February 16, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
After an insanely warm start to winter, the more typical frigid temperatures have officially found us. We’re talking wind chills of -45° over the weekend, making our icy little city the coldest place in the continental United States for Valentine’s Day on Sunday. With the onslaught of arctic air usually comes dry, chapped, raw skin practically flaking off of my cheek bones, but this year I’ve got it in check thanks to all of you! Last winter I shared that I was struggling with my skin and you chimed in with your winter skincare tips, tricks and product suggestions. I’ve tried loads of the products you recommended plus a bunch of others and I’ve finally landed on a winter skincare routine that totally works for me. I thought I’d report back on the products I’m currently using and loving! As a bit of background, I have true combination skin that changes throughout the year. In the summer I tend to be a touch oily through my T-zone and in the winter, my cheeks tend to get really painfully dry.
Step 1 – Micellar Water
If it’s a day where I haven’t been wearing a lot of heavy make up, I always use Bioderma as my makeup remover before cleansing, applying it with an exfoliating cotton pad. It’s gentle and doesn’t mess with my skin. In the morning it’s sometimes all I use, depending on how my skin feels. It’s also great for a mid-day pick me up, too! Micellar water is becoming more common and there are cheaper alternatives on the market now (Simple makes one that people rave about), but I haven’t yet had a chance to try them out just yet.
Step 2 – Cleansing Oil
Next up if I’ve been wearing heavier makeup is a cleansing oil. Currently I am using The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil which I rather love. Don’t be thrown off by the term “cleansing oil” if you have oily skin. The oil does an amazing job of breaking down makeup and leaving your skin feeling nourished instead of stripped and raw. I pump a bit into my hand and work it into my skin really well my finger tips. Then I add a bit of water which causes the oil to lather up a bit before rinsing and following up with a cleanser.
Step 3 – Cleanser
If you’re following along, we are now three steps in and still cleaning our face, which in the past I would have found completely excessive. That said, I think finding the right combination of products to truly cleanse your skin is such an important step to avoiding crap winter skin. These days I am primarily using the Simple Moisturizing Facial Wash, which lives up to it’s name. It’s simple, it’s not overly drying and it’s super affordable.
Being completely real now, I have a newborn baby. There are times I’m lucky to even get to wash my face so in those instances I’ve been leaning on the Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes. As a rule I know that it’s better to clean thoroughly, but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do and I like these wipes a lot. I also appreciate that they’re cruelty free! Alternately, I sometimes use The Body Shop Nutriganics Foaming Facial Wash in the morning instead of the Simple cleanser, if my skin just feels like it wants something a little lighter that day. (Such as back in December when it was freakishly warm still!)
Step 4- Moisturizer
After loads of hits and misses, I have finally found a moisturizing routine that works for me! Yes, this requires an exclamation point, because moisturizers are where it always breaks down for me. My skin is so super dry and sensitive in the winter that a lot of moisturizers with alcohol or fragrances will actually make my skin burn as if it is on fire. Then I end up in a situation where I won’t put anything on my face because my skin is in agony and as a result I get even drier and more sensitive. (No doubt that this vicious cycle has gotten progressively worse since I entered my 30s!) Right now I am loving the Boscia Restorative Day Moisture Cream. Admittedly it’s a bit pricey, but it is so thick that a tiny dollop will easily cover your whole face so it lasts forever. My skin loves this stuff and it keeps me feeling super hydrated during the day.
If my skin is feeling a touch oilier that day, I’ll skip the Boscia and use Aveeno Smart Essentials Daily Nourishing Moisturizer. Honestly, I’m not sure there is anything too remarkable about this stuff, but it’s a nice mid-weight moisturizer and it doesn’t burn my skin, which earns a thumbs up from me. I do like that it has SPF 30 so sometimes I’ll even layer this over the Boscia if it’s a day where I know I’ll be outside. (Although admittedly that’s not happening a lot this winter with the baby and all.)
In the evenings it’s all about Origins Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask. Guys, I’m obsessed with this stuff. As in, I will never ever live without it again a day in my life. If you suffer from dry skin and you can only splurge on one product, make it this one. It smells amazing, it feels so good and within a week last winter it had my skin completely rehydrated after months of suffering from incredibly painful, excessively dry skin. I use it on my face, all over my neck and in the evenings I even use this under my eyes in lieu of an eye cream because it helps keep that thinner skin really moisturized.
Step 5 – Eye Cream
Speaking of eye cream, I’ve been on a big kick with Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream lately. (Honestly, I think I’m realizing that I love a lot of Origins products, because I also love their Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash, which I have a sample of at the moment.) Another favorite is Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, which also does a bang up job of keeping the corners of my eyes from getting dry, which seems to be a recurring issue for me now that my skin is aging a bit. (Side note: I’m only 32. I am so not ready to age yet!)
Occasional Products –
Because I’m now on a massive skincare kick and can’t stop trying out new things, I have a handful of other things I work into the mix occasionally, too. The Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer is something I’ll use a couple of times a week before bed underneath my moisturizer, but only on my forehead. Anywhere else and anymore often and I find it too drying. If I feel like doing a mask, I’ve really been liking The Body Shop Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask as well as their Vitamin C Microdermabrasion scrub for a good weekly exfoliator. I also reach for the St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub on occasion, too. (Skip the famous apricot scrub! It’s really harsh on your skin. This stuff is much better and just as inexpensive at about $4 a bottle.)
And there you have it, folks! My excessively long list of skincare products I’ve hoarded to make it through the winter. As crazy as it sounds though, since I started really paying attention to what kind of cleansers I use and when, and since discovering a couple of incredible moisturizers that really work for me, my skin is amazing. Not that I ever had awful skin to begin with (other than the crazy dry skin in winter), but I absolutely have the best skin of my life these days. That said, I’m not done playing with new things yet so tell me what new things you’ve tried and have been loving! Any go-to favorites? Spill the beans in the comments so I can feed my addiction.
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
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February 11, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I was really excited when I found out that longtime reader and friend of mine, Christen, was expecting a baby not long before I was due. She and her husband welcomed their baby boy Graham in August and then she spent the next three months giving me baby advice and checking in on how I was feeling while juggling a newborn of her own. A wonder of a woman, I swear! Today I could not be more honored to share Graham’s nursery with you. Christen created the most incredible space for him, light and bright and full of travel inspired art. It’s one of the loveliest nurseries I’ve ever seen and it’s a room I could live in for sure. I am so excited for Graham that he has a room like this to inspire his adventures as he learns and grows. But enough new mommy rambling. Christen was sweet enough to share all the details about Graham’s room (scroll down for sources) and a whole bunch of design and survival advice for new parents, so let’s get on with it!
What inspired you when designing Graham’s nursery?
I loved the idea of using different travels and adventures for Graham’s nursery so I turned to a few of my favorite artists for inspiration. Katie Daisy and Rifle Paper Co. have plenty of amazing prints which fit into that whole idea! I was also so happy to be able to incorporate a few things from our own travels and adventures like a Swiss music box and cowbell, travel guides we’ve used, my dad’s oar from summer camp, and a photo of my grandparents from when they lived in Africa.
Any design tips for new parents?
Create a space that YOU love and are inspired by, not necessarily what you think a nursery should look like. There will be some late, cranky nights and being in a beautiful space makes it a little less painful. I didn’t buy a standard matchy-matchy nursery collection. I filled the room with different colors, art, and objects that would make us feel good when we walked in there and now our nursery is hands-down my favorite room in the house. Graham seems to love it too, especially the feather wall hanging I made for above his changing table!
Any must-have baby gear or gadgets?
I use our Skip Hop Pronto every time we leave the house. SO much better than always having to lug the whole diaper bag around everywhere! The BabyBjorn bouncer has been amazing and I love wearing him in the K’Tan or Solly Baby wrap! Also, buy good socks!
Favorite kids book?
Beautiful Oops – The message is that by using a little creativity you can turn a mistake into something awesome. Love it!
What is your favorite place to shop for kids clothes? How about your favorite place for kids decor?
We’re big babyGap fans but I also love the hoodies and sweats from Childhoods. For decor it would have to be Land of Nod and Etsy.
What are you loving about being a mommy so far?
It’s a toss up between the cuddles (SO GOOD!) and when his face lights up because he sees me.
Any advice for new parents in those first few weeks?
I had a great support system in those first few weeks and I believe it made a huge difference. By support system I do mean family and friends who came to bring us food or help clean (so thankful for that!) but I also mean someone (my husband in our case) who politely but firmly said no to guests when we needed some time alone to bond just the 3 of us. It often felt like entertaining the revolving door of visitors was more exhausting than being a new mom! We were excited to introduce Graham to everyone, but it was helpful to spread out visits a bit and to make it a priority to set aside time to hang out just the 3 of us (that wasn’t when we were all exhausted at 2:30am.)
[Photos by Denise Weaver of Lauren Fair Photography.]
Crib: Pottery Barn Kids | Prints above crib: The Wheatfield | Cloud mobile: The Butter Flying | Crib pillows: Target + Pottery Barn | Crib sheet: LouLou Made | Hello World blanket: LouLou Made | Fabric: The Little Ivie Cloth Co. | Changing table: Pottery Barn Kids | Changing pad cover: Madly Wish | Diaper holder: Bed Bath & Beyond | Round vase: West Elm | Adventure Trail print: Creative Market | Kind & Gentle print: Prints & Printables | Ragamuffin Pennant: Roxy Marj | Zig zag print: The Wheatfield | Felt ball garland: Sheep Farm Felt | Polka dot curtains: Land of Nod | Triangle wall decals: Urbanwalls | Shelves: Ikea | Journey print: Minted | London print: Rifle Paper Co. | South Africa print: WallArty | Map print: Minted | Lamp and shade: Land of Nod | Baskets: Pottery Barn | Nightstand: Pottery Barn Kids | Pony Express print: Rifle Paper Co. | Animal Alphabet print: Rifle Paper Co. | Yosemite print: Rifle Paper Co. | Compass print: Society 6 | Pouf: Land of Nod | Glider blanket: Land of Nod
February 10, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I debated for a while whether or not I was going to share Emerson’s birth story because I tend to be really protective of my family and their privacy, but then I thought it would be a shame to not capture that day in writing before it started to fade. Then I debated how I would go about doing so and really over thought that for far too long, before finally deciding to just sit and write. So here I am. With a cup of coffee full to the brim, watching the baby snooze on the video monitor, snow falling outside, flipping through photos on my iPhone of that crazy, wild, beautiful day. I’m undoubtedly sharing some of the photos and memories nearest and dearest to my heart, which is a little different for me, but I do so in a show of gratitude for all of your love and support over the last many months. So, here goes!
February 9, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
Today’s DIY tutorial revisits one of my favorite craft techniques, making the prettiest paper flowers from good ol’ inexpensive paper cupcake liners. Making these flowers is about as easy as it gets, but the end result is pretty gorgeous, even if I do say so myself. You can make them just about any color you can imagine (or any color that comes in a spray paint can anyway) and then use them as place cards, a cake topper or string them together to fashion them into the sweetest little garland. I personally think they look amazing in metallic gold, but have fun with it and make them whatever color works best for your festivities or decor!
- Cupcake liners in three sizes (jumbo, standard and mini)
- Spray paint
- Tacky Glue or hot glue
- Twine or string (optional)
- Hole punch
To get this party started, lay your cupcake liners flat and give them a few light coats of spray paint. As this lady always preaches, several light and thin coats are better than one thick coat. (This is particularly true when dealing with paper, for the record.) For each flower you’ll need one cupcake liner of each of the three sizes, so plan accordingly when painting. Let them dry completely.
To assemble the flowers, put a dab of glue in the center of a jumbo cupcake liner, then layer a medium cupcake liner on top. Then add another dollop of glue and repeat, layering a mini cupcake liner on the top so that you’re left with a stack of liners moving from largest to smallest with the largest on the bottom.
While the glue is still wet and setting up, grab your stack of liners and from the back, pinch together the centers of the liners and hold firmly for a few seconds. This creates the flower shape, effectively folding the liners to resemble petals. Allow the flowers to dry completely and then give them a good fluffing to adjust the shape as you see fit. Then you can get to work decking out everything in sight with pretty paper flowers!
One of my favorite ways to use them is as a super easy but seriously stunning cake topper. You can use a cluster of them on a larger cake or on a tiny cake, just one will do the trick while making a big statement. Because the backs of the cupcake liners aren’t painted and are therefore are still food safe, I just stick them directly into the top of the cake. Think of them as a super chic hat on top of very cute cake. Love.
Of course, we know I love pretty garlands and these bad boys are killer when transformed into a garland, too. All you need to make it happen is a hole punch and some twine or string. Punch a hole into the back of the flower and thread through your twine or string through the back of the flower. I spaced my flowers a few inches apart and kind of particularly love the mix of the metallic gold and the jute twine, but ribbon would also be lovely!
Don’t you just love these? I do, I do! Don’t forget – share with me if you recreate one of my DIY projects so I can get super excited. Catch me over on Instagram and use the hashtag #thesweetestdiy so I can take a peek!
[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
February 8, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
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Back in January I shared that one of my goals for 2016 was to work on getting back to healthier habits and so far I’ve been making good on that commitment, particularly over the last couple of weeks. One of my biggest sticking points is trying to prepare meals and eat during the day when I’m juggling a full inbox, a newborn baby and a to-do list that just won’t quit. I realized pretty quickly that having lunch already prepped is pretty much the only chance I stand of eating some days, particularly if I don’t want to just end up snacking on whatever is quickest and easiest when I’m already ravenous. So today I’m sharing my go-to healthy lunch ideas along with a few tips for making work day lunches go a bit smoother when things generally feel hectic and takeout always sounds delicious.
Enter the mason jar salad, friends. I know. You’ve seen them a million times while scrolling Pinterest. But have you tried making them yet? Up until a few weeks ago I had not, but after too many days of living off string cheese and whatever I could quickly get in my mouth during the day, I decided I needed to get it together. I now prep salads in mason jars a couple of times a week and have lunch ready to go whenever I am. It’s honestly genius. Also, it’s quick and easy. Exactly what I need in my life these days. That said, I’ve figured out a few tips along the way so I’m going to break this whole deal down for you today so you’re good to go.
The beauty of the mason jar salad is that you can use just about any veggies and greens that you like or whatever you have on hand. I use a large quart size jar and start with the dressing at the bottom, which helps to keep everything fresh and crisp. Oftentimes I’ll then add in a couple spoonfuls of salsa or pico de gallo before adding in crunchy veggies first, the kind that won’t soak up the dressing. (Typically things like carrots, snap peas or cherry tomatoes.) Next up, I’ll do softer veggies, usually cucumbers or sliced scallions. I don’t always include grains, but if I do, I add those next, usually quinoa or brown rice or whatever might already be left over in the fridge. Finally, it’s greens followed by beans. (Usually black beans or chickpeas.) I’m a vegetarian, as most of you know, so I don’t add meat of any kind but if you’re of the meat-eating persuasion, add that in last.
Back when I worked in an office, I ate at my desk most days. While it’s undoubtedly best to take a real lunch break, we all know that’s just not possible sometimes. I will tell you that if I worked in an office these days, I’d keep a stash of Foodadz at the ready at all times. They come with a full set of cutlery, a napkin, a wet wipe and a salt and pepper pack so you’re ready to go at lunch without even having to pack a fork from home. Boom! Add in an apple and maybe some almonds or pistachios and a healthy meal is yours, with virtually no excuse to end up eating a stale donut from the break room as your lunch. (Been there. Done that. Oops.) If I know I’m going to be out for a while, I’ll toss a mason jar salad and a Foodadz pack in the diaper bag and away we’ll go!
For me, eating healthier during the week is all about preparation. If my veggies are cleaned and ready to go in the fridge, if I cook up a bunch of grains at once, if I pack up a few salads in advance, I stand a better chance of avoiding junk food or mindless snacking. It’s such a simple thing to do, but it’s so easy to get busy and just put it off, so I can’t recommend taking a little bit of time each week to prepare lunches enough. I’m definitely hoarding quick yet healthful meal ideas like it’s my job right now so I’d love to know – what is your go-to lunch during the week?
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
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