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.]
March 3, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
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.
March 1, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
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
- 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.
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!
[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
February 28, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
[After photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]