The Things I Loved This Week

Things I Love This Week from @cydconverse | Weekend DIY ideas, crafts projects, recipes, cocktail recipes, party ideas and more

For those of you who have been missing my traditional Friday link love posts (which came up several times in the reader survey recently), please know that I’m working on some really fun new content when the site relaunch goes down in a few weeks! (Let’s just call it a month, because my hunch is that’s where we’re going to end up.) I’m going to be keeping much of the content you love, bringing back a few old things with a new spin, and working in some new ideas that I hope you love. As of this week, and one epic day-long shoot on Wednesday, I’m working on video content, too! It’s going to be a progression as I work toward the type of videos I really want to make for you as it’s a new learning curve, but I’m excited to be officially “in progress” on that front. Stay tuned to see the first fruits of our labor in a couple of weeks! In the meantime, I wanted to share a few things that caught my eye that I loved this week! A little inspiration for your weekend, especially now that we’re into March and in theory spring is right around the corner. (The jury is always out on that one in our neck of the woods until at least early April. Ha!) All of these picks this week are from some of my very favorite bloggers, most of whom are personal friends, so pop over and give them a little love. Happy Friday! xoxo

1 | Eden’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Everyone knows I love a good chocolate chip cookie recipe. (This one is my personal favorite!) Eden’s cookies look really really good so I may just be baking a batch of these for my kiddos this weekend.

2 | Brittni’s Overnight Oats
So this is odd, but I always forget how much I love overnight oats. Like I’ll go on a huge overnight oat kick, then forget they exist for months on end. On Sunday night, I’m definitely prepping overnight oats for the week!

3 | Michael’s Spring Living Room Refresh
I’ve always loved Michael’s living room, but I also really adore what he did to brighten it up for spring. And I’m loving that rug! (Wish I didn’t have a puppy who would chew it to bits instantly.)

4 | Anna’s Family Trip to Charleston
Most of you probably remember that I am obsessed with Charleston. (Plus see my other favorite U.S. travel destinations!) Anna’s recent family trip has me really excited for our quick stop over in Charleston next month when we’re on our family spring break road trip.

5 | Leah’s Salty Dog Cocktails
Because it’s Friday and a little weekend happy hour never hurt anyone. Might I suggest Leah’s salty dog recipe? I’ve been drooling over it for a couple of days now. Truth.

6 | Molly’s Kitchen Remodel Reveal
I’ve been waiting for Molly to finally give us the full scoop on her gorgeous kitchen remodel and it was worth the wait! All that clean, bright white and that gorgeous range are just lovely.

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Roasted Tomato Soup with French Bread Croutons

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

An alternative title to this post could easily be, “Best Ever Vegan Tomato Soup.” Because it is indeed the best ever and it is indeed vegan. It’s also about the easiest thing to make that there ever was, even if you wanted to make a big pot on a weeknight. The basis is a bunch of roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic. Drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and bursting with flavor. I like a variety of tomatoes (such as tomatoes on the vine, cherry tomatoes and little heirloom tomatoes) for little extra depth of flavor, but truly you can use whichever kind of tomatoes you have on hand or that look good in the grocery store. A big bowl topped with French bread croutons makes a meal unto itself or the perfect accompaniment to a grilled cheese sandwich. (I’ll be sharing one of my favorite grilled cheese recipes next week! Yum!)

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 3 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • 3 medium onions, chunked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 2 veggie bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6-8 large fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice large tomatoes in half lengthwise and leave smaller tomatoes whole. Place on the prepared baking sheet along with the onions and garlic. Drizzle with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. (Coarse ground sea salt preferred.) Roast for 30 – 40 minutes, until soft and tender, removing garlic about halfway through when it’s tender. (If you leave it the entire time, it could burn.) Allow to cool slightly, then gently remove all or most of the tomato skins. If any of the onions have charred, remove the outer charred parts. Transfer everything to a stock pot. Add red wine, bouillon cubes and veggie stock and allow to simmer on medium-high heat for 10 – 15 minutes. Chop the basil and add it to pot. Simmer for another few minutes. Carefully remove the pot from the heat and use an immersion blender to pulse the mixture until mostly smooth. (A few chunks are ok.) Return to the heat, whisk in coconut milk and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Add a little extra salt and pepper right at the end if necessary. Serve with croutons and a bit of fresh basil on top.

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

French Bread Croutons

  • 1/2 of a French baguette, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut baguette into large chunks and transfer to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and then toss to combine with the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. (Coarse ground sea salt is best) Transfer to the lined baking sheet then bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until golden and caramel in color around the edges. (Don’t bake too long or the croutons will become overly hard, the idea is to be crunchy on the outside but still soft on the inside.) Remove from the oven, cool slightly and eat fresh on top of soup!

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Roasted Tomato Soup | Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe | Recipes, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

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[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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Our Dining Room Renovation (Before and After)

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Today’s post is long overdue, but no less exciting – the completed renovation of our dining room! Our dining room is easily one of my favorite rooms in our house and one where we spend a lot of time. Unlike a lot of people, a majority of our meals are actually eaten around our dining room table and we also play cards here a lot on the weekends. The kids can be playing a board game on one end while we’re playing rummy at the other and it acts as the perfect hub for entertaining, eating, and lounging. Because I’m getting ready to make some final decisions in this space regarding curtains, a big area rug to anchor the room and art, it seemed like the perfect time to take a look back at what this room looked like when we closed on the house and what it looks like now.

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Believe it or not, with it’s sad yellowing flat paint and completely worn and stained blue carpet, this room is one of the reasons I fell in love with our house when we first saw it about a year ago. I could see how beautiful the bones of this room were and knew paint would go a long long way toward bringing this room back to life. We ripped all the blue carpet up within a day or two of closing, which instantly changed things for the better. Then it was a process of fixing the plaster walls in a few areas (we had some minor cracking, which was mostly superficial), painting everything in sight and then swapping out the light fixture. (You can see the budget-friendly brass light fixtures that I rounded up at the time!) As with our living room renovation, the trim was painted in Valspar Ultra White 7006-24 in a semi-gloss finish with the ceilings painted flat in Valspar Bistro White 7006-4. The walls read white in a lot of lighting and in photos for the most part, but they’re actually a super soft gray color, also by Valspar called Summer Gray 7006-17. The dining room doesn’t get much morning light since it’s in the northwest corner of the house so all of the soft, light colors keep it feeling really light and airy even when it doesn’t get a lot of direct light until afternoon.

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Until the week of Thanksgiving we still had our old, far too small dining table in here, which was dwarfed by the room and really didn’t suit us anymore. (For starters, we couldn’t fit our entire family at it to eat dinner so that was a big issue.) I had been in love with a table from Restoration Hardware for a couple of years that was just way more money than I was hoping to spend, but I hadn’t found anything else I loved quite as much so while I was busy trying to find something I thought would work, Bob went behind my back and conspired with his brother, a crazy talented woodworker in his spare time, to have this table built custom for our dining room. It’s nearly identical to the Restoration Hardware table of my dreams, with some modifications to the dimensions that work really for us. It’s quite wide and over seven feet long and could easily seat 10 – 12 for larger functions although we have it set for 8 on a daily basis. Once the surprise was revealed to me, of course I went into chair shopping mode like a wild woman. I decided on the Safavieh Country Classic Dining Burris Side Chairs from Overstock, which had the perfect blend of modern, Scandinavian and farmhouse I was going for in this room. Our house is not rustic, nor is that my goal. It’s actually a pretty formal feeling house with all the huge ceilings and intricate woodwork, but I try to keep it feeling really inviting with a mix of furniture, wood finishes and colors so these chairs ended up being perfect.

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Next up in this space, we’re working on fixing one of the big beautiful glass pocket doors that connect the dining room to the foyer. It was knocked off the track when the carpet was still down and when we pulled the door trim apart so we could get to the track hardware to rehang it, we realized the bottom track needs a little repair work itself. Problem is, there’s a wall in between us and that hardware so it looks like it may require cutting into the wall to fix and I’m not sure how up for that I am at the moment, so we’re taking some time to research and make a decision about what will be the best, least invasive approach so we aren’t completely tearing the house apart all over again just to fix a door. In the meantime, we are otherwise just about done with the official dining room renovation so it’s onto decorating! (We still need to paint the window sashes, but they need a little bit of love before we do that, so that might happen later this summer.) I have a rug on order and am working on making final decisions regarding curtains and that kind of thing so hopefully in the next month or so it will be looking much more finished.

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

Dining Room Renovation | Old house ideas, home decor ideas, renovating ideas, renovation blog from @cydconverse

For more about our house, see the full “before” house tour and be sure to check out our living room renovation and the latest living room decor update, too! I’ve made some more changes in there that I’ll be sharing soon, too, and of course I’ll keep you posted as the dining room comes together. Stay tuned!

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[After photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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Real Talk with Real Moms: On Friendships

Real Talk with Real Moms: On Friendships | Mom blogger, entertaining tips and party ideas from @cydconverse

Guys, I am so excited to be joining up with an insanely talented group of moms for the Real Talk with Real Mom series spearheaded by my friend Jen of The Effortless Chic. Most of these ladies have been blogging together about motherhood for a year or more now, and I’m really looking forward to being part of the pack. I’ll be using this as an opportunity to talk more about about the various issues, large and small, surrounding motherhood (and how I try not to screw up my kid) on a monthly basis in a way that is hopefully an interesting read for you. My monthly posts will also link to each of the other participating moms so you can read their stories and perspectives, too. This month we’re all dishing on friendships and, quite honestly, this could not be a more timely topic for me.

Keep reading…

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Gingerberry Sparkler

Gingerberry Sparkler | Winter cocktails, champagne cocktails, entertaining ideas, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

This super pretty gingerberry sparkler is a cocktail that I made over the holidays and shared over on Inspired By This. I had fully intended to share the post then, but if you recall that was right about the time that I came down with the first wave of the death plague that decided to hang around for nearly a month and it just never happened. That said, this cocktail would make the perfect bubbly concoction for sipping while you’re watching the Oscar’s this weekend! It’s made with a few of my favorite things (bubbly, vodka and ginger beer) and you can make up a big pitcher at a time to sip all evening with friends while you critique the red carpet arrivals. (Undoubtedly always my favorite part of the evening!) To get started, bounce on over to get the recipe and enjoy. Cheers!

Gingerberry Sparkler | Winter cocktails, champagne cocktails, entertaining ideas, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Gingerberry Sparkler | Winter cocktails, champagne cocktails, entertaining ideas, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Gingerberry Sparkler | Winter cocktails, champagne cocktails, entertaining ideas, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Gingerberry Sparkler | Winter cocktails, champagne cocktails, entertaining ideas, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

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[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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