June 22, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
As a rule I like to keep a well stocked bar at our house at all times for a few different reasons. The primary of those reasons, far and away, is because I really love being able to mix a guest’s drink of choice on a whim. Generally speaking if you keep a good array of spirits and mixers around, you’ll be able to do that or at least come up with a close second. In addition to keeping the bar stocked, over the last couple of years I’ve taken to wanting to perfect my hand at some of the classic cocktail recipes that were probably a bit too sophisticated for my youth. Think martinis, Manhattns, Old Fashioneds, Negronis and the like. So today, I’m sharing my version of a pretty perfect vodka martini. I like mine shaken so it’s super cold with a twist. As it turns out, I also love a good gin martini, dirty with lots of olives. Total opposites. Both amazing in different ways. If you’re new to true martinis (as in, not the kind loaded with chocolate and syrups and sweet liqueurs) beware that they are surely meant for sipping lest you want to fall down after just one drink. Not a good look anyone, friends. Do with this information what you will, but herewith I present you with one very ladylike vodka martini with a twist. Cheers!
Classic Vodka Martini with a Twist
- 4 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce dry vermouth
- Lemon for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker to the top with ice. Add vodka and vermouth, then shake until the shaker is super cold to the touch. Optionally, add a small squeeze of lemon to the shaker before shaking. Pour chilled vodka mixture into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist or slice. For a super chilly drink, you can opt to chill your martini glasses for 15 – 20 minutes prior to mixing your drink.
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
June 21, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
Following that one particularly sparkly and festive holiday in December, the 4th of July is very easily my favorite holiday. I’m pretty sure it’s because I love summer, but I’m also pretty sure it’s because I am kind of a fireworks fanatic. Plus all that red, white and blue patriotic spirit gets me right in the feels, friends. Little kids with faces painted with sparkly red and blue stars? I am all about that life. I kind of wish I were one of those kids. (Is 33 too old for face paint?) So today, to kick off the run up to the 4th of July, we’re talking about 12 of the most patriotic 4th of July recipes going. I’ve got all of the red, white and blue foods rounded up right here. Pin ’em for later and enjoy!
1. Red, white and blue confetti cupcakes [above]
2. No-bake berry cheesecakes
3. Red velvet fruit pizza
4. Snow cone cupcakes
5. Fireworks cookies
6. Red, white and blue berry pops
7. Red, white and blue flag brownies
8. Patriotic parfait in a jar
9. Italian zabaglione recipe
10. Patriotic pancake stacks
11. Watermelon skewers
12. Angel food cake with berries and coconut cream
June 20, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I am so excited today to share photos of our living room renovation with you! If you’ve been following along on Snapchat, you know we have countless hours into renovating this room. As a quick recap, when we began we thought there was just a single layer of wallpaper on the walls. As it turns out, there were three. Three very stubborn layers over plaster walls hiding some pretty big cracks. In total we spent the better part of three weeks in this room scraping wallpaper, having the walls repaired, priming and painting, painting, painting. Then I spent another few days on my hands and knees scrubbing and scraping grime off the hardwood floors that was leftover from the years of being covered in foul blue carpet. But today, finally, I have some real before and after photos to share with you! Click through for more plus details on paint colors, too.
June 15, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I’ve never been to Portland (of the Oregon persuasion) before so I’m pretty excited to be packing up my bags in October to head off to The Hello Sessions! Following their inaugural conference last fall (which I was sad to miss due to being approximately 42 months pregnant), founders Melissa and Joy reached out to ask me if I’d lead a workshop at this year’s event. In a word, my answer was yes! I would really really love if you would join me there! What do you say? Tickets go on sale today for The Hello Sessions newsletter subscribers and they’ll be available soon to everyone. If you’re a blogger or an aspiring one and you want to learn in a really welcoming environment among a close-knit group of like-minded creatives, this is your place, friends. There’s a great line-up of workshops featuring the crazy talented Sarah of Sarah Hearts and Nicole of Bot Communications who will be sharing their expertise in creating video to take your content to the next level and how to effectively and authentically assert your brand presence via social media. I’ll be there talking with my hands excitedly about the business side of blogging with a strong emphasis on forging and fostering exciting brand partnerships…the kind that also put a check in your hand.
June 14, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!
A few weeks ago when we made this super fun and colorful DIY picnic blanket, I hinted at my current favorite summer cocktail, which is where these super fruity and refreshing cocktails in a jar come into play, friends. Made with loads of fresh fruit, mint and lemonade they’re perfect for summer picnics, backyard parties or sipping on the front porch. The best part is, the jar aspect allows you to make a big batch in advance (they’ll easily keep for at least a week in the fridge) so you can grab one and a straw when you’re ready for a cocktail or quickly serve them up when friends pop over as they’re prone to do in the summer months. Thanks to my friends at Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza, I’m sharing the recipe for this perfect summer concoction (and announcing an awesome summer entertaining giveaway) so you can get the party started! (Keep scrolling for the giveaway details!)
Summer Cocktails in a Jar
Makes 1 jar
- 1 oz vodka
- 1 oz fruit liqueur
- 3 large strawberries, sliced
- 1 slice of a large orange
- 4 – 6 mint leaves
- 4 – 6 oz lemonade
Place mint leaves, strawberries and orange in a pint sized mason jar and muddle gently. Add vodka and fruit liqueur, then stir to combine. Top off with lemonade, stir again and refrigerate for at least 1 – 2 hours or for up to 1 week. (I recommend refrigerating at least overnight to best allow the fruit to steep and develop really great flavor.) Cocktails may be served directly from the jar, with or without the addition of ice at the time of serving. If you prefer a fruitier drink, skip the vodka and use 2 – 3 oz of fruit liqueur instead. Any combination will work great but suggestions include peach schnapps, limoncello, orange liqueur or pomegranate liqueur.
Have fun playing with different flavor combinations and mixing and matching as you go with these! The key to making them work is lots of fresh fruit, mint and lemonade, but you could also do a combination of iced tea with the lemonade, too. The addition of a little elderflower liqueur or a splash of bitters would also be pretty terrific! Then just grab a jar or two from the fridge and serve them up alongside your favorite variety of Ristorante. The fruity flavors here are particularly well suited to enjoy alongside the Pizza Vegetale flavor (my recent favorite), but the Pizza Spinaci and Pizza Mozzarella are also longtime favorites around here and pretty much always stocked in our freezer. (Check out the store locator to find where Ristorante is sold or put in a request with the manager at your favorite store.) The gourmet flavor combined with the thin, crispy crust is about my favorite thing ever, giving you a perfect pizza in just 12 – 14 minutes, and making summer entertaining an absolute breeze.
The Ristorante pizza pairs really nicely with the cocktail recipe, and adds a feeling of elegance to a simple drink. It’s a little tough to explain just how delicious these drinks actually taste in real life, if I’m honest. Allowing the fruit to steep in the fridge (at least overnight) is definitely the key to the awesome fruity flavor. The fact that you’ll have cocktails ready to go on the fly? Icing on the cake! A cold, refreshing fruity cocktail paired with a delicious slice of hot-from-the-oven veggie pizza is sometimes just what you need on a steamy summer afternoon or at the end of a long hot day. I’m pretty confident you’ll get hooked and be making these mason jar cocktails all summer long, folks!
So, let’s talk about the giveaway, shall we? Yes! Who doesn’t love a good giveaway? One lucky reader is going to win a summer entertaining prize pack! You can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. (It’s as easy as can be, promise!) What are you going to win? Lots of really good stuff! Also known as everything you need for a bit of fun summer entertaining. So, get yourself entered to win! The giveaway will run through 12:00 AM (eastern) on Monday, June 20th. One winner will be announced later that day – good luck and see below for what you could win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
[Prize package includes (4) Dr. Oetker Ristorante pizzas | 1: Epicurean wooden pizza peel from Crate & Barrel | 2: Set of (2) pizza shakers from Crate & Barrel | 3: Set of (6) stemless wine glasses from Sur la Table |4: Set of (2) kite tail napkins from Crate & Barrel | 5: (1) Zuma serving tray from Crate & Barrel.]
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, but all opinions are my own. Read more about our editorial policies. For more recipes, tips and entertaining ideas, follow Ristorante on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!