April 7, 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!
It’s April, which means a couple of things! (1.) My birthday was last week and (2.) it’s spring break season! (So yes, April is basically my favorite month ever.) As kids we always used to load into the family SUV and make the 14 hour trek to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina every year for a long lazy week of sand castles and scrounging for seashells. As an adult, rarely is a beach trip in the cards these days, but I do love the idea of taking a few days to rejuvenate after seemingly endless months of snow and cold. (Actually we have snow on the ground right now. Let’s not talk about it!) Enter the staycation! I’ve teamed up with my old pals at Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza to bring you my quick fool-proof guide to planning the ultimate staycation, with lots of focus on relaxation. Sounds kind of dreamy, right? To get started, put in your time off request, give yourself a minimum of a long weekend and let’s get started!
April 6, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
The struggle is really real this week, friends. This sweet little lady had shots on Monday and ever since she’s been demanding extra snuggles and her sleep schedule has been all out of whack. Add in the fact that the sun has apparently abandoned us forever and it won’t quit snowing (which is seriously old by April, let me tell you), and I am the very definition of exhausted this week. Debilitatingly exhausted. If there were any chance of the baby napping right now, I’d be fully game for sleeping for at least the next three or four hours. And I’m not a napper! Typically I can very easily roll on six hours or so of sleep with loads of extra pep in my step, but this week? This week I’ve got nada. I’m barely stepping let alone pepping.
If I’m perfectly honest, it has been a lot harder than I had imagined to get back into a routine after having the baby. And don’t get me wrong, I expected it to be really difficult. It’s part of what scared the hell out of me when I found out we were pregnant. Part of it is on me for sure. I find that my thoughts about who should be providing her daily care is shifting all the time. Sometimes I think we’re ready to start looking at more consistent day care of some kind, but then part of me feels like I want to be able to do it all. I don’t want her to have to go to day care. I’m learning very quickly though, that I can’t juggle it all and be productive on the scale that I am used to, and that is humbling. On the flip side, I am also really passionate about the work that I do and I am finding it frustrating right now that I can’t produce the quantity of work I usually can in any given day or week. This post? I’ve started writing it four or five different times today. Things just don’t happen at the speed they used to! By definition I am a workaholic, purely because I get great joy from writing and producing work that excites me. When I’m not doing that, I feel off balance. But I also know I’m fortunate to have a career where I don’t have to ship her off to a sitter every day all day, and figuring out precisely what is going to work best is proving trickier than I thought.
Through all of this, I am so eternally grateful that I have the flexibility that I do to sort things out day by day. As of a few weeks ago we’ve started to transition a bit, and she has been spending a day here or there or an afternoon every so often with one of my best friends during the day. That friend also happens to be married to my cousin, so Baby E gets to spend her time there surrounded by her adoring older cousins and hanging out with their youngest little guy, who happens to be exactly one week older than her. I love that we have the option to have her stay with family during the day and not have to go to a traditional day care. I also know that it’s really healthy for both she and I for us to have that break. She can focus on learning how to play with other kids and adjusting to time away from mommy and I can work and feel freer at the end of the day to just snuggle. I had always hoped to make it a full year before we looked at day care. Some days I think this arrangement gives us that flexibility, other days I think we’ll end up in full time day care a lot sooner than I had hoped. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself right now, though. (Which is an entirely separate conversation to be had!)
So today, in lieu of the many posts I have planned but can’t seem to make progress on, I’m commiserating with all of you out there who are exhausted and struggling to figure out what is or what will be best for you and your little one. My parents are business owners and after 35 years of business ownership they still work their asses off countless hours a week. As a kid, I remember a lot of time spent with babysitters. And you know what? I turned out great! (Even if I do say so myself.) I made the grades, I achieved all the accolades, my resumé of life is a pretty impressive checklist of accomplishments when it comes to things like formal education and academic excellence. So by no means did my parents do wrong by me or my siblings. Everything I know about being a supportive parent, about being a role model, and about knowing the meaning of an honest day’s work, I owe to them. I begrudge them nothing. But if I’m honest, I do remember days as a kid when I wished my parents were able to pick me up from school or act as chaperone on school field trips. And that is where I am struggling right now, guys. I know that my personality type requires me to work to be happy and healthy and sane. But I also want to be able to be the one who drops her off at school and bakes cookies for the bake sale. And, yes, she’s four months old and we’ve got years to work on these things, but I still feel the weight of these decisions right now.
Speaking of being four months old, Alice came by the house over Easter weekend to spend an afternoon with us capturing more baby photos so I thought I’d share just a few them here with you today. We’re hoping to do so at least three or four times in this first year as she’s growing and changing so quickly. At her doctor’s appointment this week she clocked in at 14lbs 10oz and 26-1/4″ long which puts her in the 60th percentile for weight and 98th percentile for length. She’s still a long, skinny little girl! I’ve already been warned by our pediatrician that I can fully anticipate she will always be tall and will absolutely end up taller than me. Point taken. She’s been getting better at tummy time and rolling over, too, and she’s getting smarter and better with her toys and playing by herself every single day. We’re going to start introducing her to solids probably in the next few weeks or so, which is shocking to me. How did that happen so fast?! Also, she’s increasingly fun to outfit in cute little clothes and dresses and shoes so I’ll note all of her fashion picks below for you in case you’re in the market for insanely cute baby garb.
And that’s it for today! I just wanted to check in, share a bit about where I’m at and be honest about the fact that not everything is easy right now. At the same time, I’m having more fun and feeling more grateful than ever before in my life. I have so much to be thankful for and I very literally count my blessings every single day. For those of you with little babes or expecting, I am thinking of you! The road is a winding one, but there is no better path I’ve traveled.
Baby’s Outfits –
Pink cactus dress c/o Vonbon | White leggings from Carters (similar) | Moccasins c/o Itzy Ritzy | Pink woodland dress from Baby Gap | Baby bath robe from Target
[Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]
April 4, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I’m pretty sure that Monday is no one’s favorite day of the week, least of all Baby E’s today seeing as though we’re starting the day off with a doctor’s appointment and shots. But that’s ok! I am here to save Monday by way of donuts. By hugely popular demand, I am going to start working to feature a lot more recipes, which served as the perfect opportunity to try my hand out making donuts! I’ve been wanting to make donuts for a while now anyway, so today we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting messy with these baked vanilla bean cake donuts with blueberry glaze. As donut recipes go, this one is seriously a cinch to make and the glaze also couldn’t be easier. Bookmark this one, friends! You’ve got the star of your next weekend brunch right here. Oh, and I promise.You can totally make these. Donuts are not intimidating! (I was a bit intimidated myself, to be honest.)
Vanilla Bean Cake Donuts
Makes approximately 18 donuts
- 3 cups all-purpose flower
- 1-1/4 cups white sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 425° then, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, eggs and melted butter until thoroughly combined. Fold in the dry ingredients until well combined. The mixture will be thick and quite sticky. Using a piping bag (or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off), pipe batter into a greased donut pan. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool before glazing. To glaze the donuts, simply dunk them one by one into the glaze, then return to the rack and allow the glaze to set up for 15 – 20 minutes before serving. If you plan to add sprinkles, shake them on immediately after glazing.
- 1 cup powdered or confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup water
Place blueberries and half of the water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook down blueberries for approximately 10 minutes, adding additional water as necessary to keep them from cooking onto the pan. In the meantime, sift powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Remove the blueberries from the heat and strain into a second small bowl using a fine mesh sieve. Add about four tablespoons of the strained juice into the sifted sugar and whisk to combine, adding additional blueberry juice as needed to create a glaze. (It should be about the consistency of pancake batter when it’s done.)
[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
April 1, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I am going to be playing a bit of hooky this afternoon because today is my birthday! We’ve had such a crazy schedule lately that honestly we have zero formal celebration plans at this point, which sounds kind of amazing. My mom is supposed to bring over my annual birthday cake (the same one she has made me every year since my 6th birthday) and I believe we’re going to cook something really really good for dinner tonight. But otherwise, I’m ushering 33 in pretty quietly. My afternoon is probably going to consist of taking myself out for a latte and maybe a quick trip to Target if the baby is feeling up to it. I know, I know! It’s getting crazy around here. No doubt, as you get older birthdays grow a lot tamer, but they also feel a lot sweeter in a lot of ways, too. A good cake, a cute card and a bit of champagne is about all I need to make a birthday feel complete these days. Here’s wishing you and yours an awesome weekend! Next week I’ve got a bunch of new posts in the queue that I am really excited to share with you. Until then, loads of hugs from me to you! xoxo
1 | Eat This
In lieu of your typical birthday cake, a stack birthday cake donuts and sky high birthday candles will do the trick! [Photo from Sprinkles for Breakfast]
2 | Light This
The ultimate guide to birthday candles! Big ones, little ones, sparkly ones, rainbow ones. All of the birthday candles you can ever need. [Photo from Studio DIY]
3 | Scoop This
Considering ice cream is my favorite food in the entire universe (without even one single bit of exaggeration), I’d gladly take a couple of scoops in a waffle cone instead of cake. Yum! [Photo from Paper & Stitch.]
4 | Give This
A super sweet giant birthday card? Yes, yes and yes! It’s a birthday cake you can send in the mail. Brilliant! [Photo from You Are My Fave]
5 | Drink This
Because every birthday girl deserves a super bright pink cocktail! Basically, I am 100% sure this pink lemonade cocktail will do the trick nicely! [Photo from Cocktails + Joints]
6 | Pop This
No contest, the world’s coolest birthday balloons. Ever. I kind of want to fill my house with them. Excessive? Never! [Photo from The Flair Exchange]
March 31, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I’ve been a little bored with breakfast lately, which is never a good thing for me. I don’t know about you, but if I start the day with a healthful, nutrient dense breakfast that is super satisfying, I am way more likely to reinforce that behavior by making good choices throughout the day. So when I’m bored with breakfast, it usually means I’m going to start straying from good habits. (And you know I’ve been working hard at eating clean!) So today I did us all a favor and I’ve rounded up 12 healthy breakfast recipes that will help shake up your morning routine. (You know, so you don’t end up face first in a box of cocoa puffs. Been there, done that.) If you’re into eggs, can’t get enough of avocado toast, prefer smoothies or qualify as an oatmeal junkie, there’s a little something here for everyone!
1. Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl [above]
2. Apple n’ Oats Smoothie
3. Crunchy Buckwheat Granola
4. Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
5. Oatmeal Quinoa Power Bowl
6. Poached Eggs with Avocado Toast
7. Overnight Buckwheat Cashew Parfait
8. Steel Cut Oats with Cinnamon Stewed Fruit
9. Coconut Banana Oats Bowl with Crunchy Black Sesame Quinoa Cereal + Mango
10. Savory Pesto Quinoa Breakfast Bowls
11. Carrot Cake Smoothie
12. Spinach Mushroom Feta Frittata