Our Living Room Renovation (Before and After)

A Living Room Makeover from @cydconverse | Old house renovation, home improvement ideas, entertaining tips and more!

I am so excited today to share photos of our living room renovation with you! If you’ve been following along on Snapchat, you know we have countless hours into renovating this room. As a quick recap, when we began we thought there was just a single layer of wallpaper on the walls. As it turns out, there were three. Three very stubborn layers over plaster walls hiding some pretty big cracks. In total we spent the better part of three weeks in this room scraping wallpaper, having the walls repaired, priming and painting, painting, painting. Then I spent another few days on my hands and knees scrubbing and scraping grime off the hardwood floors that was leftover from the years of being covered in foul blue carpet. But today, finally, I have some real before and after photos to share with you! Click through for more plus details on paint colors, too.

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Join Me at The Hello Sessions

The Hello Sessions in Portland with @cydconverse | A blogger conference featuring blogging tips, business advice, branding insight and more!

I’ve never been to Portland (of the Oregon persuasion) before so I’m pretty excited to be packing up my bags in October to head off to The Hello Sessions! Following their inaugural conference last fall (which I was sad to miss due to being approximately 42 months pregnant), founders Melissa and Joy reached out to ask me if I’d lead a workshop at this year’s event. In a word, my answer was yes! I would really really love if you would join me there! What do you say? Tickets go on sale today for The Hello Sessions newsletter subscribers and they’ll be available soon to everyone. If you’re a blogger or an aspiring one and you want to learn in a really welcoming environment among a close-knit group of like-minded creatives, this is your place, friends. There’s a great line-up of workshops featuring the crazy talented Sarah of Sarah Hearts and Nicole of Bot Communications who will be sharing their expertise in creating video to take your content to the next level and how to effectively and authentically assert your brand presence via social media. I’ll be there talking with my hands excitedly about the business side of blogging with a strong emphasis on forging and fostering exciting brand partnerships…the kind that also put a check in your hand.

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Fruity Summer Cocktails in a Jar

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

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

A few weeks ago when we made this super fun and colorful DIY picnic blanket, I hinted at my current favorite summer cocktail, which is where these super fruity and refreshing cocktails in a jar come into play, friends. Made with loads of fresh fruit, mint and lemonade they’re perfect for summer picnics, backyard parties or sipping on the front porch. The best part is, the jar aspect allows you to make a big batch in advance (they’ll easily keep for at least a week in the fridge) so you can grab one and a straw when you’re ready for a cocktail or quickly serve them up when friends pop over as they’re prone to do in the summer months. Thanks to my friends at Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza, I’m sharing the recipe for this perfect summer concoction (and announcing an awesome summer entertaining giveaway) so you can get the party started! (Keep scrolling for the giveaway details!)

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar
Makes 1 jar

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz fruit liqueur
  • 3 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1 slice of a large orange
  • 4 – 6 mint leaves
  • 4 – 6 oz lemonade

Place mint leaves, strawberries and orange in a pint sized mason jar and muddle gently. Add vodka and fruit liqueur, then stir to combine. Top off with lemonade, stir again and refrigerate for at least 1 – 2 hours or for up to 1 week. (I recommend refrigerating at least overnight to best allow the fruit to steep and develop really great flavor.) Cocktails may be served directly from the jar, with or without the addition of ice at the time of serving. If you prefer a fruitier drink, skip the vodka and use 2 – 3 oz of fruit liqueur instead. Any combination will work great but suggestions include peach schnapps, limoncello, orange liqueur or pomegranate liqueur.

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Have fun playing with different flavor combinations and mixing and matching as you go with these! The key to making them work is lots of fresh fruit, mint and lemonade, but you could also do a combination of iced tea with the lemonade, too. The addition of a little elderflower liqueur or a splash of bitters would also be pretty terrific! Then just grab a jar or two from the fridge and serve them up alongside your favorite variety of Ristorante. The fruity flavors here are particularly well suited to enjoy alongside the Pizza Vegetale flavor (my recent favorite), but the Pizza Spinaci and Pizza Mozzarella are also longtime favorites around here and pretty much always stocked in our freezer. (Check out the store locator to find where Ristorante is sold or put in a request with the manager at your favorite store.) The gourmet flavor combined with the thin, crispy crust is about my favorite thing ever, giving you a perfect pizza in just 12 – 14 minutes, and making summer entertaining an absolute breeze.

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

The Ristorante pizza pairs really nicely with the cocktail recipe, and adds a feeling of elegance to a simple drink. It’s a little tough to explain just how delicious these drinks actually taste in real life, if I’m honest. Allowing the fruit to steep in the fridge (at least overnight) is definitely the key to the awesome fruity flavor. The fact that you’ll have cocktails ready to go on the fly? Icing on the cake! A cold, refreshing fruity cocktail paired with a delicious slice of hot-from-the-oven veggie pizza is sometimes just what you need on a steamy summer afternoon or at the end of a long hot day. I’m pretty confident you’ll get hooked and be making these mason jar cocktails all summer long, folks!

veggie-pizza

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

So, let’s talk about the giveaway, shall we? Yes! Who doesn’t love a good giveaway? One lucky reader is going to win a summer entertaining prize pack! You can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. (It’s as easy as can be, promise!) What are you going to win? Lots of really good stuff! Also known as everything you need for a bit of fun summer entertaining. So, get yourself entered to win! The giveaway will run through 12:00 AM (eastern) on Monday, June 20th. One winner will be announced later that day – good luck and see below for what you could win!

Summer Cocktails in a Jar | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, cocktail recipes, recipes and more from @cydconverse

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Prize package includes (4) Dr. Oetker Ristorante pizzas | 1: Epicurean wooden pizza peel from Crate & Barrel | 2: Set of (2) pizza shakers from Crate & Barrel | 3: Set of (6) stemless wine glasses from Sur la Table |4: Set of (2) kite tail napkins from Crate & Barrel | 5: (1) Zuma serving tray from Crate & Barrel.]

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson 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. For more recipes, tips and entertaining ideas, follow Ristorante on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

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9 Awesome Brass Light Fixtures Under $350

I mentioned in my renovation update last week (and also multiple times on Snapchat) that we would be looking to swap out the existing light fixture in our dining room sooner rather than later. Frankly, it’s just not our taste so we had always planned to change it at some point, but then we discovered a bare ground wire hanging by a thread and we decided it was going to need to be a higher priority item than we expected. It’s not original to the house (we found a date on it of 1951) so we don’t feel badly in any kind of way about removing it, although we are intent on keeping all of the fixtures matte brass to match all the original fixtures and door hardware throughout the house. And so began my quest in earnest for a fabulous brass light fixture that wouldn’t break the bank! Because, guys, I love a crazy gorgeous light fixture as much as the next girl, but when you have to do fun things like unexpectedly spend $710 to have roots removed from your sewer line after things get a little unsavory in your basement less than a month after you close on the house? Well, then you realize the light fixture of your dreams needs to come with an equally dreamy price tag. So today, for all of you like minded folks out there, I’ve got 9 pretty awesome brass light fixtures all under $350! And many are way way less than that. (In fact, all but one or two are under $250!) Find all of the prices and shopping links below for these beauties! I actually just placed the order for the winner for our dining room a little earlier this morning. Any guesses as to which one I picked?

Budget Brass Light Fixtures Under $350 and other home improvement ideas and home decor inspiration from @cydconverse

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[1: Threshold brass chandelier from Target, $149.99 | 2: Globe pendant from CB2, $249 | 3: White/brass pendant from Design Within Reach, $249 | 4: Mobile chandelier from West Elm, $279 | 5: Gold lotus light from World Market, $99.99 | 6: Brass and glass globe pendant from Wayfair, $79 | 7: Brass and wood pendant from World Market, $69.99 | 8: Brass chandelier from Schoolhouse Electric, $349 | 9: Tapered glass pendant from Crate & Barrel, $249]

This post contains affiliate links. Read more about our editorial policies.

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Our Old House Renovation (A One Month Update)

An Old House Renovation Update from @cydconverse | Follow along with our old house renovation of our 1910 craftsman style home in upstate New York. We'll be sharing design ideas, renovation tips, home improvement ideas and more!

One month ago we went to the bank for a really large check and then drove to an office across town to hand that check over to some people we had never met before. We were really nervous and both felt fairly sick to our stomachs over the whole thing. Turns out, we got a pretty sweet deal though because less than an hour later they handed us two huge rings full of old keys and we became the very emotional, very proud owners of one crazy beautiful old house. Since then it has been a whirlwind of activity! We’ve removed all the carpet, spent hours stripping wallpaper, packed and moved our entire apartment and are currently living out of essentially two rooms of the house while the rest of our earthly possessions hang out in our garage. I have been trying to share regular updates over on Snapchat, but today I wanted to catch you up to speed with some of the progress to date. Specifically, some of you wanted to know what work we’re doing ourselves and what work we’re hiring out so I am going to break that down a bit here and more so in upcoming posts. Get ready for a wordy one full of lots of very unglamorous, entirely unstyled iPhone photos, friends! This is real life as I’m living it every single day right now. I’ll be following up with more detailed looks at the before/process/after stages of each of the rooms we’re nearing completion on before we start any of the fun decorating and styling parts so stay tuned for that!

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