Best Valentine’s Day DIY Ideas + Friday Link Love

These link love posts are among my favorite because it’s my chance to take a moment and recognize some of the awesome things that my friends and fellow bloggers are creating. And, seriously, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, these ladies are not holding back. We all know that my favorite Valentine’s Day ideas are the ones that are simple, budget-friendly and heartfelt, so printables and edibles fall right in line with that philosophy. Today I’m bringing you some of my favorite picks for Valentine’s Day crafts and recipes, plus you can scroll down for all your weekly link love fix. See you here on Monday, friends, when the love for love will continue! xoxo

Best Valentine's Day DIY Ideas from @cydconverse

[Printable calligraphy valentines | Conversation heart cookies | DIY gift wrap | XO brownies | Heart floor decals.]

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Color Palette: Peacock + Sea Salt

In the last reader survey a few months back, so many of you said that these weekly color palette posts are among your favorite. I was honestly a little bit surprised (just because I know how much you love a good DIY post or a pretty party), but pleasantly so! I’m such a lover of color and love the challenge of finding cool new ways to use color to make a statement. All of this is a little bit of a tease leading up to next week when I’ll be announcing a fun new partnership I’ve taken on for this year that will seriously be one of the coolest collaborations I’ve ever tackled. But today we’re talking about peacock and sea salt and all these pretty shades of blue, purple and pink. What could look like an ode to a unicorn gone wrong looks so sophisticated when paired with lots of white and a touch of metallic gold. Even if I do say so myself, I think this combination is just so pretty and surprisingly chic!

Color Palette: Peacock and Sea Salt from @cydconverse

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[Photos, from top: Suite One Studio | Dustin Aksland via Remodelista | Melissa Chambers.]

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Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake

There’s just something about February that practically begs for us to treat ourselves, don’t you think? Here in the farthest northern reaches of Upstate New York, it’s just about the day that the calendar flips from January to February that winter just starts to feel so long. The holidays feel like a distant memory and yet spring seems so far off. And then, there’s just February. I’m convinced it’s no coincidence that it’s the shortest month of the year, because certainly thirty-one days of February would feel entirely too long. Luckily for all of us, the sweet Melina of Sugary & Buttery is back today and she’s bringing us the cure to all those winter woes. We’re talking a pear and poppy seed layer cake, boasting triple layers of pear upside down cake and a poppy seed buttercream that will knock your socks off. You don’t need an excuse to make this cake. You just need a love for spending time in the kitchen, listening to your favorite playlist and making a perfect floury mess. Sounds like heaven to me!

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

For the Cake

  • 2 pears, peeled, each cut into eight
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1½ cups almond meal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks butter

For the Buttercream

  • 4 sticks (1 lb) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1½ – 2 ounces poppy seeds

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

Preheat oven 350°F and lightly grease three 5 inch round cake pans.

Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Arrange pear slices evenly in 3 pans and drizzle with maple syrup. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine almond meal and flour. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla. Mix in butter. Pour into almond meal mixture and lightly fold together. Pour batter over pears in pans and bake for about 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool the cakes in pans for about 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack. Let cool down completely, preferably over night.

To make the buttercream, bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil the syrup until it reaches 240°F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium high until stiff but not dry peaks form. With the mixer running, pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Turn the mixer on high speed and beat for about 10 mins. Add the butter, piece by piece and keep beating. If it looks curdled at any point during the beating process, continue beating until smooth. Add half of the poppy seeds, then take out about 1 cup of buttercream and mix in the remaining poppy seeds, set aside. You should have a large portion of lighter buttercream and a small portion of darker buttercream, with more seeds.

Assemble the cakes with the pears facing down (otherwise the buttercream will not spread). Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Frost the top of the cake with the lighter buttercream and the bottom half of the cake with the buttercream containing more poppy seeds to achieve a slight ombre effect.

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

Guys! That cake! Isn’t it about the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen? Plus I’m a sucker for pears so I can assure you I could gobble this right up. Huge thanks to Melina for being awesome and joining us here each month to share her confectionary talents. Her cakes have seriously inspired me to spend more time baking, which is something I just love doing, but don’t make enough time for on a regular basis.

Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake from @cydconverse

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[Photos by Sugary & Buttery for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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10 Best Winter Citrus Cocktails

10 Best Winter Citrus Cocktails from @cydconverseI always love when citrus season comes along. For those of us in crazy cold climates, it’s like nature’s way of helping us get through winter. At least, that’s how I always see it when February rolls into town and fresh oranges, clementines and grapefruits seem to be the only sunshine we see. Make all that yummy fruit into cocktails, you say? I think that’s a fabulous idea. So today I’ve rounded up 10 of the best winter citrus cocktails your palate has ever tasted.

From blood orange to clementines to freshly squeezed lemons, from tequila to rum to gin, there’s a little something here for everyone, all guaranteed to taste like a summer’s breeze in the middle of winter. Click through to check out 10 of the best winter citrus cocktails!

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Free Printable XO Valentine’s Day Art Print

Good morning, friends, and happy Monday! We’re kicking off the week with the first of two free printable Valentine’s Day art prints I have coming your way. I really really love art prints so this year I’m making it a point to work with some of my favorite designers to bring you at least one free printable art piece each month. You can download them, print them out, stick them in your favorite frames and the idea is that by the end of the year, you’ll have loads of new art throughout your home. Sounds fun, right? Yes! So today we’re talking about this fun print designed just for you by my sweet friend Carolynn of Two Brunettes. You may notice that it also matches the printable Valentine’s Day cards from last week, making it a perfect little gift or just a sweet addition to your home. It’s available in two colors – with a pink background and a white background so scroll down to download your choice of color!

FREE Printable XO Valentine's Day Art Print from @cydconverse

Download pink art print | Download white art print | Download matching Valentine’s Day cards

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[Printable art print by Two Brunettes for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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