March 13, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
When I shared before and after photos of our living room renovation way back in June, I shared that I was planning to give our fireplace a quick and easy makeover until we decide longterm how we’d like to reface the brick. I’m thinking some kind of small scale marble tile, but I have some time to work that out since we won’t be doing anything like that until we eventually put in a gas insert or something similar. In the meantime, I gave the existing brick a good long time to grow on me and, not surprisingly, it didn’t happen. Wanting to keep things quick, simple and inexpensive, I opted for a paint job to freshen things up! The entire project rang in at under $30 and just took a couple of hours of painting, not including dry time. First up, a quick look back at how this fireplace started out.
The brick started kind of a yellowy speckled color that I always knew wouldn’t be long for the living once we were moved in and settled. The chimney is actually the same color and outside I kind of love it, but inside it was doing nothing but taking away from that gorgeous mantle. It instantly grabbed your eye when you waked in the room and definitely not in the good way. It was quite distracting actually. So finally after months of sitting and waiting and being sure I was 100% on the painting train, a few weeks ago I got the job done!
To get started I cleaned the entire fireplace, inside and out, by first vacuuming it and then wiping everything down with a damp cloth. I opted to paint the firebox black to clean up that charred look. Because we are currently not using the fireplace to burn wood and don’t anticipate doing so (a toddler being the primary reason for that among others), a basic black paint would have gotten the job done. That said, who knows if we’ll ever change our mind on that so I went with a high heat paint meant for painting things like grills and wood stoves. This was by far the bulk of the expense with this little project at around $20 a quart.
Because this paint is not your basic latex, be prepared for it to stink like crazy. I did this while Emerson was out of the house with a sitter for the afternoon to be sure she wasn’t breathing in the heavy fumes. All of that said, you definitely want to ventilate your room as much as possible and be really careful about drips and spills since clean up would be much more of a chore. I picked up a relatively cheap paint brush so I could just toss it after and not have to worry about cleaning it. Then I went to town painting! One good coat covered everything well and instantly made everything look better. I let it dry overnight and the next day I tackled the exterior brick with just one coat of flat white paint that was already hanging out around the house. (It was actually left over from the painting the ceilings in this room and the dining room.) With one coat, a tiny bit of the variation in the brick comes through, which I personally prefer over a thick, opaque coating slopped on there. I didn’t prime the brick, I just used latex paint and got to work. Easy peasy, inexpensive and it makes a world of difference in the room.
Oh, and let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? And by “elephant” I’m sure you know I mean “the huge black television.” I know there’s a lot of debate at times about televisions mounted over fireplaces blah blah blah, but this is real life and in real life we watch television and have been known to Netflix binge on occasion. I would love if there was a way to magically make the giant television disappear when not in use, but there’s not and there’s also no other place for it to go in this room on account of all the huge windows and the wide doorway into the foyer. Unless we wanted to put the sofa inside the fireplace, there’s really no other good way to set up the room so a huge television over a big old fireplace it is. And with that, let’s take one more look at the before and after on this one, because I’m still pretty excited about how it turned out! Anyone else paint a fireplace recently?
[Before photos by Cyd Converse | All others by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
March 10, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
We have a tiny girl who has been pretty miserable this week, so I’m really looking forward to the weekend and hopefully a bit of time to unwind. (You can’t blame the one year old teething and running incessant fevers, but it does make the week feel a lot longer!) We don’t have much on our agenda this weekend, which feels really nice, so we might start getting organized for the next batch of renovation projects we want to tackle around the house. (Ugly ugly ugly kitchen, I’m gunning for you!) Other than that I found myself loving all the prettiest spring-inspired things this week. Tomorrow we’re expecting wind chills as low as -16° (no, that’s not a typo) so I can use all the spring I can get right now. Here’s wishing you a great weekend! xoxo
1 | Sugar & Cloth’s Blood Orange Sangria
We’ve been on such a blood orange kick this winter and, naturally, I’m a sangria fan from way back. This is the perfect, easy sangria recipe for entertaining this week. And that color is just gorgeous!
2 | Say Yes’s DIY Banana Bun
I love this pretty, easy look for an alternative to my go-to top knot on days when I just can’t be bothered to do my hair like a proper adult. (Read: Every damn day.)
3 | Julie’s Edible Egg Nests
Easter practically begs for cute on-theme desserts, and these sweet little edible egg nests are absolutely adorable. I love that these are really easy to make, too, and perfect for little helpers to pitch in a hand!
4 | DesignLoveFest’s Printable Bouquet Wraps
I can’t think of any occasion where giving flowers isn’t a great option. I love giving and receiving flowers! These pretty printable bouquet wraps make a simple bunch of flowers even more special.
5 | Kendi’s Pretty in Pink Look
Kendi has long been my favorite fashion blogger. I’m crazy about her style and love the pieces she pulls together. This pretty pink look for spring is really lovely and it’s also giving me major bag envy.
6 | The Open Shelving in Elsie’s Kitchen
All of Elsie’s kitchen makeover is pretty great (I love all that white and brass), but I particularly love the open shelving. These great glass jars holding pantry staples are my favorite detail. (I do something similar!)
March 9, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Bob and I have this little tradition of making what we call “fancy grilled cheese sandwiches” for dinner on Friday nights. Not every Friday night (far from it actually), but for some reason a great grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of homemade tomato soup is the perfect way to end the week when you’re too tired to want to cook up a more involved meal, but want to attempt something a bit more than delivery. This sandwich is one of our favorite variations! A grilled cheese made with caramelized onions, dill pickle, havarti and munster cheese all on inside-out ciabatta bread. We have a few other favorites that I’ll be sharing soon, too. A grilled cheese-a-palooza! Perhaps the best kind of palooza there ever was, no? (Side note: Give me all the cheese, please and thank you!)
Caramelized Onion Dill Pickle Grilled Cheese
- Ciabatta bread
- Sliced havarti cheese
- Sliced munster cheese
- Thinly sliced dill pickles
- Caramelized onions
Slice a piece of ciabatta bread in half and butter the inside of each piece. Layer cheeses, dill pickles and caramelized onions on one of the unbuttered sides. Top with the second slice of bread, butter side out. Move to a skillet or griddle and heat over medium heat until crispy on one side. Flip and repeat until the second side is also golden and crispy. Serve hot with your favorite tomato soup on the side.
[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
March 7, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Rumor has it that spring is just a couple of weeks out, although truth is we typically don’t see real spring until at least April here in our neck of the woods in the northeast. Even though it has been about 15° every day so far this week (actually not an exaggeration), I am definitely starting to get that spring itch. The one where I want to throw open the windows, scrub every last inch of the house, spend an afternoon arranging plants in little pots, painting a room a fresh new color, changing out all the linens and generally just freshening things up. Basically, I’ve got spring fever. Which is where today’s round-up comes into play – 15 fun DIY ideas to cure spring fever while we wait for the real deal. Fair warning, many of these are DIY planters, because that appears to be what I’m obsessed with at the moment. You can’t hate a girl for that though, can you? Enjoy!
1. DIY mini plaster planters [above]
2. DIY room spray
3. DIY hanging shelf
4. DIY hand painted galaxy wall
5. DIY dip dye market tote
6. DIY pom pom pillow
7. Five minute DIY art hack
8. DIY cork bench
9. DIY hanging flower chandelier
10. DIY paper utensil envelope
11. DIY clay + leather macrame hanging planter
12. DIY hanging planters
13. DIY indigo clay bowls
14. DIY paper leaf garland
15. DIY gold leaf terra cotta planters
March 6, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Back when I was still pregnant with Emerson, I started hunting in earnest for the perfect baby book. I wanted something that would be special for her as she grows older and wants to flip through the pages, but frankly, I know myself well enough to know that keeping detailed records, creating monthly scrapbook pages or in some other way extravagantly keeping memories in a physical way was never going to happen. I finally picked the Lucy Darling Little Artist Memory Book, which is easily among the best baby books out there. (They have other versions now that are new since then, too, including some that are less girly.) The book focuses primarily on baby’s first year, with pages for recording a photo and some basic information on their birthday in years two through five, as well as on their first day of school. The book also includes blank scrapbook or journal pages at the back that I think I’ll keep for mementos such as little school awards, her birthday party invitations and that kind of thing. What I love most is how beautifully each page is designed and laid out, making it so easy for a busy mom to create a really lovely little treasure of a baby book without having to get wild with spending lots of time or money creating fancy spreads.
I use simple archive-friendly adhesive to attach the photos and love that this book makes it really easy to record simple memories, firsts and notable events from each month. I keep a stash of washi tape and little embellishments handy so I can add a little extra color and pattern here and there for fun, but that’s just because I’m me and I generally can never leave well enough alone. There are pages for recording all of baby’s first holidays, too, which is probably my favorite section of the book. I use photos from my phone as well as professional photos and I like the mix. The book uses 4″ and 3″ square photos, making it really easy to have a bunch of photos printed and then trim them down to size before attaching them to the appropriate spread in the book.
Emerson’s first birthday party invitations are actually a baby shower invitation design from Minted that I adapted to use for her party. (You can customize any of their designs that way, if you didn’t know!) They are foil stamped and so pretty, and we strung the house with star garlands to coordinate. She also wore a little pink tutu dress with gold foil stars all over it and she was about the cutest thing ever. I included one of her birthday party invitations in her baby book and I think it will be a lot of fun for her when she’s older to be able to see how excited we were to celebrate her first year. Minted also created Emerson’s birth announcements, and I included one in her book along with our hospital bracelets and a little teensy bag holding her umbilical cord. (Is that last part weird? I couldn’t decide if it was or not so I just decided to keep it. Ha!) My hope is that even though I’m admittedly not the most diligent about recording every little sneeze and stumble, that she’ll look back at this book in the years to come and find joy in her tiniest years. I know I already love it!
This post was not sponsored in any way, but does contain affiliate links. I have received no compensation for talking about these products, I just really really love them and wanted to share. Minted provided Emerson’s birth announcements and birthday party invitations as a gift. Read more about our editorial policies.
[Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]