March 29, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Champagne is one of my perennial go-to cocktails. Served simply, always in a flute, nice and chilly cold. That should be good enough segue to explain that my love for a good mimosa runs deep. With Easter coming up in just a couple weeks, I wanted to put a spin on the classic brunch staple that would really wow your guests. For the record, this would also make the perfect mimosa recipe for a casual weekend brunch served up while wearing your favorite pajamas. This tequila sunrise mimosa is one part tequila, one part champagne and one part orange juice with a nice splash of grenadine to give it that insanely beautiful color. Garnish with fresh orange and you’ve got the kind of brunch cocktail that your friends will go crazy over. Cheers!
Tequila Sunrise Mimosa
- 1 ounce tequila
- 1 ounce champagne
- 1 ounce orange juice
- Fresh orange (to garnish)
Pour 1 ounce of tequila into a champagne flute. Add champagne until you’re flute is roughly half full, approximately 1 ounce or slightly more. Pour in orange juice until flute is mostly full, save for about 1/2″ at the top of your flute. Finish by adding a large splash of grenadine to each flute. Sip and enjoy!
[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
March 28, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Hey, friends, it’s my birthday week! On Saturday (which, yes, is April Fools’ Day) I’ll be turning 34. (That happened fast!) That day will also mark the 28th year that my mother has made me the same birthday cake. As she tells it, my sixth birthday was the first time I had a party with some of my little friends from school and she wanted to make a really special cake. She knew I loved strawberries so she decided to make a strawberry poke cake, since apparently poke cakes were all the rage back in the 80s. Who knew? Since then she’s made me this cake every single year, even when I haven’t lived in the same city, even if it’s a week before or a few weeks after my actual birthday. This past week my mom came over and spent an afternoon with Alice and I to show us how to make my official, traditional birthday cake so that I, in turn, can share it with you. So here it is! Featuring a little cameo from my mom, or at least in her hands, in her official hand modeling debut. She’s such a good sport.
The basis of this cake is as simple as can be. Simple white cake made from a box mix. Yup, that’s right, a box mix. It’s then poked with a wooden spoon, drizzled with strawberry gelatin and allowed to refrigerate for at least a few hour or overnight. When assembled, it’s layers of cake, fresh berries and homemade whipped cream that ever so simply come together to make one of the most delicious cakes you’ve ever tasted. It’s surprisingly light, even more so than strawberry shortcake. And if you love berries, this is as good as it gets. There’s a reason that come March I start daydreaming about my birthday cake. There’s also a reason why I’ve adapted my own tradition of making my favorite people birthday cakes each and every year. With today as the kick-off, I’m going to be sharing a bunch of my favorite birthday cake recipes with you in the coming months so you can treat someone you love, too!
Strawberry Poke Cake with Berries + Cream
Makes 1 triple layer cake
For the cake –
- 2 white cake box mixes
- 6 large egg whites
- 2/3 cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups water
- 6 ounces strawberry gelatin mix
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
- Toothpicks (for stabilizing)
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare cake mix to the box instructions. Pour into three greased and floured 9″ cake pans lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 – 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the cakes spring back to the touch. Leave the cakes in the pans and allow them to cool until room temperature. In the meantime, prepare gelatin mix according to the package instructions then allow it to cool to room temperature as well. When the cakes are completely cool, use the handle of a round spoon (or similar) to poke 8-10 l holes in each cake layer. Once the gelatin mix is completely cool, drizzle it over top of the cakes, then transfer them to the fridge and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. To assemble, layer each cake, top with whipped cream, add a layer of sliced strawberries and then repeat, using toothpicks between layers as necessary to add stability. For best results, refrigerate before serving and keep the leftovers chilled as well.
For the whipped cream –
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Using the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat on high for 3 – 5 minutes or until soft peaks form. For best results, make the whipped cream just prior to assembling the cake.
[Art direction by Cyd Converse | Recipe by my mommy | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
March 23, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
Since things are really coming together with our living room (see the latest update), I’ve started to make plans for our dining room. Since sharing our renovation progress, I ordered and rolled out a big jute rug that really looks amazing in the room. Now it’s all about curtains, some cool wooden blinds and those few extra special touches that really bring a room together. In trying to decide what I wanted to do about window treatments, I was trolling my Pinterest boards for inspiration when I realized that I clearly have a thing for bright, light, mostly white dining rooms with great wood tones and lots of natural textures. Today I’m sharing 10 that all mostly fall in line with those characteristics, all of which make the cut for rooms I really love. Consider this a little dining room decor mashup!
1. A sunny Craftsman dining nook [above]
2. Colorful boho breakfast nook
3. Modern beachy California dining room
4. Cool wallpapered dining room
5. Bright sunny breakfast nook
6. Neutral dining room with texture
7. Modern farmhouse dining room
8. Beachy neutral dining room
9. Modern mid-century boho dining room
10. Simple modern dining room
March 17, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, my thoughts almost immediately turned to childcare and how on earth this little babe of ours would get fed and diapered during the day while we were working. Almost as quickly, I knew that at least for the first year I wanted to try really hard to make it work without any kind of full time childcare. Call me crazy, but knowing she would be my first and my last all at the same time, I wanted to have that time with her and I thought I’d regret shipping her right off to daycare. Also, I was really really worried about the finances behind paying for childcare, which is where the “real talk” part of this conversation is about to come into play. Today, I’m dishing on our decisions and endless, ongoing discussions about childcare. The other awesome moms in our Real Talk with Real Moms conglomerate are also sharing their personal experiences, motivations and realities when it comes to making decisions surrounding childcare. I’m personally excited to read each and everyone of their posts so be sure to pop over and give them all a read!
[Check in with the other moms! | Jen of The Effortless Chic | Alexandra of AVE Styles | Leah of Freutcake | Caitlin of Sacramento Street | Catherine of The Life Styled | Hey Mama | Rebecca of A Daily Something | Natalie of Thoughts By Natalie | Sarah Sherman Samuel | Erin of Apartment 34]
March 16, 2017 | by Cyd Converse
St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow and I’ll be popping in with the next edition of our Real Talk with Real Moms series, but in the meantime I didn’t want to skip out on sharing some of my favorite things from around the web this week. A few last minute things to inspire your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, alongside those boozy Irish coffee milkshakes we whipped up yesterday! Also, just a few things that inspired me in general or caught my eye. We’ll have a house full of kiddos this weekend so a walk down to our big local Irish festival and a slow cooker full of corned beef (for the meat-eating contingency) is topping our list of things to do this weekend. And maybe I’ll let my arm be twisted into whipping up a batch of those milkshakes for our favorite neighbors. (Chances are very very likely.)
1 | Leah’s Rainbow Layered Jello
It’s confession time! I kind of hate jello. It’s just really never done anything for me, even as a kid. That said, Leah might just make a tiny bit of convert out of me with these adorable rainbow layered jello bites.
2 | Natural Girl Modern World’s Beet + Pineapple Juice
Basically if you add beets to anything, I’m hooked. I love beets, I love that signature beet color and the flavor is just so good. This beet + pineapple juice looks amazing to me. Brunch, anyone?
3 | Blissful Basil’s Vegan Green Goddess Pasta
I am in love with basically everything that falls under the Green goddess category. Make it vegan and add pasta, and we’ve got a whole new love affair going on. And I love that green color!
4 | Margaux + Max’s Gallery Wall
Honestly, a good gallery wall will never grow old in my book, but I particularly love this one. Featuring sweet family photos all printed in black and white, with those simple wood frames, it’s just lovely.
5 | Eden’s Tokyo Mule Recipe
We are such huge fans of a good mule cocktail recipe around here, that I immediately perked up when I saw Eden’s recipe with an Asian twist. It’s made with sake! How incredible does that sound?
6 | The Fresh Exchange’s Lettering
I’m a long time fan of Megan’s lettering and this particular saying really resonates with me. If I told you all the ways this fits my life, I could write you a novel. Maybe I should do that some day…