January 18, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.]
January 17, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
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!
January 10, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
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.
January 9, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
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]
2. Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch
3. The Ultimate Hummus Plate
4. DIY Homemade Margarita Body Scrub
5. Baby Emerson’s Nursery
6. How to Make Fresh Summer Smoothie Bowls
7. Loving Patterned Cement Tile
8. Grapefruit Moscow Mule
9. Surviving Divorce (Five Years Later)
10. Homemade S’mores Ice Cream Cake
11. A Whimsical Woodland Baby Shower
12. Antipasto Skewers
13. A Modern + Elegant Tropical Baby Shower
14. Strawberries and Cream White Hot Chocolate with Printables
15. Christmas Chocolate Bark Six Ways
16. DIY Gold Leaf Star Ornaments
December 26, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Pizza. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!
In our town going out for Bloody Marys is a longstanding New Year’s Day tradition to the point where some folks skip New Year’s Eve festivities entirely in order to better partake in the Bloody Marys. Inspired by that tradition, today I’ve teamed up with my friends at Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Pizza (formerly Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza) to create this epic Bloody Mary bar! The idea here is that you gather all the fixings for a seriously over the top Bloody Mary bar, bake up a handful of your favorite Virtuoso pizzas and then invite friends to drop over on New Year’s Day open house style throughout the day. Honestly, that is completely my idea of fun! Skip the crazy New Year’s Eve crowd, tuck in at home for the evening and then toast 2017 with the Bloody Mary bar to end all Bloody Mary bars. Here I am detailing all the ingredients you need, the pizzas I picked to pair with our Bloody Mary feast and a good, classic Bloody Mary recipe to get you started. Now all that’s left is to raise a glass in celebration. Cheers!
Truth be told, loving a good Bloody Mary did not come naturally to me. It was very much an acquired taste that I developed over time by trying them over and over again. The first time I had a really good one, I was hooked. It was really flavorful with lots of celery salt and cracked black pepper and loaded with fun garnishes. The moral of the story became for me – gimme all the garnishes, please! Because of that hint of spice, the tomato juice base and the veggies, pizza makes the perfect Bloody Mary companion! Specifically, I baked up the Vegetable Medley, Pepperoni Pesto, Seasoned Chicken, and Mozzarella and Pesto varieties because the flavors seemed like a totally natural combination with the Bloody Mary bar. Virtuoso pizzas have that thin, crispy crust that I love and they bake perfectly in just about 12 minutes at 425° so you can easily rotate them in and out of the oven as friends drop by to partake of their New Year’s Day Bloody Mary. Cut your pizza into slices and serve simply but beautifully on a cutting board or white platter. Set out little plates and napkins and invite friends to serve themselves and munch at will!
Bloody Mary Bar Ingredients
- Tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix
- Worcestershire sauce
- Celery salt
- Classic red hot sauce
- Jalapeño hot sauce
- Celery stalks
- Green beans
- Dill pickles
- Mediterranean olives
- Jalapeño cheddar
- Colby jack
- Cherry tomatoes
- Mild banana peppers
- Roasted red peppers
- Jumbo shrimp
- Button mushrooms
- Lemon wedges
Virtuoso has nine gourmet flavor varieties with that signature thin, crispy crust that makes it easily my favorite frozen pizza of all time. I prefer to bake mine directly on the rack to really crisp it up! You can track down your favorite variety by checking out the store locator to find out where Virtuoso is sold near you, or put in a request with the manager at your favorite store! The pizzas (now showcasing a new name and a sleek new box) feature a wide arrange of fresh ingredients that really make the gourmet flavors stand out, but also makes for a perfect pairing with a Bloody Mary bar. These pizzas make for easy, fuss-free entertaining while skimping on none of the fun.
Basic Bloody Mary Recipe
- 2 oz vodka
- 6 oz tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix
- Black pepper
- Worcestershire sauce
- Celery salt
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Lemon wedge
Fill a tall cocktail glass with ice. Pour in vodka and tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix. Add a small pinch of celery salt, then a big dash of Worcestershire sauce. Next add the horseradish, black pepper and hot sauce to taste. Squeeze in the juice of one large lemon wedge, then stir. Garnish as desired and enjoy!
And in a flash, that’s a wrap on 2016, friends! Here’s wishing you and yours all of the beautiful and magical things in 2017. I am so grateful to have been able to spend my year creating content to share with you. It’s an honor to bring these ideas to life to help inspire your celebrations and your holiday season. Don’t forget that for more recipes, tips and entertaining ideas, you can follow Virtuoso on Facebook! With that, I’ll see you in 2017. Happy New Year!
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, but all opinions are my own. Read more about our editorial policies. For more recipes, tips and entertaining ideas, follow Virtuoso on Facebook!