Blog Posts by Sunset Magazine

  • 8 Creative Holiday Table Settings

    Set a beautiful table with seasonal touches plucked from nature.

    Accent what you already haveAccent what you already have
    Timeless place settings
    Rather than purchase season-specific tableware and decorations, simply accent what you already have. Pair natural-toned ceramics with assorted silverware and everyday glassware. Adorn napkins with name cards, herbs, and a ribbon for a dash of holiday color.
    More DIY decorating projects

    Gifts can be wrapped in shopping bagsGifts can be wrapped in shopping bags
    Repurposed wrappings
    Small guest gifts can be wrapped in brown shopping bags or Kraft paper (sold at craft stores), then embellished with colorful patterned paper remnants.

    Make your own gift wrap

    The perfect fruit to write onThe perfect fruit to write on
    Pomegranate placecard
    Print a name on a pomegranate in gold. The rich red color and hard texture of the pomegranate make it the perfect fruit to write on. Use permanent or liquid ink in gold, silver, or black.

    No pomegranates? Try pumpkins.

    Invite the kids to have funInvite the kids to have fun
    Children's crafts
    At the kids' table, recycled paper makes great restaurant-style placemats. Personalized sets of crayons invite the kids to have fun.

    Turn fruits with stems into place-settersTurn fruits with stems into place-setters
    Pear placecard
    Attach a metal

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  • 15 Ideas for Firepits

    Fire up your backyard for outdoor living with these stylish ideas for firepits.

    Backyard campfireBackyard campfire
    Backyard campfire
    A built-in firepit is the hub of gatherings in this garden. Sandstone cobbles edge the 5-foot-diameter lava rock-topped pit, which blazes with gas-fed flames. A sandstone wall, scattered with cushions for comfort, serves as seating. Thyme and other herbs grow around the firepit and between the seat wall's stones.
    More on landscaping with stone

    Modern artModern art
    Modern art
    'Elfin' thyme turns this patio into a giant checkerboard. Growing in 4-inch-wide strips dividing poured-in-place concrete squares, it's irrigated by a subsurface drip system and needs only the occasional light pruning. Sea thrift keeps the grid from looking too controlled. Puncutating the grid is a blue "gravel" firepit made of recycled glass.

    Ready to lose the lawn? Do things with your yard other than plant grass

    Asian-style elegance Asian-style elegance
    Asian-style elegance
    A firepit underscores a moon window framing a view of giant timber bamboo.

    Amphitheater styleAmphitheater style

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  • 8 Amazing Thanksgiving Desserts

    Top off your feast with one of our favorite cakes, crisps, tarts, and cheesecakes

    One of our absolute favoritesOne of our absolute favorites
    Roasted Sweet-Potato Cheesecake with Maple Cream
    This prize-winning recipe from a Sunset reader is one of our absolute favorites, creamy and moist, with just the right amount of sweetness, this dessert will wow your guests.

    Yield: Makes 12 to 16 servings
    Total: 2 Hours, 30 Minutes


    2 dark orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb. total), such as jewel or red garnet (sometimes sold as yams)
    1 tablespoon melted butter
    Pecan Crust (recipe follows)
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, regular or light (neufchâtel), at room temperature
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    4 large eggs
    1/4 cup whipping cream
    1/4 cup sour cream
    1/4 cup maple syrup
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    Maple Cream (recipe follows)



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  • 9 Best Plants for Colorful Containers

    Add a dramatic pop of color to your home or garden with these vibrant choices for containers.

    Florists' chrysanthemum
    Florists' chrysanthemum is a go-to staple for cool-season color.

    Heuchera comes in a wide variety of colors, and many will keep their leaves all winter long.

    Nemesia brings cheer (and fragrance) through the cooler months.


    Plant snapdragon in a pot for instant impact.


    Calendula comes in shades of apricot, cream, and soft yellow.

    Flowering kale & cabbageFlowering kale & cabbage
    Flowering kale & cabbage

    Flowering kale (and cabbage, too) has interesting rosettes that really pop in containers.
    More garden treats that you can eat

    White cyclamenWhite cyclamen
    White cyclamen

    White cyclamen are stunning and provide the ultimate classic winter look.

    Johnny Jump-UpJohnny Jump-Up
    Johnny Jump-Up

    Johnny Jump-Ups have undeniable cheer and are perfectly suited for pots.


    Sword-like leaves of libertia give a pop of gold and thrive in containers.

    If you like these tips, here are 48 more container garden ideas. And

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  • 8 Favorite Prefab Homes

    These stylish, ready-made homes and workspaces have moved the needle on architectural innovation in the West.

    Rugged-meets-sophisticated sensibility Rugged-meets-sophisticated sensibility
    Prefab ranch home, MT
    Huge expanses of glass. Exterior walls that roll up and virtually disappear. Almost 2,400 square feet of deck. Bedrooms with reclaimed-fir screens, mounted on barn-door sliders, that let inhabitants reposition the panels, as needed, to temper the sunlight. Jeanne and Paul Moseley's pre-fab house opens wide to the great Western landscape where they camp and fish: the Ruby Valley and five surrounding mountain ranges. That rugged-meets-sophisticated sensibility runs throughout this home, designed by architect E.J. Engler of Medicine Hat and interior designer Stephanie Sandston of Greathouse Workroom in Bozeman.
    More on ranch homes

    The first repurposed home in the Mojave DesertThe first repurposed home in the Mojave Desert
    Tim Palen Studio at Shadow Mountain, Joshua Tree, CA
    A proponent of green design since the early days of the solar movement, architect Walter Scott Perry of Eco Tech has always incorporated the idea of reusing and

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  • 15 Thanksgiving Day Menus

    Feasts big and small celebrate the flavors of the West, from a traditional ranch feast to island fare and vegetarian delights.

    Classic American styleClassic American style
    Diner-style Thanksgiving
    This menu evokes classic American style with a modern Western twist: turkey sliders, fried green beans and shallot rings, pumpkin bourbon shakes, and mini pecan pies.

    : Diner-style Thanksgiving

    Farm to feastFarm to feast
    Farm-to-feast menu
    This locavore menu celebrates heritage turkey, wild mushrooms, Ozette potatoes, and cranberries all grown in the West.

    : Farm-to-feast Thanksgiving

    A Mexican-inspired twistA Mexican-inspired twist

    Mexican feast on the beach
    If the weather's warm, take your holiday outdoors. The turkey cooks on the grill, and traditional side dishes get a Mexican-inspired twist.

    : Thanksgiving on the beach

    The casserole is always a hitThe casserole is always a hit
    Big family, big meal

    Divvy up the work with this mostly portable Thanksgiving meal. The Gorgonzola Broccoli Casserole is always a hit.


    Spinach and Persimmon Salad
    Best Ever Roasted or Barbecued Turkey
    Triple Mushroom Dressing

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  • Top 12 Desert Escapes

    Soak, sun, relax--do all of this and more on a trip to these top-notch desert destinations.

    Granite, desert flora, and sweeping viewsGranite, desert flora, and sweeping views
    For adventurous trekkers: La Quinta, CA
    Coachella Valley is home to the Santa Rosa Mountains, where granite, desert flora, and sweeping views surround primo hiking. And La Quinta, 25 miles southeast of Palm Springs, is a great entryway for hikers: Take the Cove to Lake Trail, a 2.5-mile one-way trek. Or, for serious burn, consider the strenuous 7.5-mile Boo Hoff Trail. Download a map at

    Best time to go: March and November, when moderate temperatures make for supreme hiking weather.

    Stay: La Quinta Resort & Club--once a favorite hideaway for Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn, and Greta Garbo--has cozy casitas, 41 pools, and a James Beard award-winning chef at its Morgan's restaurant. From $249;

    A mega-shrine to modernismA mega-shrine to modernism
    For design enthusiasts: Palm Springs, CA
    This town is the capital of midcentury mod style, and the Sunnylands Center & Gardens (pictured) is a mega-shrine

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  • Top 10 Cool-season Vegetables to Plant Now

    Get our crop list and growing guide, and enjoy homegrown greens in fresh salads and stir-fries all winter.

    Sunset associate garden editor Johanna SilverSunset associate garden editor Johanna Silver
    Planting secrets from Sunset associate garden editor Johanna Silver

    Design: I love the keyhole-shaped bed! It frames the planting so the crops never look out of control as they grow.

    Soil: I till the bed with a garden fork to remove rocks and break up clumps before raking the soil smooth. Then I cover the soil with a few inches of compost, till that in, and rake again.

    Planting: I start most of the seeds indoors in September--except arugula, which I sow directly in the ground--then transplant seedlings outdoors six to eight weeks later. (In cold climates, plant in spring.) I always sow extra seeds in case some don't germinate, and I keep excess seedlings in case any plants in the ground fail.

    Spacing: Though I follow the recommendations on the seed packets, I space seedlings on the tighter end of the range so the beds will look lush.

    Harvesting: When arugula

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  • 10 Natural & Earthy Decorating Ideas

    Touches of nature reign supreme in this unique Mother Earth-inspired décor.

    No ironing requiredNo ironing required
    Fresh centerpiece
    When cut to the length of your dining table, a piece of weathered barn wood can function as a runner (no ironing required). Use the plank as a stage for seasonal produce, such as plums, pears, apples, figs, and pattypan squash. Weave crabapple branches throughout for added texture, and stagger candles nestled in pebble-filled votive holders for ambience.

    Centerpiece central

    Brings the outside inBrings the outside in
    Indoor garden
    Decorative terrariums bring an instant touch of the outdoors into your home.

    More terrarium ideas

    A shipping pallet transformed A shipping pallet transformed
    Succulent table

    Who would think that an abandoned shipping pallet could be transformed into living, functional furniture? A tabletop was constructed from its boards, coated with natural wax resin, and got a living table runner consisting of a sunken, succulent-filled box. We can't think of a better addition to an eat-in garden.

    28 more salvage ideas

    Natural materials with contrasting texturesNatural materials with contrasting textures
    Woodsy wreath

    Using natural materials

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  • 15 Best Cabin Getaways

    Cabins are all about relaxing, reconnecting, and repairing the soul. Here are the most extraordinary cabins around the West that will keep you coming back, time and again.

    5 glorious acres all to yourself5 glorious acres all to yourself
    Far Meadow, Sierra National Forest, CA
    Yosemite may be only 12 miles away, but Far Meadow's Base Camp, in some ways, trumps the iconic park. No valley floor swarmed with bus tours or crowded cafeterias--just you, your friends, and family tucked into a 750-square-foot pine cabin, with 5 glorious High Sierra acres all to yourselves. The Base Camp cabin--undamaged by the fierce Rim Fire, which actually stopped 100 miles north--was remodeled in 2013, with the addition of a second bedroom and French doors that open onto the deck. In autumn, you'll find the kind of Technicolor fall foliage that'll make you think you've landed in New England. A bit farther east, above Bass Lake (and the snow line), Far Meadow maintains five additional properties in the Sierra National Forest: a new A-frame was added this season

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