April 24, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Happy Monday, friends! I’m working on getting back in the saddle following a little spring break adventure over the second half of last week. There’s a really funny story there about a toddler who refused to sleep and cried for seven hours in a car only to then hate living in a hotel, but we’re going to save that one until I’ve recovered a bit more. Ha! In the meantime, let’s talk about these breakfast pastries. Because it’s Monday and by Monday I’m already thinking about weekend brunch. And because in a couple weeks it’s Mother’s Day and moms love breakfast in bed, and brunch with pastries and champagne, and all those things whereby these pastries would be appropriate. Also, these are pretty darn simple to make, because nobody has time for complicated, am I right?
I personally think these pastries are best served fresh. They can be prepped and ready to eat in no more than 30 – 40 minutes, but a solid half of that is cooking time. We’re working with frozen puff pastry here, so you’ll need to plan enough in advance to be sure your puff pastry has had a chance to thaw. Otherwise, the process here is entirely simple. Cut circles, prick them with a fork, spread sweetened lemony cream cheese on top, add berries and bake. Give or take.
Berry + Cream Cheese Pastries
Makes 10 pastries
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 cups fresh berries
- 1 egg
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 3 – 4 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add white sugar, lemon juice and zest and whip until well blended and smooth. On a lightly floured surface, unfold a sheet of puff pastry and cut into circles using a round cookie cutter. A glass or jar would also work. Use a smaller cookie cutter or glass to create an indent around the edge, then prick the center several times with a fork. Spread a dollop of cream cheese mixture in the center of each puff pastry round. Top with berries to your heart’s content. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry. (I was able to get 5 pastries per sheet of puff pastry based on the size of my cookie cutter.) Beat the egg with a bit of water, then brush the edges of each pastry with egg wash. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until golden.
Once baked, remove from the oven and then transfer pastries to a wire cooling rack. While they cool a bit, sift powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Add milk slowly, whisking until smooth. Drizzle over each pastry then serve!
[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
April 18, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
To call this space a playroom per se is a little bit of a stretch, but when we embarked on our living room renovation, I knew I wanted to carve out a space at the end of the room just for Em. Since it’s right in the living room I was pretty passionate about wanting it to look as chic and well designed as possible, but at the same time I’m totally ok with our house showing evidence of children living here since this is their house, too. A few weeks ago Alice was over to photograph things since I’m now considering the playroom done. I’m entirely sure it will constantly evolve as Emerson grows, but for now I’m sticking a fork in this one. And I love how it all came together! It’s pretty enough to not drive me crazy looking at it every day, but it’s completely kid-friendly, too.
When creating this space for Em, I wanted to keep the color palette and design details in line with the rest of the living room’s decor, adding in lots of storage and fun elements for her. The neutral gray and white foam floor tiles from Skip Hop set the tone for the entire space. I didn’t shy away from hanging real art and I’m glad I made that decision since I think it kind of makes the space. As she gets older I envision moving in a little table and chairs for art projects and when she’s even older I could easily see this space evolving into an area with a larger craft table and maybe a desk for doing homework or school projects. For now it’s where she plays peek-a-boo with her puppy, practices “reading” books and plays mommy by covering up all of her stuffed animals with her stash of blankets. Once or twice a day I go through and obsessively reorganize all the toys and straighten everything up, just for her to pull everything down one by one and start all over again. All of the sources for everything in the post, including her toys and outfit, are listed below!
Paint color: Valspar Owlet VR107E | Foam floor tiles c/o Skip Hop | Curtains from West Elm | Art prints c/o Minted | Kallax shelf unit from IKEA | Wicker baskets from IKEA | Hot pink polka dot chair from Pottery Barn Kids | Rainbow stacker from Land of Nod | Teepee from Amazon | Cotton rope storage baskets from Amazon | Fruit abacus from Target | Wood alphabet block set from Hallmark | Handmade mermaid + cat stuffed dolls from Cuddle + Kind | Baby jeggings from Old Navy | Baby chambray shirt from Baby Gap (similar)
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]
April 12, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Over the last few years I’ve seen several people share their favorite items from Trader Joe’s, and while I love Trader Joe’s as much as the next gal, the one nearest to us is an hour away. When we’re in the area we usually have a long shopping list of stuff we want to stock up on (we love their coffee and I’m crazy about the dried baby sweet pineapple), but we only make it there every month or two. Instead, I do our daily shopping at Aldi. I just started shopping there regularly less than a year ago and since then, I’ve become a huge fan. I think Aldi has a bit of a weird, mixed bag reputation (even though it’s owned by the brother of the guy who founded Trader Joe’s), which is why I kind of always avoided the place. The truth is, they have some incredible stuff at really unbelievable prices. I’ve basically cut our grocery bill in half since we started shopping there for the bulk of our basic daily groceries. Some speciality ingredients require a separate stop, but for the cost savings it’s well worth the effort. Today I wanted to share my Aldi shopping guide, loaded with our personal favorites. I’ve also included prices for each item. (This may vary by location, but hopefully gives you a good benchmark.) Any other Aldi fans out there?
Above: Black bean chipotle burgers ($2.49 for 4) | Ciabatta bread ($2.49) | Honey goat cheese ($1.99) | Organic baby arugula ($2.49) | Fresh salsa ($2.49) | Parmesan cheese bites ($1.69) | Olive tapenade hummus ($1.99)
Above: Cherry tomatoes on the vine ($2.49) | Gruyere cheese ($4.49) | Sriracha hot sauce ($1.99) | Crab cakes ($4.99) | Ciabatta bread ($2.49) | Organic baby arugula ($2.49)
Above: Artichoke hearts ($1.29) | Unsweetened almond milk ($1.99) | Organic tomato basil sauce ($1.99) | Organic black beans ($0.89) | Sriracha hot sauce ($1.99) | Organic veggie broth ($1.99) | Organic coconut oil ($4.49) | Organic natural peanut butter ($3.99) | Organic raw apple cider vinegar ($3.99)
Above: Organic cage-free brown eggs ($3.29) | Naan flatbread ($3.49) | Fresh mozzarella log ($2.69) | Honey goat cheese ($1.99) | Black beans ($0.89) | Organic coconut oil ($4.49)
Above: Dried apricots ($1.99) | Classic hummus ($1.99) | Organic almond butter ($4.99) | Whole cashews ($4.89) | Pistachios ($3.99) | Gluten free crackers ($1.49)
Above: Fresh tortellini ($1.99) | Organic tomato basil sauce ($1.99) | Artichoke hearts ($1.29) | Fresh shredded parmesan ($3.79) | Dark chocolate pretzel clusters ($3.99) | Asiago cheese ($3.79)
A few general tips when shopping at Aldi! Be sure to bring your own bags, since they don’t provide any bags. (Locally they charge $0.06 for paper and $0.10 for plastic bags respectively.) Also, you’ll need a quarter for your cart, which you get back when you return it. (So they don’t have to hire people just to wrangle up shopping carts.) Both of these are tactics that help keep their costs lower and keep the prices low in turn. Also, keep in mind, that Aldi is not a service-based retail operation. Much like their European roots, the idea here is that you fend for yourself a little bit (such as bagging your own groceries) and they can keep the staffing to a minimum and therefore offer crazy good prices. It’s a business model that works and I’m a huge advocate. I should mention in general that Aldi is known for great produce at excellent prices, including a nice little selection of organic fruits and veggies. They are the only place locally where I can find organic avocados, and I buy them weekly for Emerson since she’s an avocado freak. Shopping at Aldi has very literally changed the way I shop for and feed our family.
p.s. This post is NOT sponsored and I have no relationship with Aldi in any way. I just really really love that place.
[Art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
April 10, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Happy Monday, friends! I hope everyone had a beautiful weekend. After a long, gray week of nonstop rain, we finally had an abundance of sunshine this weekend and it felt incredible. And now it’s the run up to Easter! Naturally no Easter festivities are properly complete without a killer deviled eggs recipe, so today I’m serving up just that. To be honest, my mom tends to be the deviled egg maker in our family, but we love to make them at home from time to time, too. I like dressing them up with good, fresh veggies and herbs (in this case red bell pepper and chives) and adding a nice heaping tablespoon of a really good mustard to really amp up the flavor. I promise you, these are a crowd pleaser! If you have a larger crew you might want to double the recipe.
Red Pepper + Chive Deviled Eggs
Makes 12 deviled eggs
- 6 large eggs, boiled
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, diced
Begin by slicing each boiled egg in half lengthwise. Set the whites aside, then remove the yolks and place them in a mixing bowl. Use a whisk or a fork to break up the yolks until they are crumbly in texture. Add all the additional ingredients and mix well to combine. Transfer the yolk mixture into a pastry bag or a plastic storage bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe the yolk mixture into each egg. Garnish with additional diced red bell pepper and chives. Serve right away or make them the night before. Enjoy!
[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
April 7, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Is anyone else really really glad it’s Friday? I hate to be that person living for the weekend all the time, but this week has been so dark and rainy and gray and drizzly that it has been all I can do to stay awake the last few days, let alone feel motivated on any real level. We are finally expecting a bit of sunshine over the weekend and I need it so much more than I can even tell you. I’m also glad to have a pretty quiet weekend ahead of us for the first time in a while, which always feels nice. There’s really nothing I love best than a weekend with no plans and very few obligations. In the meantime, here are a few of the things I stumbled upon and loved this week. Apparently I was feeling blue this week in more way than one? Hahaha! Happy weekend, friends! xoxo
1 | Britt’s upcycled grocery totes
I love these t-shirts upcycled into cool, patterned grocery totes. What a genius idea! (But then again, most of Brittni’s are!)
2 | DIY indigo dyed linens
I was combing through the archives this week and stumbled upon these DIY indigo dyed linens that we posted a few years ago. This is still one of my favorite projects to date!
3 | DIY floating bench
I love a great entryway or foyer, and this DIY floating bench would be perfect for either or even a mudroom. A little place for sitting down to put on your rain boots!
4 | How to make soy candles
Making candles is so much fun, although it’s been a long time since I’ve made any. This post and these pretty glass vessels makes me want to make some again soon!
5 | Melissa’s homemade cinnamon rolls
Cold, drizzly spring mornings definitely call for homemade cinnamon rolls. With any luck our weekend is not drizzly, but I’m planning to make these anyway!
6 | Leah’s DIY blueberry dyed Easter eggs
I’m always fascinated by natural dyes and these blueberry dyed Easter eggs are so insanely pretty!