Nook: Carolynn Giordano Lemke of Two Brunettes

nook-two-brunettes

Earlier this week I promised you a new column and this morning I am here to deliver with a little something I’ve dubbed Nook! For a couple of years now a lot of readers have been asking for more home decor and living content, and as interior design truly is my first love, I was bound and determined to find a way to bring you the goods in 2013! That said, I wanted to do it in a way that was fresh and fun, rather than just rehashing what other totally awesome sites are doing and doing so very well.

Featuring small, beautifully designed spaces from real people, Nook is all about inspiring you to introduce little pockets of pretty throughout your home. You don’t have to have a huge budget or designer furniture to make your home a real haven. It’s really all about the details! To kick things off, today’s Nook features one of my best friends, Carolynn Giordano Lemke of Two Brunettes. Her home office is, literally, a little nook off of her master bedroom. It’s filled with beautiful natural light, collected finds and a whole lot of personality. Click through for all the details!

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Love Art Prints from Minted

This post was sponsored by Minted. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so generously help keep The Sweetest Occasion rockin’!

So here’s a random Tuesday afternoon confession. I am obsessed with art prints. You could categorically call it a condition. A condition that has me constantly seeking out new and beautiful art prints for basically every room in my home. I was really excited to get my hands on a few of the new art prints from Minted. I’ve been eyeing them for quite a while now and just loving the designs and the bright, punchy colors. Their love art prints in particular really charmed me with their sweet sentiments. (I even featured one in this color palette a while back!)

Love art prints from Minted on The Sweetest Occasion

Perfect as Valentine’s Day gifts, I selected a pairing of three heart-themed prints all in white frames. (You can purchase Minted’s prints with or with frames in your choice of white or black, in sizes ranging up to huge 44×60″ poster size prints. Love!) I went with an 8×10, an 8×8 and a 5×7. I’m moving in a few weeks, which means the apartment is currently in shambles. This didn’t keep me from immediately hanging these pretty little things up over my desk. I can’t wait find a space for them in our next place!

Love art prints from Minted on The Sweetest Occasion

Love art prints from Minted on The Sweetest Occasion

Hi. Totally adorable, right? Not only would they make amazing Valentine’s Day gifts, but I am also dubbing them perfect as engagement, wedding and anniversary gifts, too. The printing quality is fantastic, the frames are pretty incredible for the price and they already come with hangers on the back so literally all you have to do is tap a nail into the wall and hang these bad boys up. Maybe you should gift yourself with one (or two), too. I suggest it.

Love art prints from Minted on The Sweetest Occasion

Love art prints from Minted on The Sweetest Occasion Love art prints from Minted on The Sweetest Occasion

Oh, that bunting? It’s also from Minted and their new line of party decorations. It’s been hanging over my desk for months and although it’s technically meant for the holidays, I may just rock it all year long!

[Photos by Cyd Converse.]

This post was sponsored by Minted. Read more about our editorial policies.

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Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Do you remember the mini Nutella pies we had a couple of lengthy conversations about during the holidays? (Those conversations, in review, basically went on and on about how amazing they are.) With Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted to put a little twist on that tried and true favorite. So I started thinking about hearts and I started thinking about really incredible Bonne Maman cherry jam and, well, a little bit of magic was born. These are the perfect little treats for your sweetheart or for the kids. Served up alongside coffee? Brilliant, if you ask me.

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

  • Your favorite pie dough (my go-to recipe is this one from Martha Stewart)
  • Flour for rolling dough
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 large egg, with a splash of water
  • Cherry jam (or other filling of your choice – think jam, peanut butter or Nutella)
  • Lollipop sticks (I picked up a package of the oven-safe kind at Michaels)
  • Heart cookie cutter

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

DIRECTIONS

Before starting, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Start by rolling out your dough until it’s smooth and even, roughly 1/4″ thick. I always encourage making your own dough if you have the time. The flavor is incredible and it’s not nearly as difficult as people want you to believe. That said, in a pinch, you can absolutely buy ready-made pie dough and it will still be delicious! Once your dough is rolled out, use your cookie cutter to cut out as many hearts as you can. Recombine the scraps of dough and repeat until you have  a whole bunch of little dough hearts.

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Next up, spoon a bit of cherry jam or your filling of choice in the center of half of the hearts. (You’ll reserve half of the hearts as tops!) I like to load mine up as much as I can while still leaving a little border around the outside of the heart.

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

If you’d like to make these into pie pops, now is the time when you place a lollipop stick on each crust, pushing down with a bit of pressure so it kind of sticks into the dough without pushing through the other side. You can also skip this step if you’d rather just have little mini pies. The choice is totally yours!

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Once you’ve licked your fingers, beat the egg with a splash of water. Using your fingertip or a pastry brush, run a bit of egg wash along the border of the crust of the heart. This creates a seal for the top crust. Once you’ve done that, start plopping the tops on the hearts, using a fork to pinch the edges together. (And making them so pretty in the process!)

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Next up, give the top of each pie a light coating of the egg wash, to help them get golden and crispy while baking. Take a pinch of white sugar and dust each top and you’re ready for the oven! Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until they’re golden and delicious. I usually start checking mine at around the 15 minute mark, but find that they generally take at least 25 minutes to bake.

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

Cherry Jam Heart Pie Pops from The Sweetest Occasion

[Recipe + styling by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion. | Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]

The fine print: Please link with love! As with all of our posts, recipes featured on The Sweetest Occasion may not be copied, distributed or reproduced without express written permission. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share this post, please link to this post directly for the recipe and do not include the instructions in your own post. Thanks so much! xoxo

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Party Palette: Lagoon + Sapphire

There’s a good chance that you’ve noticed it, but shades of teal, turquoise and aquamarine are absolutely my favorite colors in the world.  Sometimes I feel like every week I could bring you some new version of blue-green paired with green-blue and to me that would be completely fun. (Although perhaps a touch boring for everyone else, I am guessing!) So I am really into today’s color palette, because it brings so many rich jewel tones together. Throw in pomegranate pink and a bit of cantaloupe and this palette is just delightfully pretty!

Lagoon + Sapphire | The Sweetest Occasion

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[Photos, from top: Laura Meyers | Flora Douville | Jojo Filer-Cooper via Plenty of Colour.]

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Introducing an All New The Sweetest Occasion

At the time you are reading this, I want you to picture me doing cartwheels. As in literal cartwheels. Probably in a circle around the house. Most likely in excess, pretty much all day long. Today I am so excited to bring you the long overdue redesign of The Sweetest Occasion! As these projects tend to go, this has been a few months of long nights and weekends in the making. Really though, I’ve been wanting to make this happen for nearly a year. Thus the cartwheels and the boundless excitement this morning.

beach

[Photo by Nirrimi.]

As always the new site has been a true labor of love, a collaboration between myself and two of my best girls, Ami of Elizabeth Anne Designs and Carolynn of Two Brunettes. Trust me when I say, I’ve literally been staring at Photoshop files and Ami has been staring at code for weeks now. Basically without end. And Carolynn has gotten far more, “uh, hey, can you help me design this-that-or-the-other-thing” emails than you can shake a stick at. I am the queen of spreadsheets, Google Docs and daydreams and they are the queens of helping me bring those dreams to life. This was our fourth such project together in as many years, which I believe warrants a little walk down memory lane before we dig into all the new goodies in store for you!

The Sweetest Occasion 2009

[The Sweetest Occasion, 2009.]

In the fall of 2009, I made the official leap. I knew I was passionate about blogging and wanted to someday call it my full-time job. So I bid adieu to Blogger, made the move to WordPress and called on some of my favorite people to help me make it happen. The original site featured calligraphy by the amazing Debi Zeinert of The Blooming Quill, whom I truly adore. And it was all about the pretty. Looking back, I can’t believe how much things have changed, but trust me when I say that in 2009, my whole little team of awesome people was basically head over heels in love with this site design!

The Sweetest Occasion 2010

[The Sweetest Occasion, 2010.]

A year later, we switched things up again! By this point I’d learned a lot more about site design optimization so I wanted to do things like make the images bigger and pack in more resources for readers. This redesign included more of Debi’s calligraphy and at the time we designed it I was mad about this site. Ironically, it was the shortest lived site design, only staying up for about seven months. That’s when I began blogging full time and things got crazy!

The Sweetest Occasion 2011

[The Sweetest Occasion, 2011 + 2012.]

In May of 2011, I began blogging and freelancing full time. Immediately I knew I had to make some changes to the site to optimize it for readers and for ad delivery. (Because, let’s be honest. Ads are what keep blogs alive and bloggers fed and clothed!) I also unveiled an all-new logo created by the incredible Nicole Black of The Left Hand Calligrapher. I was obsessed with two of Nicole’s styles and she adapted them into a custom hand that was (and still is) prefect for my vision of where The Sweetest Occasion was headed. Up until today, this has been the way the site has looked for over 18 months!

The Sweetest Occasion 2013

And here we are today! My goal with this redesign was just to make things brighter, cleaner and happier for 2013. So I got to work playing with fonts and colors, Carolynn came to the rescue to lend her mad design skills, I dutifully designed more pages and details than I even tell you and then Ami worked her coding magic. In addition to a fresh new look, behind the scenes a whole lot has happened to make the site a much better resource to help you design a life of celebration. One of my favorite new little features? When you hover over a photo, you’ll now instantly be able to pin the images you love to Pinterest in a flash!

The Sweetest Occasion - New Site 2013

We’ve added easily navigable links throughout the site (including down at the bottom of the page so scroll on down) to help you quickly find the content you love best. Color palettes, What to Wear posts, printables and DIY projects will only be a click away at all times. Not sure where to start or just need general inspiration? At the bottom of the page you’ll find highlights of recent posts to help you discover new things.

The Sweetest Occasion - Nook Preview

One of the things I am most excited about? We’re rolling out slideshows and galleries to bring you even more ways to be inspired! And to go along with it, I have a whole bunch of new content in the works, created to bring you more of the things you love and more reader requests to life. Those of you who have wanted The Sweetest Occasion to start covering more home decor and living posts? You’re finally getting your wish! Stayed tuned on Wednesday for a new column, which is the first step in bringing you just that. And trust the girl with the architecture degree when she says that interior design is her first love so if we’re doing this, we’re doing it right!

Sign up for The Sweetest Occasion Newsletter

Oh, and newsletters. They’re here and they’re so 2013! At the bottom of the page you’ll find our newsletter sign-up form. Add your name to the list to get exclusive content and lovely finds to help you break up the work week. Think pretty parties, special discounts and promotions, mini DIY projects, limited edition printables and more! (Newsletters will be sent no more than once weekly and your information will never ever be shared. )

Party Animal Candles

[Photo by Hank + Hunt for The Sweetest Occasion. Tutorial here.]

My hope is that in the months and years to come, The Sweetest Occasion will continue to grow and inspire, becoming your go-to source for all things entertaining and living. From designing beautiful parties to creating a home that makes every day feel like a celebration, I want to bring all of my passion for parties and design to life in a way that helps you take that inspiration and introduce a little fresh beauty into your world. So to that end, please click around, stay awhile and be sure to let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your feedback. You guys are the reason I’m able to do what I do and I can’t thank you enough for all of your support over the years. xoxoxo

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