, tart, and spicy flavors in a jar with our tasty recipes. If it's your first time making pickles, though, read our canning instructions first. You might want to check our our canning overview, as well.

    Bread and butter picklesBread and butter pickles
    Bread-and-Butter Pickles

    Prep and Cook Time: about 1 1/2 hours, plus at least 12 hours to brine vegetables. Notes: Stephanie Baldwin has fond memories of making these pickles growing up in New Zealand. She uses a mix of vegetables, incorporating 2 cups each of the following: pickling cucumbers sliced 1/4 inch thick; celery sliced 1/4 inch thick; green beans cut into 1/2-inch lengths; coarsely chopped bell peppers; coarsely chopped cauliflower; and shredded cabbage.

    Yield: Makes 5 to 7 pints

    3 quarts sliced or chopped vegetables (a mix, or all pickling cucumbers)
    2 1/4 pounds onions (about 4), peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise
    1/2 cup salt

    1 quart distilled white vinegar
    2 1/2 cups sugar

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