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A Garden to Table Fall Dinner Party

I sincerely love when I get to show off the parties that you guys are throwing and styling and sharing with your friends and family. I also sincerely love dining al fresco, whether it be a fairly formal meal or a simple breakfast with coffee. This garden to table fall dinner party is so many of my dreams come true. Pulled together by Becky of Daly Digs and beautifully captured by Kera Photography, it features a food-centric vibe that’s completely what my life is all about. The menu was loaded with fresh fall produce like beets, acorn squash and collard greens, all served family style in simple white crocks and on classic white serving pieces. (You guys know that I love white serving pieces since it’s so easy to mix and match!) A gorgeous gauze table runner and the prettiest floral centerpiece kind of take the show, while everything else is really just simple. White dinnerware, a touch of metallic gold, a bit of greenery here and there. And food, glorious food!

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9 Seriously Scrumptious Soup Toppings

After a seriously prolonged heat wave that felt more like summer than summer did, it finally transitioned into soup and sweater weather over the last few days. This morning the air has that special crispness that only fall can bring and my big ol mug of coffee was even more welcome than usual. As recently as last Wednesday, I had the AC cranking and this morning I had to kick on the heat to warm things up a bit. Have I mentioned how wonky our weather can be here in Upstate New York? Ha! At any rate, let’s talk soup! In particular, nine seriously scrumptious ideas for topping your soup to take it from so-so to insanely delicious. This would be a really fun idea for a party, too! Serve up a few different soups and a bunch of toppings and let friends and mix and match their favorite flavor combinations. Or just take your weeknight dinner to the next level the quick and easy way with a really over the top bowl of soup. Either way, you’re winning in either scenario.

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Homemade Chai Tea Latte

In the little village nestled in a valley where I went to college, there was a coffee shop where we used to flock on crisp fall nights for big cups of steamy, creamy chai tea latte. In truth it was probably the first “real” coffee shop I ever frequented and it smelled of good coffee beans and freshly made espresso in a way that makes me nostalgic just thinking of the place. Not a fall season has gone by since where I haven’t longed to be there with a big mug in hand. Today I’m once again teaming up with the folks at Truvia, this time to bring you the most delicious homemade chai tea latte recipe you’re ever going to try. After a few years of attempting it, I think I’ve finally settled on the right mix of spices and tea and milk to make a seriously solid cup of chai. Because it’s sweetened with Truvia Natural Sweetener it also has delightfully less sugar and fewer calories than the chai you pick up at the drive-thru and is far more delicious.

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Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Energy Bites

You wouldn’t know it based on the sunshine and 80 degree days we’ve been experiencing, but in my mind it’s officially sweater weather season! Fall in Upstate New York is a serious thing of beauty. On the weekends it means apple picking and trips to our local cider mill where their apple cider donuts are famed for all the right reasons. During the week it means crisp cool mornings and extra large cups of coffee while I’m checking my morning email. Also, it means adding pumpkin to anything reasonable like donuts, cocktails and cheesecake parfaits. Or in today’s case, oatmeal energy bites! These are one of my favorite quick and easy little breakfasts these days. A couple of these, a piece of fruit and coffee makes the perfect start to the day. They’re also a great dessert, a great mid-day snack and loaded with protein and good-for-you ingredients. I make them year round without the pumpkin, but this pumpkin spice version is perfect for fall. Give them a try, I think you’ll love these!

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My 10 Favorite Everyday Beauty Products

A couple of winters ago I shared my extensive collection of favorite winter skincare products, which is kind of what inspired this post. Over the last couple of years I’ve settled into some favorite everyday beauty products, the kind I purchase over and over again or even stock up on during sales. In the past I always flirted from mascara to mascara and product to product, but recently I’ve been pretty loyal. I personally love seeing what makeup products other people are loving. Watching YouTube videos scoping out what people are digging? I’m totally into all of that. That said, I admittedly keep it pretty basic. I’m not big into creating “looks” mostly because I think I lack any makeup application skills that involve eyeliner and/or eyeshadow and/or contouring. I have a few little tricks I can bust out for dressier occasions, but for the most part I honestly like having my makeup done professionally when I’m going to more formal occasions or even weddings. A lot of days it’s me, in yoga pants, no makeup, trying to keep a baby from base jumping off the dining room table while I’m working so having a small arsenal of simple but mighty products is where it’s at for me these days. Even better, most of these are super affordable drugstore products! My skincare regime tends to be a bit more high end, but for makeup I’ve found a great combination of items that just get the job done for me. Click through for all the details!

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Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Hi, friends! I hope everyone here in the States had a great Labor Day weekend. We spent our second weekend in a row camping with family and friends and now we’re slowly working on getting back into the groove over here. The kids are all back to school this week and on Thursday we have our first photo shoot to start shooting some great fall content and get back to the usual posting schedule. I’ve been taking a lot more time off over the last few weeks and it was a really great way to reenergize and slow down. Today I’m sharing one final summer recipe, a roasted sweet potato salad that you’ll want to make all year long. It’s really simple with just a handful of ingredients and the flavors are just so great. To take it to the next level, use leftover grilled corn instead of boiling it and your family will be begging for seconds.

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Raspberry Party Punch Sherbet Floats

Do you guys know that sherbet party punch that shows up a lot at baby and bridal showers? It’s usually served up in a big punch bowl and is made with things like fruit punch and 7UP® with scoops of sherbet floating on top. The idea is that it’s delicious, non-alcoholic and you get little bits of sherbet with each sip. It’s frothy, super summery and really refreshingly fun! Have you ever had it before? It is seriously some kind of delicious and I love that it’s such a simple concept, but sure enough you’ll always look over mid-party to find an empty punch bowl. Kids love it because it’s sweet and tasty. Adults love it because it somehow makes you feel like a kid again. That’s entirely what inspired these party punch sherbet floats! When I’m having friends over, whether it be for a dinner party or evening spent on the back patio, I love serving up something fun and slightly unexpected. Then you can keep everything else simple and they’ll still experience a taste of that wow factor that makes them feel a little special, and that’s my favorite thing in the entire world. Today I’m teaming up with 7UP to share how I made these easy but totally wow-worthy floats! (Be sure to scroll down for the step-by-step recipe video, too!)

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Our Backyard Makeover + New Patio Reveal (Before and After)

When we first bought our house last year, it was practically begging for an amazing backyard patio. We considered putting one in right away, but figured we’d first live in the house for a while to see how we really used the backyard. And, let’s be honest, there was the whole budget issue too since we’d just bought a house and had already tackled big renovations in the living room and dining room most notably.  As it turns out, we lived in our backyard all last summer. Long, lazy dinners that lasted well into the evening, copious bocce ball matches, the grilling of numerous homemade pizzas and the construction of one very fun homemade slip ‘n slide defined our summer days. By the end of summer, the patch of grass closest to the house was brown and beaten into oblivion from being constantly trampled over and we knew constructing a patio would be a top priority come spring of this year. Then spring came and it didn’t stop raining. For months and months and months. (Which, no, is not our normal weather pattern.) That derailed our “must have a patio by Memorial Day weekend” timeline, but sure enough come early July we were finally ready to begin construction. After one seriously intense month of work (which so many of you followed along with on Instagram Stories), our backyard makeover is now just about complete as of a few weeks ago and we’ve been loving using living in this space. It feels like a huge addition to the back of our house and we just can’t get enough of oohing and aahing over the transformation. So today, I have all the before and after photos for you! Plus a few photos of the construction process, too, just for kicks. Scroll through for all the details and chime in below with any questions.

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Make Mine a Blueberry Mojito

You guys know by now that I simply can’t refuse a well-made summer cocktail. Trying out new recipes and making friends act as my personal test subjects while sipping cocktails on our back patio is one of my personal favorite things! Today I’ve teamed up with Master of Mixes to share this perfectly summery and seasonal blueberry mojito recipe with you. Because of their sincere commitment to quality, Master of Mixes allows you to enjoy naturally flavored, scratch-quality cocktails at home, even if you’re not like me and concocting your own simple syrups from scratch sounds like zero fun. And let’s be honest! Even if that is fun, sometimes you just want something quicker and easier that’s still crazy delicious, and that’s where this mojito comes into play!

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My Thoughts on Blogging in 2017

Nine years ago, I sat down one late summer day in 2008 and signed up for a Blogger account. I’d been “blogging” since before it was referred to as such on Live Journal long before then, but this was different. I’m not sure I knew quite how different it would turn out to be, but on that day I sat and wrote the very first blog post on a little blog I decided to name The Sweetest Occasion, a play on my mother’s maiden name, Sweet. (You can read more about that here.) Fast forward nine years later and I’ve been blogging full-time since May of 2011, less than three years after I’d started my blogging journey. When I started blogging, Twitter wasn’t even a thing. Facebook didn’t have fan pages. Instagram wasn’t even a twinkling in anyone’s eye because phone cameras were still years away from producing decent photos. The concept of Snapchat would have made us all laugh until our sides hurt. Blogging was a way of bringing people together, connecting with readers, forging friendships with people across the country or across the globe. And it was exciting. Today some of my very best friends in the entire world are friends I made through blogging back in those early days. Reading each other’s posts, leaving comments, maybe even exchanging emails and genuinely investing in these relationships was what made blogging special. No one thought we’d be doing this for a career, no one was worried about how many Pinterest shares any particular post would receive (because, you guessed it, Pinterest didn’t exist either), and it was all done for the love of the thing, not for the promise of any reward other than something deep, personal and intangible.

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The Very Real Reason I Don’t Share Photos of Myself Online

A few times of year I sit down and write a post that makes me uncomfortable. In the past I’ve talked about surviving divorce and about how I never wanted to be a mom. Sharing in that way is always liberating, but also really frightening, which I guess is a good segue for admitting that writing this post scares me. Today I am writing a post called, “The Very Real Reason I Don’t Share Photos of Myself Online” and I’m opening that post with a photo of myself. In a word, I am terrified. Over the last nearly ten years I’ve built a brand and a business online, and I’ve done so in a way that puts nearly all of the focus on the work I’m doing and the things I’m creating, and very intentionally not on myself. As much as I cherish my relationships with my readers, I’ve also been completely freaked out by the idea of making myself and my face the center of attention in any way shape or form. And the reason is simple. I don’t look like a lot of bloggers do. I am not perfectly thin, and petite and cute, and no clothing brands are going to want to send me their fall collection to feature on my Instagram feed.

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Hosting the Ultimate Backyard Party with Sutter Home

A few times over the summer I’ve eluded to the fact that I had some big projects in the works and today I am so excited to share one of those with you! A while back the folks at Sutter Home reached out to me and asked if I wanted to team up with them to throw the ultimate backyard party. Because I can never turn down a reason to throw a good party, I had to yes, naturally. Then they asked if they could bring in live music, have a bunch of our friends and neighbors show up and film the whole thing. And again, my answer was an enthusiastic yes! Today is the day it’s all going down so you can follow along with me on Instagram Stories all day long to see how it’s all coming together and witness the fun for yourself. In a few weeks we’ll be sharing all the details right here, but in the meantime I wanted to share a bit of my planning process including some really gorgeous printables and a fun DIY project I incorporated into the mix!

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