April 12, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
A few years ago I started making my own body scrubs and I haven’t looked back since. Turns out, a homemade body scrub is super simple to make and just as effective at exfoliating your skin and leaving you feeling pampered as the scrubs you can buy at fancy beauty stores. I like to periodically play with different ingredients (sugar, seal salt, citrus, essential oils, spices and herbs) and have made a tradition of whipping up either an old favorite or a new experiment every year as holiday gifts for our mothers and sisters. Bob’s sister is constantly letting me know that she has run out and comes begging for more. I’ve explained to her how easy they are to make and that she can find the tutorial for her favorite (this lemon sugar body scrub) here on the blog, but honestly, I think she just likes it best when I make them for her. No worries! I have her covered. I guess it’s the perks of the job for being my official taste tester on countless occasions when I’ve been working on recipes or cocktails to share with you.
Today I am sharing my latest – we’re calling it a margarita body scrub! Namely because it is made with an abundance of sea salt and fresh lime zest and juice. Add in some coconut oil and you have everything you need to transform your bathroom into the stuff of tropical vacations. I am going to belabor the point here and walk you through this step by step, but honestly, this is as easy as it gets! It’s all stuff you can grab at the grocery store or find in your pantry and you don’t have to be crafty or even able to boil water to know how to make a body scrub. If you scroll through typical DIY tutorials because you can’t be bothered, this one is for you!
Makes approximately (1) pint jar
- 2 cups coarse ground sea salt
- 1 cup fine ground sea salt
- 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
- 1 lime
- Clean, dry mason jar or similar
Begin by placing the salt in a medium mixing bowl. I like a mix of coarse and fine ground sea salt, but if you’re making this on the fly and just have one or the other, use whatever you have on hand. Zest a lime into the salt, then slice the lime in half and add the juice of both halves into the salt as well.
Next up, add the coconut oil. If you’re familiar with coconut oil, you know it’s generally solid at room temperature. You can add it to the salt either warmed slightly so that it’s liquid, or in its thicker state. Either way, I find it easiest to use my hands to mix everything to combine it really well. Then you can place the scrub in a clean, dry glass jar for safe keeping. It will keep in the bathroom for a week or two, or longer in the refrigerator.
And that’s it, friends! I told you. Easy as pie. Only, way easier actually. If you want to give this a try, but you only have oranges or grapefruit or lemons on hand – do it! It will be sensational. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil for a soothing evening scrub. A few drops of spearmint essential oil or eucalyptus oil will make a super energizing scrub for morning. Either way, your tired skin will thank you. Promise!
[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
April 11, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
Happy Monday, friends! I wanted to start the week by sharing some really exciting news. We are buying a house! Most of you probably know that we have been renters for several years. For a long time, for a lot of different reasons, we truly believed it wasn’t going to be possible for us to buy a house yet for a long while. But, low and behold, it turns out the moon and the stars aligned and as of last month we are under contract on what is absolutely our dream house! (You know, if big 100+ year old houses in need of some love and elbow grease are your idea of a dream house, which is completely true for us!)
We first saw the house on Valentine’s Day and ultimately wrote our offer the following week. It was then two weeks of negotiating before we were finally under contract. Two weeks! I swear I was walking on eggshells that entire time. Since then we’ve had our home inspection, which went really well. The house has several issues to be addressed not uncommon to houses of the age (like some clapboards that need to be scraped and freshly painted), but they were all things we were anticipating and that we knew going into it would require our attention over time. All indications are that she’s a solidly built and incredibly well maintained house and we know the potential is endless.
I really really wish that any of these photos were of the house! Unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable sharing any photos until we are the official owners, just out of respect and privacy for everyone involved. What I can tell you is that the house is a fairly large Craftsman style house built in 1910. It is around 2300 square feet and has four bedrooms, a bath and a half, and a giant backyard. We love that so much of the original architecture of the house is intact – we’re talking gorgeous solid wood doors, the most incredible hardwood floors, all the original door hardware (including the skeleton keys), gorgeous light fixtures, a staircase with a railing that is to die for, no joke.
We are going to have loads of projects to work on, from smaller things (like stripping the wallpaper in the living room) to huge renovations (like a complete kitchen redo) that will be more involved. Some of them will happen quickly (before we even move in) and some of them will take a lot longer. Years longer. And we’re totally ok with that! In fact, we find it really exciting to think about taking the time to make this house exactly how we see it in our heads. After years of renting, we’re just so excited to make mortgage payments and be investing our money, time and TLC into something we own. We’re buying one truly amazing house with one very ugly kitchen and I could not be more excited to call that ugly kitchen ours.
As of right now, it appears everything is at the all clear stage, which is why I decided it was a good time to finally share the news. I have been antsy to do so, but didn’t want to spill the beans too early lest something should go wrong and we end up not getting the house. (Hopefully I have not just gone and jinxed myself!) We are expecting an update of some kind today or tomorrow, but our best guess it that we will be closing at some point in the next two to three weeks. Fingers crossed! I absolutely would not mind if you wanted to send lots of good house juju our way. As soon as I have those keys, you can expect a flood of before photos, a full walk through video tour and all of the details. From that point on we’ll definitely be sharing a lot of what we’re working on around the house! From the reader survey a few weeks ago, it turns out a LOT of you (well over 50%) are home owners and a lot of you said you’d love home renovation ideas or posts, so your wish is my command.
In the meantime, while I’m pacing the house with fingers crossed hoping all goes well between now and the finish line, here are just a few of the photos that are inspiring me as I daydream about making this house our own. I can’t wait to share photos and more details so stay tuned!
[Photos, from top: Crown Point Cabinetry | The Dean Hotel from Design*Sponge | Love by Serena from Style Me Pretty | Blair Harris Interior Design | Kelly Deck Design | Melissa Oholendt from Style By Emily Henderson.]
April 7, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!
It’s April, which means a couple of things! (1.) My birthday was last week and (2.) it’s spring break season! (So yes, April is basically my favorite month ever.) As kids we always used to load into the family SUV and make the 14 hour trek to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina every year for a long lazy week of sand castles and scrounging for seashells. As an adult, rarely is a beach trip in the cards these days, but I do love the idea of taking a few days to rejuvenate after seemingly endless months of snow and cold. (Actually we have snow on the ground right now. Let’s not talk about it!) Enter the staycation! I’ve teamed up with my old pals at Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza to bring you my quick fool-proof guide to planning the ultimate staycation, with lots of focus on relaxation. Sounds kind of dreamy, right? To get started, put in your time off request, give yourself a minimum of a long weekend and let’s get started!
April 6, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
The struggle is really real this week, friends. This sweet little lady had shots on Monday and ever since she’s been demanding extra snuggles and her sleep schedule has been all out of whack. Add in the fact that the sun has apparently abandoned us forever and it won’t quit snowing (which is seriously old by April, let me tell you), and I am the very definition of exhausted this week. Debilitatingly exhausted. If there were any chance of the baby napping right now, I’d be fully game for sleeping for at least the next three or four hours. And I’m not a napper! Typically I can very easily roll on six hours or so of sleep with loads of extra pep in my step, but this week? This week I’ve got nada. I’m barely stepping let alone pepping.
If I’m perfectly honest, it has been a lot harder than I had imagined to get back into a routine after having the baby. And don’t get me wrong, I expected it to be really difficult. It’s part of what scared the hell out of me when I found out we were pregnant. Part of it is on me for sure. I find that my thoughts about who should be providing her daily care is shifting all the time. Sometimes I think we’re ready to start looking at more consistent day care of some kind, but then part of me feels like I want to be able to do it all. I don’t want her to have to go to day care. I’m learning very quickly though, that I can’t juggle it all and be productive on the scale that I am used to, and that is humbling. On the flip side, I am also really passionate about the work that I do and I am finding it frustrating right now that I can’t produce the quantity of work I usually can in any given day or week. This post? I’ve started writing it four or five different times today. Things just don’t happen at the speed they used to! By definition I am a workaholic, purely because I get great joy from writing and producing work that excites me. When I’m not doing that, I feel off balance. But I also know I’m fortunate to have a career where I don’t have to ship her off to a sitter every day all day, and figuring out precisely what is going to work best is proving trickier than I thought.
Through all of this, I am so eternally grateful that I have the flexibility that I do to sort things out day by day. As of a few weeks ago we’ve started to transition a bit, and she has been spending a day here or there or an afternoon every so often with one of my best friends during the day. That friend also happens to be married to my cousin, so Baby E gets to spend her time there surrounded by her adoring older cousins and hanging out with their youngest little guy, who happens to be exactly one week older than her. I love that we have the option to have her stay with family during the day and not have to go to a traditional day care. I also know that it’s really healthy for both she and I for us to have that break. She can focus on learning how to play with other kids and adjusting to time away from mommy and I can work and feel freer at the end of the day to just snuggle. I had always hoped to make it a full year before we looked at day care. Some days I think this arrangement gives us that flexibility, other days I think we’ll end up in full time day care a lot sooner than I had hoped. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself right now, though. (Which is an entirely separate conversation to be had!)
So today, in lieu of the many posts I have planned but can’t seem to make progress on, I’m commiserating with all of you out there who are exhausted and struggling to figure out what is or what will be best for you and your little one. My parents are business owners and after 35 years of business ownership they still work their asses off countless hours a week. As a kid, I remember a lot of time spent with babysitters. And you know what? I turned out great! (Even if I do say so myself.) I made the grades, I achieved all the accolades, my resumé of life is a pretty impressive checklist of accomplishments when it comes to things like formal education and academic excellence. So by no means did my parents do wrong by me or my siblings. Everything I know about being a supportive parent, about being a role model, and about knowing the meaning of an honest day’s work, I owe to them. I begrudge them nothing. But if I’m honest, I do remember days as a kid when I wished my parents were able to pick me up from school or act as chaperone on school field trips. And that is where I am struggling right now, guys. I know that my personality type requires me to work to be happy and healthy and sane. But I also want to be able to be the one who drops her off at school and bakes cookies for the bake sale. And, yes, she’s four months old and we’ve got years to work on these things, but I still feel the weight of these decisions right now.
Speaking of being four months old, Alice came by the house over Easter weekend to spend an afternoon with us capturing more baby photos so I thought I’d share just a few them here with you today. We’re hoping to do so at least three or four times in this first year as she’s growing and changing so quickly. At her doctor’s appointment this week she clocked in at 14lbs 10oz and 26-1/4″ long which puts her in the 60th percentile for weight and 98th percentile for length. She’s still a long, skinny little girl! I’ve already been warned by our pediatrician that I can fully anticipate she will always be tall and will absolutely end up taller than me. Point taken. She’s been getting better at tummy time and rolling over, too, and she’s getting smarter and better with her toys and playing by herself every single day. We’re going to start introducing her to solids probably in the next few weeks or so, which is shocking to me. How did that happen so fast?! Also, she’s increasingly fun to outfit in cute little clothes and dresses and shoes so I’ll note all of her fashion picks below for you in case you’re in the market for insanely cute baby garb.
And that’s it for today! I just wanted to check in, share a bit about where I’m at and be honest about the fact that not everything is easy right now. At the same time, I’m having more fun and feeling more grateful than ever before in my life. I have so much to be thankful for and I very literally count my blessings every single day. For those of you with little babes or expecting, I am thinking of you! The road is a winding one, but there is no better path I’ve traveled.
Baby’s Outfits –
Pink cactus dress c/o Vonbon | White leggings from Carters (similar) | Moccasins c/o Itzy Ritzy | Pink woodland dress from Baby Gap | Baby bath robe from Target
[Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]
April 4, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I’m pretty sure that Monday is no one’s favorite day of the week, least of all Baby E’s today seeing as though we’re starting the day off with a doctor’s appointment and shots. But that’s ok! I am here to save Monday by way of donuts. By hugely popular demand, I am going to start working to feature a lot more recipes, which served as the perfect opportunity to try my hand out making donuts! I’ve been wanting to make donuts for a while now anyway, so today we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting messy with these baked vanilla bean cake donuts with blueberry glaze. As donut recipes go, this one is seriously a cinch to make and the glaze also couldn’t be easier. Bookmark this one, friends! You’ve got the star of your next weekend brunch right here. Oh, and I promise.You can totally make these. Donuts are not intimidating! (I was a bit intimidated myself, to be honest.)
Vanilla Bean Cake Donuts
Makes approximately 18 donuts
- 3 cups all-purpose flower
- 1-1/4 cups white sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 425° then, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, eggs and melted butter until thoroughly combined. Fold in the dry ingredients until well combined. The mixture will be thick and quite sticky. Using a piping bag (or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off), pipe batter into a greased donut pan. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool before glazing. To glaze the donuts, simply dunk them one by one into the glaze, then return to the rack and allow the glaze to set up for 15 – 20 minutes before serving. If you plan to add sprinkles, shake them on immediately after glazing.
- 1 cup powdered or confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup water
Place blueberries and half of the water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook down blueberries for approximately 10 minutes, adding additional water as necessary to keep them from cooking onto the pan. In the meantime, sift powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Remove the blueberries from the heat and strain into a second small bowl using a fine mesh sieve. Add about four tablespoons of the strained juice into the sifted sugar and whisk to combine, adding additional blueberry juice as needed to create a glaze. (It should be about the consistency of pancake batter when it’s done.)
[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]