My Favorite Planner for Getting Organized in 2017

Best Planners for 2017 | Day Designer Review from @cydconverse

Friends, let’s talk about planners! Does anyone else love starting the year with a fresh, crisp, clean new planner? For me it’s a carry over from my college days and while I use Google Calendar for tracking my editorial calendar and deadlines (gotta love those reminder alerts), my daily go-to system for staying organized is a classic tangible pen-on-paper planner. A few years ago (I think it was 2104 to be more precise), I got myself on the wait list and picked up one of the seriously coveted Day Designer planners. (I mean, come on, there was a wait list for a planner!) I was really really excited because of the unique daily layout featuring both a schedule and a to-do list. At just shy of $60, it felt like a small investment of sorts and I was so worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype, but all of that was for naught. I loved my Day Designer and I’ve been a loyal addict ever since.

Best Planners for 2017 | Day Designer Review from @cydconverse

Best Planners for 2017 | Day Designer Review from @cydconverse

Best Planners for 2017 | Day Designer Review from @cydconverse

Last year, with a newborn in the mix, I made a slight change and started using the Blue Sky edition of the Day Designer. It packs a lot of the same punch as the original Day Designer including the helpful worksheets at the front to help you get focused and organized for the year. Where it differs is in the layout, which is weekly instead of daily. So instead of one day per page, this version features one full week per spread, but still features a really handy schedule with a to-do list for the week and the top three tasks you need to tackle each day. Since having the baby, my weeks are much more fluid and entirely less regimented so being able to see the whole week at once is a much more useful layout for me at this point in time. Bonus! The price is a little less than half of the original Day Designer, although I have to say, I do feel the Day Designer is entirely worth the price if it suits your lifestyle and needs.

Best Planners for 2017 | Day Designer Review from @cydconverse

Best Planners for 2017 | Day Designer Review from @cydconverse

Each month in the Day Designer (regardless of edition) opens with a monthly calendar view that then leads right into the month itself, either daily or monthly pages. This monthly view spread is where I keep a detailed overview of each month. The spaces are large enough where I can keep a written copy of my deadlines, track orthodontist appointments, birthdays, etc. and keep our family and my work obligations all neat and organized in one place. Between the two versions, this is now my fourth year using a Day Designer and I am such a fan that I thought it warranted sharing with you. Also, if you care about such things (as I very definitely do), I am a loyal Pilot G2-05 user and have been since architecture school. (In black, only.) I honestly have not bought any other kind of pen in a solid 13 or 14, possibly even 15 years, no joke. I keep them stashed in my desk, the kitchen drawers, my purse, the diaper bag, my camera bag, and on and on, and very rarely even write with any other kind of pen. My Pilot pens and my Day Designer are a little dream team for the Type A side of my brain. Sitting down to start filling out my week or the month ahead with a cup of coffee is one of the most satisfying things to me and without this planner I’d be chasing my own tail at least 50% of the time. What about you? Any other great day planners you love? What about pens? I sincerely doubt I’m cheating on my Pilot pens anytime soon (please let them never be discontinued!), but maybe you can at least assure me I’m not alone in the crazy pen lady department?

Best Planners for 2017 | Day Designer Review from @cydconverse

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]

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A Living Room Update + Our New Velvet Sofa

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

When we last left off with our home renovation and decorating adventures, I shared that we were starting to really work on a design plan for our living room. I created a mood board to help capture the vibe and color palette I was after and then jumped into the details of pulling things together. Our initial living room renovation, which we tackled as soon as we closed and actually before we even moved in, included removing multiple layers of wallpaper, fixing the original 100+ year old plaster walls, painting every square inch of wall and trim, removing the 40+ year old carpet, cleaning up the hardwood floors and on and on. It felt like we’d never finally have a room that felt comfortable for watching movies, having friends over to watch the game or for cuddling up with a good book. Today I finally have another huge update to share, which makes me nearly giddy. Many of the pieces are coming together and, most excitingly, we have a new sofa! The amazing folks at Article sent along the most stunning blue velvet sofa (the Sven sectional in Cascadia Blue) which is now the undeniable star of our living room. I’ve clocked more than one nap on it already as I was struggling to get healthy over the holidays, so I can attest to it easily being the prettiest and comfiest piece of furniture I’ve ever owned.

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

If you’re not familiar with Article, I hope this serves as a super enthusiastic introduction! Article is a pretty incredible brand, producing really beautiful furniture and accessories at amazing prices. Pieces, I should note, that ship easily, quickly and without hassle throughout Canada and the lower 48 for an incredibly reasonable rate of just $49. Plus, if for some reason you don’t love your purchase, you have 30 days to return it, all you have to pay is the $49 to ship it back. Seriously, friends, this is brilliant! All of this is really deeply important and notable to me personally, because where we live our only furniture options are very traditional showroom retailers where prices are high and selection is slim to none. As someone who is really design conscious, walking into a furniture store and slapping down several thousand dollars on some overstuffed mushroom colored microfiber sofa was just not an option. Actually, that description pretty well describes the sofa set we kicked to the curb that I’d had for several years after buying it secondhand on Craigslist. The stuff was literally falling apart, but I refused to replace it because 900 trips to every furniture store within an hour of us had proven to be a waste. And then, along came Article. With beautifully designed furniture where every detail is considered, where the quality is truly amazing, where you order it online, skip the showroom markup, and a couple of nice people show up in a big truck and unpack it in your living room right where you want it. Mind boggling, earth shattering, life changing if you’re a lady like me. Trust me when I say, the hyperbole is completely warranted.

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

In addition to the new sofa, we also have curtains hung on all of the big, huge old windows and a new area rug anchoring the primary seating group in front of the fireplace. I sort of love the monochromatic blue-on-blue look and the flat weave of the wool carpet makes it really easy to clean up spills. Speaking of, I was a little wary about velvet upholstery in a very kid-friendly house but so far I’m impressed. The few little smudges we’ve had have cleaned off easily and a quick lint roll has easily cleaned up the inadvertent dog hair that has landed on the sofa. (Although I should mention that we don’t allow our dog on furniture so this is just hair that collects there despite our best attempts. Haha!) I’m currently finalizing decisions for a few other key pieces in the room, primary among those being a pair of arm chairs to flank the fireplace opposite the sectional. The fireplace is actually going to undergo a little bit of a makeover this week, too, until we’re able to invest in a gas insert and a tile or stone surround. We also have a big television that’s going to be mounted over the fireplace (we can debate the merits of that move another day) and art work that needs to be hung, too. Finally, once all those other pieces are in place, Emerson’s little play area at the end of the room will come together really easily and I plan to break that down in detail once we get to that point. So, stay tuned for a handful more living room posts before the big final room reveal! (Which I also plan to share on Facebook Live, so you can really check out the flow of the room.) I feel really impressed with myself using those words, but I am also so excited to be at this point. I’ve dreamed of having a really beautiful main gathering space in our home for seemingly a million years so it feels like a dream watching it all come together. Stay tuned! I can’t wait to share how it all comes together.

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

Living Room Makeover with @Article Sven Sofa | Modern home decor and decorating ideas from @cydconverse

p.s. If you just so happen to be wondering, yes. The sofa is Emerson approved. Also, our child is a complete ham for the camera any chance she gets. And check out all those teeth!

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I did not receive compensation for this post, although Article did provide the Sven sofa for review. All opinions and over the top gushing are completely 100% my own. Read more about our editorial policies.

[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]

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What I Learned in 2016

How to Host a Cookie Exchange from @cydconverse

Even though we’re already into the middle of January, there’s a large part of my internal clock that is still getting caught up to the fact that 2016 is over. Wow, what a year! On a personal level, 2016 was good to us in so many ways. We got to spend the year watching our tiny newborn baby evolve into a really cool, endlessly sweet little human. I got to hang out with her every day, watching her learn and grow while continuing to hold down the fort professionally. (Sometimes without a ton of grace, but we made it happen!) We bought and moved into the house of our dreams, the house that already feels like the home we were always supposed to call our own forever. My sister not only got married, but married a man I genuinely love and adore, and feel so grateful to call my brother in-law. Even with a tiny baby in the midst, I managed to travel a bit (to Key West for my sister’s bachelorette weekend, to Oregon to speak at The Hello Sessions and to Florida again for a cousin’s wedding.) Travel is always something that fuels me so I was glad I was able to make a few short trips happen. Additionally we were both in and attended a ton of other weddings, getting to witness and celebrate so many people we love start exciting new chapters in their lives. We made new friends of our neighbors who so quickly have come to feel like extended family to us. We spent a lot of summer nights around a fire pit, which is about our favorite way to pass time. All in all, personally I have zero complaints about 2016. It was a wild, beautiful year and I’m so grateful to live a life so full of such amazing people and to have had so many reasons to celebrate. We know and appreciate how lucky we are.

p.s. Before we go too much further, I’ll point out that the photos in this post are from a few of my personal favorite posts from this past year, in addition to your favorite posts of 2016. Scroll to the bottom of the post for links to each of the original posts for more details! 

Keep reading…

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Farewell, Sweet Nina

Nina | Losing a Dog from @cydconverse

This is a really tough one to share, friends. Just before Christmas, we said goodbye to our girl Nina. As she went, my heart broke into a million pieces. At the time, I wasn’t ready to write this post although I did share on Instagram and the outpouring of love and support helped so much in those first few days as we grieved. Nina was my sidekick and partner in crime for 12 years. She had the kindest eyes and was impossibly, unendingly sweet, even at the very end when she laid curled up in my lap. Always a lover of labs, I adopted her entering my final year of architecture school and she lived with me in the world’s tiniest, coldest apartment where she quickly became the mascot of sorts among our circle of friends. I graduated from college and then grad school, and then somehow, unspeakably, the years slipped past us into a decade and then more. From career changes to countless moves across and throughout New York State, through divorce, the rebuilding of my life, the birth of our baby girl and moving into our dream home, she was always my trusty companion and I her doting momma. Behind the scenes, she was present for the shooting and creation of thousands of blog posts, dutifully keeping me company as I crafted long hours into the night or serving as clean up crew when food props would go flying as they always inevitably do. She was my family in every sense. I wish I could find words to adequately say everything she meant to me and her boys and all those who loved her. There are none. I am grateful for her years of loyalty and the sweet tenderness and love she showered upon our kids over the years. They’re as heartbroken as we are. I am grateful that in the end she found peace and that she didn’t have to suffer any longer than avoidable. I am mostly grateful to have been the human lucky enough to call her my girl all these years. There is no love like that of a doggie and I will miss her every day from here on out. Ninerdog, we love you so so much. Our hearts will never be the same with you gone.

Keep reading…

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16 Favorite Posts from 2016

Vanilla Bean Cake Donuts with Blueberry Glaze | Baked donut recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Happy Monday and happy New Year, friends! After unexpectedly taking some extra time off last week to try and finally lick the insanely intense cold/sinus infection/plague that I came down with just before the holidays (more on that soon), I am officially working on getting back in the swing of things this week. In the end, I spent so much of the holidays sick that I never got around to baking cookies or watching half of my Christmas movie must-watch list, and I took many more naps in the last few weeks than I have in a long long time. I’m not fully up to speed just yet, but the last couple of days I’ve been feeling much better so I suppose there’s something to be said for extra sleep after all. To kick off 2017, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to look back on some of your favorite posts of 2016. Every January I love rounding up the most popular posts of the previous year and seeing how the site evolves from year to year. The process for selecting these posts (which are presented in no particular order) is a very non-scientific combination of looking at page views, Pinterest pin counts, overall social shares, etc. Not surprisingly, recipe posts, cocktail recipes and a smattering of personal and home decor related posts stole the show this past year. Stay tuned throughout the week for more in-depth personal reflections on 2016, our annual reader survey to kick off the year and a few other fun things, too! Oh and I’d love to have you chime in with what your favorite posts were this year. I’m starting to get organized to begin planning for the year and shooting new content and I always love your input. Here’s hoping your 2017 is off to a beautiful start! xoxo

1. Vanilla Bean Cake Donuts with Blueberry Glaze [above]

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch | Champagne cocktails, cocktail recipes, entertaining tips and party ideas from @cydconverse

2. Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch

Easy Party Appetizers - The Ultimate Hummus Plate | Appetizer recipes, cocktail recipes, entertaining tips and party ideas from @cydconverse

3. The Ultimate Hummus Plate

DIY Homemade Margarita Body Scrub | Homemade beauty remedies, at home skin care, body scrub recipes and more!

4. DIY Homemade Margarita Body Scrub

Modern Neon Nursery Tour | Nursery ideas, home decor, entertaining tips and more from @cydconverse

5. Baby Emerson’s Nursery

Smoothie Bowl Recipes from @cydconverse

6. How to Make Fresh Summer Smoothie Bowls

Loving Patterned Cement Tile

7. Loving Patterned Cement Tile

Grapefruit Moscow Mule | Cocktail recipes, Moscow mule recipes, entertaining ideas, party themes and more from @cydconverse

8. Grapefruit Moscow Mule

Surviving Divorce | Real Divorce Stories from @cydconverse

9. Surviving Divorce (Five Years Later)

Best Ever S'mores Ice Cream Cake Recipe | Easy dessert recipes, cocktail recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

10. Homemade S’mores Ice Cream Cake

Baby Shower Waffle Bar | Baby shower themes, brunch ideas and more from @cydconverse

11. A Whimsical Woodland Baby Shower

Easy Party Appetizers - Antipasto Skewers | Appetizer recipes, cocktail recipes, entertaining tips and party ideas from @cydconverse

12. Antipasto Skewers

Modern Baby Shower Ideas | Baby shower themes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

13. A Modern + Elegant Tropical Baby Shower

Valentine's Day Printables | Valentine's Day craft ideas from @cydconverse

14. Strawberries and Cream White Hot Chocolate with Printables

6 Chocolate Bark Recipes | Party recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

15. Christmas Chocolate Bark Six Ways

DIY Gold Leaf Star Ornaments | Homemade ornaments, homemade Christmas gifts, Christmas decor ideas and more from @cydconverse

16. DIY Gold Leaf Star Ornaments

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