Loving Tell Love and Chocolate

Good morning, friends! How was your weekend? The weather here was gorgeous and I took a much needed break, stepping away from the computer entirely yesterday. I’ve been avoiding the heat (me + pregnancy + heat = no bueno), but it was so good to get outside, enjoy a day on the boat, sit in the sunshine and unplug. As it goes in my brain though, while I was “unplugged” I was thinking about what’s going on behind the scenes at the moment. Next month (fingers crossed) I’ll be unveiling the all-new branding I’ve been hinting at, the biggest site redesign since I started this gig, and even a revamped editorial calendar. There’s a lot of thought and heart going into those changes and along the way I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me love a blog as a reader. That in turn made me realize it has been so long since I’ve stopped to toot the horn of my fellow bloggers. I used to love sharing my favorite blog reads with you so today I want to get back to that a little bit, occasionally taking a moment to pause and give a little shout out to a blogger I think has it going on. Today we’re talking about Tell Love and Chocolate!

Must-Read Blog: Tell Love and Chocolate from @cydconverse

Here’s what I can tell you about Sara. She’s a super sweet lady, a mommy with a penchant for crafting insanely awesome Halloween costumes, the creator of many a colorful and cool DIY tutorials, and a party-loving gal after my own heart. Her style is modern, bright and happy, but her approach is simple and unfussy. (We all know I’m love simple and unfussy things the best!) If you need a dose of color, inspiration for your shindig or just feel like getting crafty, she’s one to watch! You can follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, too!

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[Row 1: DIY Pom Pom Party Hats | DIY Geo Wood Magnets | Row 2: Watermelon Party | Row 3: DIY Geo Cake Topper | 3 Fun Ways to Wrap with Tissue Paper | Row 4: DIY Fringe Photo Backdrop | Row 5: DIY Wood Birthday Banner | DIY Paper Fan Drink Stirrers | Row 6: DIY Garland Cake Topper.]

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Host a Summer Pizza Party + Giveaway

This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Ristorante. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!

Host a Summer Pizza Party | Tips and ideas from @cydconverse

Hosting a casual pizza party is one of my favorite ways to entertain. It helps that we love pizza, or really, that everyone loves pizza. It also helps that it’s one of the easiest ways to throw a dinner party on the fly. Today I’m sharing a few tips for hosting a fuss-free elegant summer pizza party and my friends at Dr. Oetker Ristorante are sweetening the deal with an amazing giveaway! We’re talking everything you need to host your own pizza party for you and your friends this summer. Keep reading to snag all the giveaway details and get yourself entered to win a prize pack valued at over $250!

The Ultimate Summer Salad by @cydconverse

The Ultimate Summer Salad by @cydconverse Host a Summer Pizza Party | Tips and ideas from @cydconverse

Let’s talk about salad! That might not sound super exciting, but trust me it is. If you start the evening by tossing your favorite Dr. Oetker Ristorante pizza in the oven, all you really need is an amazing fresh salad and a good wine to set the stage for a casual but elegant dinner party. I made my salad to pair with the Pizza Mozarella flavor, which has quickly become one of my favorites. The mozzarella, spice and tomato flavors are so good, and we find that 14 minutes at 425° bakes the perfect crispy pizza. (We love a good crispy pizza in this house.) Prefer something a little different? With nine unique, gourmet flavors there’s something for every palate whether you be a meat-lover (check out their Pepperoni Pesto and Pollo varieties) or a veggie-lover like me. Check out the store locator to find where Ristorante pizzas are sold near you or put in a request with the manager at your favorite grocery store if they don’t already carry them!

The Ultimate Summer Salad by @cydconverse

Host a Summer Pizza Party | Tips and ideas from @cydconverse Host a Summer Pizza Party | Tips and ideas from @cydconverse

For this salad we’re talking a mix of fresh, delicious ingredients sure to take your salad game up a few notches. Green leaf lettuce, radicchio, scallions, fresh peaches, good parmesan, pistachios and a simple dressing made with your favorite olive oil, the juice of an orange and freshly cracked black pepper. The sweet lettuce paired with the more bitter radicchio, the saltiness of the cheese and pistachios paired with the peaches and orange juice, all come together to create a perfect complement to the mozzarella and spices of the pizza. So so good! I rounded everything out with a favorite pinot grigio, but a dry rosé would also be brilliant.

Host a Summer Pizza Party | Tips and ideas from @cydconverse

Host a Summer Pizza Party | Tips and ideas from @cydconverse The Ultimate Summer Salad by @cydconverse

Now onto the good stuff! One lucky reader is going to win a pizza party prize pack valued at over $250! You can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. What are you going to win? Lots of really good stuff! Also known as everything you need to host the ultimate summer pizza party. We’re talking everything from the plates to the crystal wine glasses. All you’ll have to do is bake up a pizza or two, whip up a salad and pour the wine.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WIN! A $250 Pizza Party Prize Pack from @cydconverse

[(4) Dr. Oetker Ristorante pizzas | 1: (8) place mats and matching napkins from Crate & Barrel | 2: wine opener from Williams-Sonoma | 3: (8) crystal wine glasses from Pier 1 |4: (8) dinner plates from Crate & Barrel | 5: (1) pizza cutter from Williams-Sonoma.]

Need more pizza in your life? Follow Dr. Oekter on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for more delicious ideas!

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[Photos + recipe by Cyd Converse 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.

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10 Yummy Summer Popsicle Recipes

10 Yummy Summer Popsicle Recipes from @cydconverseI am going to go ahead and call it, friends. 2015 is officially the year of the homemade popsicle. The internet is no stranger to a good popsicle recipe, mind you, but this year they seem to be just about everywhere. Personally? I’m totally ok with that, because I find myself wanting to eat popsicles just about every day. No, not some weird pregnancy craving, just my latest summer obsession. Who’s with me? Cold fruit just tastes so good this time of year, I don’t care what you say.

Assuming you agree with me (and I am willing to bet you do), I’ve rounded up some of the latest and greatest homemade popsicles going. Click through to check out my picks for summer’s yummiest popsicle recipes!

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DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

I keep both a notebook and a very detailed spreadsheet for brainstorming, cataloging and organizing DIY ideas that I’d like to eventually turn into posts. I scribble down ideas as they strike me and also occasionally sit down for longer, more formal brainstorming sessions. And then there are the days you’re about to shoot a batch of posts and you wander into the grocery store to pick up a few last minute props only to be inspired by the bins piled high with watermelons. Such a day, friends, happened to me last week. And here we are! About to embark on a super easy DIY tutorial, one sure to make a killer statement at all of your parties and shindigs through the end of summer.

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

supplies

  • (1) medium sized round watermelon
  • Serrated bread knife or similar
  • 5 – 6 bunches of carnations in dark pink
  • Scissors or floral snips
  • Large spoon and bowl

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

Begin by cutting off the top of your watermelon using a serrated knife. I found that using a large bread knife was easiest for this job. I simply chose a spot a few inches down from the top of the watermelon and cut off the top, working to keep my cut a fairly consistent line all the way around. Then I used the same knife to run a cut along the inside of the watermelon just to help loosen up the fruit. The next step is to use your spoon to scoop out most, if not all, of the watermelon fruit into your bowl. Once you insert the flowers into the watermelon it won’t be edible so scoop it out first so you can still enjoy it in all of its yumminess.

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

Next up, it’s time to work with flowers! I chose dark pink carnations because they’re inexpensive and quite underrated. When packed tightly together they look amazing! Also, the dark pink is kind of a cheeky play on the color of watermelon and I just couldn’t resist. Use your scissors or floral snips to cut each carnation to roughly 8 – 10″ in length. Place the first one so it rests along the rim of the watermelon, pushing the stem directly into the flesh of the watermelon to hold it in place. Place a second alongside it, placed tightly next to it, then repeat until you have a ring of flowers around the entire top of the watermelon.

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

Keep moving along in the same fashion, forming a second ring of carnations on top of the first, and then a third and so on until you form a dome of carnations. You may need to cut the subsequent flowers longer to accommodate for the extra height. Once your dome is complete, go back through and fill in any blank spots or areas that look a little light with smaller carnations. There’s no need for things to be perfectly symmetrical, just eyeball it as you work until you get a dome shape that makes you happy. Then fill the watermelon up with water and you’re all set! (After you marvel at how much your watermelon centerpiece looks like Frida Kahlo like I did, of course.)

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

Depending on heat and other environmental factors, your watermelon centerpiece should easily keep for at least a few days, possibly even longer. If you’re making them for an event (such as a pool party or bridal shower) where you might want a few, you can prep these the day before and stick them in the fridge to make sure they keep nice and fresh until the big event. As always, if you give this project or any others a try, I’d love to have you share with me! Use the hashtag #thesweetestDIY on Instagram so I can take a look! xoxo

DIY Watermelon Flower Centerpiece by @cydconverse

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

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 a maximum of 1 – 2 images from 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

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Baby Talk: 24 Weeks + Nursery Inspiration

Happy Friday, friends! I thought I’d switch things up just a little bit today and wrap up the week with a little baby-related update. Said baby has much to do with posting being a bit light this week so it seemed appropriate to fill you in on how things are going now that we’re quickly cruising toward the third trimester. To kick things off with a more general baby update, I’ve been starting to think a lot about the nursery over the last couple of weeks so I thought I would share a few of the nurseries that are inspiring me as I start to formulate plans and ideas. I think it’s pretty obvious at a quick glance that I’m definitely gravitating toward very soft, neutral rooms with just little bits of color here and there. I find myself pinning nursery inspiration with a similar vibe to these rooms over and over again. I just think they are so so pretty! I’ll keep you posted as I really nail down the direction I want to go, but these sweet little havens are definitely steering the direction of my nursery daydreams at the moment.

Nursery Inspiration from @cydconverse

[The Animal Print Shop | Delbarr Moradi for Sacramento Street | Claire Esparros from Style Me Pretty Living | Sarah Sherman Samuel for Smitten StudioJoe Schmelzer for The Animal Print Shop.]

24 Weeks Pregnant

Today officially marks 24 weeks! A lot has happened in the last four weeks since I filled you in on our big baby news so I thought I’d get you up to speed and also solicit your advice at this stage in the game. In the last few weeks my pregnancy has steered off course a bit and is no longer plotting along like a typical pregnancy, so if any of you have any input or tips to share I would sincerely appreciate the feedback!

Boy or Girl?

Let’s get right to a big one, shall we? Are we having a boy or a girl? Truthfully, we weren’t planning to find out initially. We didn’t change our minds until we walked into our 20-week ultrasound. As of right now we’re pretty sure we know what we’re having, but the baby wasn’t moving around very much that day so we will be confirming gender at the next ultrasound, which is Monday. Stay tuned! Any guesses in the meantime?

Symptoms

By and large, I am still completely symptom-free. Sleeping is increasingly difficult at night as my hips just get so uncomfortable within a matter of an hour or two, and then I’m restless all night long beyond that point. I am finding that my sciatic is occasionally getting really uncomfortable if I stand or walk for too long on hard surfaces (such as our IKEA trip last week) and/or if I’m in the car for too long, but for the most part I really can’t complain. Aside from the summer heat getting to me a bit here and there (which is annoying, I admit) I still haven’t had any issues with morning sickness or nausea, I haven’t had any swelling so far, my boobs have never hurt and for the most part my energy level is pretty good. This would be enough to make me super annoying for those of you with tough pregnancies if it weren’t for that one other little pretty huge thing going on….

My Placenta Hates Me

It’s true. My placenta hates me. We found out last week that I have a condition known as placenta previa. I will spare you many of the details, but in a nutshell that means my placenta attached to my uterus in the wrong spot. Plus, it decided to take things one step further and attach in what is essentially the worst of all possible spots, classifying my particular placenta as not only a complete previa, but also an anterior previa, which has it’s own special set of complications. What does this mean? Well for now it means I’ve been handed down several physical restrictions by my doctor which I am strictly following. It also means that baby and I will be monitored way more than is average as we head into the third trimester. Thus having another ultrasound so soon next week. In fact, I will now be having them every few weeks. Also, in all likelihood this means the only safe way for me to deliver the baby will be via c-section at no later than 36 to 37 weeks. Unless something changes (which the doctor said yesterday he does not anticipate), we are now on course to have our little one join us at the beginning of November instead of the end of the month, putting us at right around 12 or 13 weeks out. Absolute utter craziness!

Any Advice?

Ok, moms. Lay it on me! Any advice at this stage in the game? Any other previa moms or c-section moms with anecdotes to share? I don’t personally know anyone who has dealt with previa although I do have friends who have had c-sections. I will admit that the previa and all of it’s many potential complications (really nasty things like possibly ending up on bed rest to try and avoid hemorrhaging and pre-term labor, ugh) has had me very nerved up over the last many days. While a c-section is less than ideal, I’m dealing with that news pretty well, it’s just all the other risks that have me freaking. I’ll be sure to share updates as I go along, but I’d love your advice in the meantime! xoxo

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