April 18, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
With everything we have going on right now (buying a house, planning my sister’s wedding, working on her bridal shower, planning another good friend’s shower, and so on and so forth), it just dawned on me this weekend that we’re only a few weeks out from Mother’s Day! It made realize that I can’t wait for the days when Baby E comes home from preschool with construction paper Mother’s Day cards…even though I actually don’t want to rush it, I promise. More than most others, I really believe that Mother’s Day is an occasion ripe for celebrating with a sweet homemade token of affection or two. Moms love it when you make them stuff. Seriously. But you’re old enough now that you should make your mom something good, so we’re skipping the dried pasta art and going straight for the good stuff. Any other homemade Mother’s Day gift ideas that you love? Link ’em up in the comments so I can scope it out and make my mom something good this year!
1. Lemon Meyer Marmalade [above]
2. DIY Hand Wrapped Bouquet
3. DIY Cocktail Kit
4. DIY Leather Luggage Tags
5. DIY Tank Top Dress with Pockets
6. DIY Gold Leaf Notebooks
7. Homemade Infused Vodka
8. Best Mom Ever Tote
9. DIY Margarita Body Scrub
10. DIY Ombre Flour Sack Towels
11. DIY iPad Stand
12. DIY Gold Leaf Planters
April 13, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
This veggie flatbread is about to become your new party food mainstay. Are you ready? The women in my family have been serving up some version of this flatbread recipe as a party appetizer for as long as I can remember. Rumor has it my mom started making it first, but honestly I remember it as being something my Aunt Candy has always made. Now I make it, too, only I give my version a bit of a Mediterranean twist, simply because that’s how I roll. Here’s what I love about this stuff! First of all, it’s delicious. Secondly, it’s really easy to make. As in, this barely qualifies as cooking it’s so easy. Third, if people pop over unexpectedly or you forgot to make something in advance for a party or a brunch you’re attending, you can be done and good to go in about as little as 20 minutes flat. Yes! Quick, easy, delicious, amazing. I’ve made this for baby showers, Christmas parties, housewarming parties, just-because brunches and numerous occasions. Now, you can make it, too!
- 1 can crescent rolls
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 cup English cucumber, chopped
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to the temperature specified on the crescent rolls package. Then, roll the entire sheet of crescent roll dough out on a very lightly greased baking sheet, being careful not to break it apart and bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. In the meantime, combine cream cheese (at room temperature), mayonnaise, roughly 3/4 of the basil (reserve the rest for the end), and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly until well combined then spread out in an even layer on top of the cooled crescent bread. Sprinkle spinach all over the top, then add grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumber and red onion. Finish by sprinkling the remaining basil on top and add freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
If you’re making this in a hurry (which is totally feasible), just pop the baked crescent dough sheet into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes before layering on the good stuff. If you assemble things too early, the cream cheese mixture can melt and get kind of sloppy, so a quick chill in the freezer will get you taken care of just right. Experiment with whatever veggies you like best! They’re all delicious. (My aunt always includes chopped fresh broccoli and bell pepper on hers. Yum!) A drizzle of a balsamic reduction over top also won’t steer you in the wrong direction. Go forth, friends, and make the easiest, yummiest flatbread you ever did eat.
[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
April 12, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
A few years ago I started making my own body scrubs and I haven’t looked back since. Turns out, a homemade body scrub is super simple to make and just as effective at exfoliating your skin and leaving you feeling pampered as the scrubs you can buy at fancy beauty stores. I like to periodically play with different ingredients (sugar, seal salt, citrus, essential oils, spices and herbs) and have made a tradition of whipping up either an old favorite or a new experiment every year as holiday gifts for our mothers and sisters. Bob’s sister is constantly letting me know that she has run out and comes begging for more. I’ve explained to her how easy they are to make and that she can find the tutorial for her favorite (this lemon sugar body scrub) here on the blog, but honestly, I think she just likes it best when I make them for her. No worries! I have her covered. I guess it’s the perks of the job for being my official taste tester on countless occasions when I’ve been working on recipes or cocktails to share with you.
Today I am sharing my latest – we’re calling it a margarita body scrub! Namely because it is made with an abundance of sea salt and fresh lime zest and juice. Add in some coconut oil and you have everything you need to transform your bathroom into the stuff of tropical vacations. I am going to belabor the point here and walk you through this step by step, but honestly, this is as easy as it gets! It’s all stuff you can grab at the grocery store or find in your pantry and you don’t have to be crafty or even able to boil water to know how to make a body scrub. If you scroll through typical DIY tutorials because you can’t be bothered, this one is for you!
Makes approximately (1) pint jar
- 2 cups coarse ground sea salt
- 1 cup fine ground sea salt
- 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
- 1 lime
- Clean, dry mason jar or similar
Begin by placing the salt in a medium mixing bowl. I like a mix of coarse and fine ground sea salt, but if you’re making this on the fly and just have one or the other, use whatever you have on hand. Zest a lime into the salt, then slice the lime in half and add the juice of both halves into the salt as well.
Next up, add the coconut oil. If you’re familiar with coconut oil, you know it’s generally solid at room temperature. You can add it to the salt either warmed slightly so that it’s liquid, or in its thicker state. Either way, I find it easiest to use my hands to mix everything to combine it really well. Then you can place the scrub in a clean, dry glass jar for safe keeping. It will keep in the bathroom for a week or two, or longer in the refrigerator.
And that’s it, friends! I told you. Easy as pie. Only, way easier actually. If you want to give this a try, but you only have oranges or grapefruit or lemons on hand – do it! It will be sensational. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil for a soothing evening scrub. A few drops of spearmint essential oil or eucalyptus oil will make a super energizing scrub for morning. Either way, your tired skin will thank you. Promise!
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
The fine print: Please link with love! As with all of our posts, DIY projects featured on The Sweetest Occasion may not be copied, distributed or reproduced without express written permission. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share a maximum of 1 – 2 images from this post, please link to this post directly for the DIY tutorial and do not include the instructions in your own post. Thanks so much! xoxo
April 11, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
Happy Monday, friends! I wanted to start the week by sharing some really exciting news. We are buying a house! Most of you probably know that we have been renters for several years. For a long time, for a lot of different reasons, we truly believed it wasn’t going to be possible for us to buy a house yet for a long while. But, low and behold, it turns out the moon and the stars aligned and as of last month we are under contract on what is absolutely our dream house! (You know, if big 100+ year old houses in need of some love and elbow grease are your idea of a dream house, which is completely true for us!)
We first saw the house on Valentine’s Day and ultimately wrote our offer the following week. It was then two weeks of negotiating before we were finally under contract. Two weeks! I swear I was walking on eggshells that entire time. Since then we’ve had our home inspection, which went really well. The house has several issues to be addressed not uncommon to houses of the age (like some clapboards that need to be scraped and freshly painted), but they were all things we were anticipating and that we knew going into it would require our attention over time. All indications are that she’s a solidly built and incredibly well maintained house and we know the potential is endless.
I really really wish that any of these photos were of the house! Unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable sharing any photos until we are the official owners, just out of respect and privacy for everyone involved. What I can tell you is that the house is a fairly large Craftsman style house built in 1910. It is around 2300 square feet and has four bedrooms, a bath and a half, and a giant backyard. We love that so much of the original architecture of the house is intact – we’re talking gorgeous solid wood doors, the most incredible hardwood floors, all the original door hardware (including the skeleton keys), gorgeous light fixtures, a staircase with a railing that is to die for, no joke.
We are going to have loads of projects to work on, from smaller things (like stripping the wallpaper in the living room) to huge renovations (like a complete kitchen redo) that will be more involved. Some of them will happen quickly (before we even move in) and some of them will take a lot longer. Years longer. And we’re totally ok with that! In fact, we find it really exciting to think about taking the time to make this house exactly how we see it in our heads. After years of renting, we’re just so excited to make mortgage payments and be investing our money, time and TLC into something we own. We’re buying one truly amazing house with one very ugly kitchen and I could not be more excited to call that ugly kitchen ours.
As of right now, it appears everything is at the all clear stage, which is why I decided it was a good time to finally share the news. I have been antsy to do so, but didn’t want to spill the beans too early lest something should go wrong and we end up not getting the house. (Hopefully I have not just gone and jinxed myself!) We are expecting an update of some kind today or tomorrow, but our best guess it that we will be closing at some point in the next two to three weeks. Fingers crossed! I absolutely would not mind if you wanted to send lots of good house juju our way. As soon as I have those keys, you can expect a flood of before photos, a full walk through video tour and all of the details. From that point on we’ll definitely be sharing a lot of what we’re working on around the house! From the reader survey a few weeks ago, it turns out a LOT of you (well over 50%) are home owners and a lot of you said you’d love home renovation ideas or posts, so your wish is my command.
In the meantime, while I’m pacing the house with fingers crossed hoping all goes well between now and the finish line, here are just a few of the photos that are inspiring me as I daydream about making this house our own. I can’t wait to share photos and more details so stay tuned!
[Photos, from top: Crown Point Cabinetry | The Dean Hotel from Design*Sponge | Love by Serena from Style Me Pretty | Blair Harris Interior Design | Kelly Deck Design | Melissa Oholendt from Style By Emily Henderson.]
April 7, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!
It’s April, which means a couple of things! (1.) My birthday was last week and (2.) it’s spring break season! (So yes, April is basically my favorite month ever.) As kids we always used to load into the family SUV and make the 14 hour trek to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina every year for a long lazy week of sand castles and scrounging for seashells. As an adult, rarely is a beach trip in the cards these days, but I do love the idea of taking a few days to rejuvenate after seemingly endless months of snow and cold. (Actually we have snow on the ground right now. Let’s not talk about it!) Enter the staycation! I’ve teamed up with my old pals at Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza to bring you my quick fool-proof guide to planning the ultimate staycation, with lots of focus on relaxation. Sounds kind of dreamy, right? To get started, put in your time off request, give yourself a minimum of a long weekend and let’s get started!