Breaking the Mold in 2014

Break the Mold

I promised on Friday that I’d be officially kicking off the New Year today with a few thoughts on the year ahead. And well, it’s time to talk about 2014! I’ve been doing more thinking and brainstorming and daydreaming about the months ahead than I can adequately express in words. Probably too much, if I’m perfectly honest. (Want to know a secret? Overthinking things is a chronic problem for me. I’m working on it.) I founded The Sweetest Occasion over five years ago on a bit of a whim, like most bloggers. It wasn’t about making money, building a career or starting a business. It was about a love for parties and design and, having finished architecture school and then graduate school, needing an outlet for that love. I never dreamed I would be where I am today. I never dreamed I’d be entering my third year of full time self-employment. I never dreamed millions of readers would stumble onto my internet doorstep over the years for a glimpse at the random ramblings inspiring me at the moment. I never dreamed it. I could have never dreamed something this amazing.

If I’m perfectly honest, most of my success and growth has stemmed from the fact that I’ve simply followed my gut. I’ve posted projects and parties and ideas that I love and I’ve been blessed to have readers who love the same things I do. There are all these things they tell you to do if you want to be a successful blogger and, if I’m real with you, I’ve ignored so many of them. Not intentionally. I’ve just been too wrapped up in whatever it is I am loving and wanting to share with you to have put too much thought into setting huge goals for myself or to push myself to really achieve those goals if I have set them. Which is not to say I’m not driven or ambitious. I’m both of those things nearly to a fault. But I also get easily caught up in the beauty around me and it can veer me off course without my even realizing it most times. So this year, I’m putting pen to paper (and words to internet) and committing to myself to see through so many of the ideas I have. And those goals? This year I’m going to chase them to the finish line.

Create Wildly

To that end, I just wanted to give you a little heads up that I may be switching things up a bit around here in the coming months. The heart of The Sweetest Occasion will always be what it has always been, so no fear there. I want to inspire you to live a beautiful life every single day and encourage you to celebrate for no reason at all. To introduce beauty and meaning into everyday occasions while going all out with a bang for those once-in-a-lifetime special occasions, too. To stop and smell the roses. To pick up a paint brush and give something new a try, even if you think you can’t quite pull it off. I’m still sketching and list-writing and formulating my plan of attack on exactly what 2014 is going to look like, but my theme for the year is breaking the mold. Holding onto the old favorites but also thinking outside of the box, trying out new ideas and working to bring you all new content in all new ways.

Along the way, I do hope you’ll tell me what you’re loving and what else you’d like to see. I read every single comment you write (and try to respond to all of them, too) and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to chime in when you see something you love. So speak up! Leave a comment, catch me on Twitter, visit over on Facebook, or drop me an email. I want 2014 to be the best year yet for The Sweetest Occasion…and if I’m honest with you, there’s part of me that needs it to be. (That would be the overly ambitious part…and the part that gets nauseated even thinking about paying taxes as a business owner.) Whatever your goals are for 2014, let’s all break the mold together, ok? I’m cheering you on! xoxo

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[Images from The Fresh Exchange.]

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A Final Look Back at 2013

I know this is definitely one of those weeks where we’re all feeling a bit introspective and reflective, and I have to admit – I kind of love that about January every year! I find it really refreshing to look back on the year that was while setting a few intentions for the year to come. I’m not huge on resolutions per se, but I do love planning for the year and making goals. In this moment I feel more prepared than ever to tackle the new year and accomplish some of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a while so I’m going to be writing down my goals and creating action plans to make them happen in 2014. Monday I’ll be back in action as usual and kicking things off with a few thoughts on the year ahead. In the meantime, here’s one last toast to 2013!

An Ode to 2013

After spending most of 2011 and 2012 feeling like I was finding myself all over again in my late 20s, 2013 was a banner year. I laughed more. I turned 30. I traveled to new places (like Mexico for the first time and the frozen winter tundra that is North Dakota) while also visiting old favorites (most notably Salt Lake City and New York a half dozen times or more.) I pinched myself time and again as really amazing people (like the folks at Better Homes & Gardens and Every Day with Rachael Ray) thought I was cool enough to interview for their glossy magazines. We made the big decision to move back to our hometown and in doing so got to spend a lot more time with both of our families. Definitely one of the best parts of 2013, by far! In 2013, I also learned some lessons. Most of them on the business front. Most of them good, but a few that were tough pills to swallow. I’m starting 2014 feeling a touch wiser on that front and looking forward to kicking butt and taking names. (Only not literally.) More on that on Monday though!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for another incredible year. I know I say it every year around this time, but I truly could not do what I do if it were not for you. I’m sending you all big hugs and warmest wishes for a joy-filled kick-butt-and-take-names kind of 2014. I’ll see you here on Monday. xoxo

[Photos by Cyd Converse on Instagram.]

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10 Fresh Recipes to Kickstart 2014

10 Fresh Recipes to Kickstart 2014

As promised I’ve been taking some extra time off this week, working on a few projects behind the scenes and also just trying to recuperate after a pretty wild and crazy holiday season. One of the things on my mind this week? Kickstarting 2014 with a whole lot of energy and renewed vigor! In thinking about that, I’m definitely on a mission to clean up my eating after a few too many holiday sweets and treats over the last month. (Yeah, I know. We’re probably all thinking about that this week, aren’t we?) To that end we’ve been making a shopping list and working on meal planning for the next few weeks to try and cut as much processed junk as we can from the day to day around here. These 10 fresh recipes are definitely vying for a spot on our must-make list!

Ready to lighten up a bit after attacking those holiday cookie trays with a bit too much enthusiasm? Click through for 10 nutritious and yummy recipes that will have you feeling ready to jump feet first into 2014!

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The Best of 2013: 13 Favorite Posts from 2013

With 2014 headed our way in just a few short days, I’m going to be taking a bit of time over the next week or so to slow down the pace a bit. I’ll still be posting occasionally but now through January 6th, things will be a touch quieter around here. You see, I have really important things to do. Like organizing my closets, planning for next year and watching Elf. Because somehow that didn’t happen before Christmas so I fully intend to get the job done. In the meantime, I’ve pulled together a little round up of the best of 2013 featuring 13 of your favorite posts from throughout the year! No big surprise, you guys love a good DIY project and a good cocktail as much as I do. Before we jump feet first into 2014, here’s a little look back at 2013. Thanks for another great year, friends!

DIY Beeswax Candles

DIY Beeswax Candles: I loved learning how to make beeswax candles this year. It’s surprisingly simple and fun! Since taking my first stab at it, homemade beeswax candles have become one of my favorite homemade gifts to make and give. See the original tutorial to learn how to make your own!

DIY Cloth Napkins

DIY Cloth Napkins: This year I went on a bit of kick with making my own cloth napkins. You loved the no-sew napkins I shared and the patterned cloth napkins made with fabric markers were a hit, too! I love how they add so much fun to a dinner table or party without being fussy to make. Seriously, everyone of any and all crafting level abilities can make these. Promise.

How to Make a Margarita

How to Make a Margarita: This year I shared how I like to make my margaritas. No pre-made sticky green drink mix. Two thumbs up for a good quality tequila. Oh, and margaritas aren’t just for summer. In 2014, we should enjoy them whenever we like, ok? Get the recipe here.

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DIY Sea Glass Bracelets: Stephanie from Henry Happened shared so many great DIY ideas with us this year and you guys loved them all! Among your favorites were these pretty bracelets made from sea glass. See the original tutorial here.

Wedding Brunch with Minted

Brunch with Minted: In March I traveled to New York to attend an amazing brunch hosted by the awesome folks at Minted. I shared a recap of the event featuring photos from Charlie Juliet and you guys went crazy for the amazing decor. Those paper pinwheels! That gorgeous cake! See more here.

Teddy Bear 1st Birthday Party

Emmaline’s 1st Birthday Party: The awesome Jenny Haas shared her daughter Emmaline’s first birthday party this year. You fell in love with the chic all-neutral color palette and the adorable teddy bear details. And that little Emmaline is so cute! See more here.

DIY Piper Cleaner Heart Cake Topper

DIY Pipe Cleaner Heart Toppers: Hands down one of the easiest crafts I whipped up this year, you guys loved these little heart toppers made from pipe cleaners. You can easily scale them up or down to make them perfect for cakes, cupcakes, or a short stack! Get the tutorial here.

DIY Paper Flower Pencils

DIY Paper Flower Pencils: Kelly of Studio DIY dropped by several times in 2013 with cheerful and festive DIY ideas. These paper flower pencils were one of your favorites! They’d make such fun gifts, too. See the original tutorial for the details – you’ll be surprised how simple they are to make!

Winter Citrus Cocktail

Winter Citrus Cocktail Recipe: This year Andrea, Samantha, Jade and Matthew shared a whole bunch of awesome cocktails and recipes and you guys loved their take on a winter citrus cocktail. Made with clementines and tequila, it’s just so darn tasty! Get the recipe here.

DIY Tissue Paper Pom Pom Backdrop

DIY Tissue Paper Pom Pom Backdrop: This super easy pom pom backdrop is perfect for everything from weddings to birthday parties to cocktail hour with your best gal pals. You guys loved this one! Want to know a secret? I love it, too. So much so that I still have this pom pom cluster hung up in our house! Get the tutorial here.

Alt Summit Up and Coming Blogs 2013

Alt Summit Up and Coming Blogs 2013: In January I traveled to Salt Lake City where I spoke at Alt Summit on a panel dedicated to celebrating some of the best up and coming blogs. When I got back, I shared the full list of our 40+ picks, which you guys loved checking out. You can revisit the list here if you need a fresh dose of inspiration!

DIY Painted Frame Gallery Wall Scotch Blue Tape- DIY Crafts

DIY Painted Frame Gallery Wall: This summer I tackled a project I had been slacking on for a long time – creating a little gallery wall featuring some of my letterpress print collection! It was so fun to do and you guys loved the easy DIY paint treatment on the frames as well as the prints themselves. See the original tutorial here.

DIY Indigo Dyed Linens

DIY Indigo Dyed Linens: No doubt about it, I have been loving everything indigo in 2013. Stephanie from Henry Happened rocked out these amazing DIY indigo dyed linens that I’m crazy about…I still think a pair of indigo dyed curtains would be amazing in our bedroom! Catch the tutorial here.

[See original posts and tutorials for full photo credits and tutorials.]

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10 Best Bubbly New Year’s Eve Cocktails

10 Bubbly New Year's Eve Cocktails

Happy Boxing Day, friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday. (Or just a wonderful day in general for those who don’t celebrate.) I wasn’t planning to go MIA this week, but with the ice storm over the weekend we were without power for over three days. Luckily we got it back just in time to host our families for Christmas dinner yesterday! Now that Christmas has come and gone, naturally my brain is making the shift to New Year’s Eve, undoubtedly one of my favorite days of the year. And when we’re talking about New Year’s celebrations, whether they be for a few or your entire crew, it just wouldn’t be right to go much further without talking about the bubbly.

Today I’ve rounded up 10 bubbly New Year’s Eve cocktails for you! From the simple to the sweet to the completely unique, these cocktails are the perfect way to toast the start of 2014. Most of these would also be perfect for sipping at brunch on New Year’s Day, too! So let’s get started. Pop the champagne and click through for 10 of the best bubbly New Year’s Eve drinks!

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