November 4, 2013 | by Cyd Converse
Last week my gal pal Chelsea of Lovely Indeed (and, you know, DIY contributor to The Sweetest Occasion) shot over a preview of her new ebook Make Your Day, an amazing collaboration with Chelsey of The Paper Mama. I have to say, it’s pretty brilliant. I love the styling and the photography throughout the book, but what I love most is the passion behind the whole project. In a nutshell it’s about a love for DIY. Good, simple, awesome crafts designed with a passion for all things handmade in mind. Of course, it’s loaded with amazing tutorials and DIY ideas. But most importantly (at least for a lady such as myself), it’s like fuel for my DIY flame.
In a nutshell, this handy little DIY guide is going to have you itching to add a little bit of handcrafted love to your every day world. From the coolest DIY mugs to pretty serving pieces, Chelsea and Chelsey (yeah, isn’t that cute?) have you covered. And can I just say – the holidays are coming! Needless to say, handmade gifts just got really really cool this season.
Oh, but the awesome doesn’t stop there. The ladies of Make Your Day are offering The Sweetest Occasion readers a special discount! The ebook is already handsomely priced at just $12 for loads of DIY goodness, but you can take advantage and get an extra 20% off if you use the code MYDAYISMADE20 at checkout. For more details bounce on over to Lovely Indeed! You can purchase your copy of Make Your Day here.
Congratulations, ladies, on a truly lovely collaboration!
[Photos from Make Your Day.]
November 4, 2013 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Air Wick. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so
generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep on keepin’ on!
I’m so excited today to be sharing the first in a series of six holiday DIY ideas in partnership with Air Wick! Inspired by Air Wick’s limited edition holiday fragrances, I’ll be sharing one project for each of the next six weeks, all designed to help you craft the ultimate homemade holiday this year. Today we’re talking hostess gifts! As you’re traveling and attending parties and holiday dinners over the next several weeks there’s going to be no shortage of need for a great hostess gift. Sure, the typical wine or flowers is always a great option, but I personally love putting together a great gift basket. It’s easy to do, won’t take up much of your time and the end result is the prettiest little gift that will leave your hostess feeling really special. Who doesn’t love that?
When thinking about what I personally wanted to stash in my hostess gift baskets this year, I drew inspiration from Air Wick’s Vanilla Butter Cream Cupcake candle. The fragrance just makes me think of all things cozy (and, um, really delicious treats) so that’s the direction I took when selecting goodies. I actually themed the basket around the fragrance itself with elements of vanilla and baked goods to create a heartfelt gift for a holiday hostess. I’m including a suggested list of supplies and goodies to put in the basket, but feel free to switch it up and have fun – I especially love customizing baskets with a specific hostess’s personality in mind!
- Small to medium sized baskets
- Air Wick Vanilla Butter Cream Cupcake candle
- Tea towels or a set of pretty cloth napkins
- Homemade vanilla extract (recipe below)
- Vanilla coffee beans
- Baked goods (think bread, cupcakes, scones, etc.)
- Packaging supplies (parchment paper, twine, kraft bags, tags)
I started by picking up a few cute baskets – they were just a few dollars each. Next up, I love a mix of edible treats and sweet keepsakes that a hostess can treasure after the holidays so I found pretty cotton tea towels to tuck inside the basket and paired it with one of Air Wick’s color changing candles. A loaf of homemade bread, vanilla coffee beans and a bottle of homemade vanilla extract (recipe below) rounded out the bounty! When in doubt, I always like to repackage things to make them feel a bit more special. So here I placed the coffee beans in a kraft paper bag, and tied it with kitchen twine and a little tag labeling what is inside. So easy, but it gives that homemade touch that I love for holiday gifts! I also really love that from sipping on coffee to nibbling on something sweet the whole gift basket has a cohesive theme that makes it really special. In this case, it’s all about the vanilla!
Making homemade vanilla extract is easier than you think! You just need bourbon (or rum works great, too), whole vanilla beans and mason jars to get started. Begin by cutting each vanilla bean lengthwise, then place the beans in a jar. The general rule of thumb is three vanilla beans per 1 cup of liquid. (That’s six halves once you’ve cut them lengthwise!) Cover the vanilla beans with alcohol, shake, lid tightly and then store in a dark place for a couple of weeks up to a month. To gift, I like pouring the extract into cute flip-top bottles. Your friends and family will love that you made something homemade for them – especially those that love to bake!
Ok, ok and because I couldn’t resist showing off how cool Air Wick’s color changing candles are, I’m busting out a little animated gif action for you today. When I first lit one I was kind of blown away at how vivid the colors are and I think it makes them really special. There’s not a hostess in the world who wouldn’t love to get one of these pretty little gems tucked inside a gift basket loaded with goodies!
[Design + styling by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion. | Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]
Baskets purchased at Christmas Tree Shops
Tea towels from Target
Flip top bottles can be found at Everything Kitchens
Nail polish is Sunset Kiss by JulieG
Vanilla Butter Cream Cupcake candles by Air Wick
This post is a collaboration with Air Wick. For more homemade holiday ideas, follow along on Facebook! Read more about our editorial policies.
November 1, 2013 | by Cyd Converse
Hi, guys! How was your Halloween? I apologize for the late post today, but we’ve had the craziest windstorm blowing through these parts all day and our internet access as been spotty at best. So today you get two posts rolled into one, sound good? First up, let’s talk Halloween candy. There’s a good chance you’ve got a surplus hanging around the house today so I figured we should all team up and clear it out. The best way to do that? Why, to transform it into the yummiest of baked goods, of course! Yeah, I know, I know. That’s hardly healthy. But if you have a gathering coming up this weekend you can solve two problems with one delicious batch of cookies. We’re talking Snickers profiteroles, cookies studded with candy corn and an amazing chocolate cake covered in crushed Whoppers. Yum! And be sure to scroll down for your weekly dose of link love. xoxo
[1: Snickers profiteroles | 2: Candy corn white chocolate cookies | 3: Chocolate Whoppers cake.]
October 31, 2013 | by Cyd Converse
Now that you’ve got your cocktail all picked out for tonight’s Halloween festivities, let’s talk nibbles! Specifically, the oddest looking beet pickled deviled eggs. When on a recent trip to Atlanta for business, myself and a few other bloggers were chatting about how amazing deviled eggs are. Do you realize – everybody loves deviled eggs! (Ok, ok, maybe not if you’re vegan. But still.) I personally love deviled eggs because they’re so easy to make, you can switch up the flavor in a million different ways, and they always disappear at parties in a flash. Today’s recipe mixes up the classic with the same amazing beet color and flavor of this morning’s cocktail recipe, resulting in a festive little snack everyone will love. Yum!
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 small beet, peeled and sliced
- 1 small garlic clove, sliced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 12 hard-boiled large eggs, peeled
- 1 teaspoon worchester sauce
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Paprika for finishing
- Olives (sliced so you have 24 slices)
Bring water, vinegar, beet, garlic, sugar, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan, then simmer, covered, until beet is tender, about 20 minutes. Cool completely, uncovered. Put beet mixture in a container with eggs and marinate, chilled, gently stirring once or twice, at least 1 hour. Remove eggs from beet mixture and pat dry (discard beet mixture). Cut in half lengthwise and remove yolks. Mix together in food processor or mash with a fork the yolks with mayonnaise, mustard, worschtser, and capers. Season with salt and pepper, then divide among egg whites. You can use a piping bag or a ziplock like I did. Top with olives to make “eyeball” looking eggs. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Enjoy! You can also do this a few hours ahead of time before serving.
[Recipe + styling by Gray Harper Event Maker and Samantha Huba | Photos and cocktail recipe by Jade + Matthew Take Pictures.]
October 31, 2013 | by Cyd Converse
Hi, guys, and happy Halloween! Just in time for the spookiest of all holidays, Andrea, Samantha and Jade and Matthew are back today sharing the perfect beet cocktail. Whether it’s for sipping this evening after the trick-or-treaters have ransacked your candy stash or whipping up for a Halloween party you might be hosting or attending, this cocktail is both unique and unexpected. Made with a beet-infused vodka and the loveliest ginger mandarin simple syrup, this cocktail is not only delicious, but it also takes on that rich beet color that is somehow both beautiful and a touch creepy. Stay tuned later today, because we’ve got a great deviled egg recipe to share, too!
For the beet infused vodka
- 1 bottle of vodka (Be sure to save the bottle!)
- Approximately 4-6 medium sized beets (scrubbed and trimmed)
Place beets in sauce pan and cover with water. Boil beets until tender (45 minutes to 1 hour). Remove beets from water and let them cool a bit. Peel the beets and slice em up! Place warm beets in 1.5-2 quart glass lidded container. Cover beets with Vodka. Let sit for at least 24 hours and up to a week, depending on how much beet flavor you want. Strain beet infused vodka back into original vodka bottle. Can be made up to 1 week in advance.
- For the ginger mandarin simple syrup
- 2 Tbsp grated ginger
- Zest of 1 mandarin orange
- 1 cup of water
- 3/4 cup of sugar
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan on medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture just begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain simple syrup mixture into the container of your choice! Can be made up to 1 week in advance.
For the cocktail
- 2 oz of beet infused vodka
- 1 oz of freshly squeezed mandarin juice
- 3/4 oz of ginger mandarin simple syrup (Add more or less depending on your sweetness preference!)
Place ingredients in shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 15-30 seconds. Pour drink in the glass of your choice and top with a thin slice of mandarin. For an even spookier twist try the drink with blood orange instead of mandarin!
[Styling by Gray Harper Event Maker and Samantha Huba | Photos and cocktail recipe by Jade + Matthew Take Pictures.]