April 25, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
Emerson turned five months old over the weekend and I am fully embracing the cliché when I say I just can’t believe how fast these first handful of months have flown by. I have been thinking a lot lately about the juggle and the struggle to find balance since I first shared that I was floundering a bit at the moment. Undoubtedly I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself since the baby was born and with my passion for my work and my work ethic, I thought by now I’d be fully back to my old pace and productivity level. And, guys, I have been seriously down on myself for letting myself down on that front for a couple of months now. Until a week or two ago when I decided, no. No, I am not going to spend this first year of her life beating myself up because I’m not doing enough. When she’s two and five and fifteen and twenty, the only thing I’ll beat myself up for is not being present in this fleeting moment and absorbing every last smile and giggle that I possibly can.
So today, I wanted to just take a quick moment to try and capture where she is right now. I am loving this stage and have found myself tearing up occasionally because I so desperately wish I could just freeze time for just a tiny little bit. I know there are so many fun stages to come, but right now she’s just growing and learning so quickly and her little personality is blossoming, and it is just so fun to hang out with her and watch her grow and thrive. We started solid foods last week! So far she’s just had cereal (we opted for this organic baby oatmeal instead of rice cereal) and a bit of sweet potatoes and apples. We’re trying to keep everything organic and we’re making her food. Because we spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking anyway, it’s really easy for us to make her food, too. I think she was really ready for solids by the time we introduced them and she has been loving everything she has tried so far. We’re planning to start working avocados into her diet this week as long as I can get my hands on some organic ones, which I could not find locally last week. (Oh, and these bibs. We’re loving them for easy clean up!)
A few weeks ago we started attending a weekly Kindermusik class for infants. She loves music so much and will get all crazy kicking her feet and flapping her arms and giggling when her jam comes on, so I wanted to try out some kind of class just for fun. Turns out, she loves music class! There are six or so other babies in the class and each week we love seeing them interact more and more with one another. Even once we have some kind of more consistent day care arrangement going in the next couple of months, I definitely plan to work my schedule around our Thursday morning music class so I can take her every week. She’s also loving toys more and more every day and has reached that phase where she gleefully shoves everything she can get her hands on into her mouth, including her feet. Which, guys, nothing is cuter than a baby gnawing on their toes. Why is that? We’ve finally mastered the art of rolling over, too! She was resisting the back to the belly roll for the longest time, but as of last week she has started flopping over and won’t stay put now.
Every day right now she is changing and learning so quickly. A few nights a week she’ll sleep like a rockstar and then nights like last night, we’re up every two hours like clockwork. She still hates naps, so she usually hangs out next to me while I work either playing on one of her play mats (she has this one and this play gym and loves both) or batting at the toys on her bouncer chair. Peek-a-boo is officially a hit around here these days. She can’t get enough! We’ve also been trying to walk 2 or 3 miles every day now that the weather is finally warming up here. She gets so excited when she sees her stroller and she is really intent on watching the world roll by while we make our rounds through the neighborhood every day. (Also, we “visit” our new house every day on our walks, too, as it’s only four or five blocks from where we currently live which makes mommy very happy!) And the giggles! And the giant, happy lopsided smile! In general she is such a happy baby and it’s completely infectious.
And that’s our girl at five months in a nutshell, long legs and giant feet and happy dances and all. It’s amazing to me how enthusiastic she is about every new things these days and I hope we’re able to foster that pure, glorious glee her whole childhood. We always refer to her as our little sidekick because she really does feel like our little buddy already. Have baby, will travel. That’s our motto these days. A year ago today, when I still had no clue I was pregnant and wouldn’t for another week or two, I said a heartbreaking goodbye to my grandmother and my heart was seriously shattered. I had no clue how dramatically things were about to change and right now as I think about this past year and these last five months in particular, it feels especially poignant. I’m just trying to bask in the glow in this moment of life and soak it all up, friends. This one life we have is so precious and I’m so grateful that I get to spend the rest of my life as this little girl’s mommy.
Baby’s Outfits –
Steer bib bandana c/o Vonbon | White leggings from Carters (similar) | White onesie from Carters | Moccasins c/o Itzy Ritzy | Pink woodland dress from Baby Gap |
[Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]
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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.]