January 10, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
Am I the only one still trying to process the fact that it is, indeed, 2014 already? I had all these aspirations for starting the year completely with it and organized, but guess what? I think I’m still aspiring. As a list maker and note taker, a good planner and calendar always help me get the ball rolling in that department and this year I’m loving all the pretty free printable calendars gracing the internet. So, because that’s how I do, I’ve rounded up 10 of my favorites! Just download the one or two (or three) that you love best, print it on paper or cardstock and away you go.
So who is ready to start working on a little organization in 2014? Fire up the printer and click through for 10 free printable calendars!
January 9, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
Well, guys. We survived! Three days and more than four feet of snow later, the first official blizzard of 2014 is in the books. I’ve spent much of today doing the post-blizzard clean up. Shoveling the walk and stairs, trying to unbury my car. All the good stuff. If you’ve never been through a real all-out blizzard, I have a few survival tips for you today. First up, have a sense of humor. Your plans are going to be derailed, you’re going to literally be snowed in at your house and after a couple of days the cabin fever will start to hit. So make sure you have really really good boots if you do have to go outside, but otherwise you should probably just be lazy, watch a lot of movies and play board games. That’s pro tips right there.
I have been bunkered down by myself and B has been in a hotel the last two nights because he wasn’t able to make it home after leaving for work on Tuesday morning. We’re talking the highways and interstates were completely shut down and stranded motorists were shacking up in fire halls all over the area. So what did I do? Why I threw on my coziest comfy pants, an oversized hoodie and kept my throw blanket close by at all times. And I shoveled. A lot. Today the sun came out and it was a gorgeous blue sky kind of day and the weekend is supposed to warm up considerably. Which is kind of a joke because between the icestorm right before Christmas and this week’s blizzard, it appears winter is having the last laugh this year. Oh well. I have plenty of yoga and pajama pants to see me through!
[What To Wear: Hoodie | Hair wrap | Sports bra | Throw blanket | Boots | Sweatpants | Mittens.]
January 8, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
Confession time! Despite all my best intentions to freshen and lighten things up in the New Year now that the holidays are passed, I’ve got hot chocolate on the brain in a major way this week. I’m blaming it on the blizzard. We’ve been getting positively hammered with snow since Monday night and it’s supposed to continue all the way through today. (They’re saying as much as six feet before it’s all done!) Following the icestorm that had us out of power for a few days right before Christmas, it’s safe to say that winter is definitely testing us here in our neck of the woods this year. Never fear. We Upstate New Yorkers know how to handle winter. Part of the strategy? Hot chocolate to warm the bones after marathon shoveling sessions.
Today I’ve rounded up 10 of the best hot chocolate recipes to keep you feeling warm and cozy all winter long. Some are entirely decadent. Some are a little boozy. Some are healthier than you might think. (I swear.) So click through for all the yumminess!
January 7, 2014 | by Chelsea Foy
by Chelsea Costa
Every year after Christmas, my mom and I are so bummed to take down all of the decorations. So this year I decided that we needed some transition decorations that wouldn’t make us so sad to take down the tree at her house. My mom insisted on keeping up a few twinkly lights, and I got started on a surprisingly simple little magnolia leaf garland! I love that it feels wintery but doesn’t necessarily scream “holiday,” and that it’s pretty cost-effective, especially if you have a magnolia tree in your neighborhood. Let’s get started!
- fresh magnolia leaves
- floral wire
- rope or thick twine
- wire cutters
Start by gathering your magnolia leaves. For this project, estimate about 20 or 25 magnolia leaves per foot, depending on how full you’d like your garland to be. Wipe down all the leaves to rid them of excess dirt.
Put your gloves on to protect your hands while you’re working with the floral wire. Gather three or four leaves and arrange them in a fan, then wrap a 3″ portion of floral wire around the stems to hold them together. I alternated three and four leaves in these bunches just to change the texture of the garland a bit. You’ll be attaching these little bundles to the rope at about 3″ intervals, so make enough of them to accommodate your entire garland.
Using another 3″ length of floral wire, wrap the first bundle to the rope. I recommend starting on the left end of the rope and having the stems of the leaves pointing to the right; that way you aren’t working backward as you attach more bundles to the rope.
Keep attaching the leaves as you see fit until the rope is full! This particular method is for a garland that will be laying or hanging flat against a surface. If your garland will be visible from both sides, repeat the process with the leaf bundles on the other side of the rope so that it’s completely hidden.
We set our garlands out over a little hutch and hanging on some french doors, but you could put these in a zillion places. I love the fresh look and that it takes the place of some of the holiday decorations that will be packed away for next year! Wishing you all a wonderful new year, and happy making! xoxo
[Photos by Lovely Indeed for The Sweetest Occasion.]
Candleholders from Hobby Lobby
Small hutch from World Market
The fine print: Please link with love! As with all of our posts, DIY projects 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 DIY tutorial and do not include the instructions in your own post. Thanks so much! xoxo
January 6, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
An alternate title for this post could quite appropriately be, “What I Did Over the Holiday Break.” Remember a few months back when I was sharing the latest on the homefront with regards to our master bedroom? Welp, you can safely classify that project under works in progress. One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been finding the right bedside tables. Our bed is quite tall with a rather massive headboard. Our room is relatively small and needing for storage in a major way. Most so-called nighstands are too short to be functional next our bed and anything with too large of a footprint automatically gets nixed because we just don’t have the room to spare. Then about a month ago I stumbled upon this post over at Little House Blog and boom. I had my answer. The IKEA Rast chest all gussied up to look both modern and elegant. Done and done.
So, truth be told, I pretty much copied Lindsay’s IKEA Rast hack with a few very minor changes in paint and stain colors. That wasn’t my intention. I played around with different color and hardware ideas and then you know what? I opted to not fix something that wasn’t broken. Lindsay’s piece was perfect for our room. The IKEA Rast 3-drawer dressers are a good 27″ tall making them an ideal height for hanging out next to our bed. The depth keeps them from taking up too much floor space, and the the added storage is a huge bonus. Oh, and did I mention the dressers cost just $34 each? Uh, yeah. Needless to say, the price was also beyond perfect.
- IKEA Rast 3-drawer dresser
- Ring pulls by Lee Valley (51x43mm size in burnished bronze)
- Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Decorator’s White, high gloss
- Sherwin William’s Water-Based Acrylic-Alklyd Primer
- Minwax stain in Dark Walnut
- Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Semi-Gloss
- Howard Feed-n-Wax wood polish
- Fine sand paper
- Brushes, rags, etc.
To kick things off, B and I assembled the IKEA Rast dressers while watching a movie one night. We assembled the drawers but kept them off to the side and skipped the knobs. (I’m showing you one here just to give you a feel for what the originals look like.) The dressers come unfinished, but they’re solid wood and quite sturdy. Definitely a bargain for $34! Then I lightly sanded everything down and cleaned everything up with a damp cloth to remove any dust before beginning.
For the body of the dressers, I did one coat of stain and then let everything dry completely overnight. I love how the wood grain still shows through, but the walnut gives everything a rich look. For the drawers, I first gave the fronts two coats of primer using a small dense roller like I did with our living room end tables. I followed up with one coat of paint, using the same technique with a brush as with the aforementioned end tables, working hard to not mess too much with it to avoid brush marks. Benjamin Moore’s Advance line is thick like an oil-based paint, which allows it to self-level and give a really smooth finish when dry.
After the stain dried over night, I applied two coats of poly, following the instructions on the can and allowing it to dry a few hours between each coat. When all was said and done, I felt like it could use a little bit of something-something so I busted out the Howard Feed-n-Wax, applying it with a soft cloth. The Feed-n-Wax brings a shine and softness to wood that I really like. Usually I apply it liberally, allow it to set for an hour or more and then buff it with a clean cloth. Now the tricky part – I let everything set and dry completely for a good 48 hours before putting the drawers in place and attaching the hardware. Any earlier and you could risk messing up the paint finish so just let things be. Trust me. Speaking from experience over here. Patience is your friend.
Slowly but surely the bedroom is coming together! (Keeping in mind these photos are completely unstyled and really just a random collection of things I often keep near my side of the bed like my old cigar box spilling over with necklaces.) We now basically just need lamps and drapes. I wasn’t in love with the original curtains I had picked out, because when they showed up they were much more cream than the white they were called and it just didn’t work with our white bedding. Our current lamps are mismatched and wildly different shapes and scales so they just aren’t working for me, although I’ll reuse them elsewhere I’m sure. Other than that we’re in the home stretch of calling this room a wrap. You know, a bazillion months later. So it goes with home decorating! At least in my world.
As for a budget breakdown, I’m estimating I have about $160 into the pair, which includes IKEA’s ridiculous shipping costs seeing as though we’re nowhere near a store. I had the paint, stain, and primer on hand from other projects so I am not including that cost here, but if you had to buy all of that new you might be in it for $220 or so for both dressers. (Minus about $45 in shipping if you live close enough to an IKEA to pick them up.) All in all, a serious bargain for solid wood nightstands that are both functional and pretty gorgeous. I’ll take it!
[Photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
Dressers from IKEA
Hardware from Lee Valley
Stain, poly and Feed-n-Wax from Home Depot
Paint + primer purchased locally
Bed from Raymour & Flanigan (similar)
Duvet + shams from West Elm
Throw pillow shams c/o Scout Mob
Wool blanket from MacAusland’s Woolen Mill
Quilt from HomeGoods
Lamp from Lowe’s (circa 2003)