November 17, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
Sometimes it makes good sense to start the day with something super pretty. When it’s the week before Thanksgiving and that something happens to be in the form of a gorgeous Thanksgiving table and the yummiest looking dessert buffet you ever did see, well, then it’s even more appropriate. Today we’re talking about this beautiful Thanksgiving table styled by the ladies of Cacao Sweets & Treats. This elegant Thanksgiving spread was inspired by their amazing desserts, featuring a long organza table runner studded with sweets and treats. I love the idea of allowing the food at your Thanksgiving feast to take center stage! Considering it’s such an integral part of the celebration, I think it’s an amazing way to set the stage for breaking bread with family and friends. Add in loads of pretty greenery and gilded pears as place card holders, and you have a look that is just so lovely.
For those of you in the Chicago area, Cacao Sweets & Treats is an organic bakery in the northern suburbs and their desserts are over the top. We’re talking pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin and bourbon pecan pies, salted caramel cake with salted caramel sauce and chocolate chip pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. Insane. My mouth is seriously watering. (For the record, if baby and I are stuck in the hospital over Thanksgiving I’ve requested an ample supply of pumpkin pie be delivered. Priorities, friends, priorities.)
Baked goods + styling by Candice Hunsinger of Cacao Sweets & Treats | Photography by Melissa Becker | Floral design by Tania Cubberly
[Photos by Melissa Becker.]
November 16, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
With Thanksgiving coming up next week, we’re definitely entering the height of holiday shopping season! Is anyone else working on making your list and checking it twice? As of a few days ago I’ve gotten a lot more serious about starting to organize our Christmas shopping endeavors, because I have a feeling things are going to sneak up on me this year, especially with a baby joining us any day now. Enter these adorable Christmas wish list printables! They’re the perfect way to let Santa know all about whatever your little heart desires this year. Or, you know, have the kids let Santa know. Whichever!
Aren’t these the cutest wish lists ever? Designed by our old friend Jenny Batt of Hank + Hunt and inspired by my love for one of my favorite items from my super talented friend Erika Firm‘s stationery line of yore (you can see her most recent work here), you can download them in black and red or with a pop of green. If you use them, share with me on Instagram! We’ll be using the hashtag #thesweetestholidays all season long to help spread the cheer and I’d love to see what you’re crafting, baking, gifting and wrapping! xoxo
[Design by Hank + Hunt | Styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
The fine print: As with all of our printables, these designs are provided for personal non-commercial use only and may not be distributed, copied or sold in any fashion. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share them, please link to this post directly and do NOT host the file yourself. Thanks so much! xoxo
November 13, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
TGIF, friends! I am so so ready for this week to wind down. We’re just a couple of weeks out from the baby’s due date at this point so I’ve been working like crazy to get ready in time. I also came down with a pretty vicious head cold this week so it’s definitely slowing me down. This weekend I am looking forward to spending some time around the house getting the baby’s room settled and organized, working on a few other little projects and generally just starting to wind down a bit more. In the meantime, I’m sharing some awesome Etsy finds for babies (I am loving Etsy for really gorgeous baby goods right now) and my full 38 week pregnancy update! Crazy, right? Here’s wishing you a beautiful weekend – see you here on Monday! xoxo
[Custom name swaddle blanket | Wall hanging + crib sheet | Organic wooden teething rings | Linen baby bonnet | Modern crib sheets.]
When I woke up this morning the first thing I thought was, “Holy crap! 38 weeks!” Or something thereabouts. Honestly, I can’t believe we are getting so close! I am feeling more emotions than I can even express right now, many of them still centered on disbelief. Also, there’s part of me that wishes we had a few extra weeks. I’ve had such a good pregnancy and I’ve tried really hard not to wish it away, so I really can’t believe we’re at this point already. This baby could come at anytime. Craziness! So let me get you to speed, shall we?
My fingers have been crossed that I would continue to breeze through my pregnancy without any major side effects and it appears my wish has been granted! Last week I experienced some swelling and water retention in my hands and feet for the first time, but even that has now largely subsided. I’m still slightly puffy, but we’re not talking anything like the swelling I know a lot of ladies deal with from early on in their pregnancies. My energy level hasn’t taken a further hit, so even though I definitely get tired, and get achy and sore on days I push it, overall I’m still keeping it together over here. My left hip gets sore, oftentimes incredibly so, when I’m in any one position too long (standing, sitting or lying down) but I’ve been putting up with that since about 18 or 19 weeks at this point so I’ve learned to deal. Otherwise, I’m still symptom-free! And feeling really really grateful for that, I assure you.
I’ve expressed a lot of disbelief several times in these updates and I’ll be honest and admit that much of my pregnancy, or really all of it, has felt super surreal. I’ve been going through all the steps, checking all the boxes, going to all of the doctor’s appointments (so so many of those) and I’ve been doing it all while still not fully understanding on an emotional level that a tiny human is about to spring forth from my uterus. I think for me that’s probably my survival mechanism. I’m actually a deeply emotional personal and I really wear my heart on my sleeve so I think pregnancy might have been trickier for me emotionally if I were feeling everything fully the whole while. (Guys, I cry over Christmas commercials and regularly bawl watching The Walking Dead. I’m that girl.) As we’re getting closer, I’m starting to occasionally have little bouts of emotion where it will dawn on me like, “Holy hell. This is happening! We’re having a BABY!” And then my mind will be blown momentarily. I anticipate being a basket case as we get even closer, but I’m going to try and keep it together.
As of last week we have a scheduled date for our c-section! We pushed it almost to her due date so there’s a chance she will have other plans and decide to come earlier. If that’s the case we’ll deal with it as it comes, but for now we have a date and time on the calendar and that’s what we’re planning for currently. I probably won’t share the date until we’re closer (or perhaps until after she’s here with us), but right now I will say that we’re under two weeks out and anticipate having a little baby joining us by Thanksgiving! We will certainly have more than ever to be grateful for this year, that is for sure.
Signs of Labor
As of right now today, I have had zero indication that I will go into labor anytime soon. They haven’t yet started internal exams, but will likely do so at my next appointment on Tuesday morning. From there we’ll see what’s going on with my cervix and all that happy jazz, but my gut is telling me that everything will still be stable in that department. The baby has for sure been dropping and the pressure has gotten lower, but otherwise none of those disgustingly funky things that tend to happen as you’re approaching birth have started to happen so I’m pretty confident she’s content to hang out in there for a bit longer. That said, I’ve now made it further along in my pregnancy than my mom did with any of her four so I know that anything can happen at this point!
The Post-Baby Blogging Plan
After the baby comes I will be taking a couple of weeks off. The first full weeks I’ll have taken off, well, basically ever. I’d love to say I’ll be taking more time off, but that’s not super feasible. That said, I have a lot of posts that are already set to go throughout December, as well as a handful of amazing blogger friends popping in with guest posts. Hopefully that’s going to allow me to work far fewer hours throughout the holiday season and then at some point in January I’ll transition back to working more hours. I have tried to work ahead for the last few months so that I can really take some quality time with the little lady and then allow myself to ease back in to my usual workload when the time feels right. I’ll keep you posted on all of that though! In the meantime I’ll be sticking around for another week or so. Stay tuned for another update next week! xoxo
November 11, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Skinnygirl® Cocktails. Thank you for
supporting the sponsors that help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!
I remember watching on for the first time, completely perplexed, as my stepfather carefully stewed together a bunch of spices and red wine to later be sipped steaming out of little mugs. In the years since, this tradition has played out every holiday season thereafter, ultimately evolving into one of those traditions I look forward to with unabashed excitement as soon as the holiday season arrives. Today I am so excited to be sharing a bit of that family tradition with you along with my pals at Skinnygirl® Cocktails and this classic, German-inspired mulled wine recipe!
Makes approximately 12 servings
- 2 bottles of Skinnygirl® California Red
- 1/2 cup organic honey
- 2 cinnamon sticks (plus 8 for garnish)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 2 vanilla beans
- 4 small oranges (plus 2 sliced for garnish)
- 20 whole cloves
- 6 whole star anise
Add wine to a large saucepan and simmer over low heat. Gently mix in honey plus the juice of 2 oranges. Slice the remaining 2 oranges and add them to the pot. Split vanilla beans lengthwise, scrap and add to the wine. Add cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves and star anise and turn up heat to medium, until wine is hot. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and keep warm until ready to serve. Before serving, use a slotted spoon to remove all of the spices from the wine, then ladle into mugs. Serve garnished with a cinnamon stick and a slice of orange.
Other than his brothers and sisters, essentially the entirety of my stepfather’s family lives in Germany, where I’ve been lucky to have visit several times on family trips. Having a big pot full of mulled wine at every family holiday gathering (or glühwein as it’s known in Germany) has become as big a part of our holiday celebrations as pumpkin pie and Christmas trees. In a nutshell, it’s a pot of red wine, heated and infused with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, citrus fruit, honey or sugar, and vanilla. Skinnygirl® California Red is a smooth, medium-bodied red and it’s my pick for the perfect base for this mulled wine recipe.
There’s no denying that mulled wine has a distinct, spiced flavor, brought out all the more by sipping it hot. If you prefer something a bit sweeter, you can add a few cups of apple cider to the mix and add more honey or sugar if you’d like. It adds a touch of sweetness and imparts a fruitier flavor that’s delicious in it’s own right. Personally, I like to keep it classic and really rich with spices, but don’t be afraid to mix it up and make it your own. If you can’t get your hands on the California Red, swap it for Skinnygirl® Pinot Noir. It would also make a sensational mulled wine!
Even just thinking about making mulled wine has me so excited for Thanksgiving and all of the upcoming holiday festivities! (Shooting this post got me so excited for the holidays!) To make sure you have loads of seasonal inspiration and recipes up your sleeve, get yourself signed up for the Skinnygirl® Cocktails Tastemakers program! You’ll gain access to special perks, discounts and rewards, including monthly opportunities to win some incredible prizes! In the meantime, follow Skinnygirl® Cocktails on Instagram. Prost!
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
Skinnygirl® Cocktails is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. (“Beam”) and is used with permission. The information, comments and ideas expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Beam, its affiliated companies or any of their directors or employees. Beam does not sponsor, authorize, or otherwise endorse this website. Read more about our editorial policies. Drink responsibly.
Skinnygirl® California Red Wine ©2015 Skinnygirl Cocktails, Deerfield, IL (Per 5 oz – Average Analysis: Calories 100, Carbohydrates 6g, Protein 0g, Fat 0g)
November 10, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
As I’m preparing to welcome our little one in a couple weeks, I’ve asked some of my best blogging
buds to drop by here and there. Today please welcome Beth from Daily Dog Tag!
This project is one going out to all of you dog lovers! (Or really, any animal lover.) We’re talking really super sweet DIY dog treat jars that are personalized with your furkid’s name and can easily be whipped up in 15 minutes or less. With the holidays coming up, these would make fun little gifts for your pets or a really thoughtful handmade gift for the pet lover in your life. You know your friend who is on the edge of becoming a crazy cat lady? (In a good way, of course.) Yeah. She’d absolutely love these!
- Small lidded glass jars
- Painter’s tape or washi tape
- Alphabet stickers (such as Thickers)
- Dog treats
Begin by making sure your jars are thoroughly clean and dry. Then determine where you’d like the name to appear on each jar. Once you’ve done so, use a piece of painter’s tape, washi tape or similar to create a guide to help keep the letters nice and straight.
Next up, it’s a simple process of applying the letters one by one to spell out your pet’s name. Keep in mind you could also use these jars to store other things such as sewing or craft supplies or spare change so you can have fun with how you label them! If you have a longer name or word you might find it useful to start with a middle letter and work outward so you can position it just how you’d like it to appear on the jar.
And that’s it! Just fill your jars up with treats and you’re all set. Aren’t these fun? And I love that they’re so quick and easy to make! Keep in mind you won’t want to submerge these in water or use the dishwasher for cleaning, so just spot clean as necessary with a damp cloth. Happy snacking!
For more DIY ideas, tips and tricks (all inspired by man’s best friend, of course) visit Beth at Daily Dog Tag! You can also find her on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Thanks so much for sharing, Beth! xoxo
[Project by Daily Dog Tag | Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]
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