September 14, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
Happy Monday, friends! So here’s the deal. Are you following me on Instagram yet? I may or may not have spilled the beans on the gender of our little nugget over there last week! We are so excited that at last week’s ultrasound (after three attempts) the little one finally cooperated and showed us the goods. It’s officially game on when it comes to all things baby! I’ve kicked nursery designing and planning into high gear and picked up the first few adorable outfits over the weekend. So you should go over there, give me a follow and scope out the news!
While you’re over there, I also figured I’d share 12 of my favorite Instagram accounts! I have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with Instagram, but lately I’ve really fallen in love with it all over again. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to interact and share with all of you. Over the last few months I’ve stumbled upon and fallen in love with so many great Instagram users who are seriously so inspiring. These are just a handful of the feeds I’m loving at the moment – have any favorites I should check out?
September 9, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Alouette. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that
so generously allow The Sweetest Occasion to keep on keepin’ on!
I’m not even going to front when it comes to my love for good party snacks. Planning the menu is one of my favorite parts of entertaining! With football season upon us, I’ve teamed up with my fellow cheese-loving comrades over at Alouette to bring you three fresh, quick and delicious football party snacks that are sure crowd pleasers. You can make these ahead a couple of hours before the game or set it up self-serve style so guests can make their own tasty little bites while they watch the game. Otherwise, all you need is a stockpile of cold beer and you’re set!
So here’s how it goes when you’re partnering with a food brand. You chit chat about ideas for collaborating, they send you some of their product, you taste it and from there you start brainstorming recipe ideas. In this case, Alouette sent me each of their four Le Petite Fromage varieties to get the wheels spinning and I became immediately obsessed. The flavors are unexpectedly and deliciously fresh and robust, and all pair perfectly with any kind of veggie, meat or fresh herbs you want to throw at them. My personal favorite is the Garden Salsa followed closely by the Parmesan & Basil, but really, both B and I gave all of them two thumbs up. They are that good.
Le Petite Snack Crackers
For our snacks, I chose simple, buttery crackers and looked for ones that were a bit larger so they could handle more cheese and toppings. From there you can top your crackers with any of the Le Petite Fromage flavors before getting generous with the toppings. I went with things like kalamata olives, pico de gallo, fresh cucumber slices, prosciutto, salami, basil, tomatoes, avocado and even sprouts, but get creative! B and I both agree that our favorite pairing including one of the Le Petite Fromage varieties with a slice of cucumber and a little pile of pico dumped on top. (We all know I don’t eat meat, but B also highly recommends prosciutto paired with the Garlic & Herb!)
Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers
We love snacking on these mini sweet peppers in general and try to keep them around the house at all times, so it seemed like a natural fit to stuff them full of cheese! Spoiler alert: they’re really really good. Simply cut the peppers in half lengthwise, clean out the seeds and remove the stem, then pack them full with your favorite Le Petite Fromage flavor. That’s it! Done and done.
Mini Veggie Wraps
Finally, mini veggie wraps! I think wraps are a perfect party food, especially on game day, so we took things to the next level by playing off the flavors of the Le Petite Fromage. I loaded mine up with more cucumbers, pico, sprouts and leaf lettuce, making it super easy to set everything up so guests can mix and match their own flavor combinations as they choose. (Or just make up a bunch of different kinds, cut them into smaller sizes and serve them up on a platter!) You could easily work in your favorite deli meats here, too, like turkey or roast beef.
I personally love the tiny, perfectly portioned packaging. It makes it so easy for friends to pick and choose, make a little plate, grab a beer and get to watching the game. For more cheese-inspired ideas, recipes and creations, be sure to follow Alouette on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! You can follow along with the hashtag #ThisIsCheese on Instagram, too! In the meantime, here’s three cheers for football season and yummy party snacks!
[Recipes, styling + photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Alouette. Read more about our editorial policies.
September 8, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
Well, I’m entirely unsure as to how it happened in an instant, but Labor Day has come and gone and it’s officially time to gear up for football season! We’re big football fans in this house, mainly NFL, but we do enjoy a good college game, too. (Also, we have a football player of our own so we spend many an evening and weekend at games all season long.) While I love a good game, I can’t pretend that I’m a super fan of the stereotypical football party regalia, so today I thought I’d celebrate this week’s NFL season opener with a little football party decor that even I can get behind. Namely, glitter. Always, glitter. That’s right, we’re making DIY glitter football helmets!
- Mini football helmets
- Various colors of glitter
- ModPodge or decoupage glue
- Paint brush
- Clear coat or spray sealant (glossy is best)
First up, grab yourself a package or two of these mini football helmets. (I got mine from Amazon, but I know they have them at Party City, too.) It doesn’t really matter what team you get because they’re going to get covered, but for the purposes of these tutorial photos I made sure to rep our resident home team. Then begin by giving the entire outside and edges of the helmet a coat of ModPodge using a small paint brush. If you want the face mask to be a different color, avoid covering the face mask as you’ll do that as a separate step once the helmet itself is complete.
Once the helmet is coated in ModPodge, dump glitter all over the it generously. Tap gently to release the excess glitter and allow everything to dry completly. Repeat as necessary with multiple layers of glitter until the glitter solidly covers the helmet design underneath. From there, it’s time to repeat all of these steps on the face mask. Be sure to shake loose any excess glitter as necessary and then give everything a quick spray of clear sealant before allowing your helmets to dry overnight. (A glossy clear coat is best as a matte finish will dull the sparkle of the glitter.)
Once they’re all done, your glittery football helmets make perfect little cupcake toppers or, heck, even slider toppers. Slider toppers. I guess we just officially made that a thing! I went a bit rogue and chose non-team specific glitter colors, but you could easily coordinate your glitter to your team’s colors. It’s totally up to you! Wouldn’t these be adorable for a pop warner or high school team party, too? (Um, yes, they would.) So much fun!
I couldn’t resist sharing this quick little behind the scenes peek at what goes on when we’re shooting DIY tutorials. Alice is always working on getting the perfect shot, while I’m obsessively styling and tweaking every last little detail, right down to making sure things will photograph well for Instagram. Yup, that’s truth. Speaking of which, I want to see what you’re crafting! Use the hashtag #thesweetestDIY on Instagram and share your DIY projects with me, whether it be recreating one of ours or dreaming up your own. Oh, and happy football season!
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
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
September 4, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
Friends, I have definitely had a week where I just need to cry uncle. I severely injured my right hand while we were camping last weekend (rope burn from a bit of a boating mishap) and, of course, I am right handed so trying to work this week has proven nearly impossible. Luckily it’s feeling much better by today, but I’ve decided it’s best to throw in the towel for the week, rest it for a couple more days over the weekend and get back at it next week. In the meantime, it’s time for a baby update! Also, I polled my family and friends on Facebook this week asking about their favorite baby-related items so I can finally start a registry and get moving on all of that stuff. That’s right. I am 28 weeks pregnant, I have no nursery and no baby registry. Help! I’d love to have you chime in with the things you’re glad you registered for or the things you wish you had or even the things you feel you could have skipped. Lend me all of your advice! Other than that, here’s wishing those of you here in the States a happy Labor Day weekend and I’ll see you back in action on Tuesday following the holiday. xoxo
[Rylee + Cru | Gera Bloga | Petit Pippin | Baby Gap | The Solly Baby Wrap.]
As of today I am 28 weeks pregnant and officially well into the third trimester. That happened so fast! I’m definitely starting to feel the time crunch. Like I said, the nursery is still not even really started (although we have the crib…it’s just in the box in the closet still), I’ve just now started to think about starting to register for baby goods, and basically other than the aforementioned crib and our car seat (gifts from two very awesome grandmas) we have absolutely none of what we’re going to need. You can expect a lot more baby chatter around here in the coming weeks as I work on tackling all of that stuff. In the meantime, onto a few baby-related updates!
Boy or Girl?
It turns out, we may just have the world’s most stubborn baby. You might remember that at our 20 week ultrasound we decided at the very last minute to find out the gender after being set on not finding out. We had a sleepy baby that day so we left with a “probably” and the tech wanting to confirm gender at the next ultrasound. Welp, our 24 week ultrasound rolled around and the little bugger was cross-legged the whole time and refused to offer up the goods, so we still don’t fully know if we’re having a boy or a girl. My next ultrasound is this coming week (they’re doing them frequently to monitor my placenta previa), so my fingers are crossed that we’ll finally find out! I will spill the goods as soon as we know so stand by! Here’s hoping s/he finally cooperates this week.
C-Section or No C-Section?
I mentioned in my last baby update that I was possibly looking at a c-section due to complete placenta previa. A month later, it’s looking like that’s definitely going to be the case, but we should know for sure in the next few weeks. At my ultrasound this upcoming week they’ll be taking a close look at my placenta and how much (if at all) it has moved and at that point my doctor will work with us to determine the best course of action. As of now, it looks like our little one will be coming via c-section at least a few weeks early so the race is on to, you know, get a nursery set up, acquire all the requisite baby things and get a bunch of blog content stockpiled so I can hopefully take a few weeks off when the baby comes. No biggie!
Other than the great wait to determine if we’re having a c-section or not, I have had an amazingly smooth pregnancy so far. I feel incredibly lucky and my fingers are crossed that it keeps up! To date I have had no morning sickness, no nausea, no food aversions, no cravings, no heartburn, no swelling, no aches and pains, no acne, and on and on. Yes, I am fully aware of how fortunate I am. That said, my inability to sleep has continued (which started around 17 weeks) because my hips get sore and I just can’t stay comfortable so I am starting to feel very tired again after largely enjoying lots of energy in my second trimester. Honestly, I really don’t envy the first person who tells me to “sleep while you can” because I haven’t slept in months and it’s definitely starting to catch up with me. On a day to day basis though, I feel pretty awesome and really can’t complain.
I am just transitioning into maternity clothes. Crazy, I know. I popped early but was carrying very high so shirts got snug first, but I was largely still able to wear all of my normal clothes (even jeans) this whole while. At the moment I live in my pre-pregnancy maxi dresses, yoga pants with flowy tops or maternity tops, and am occasionally starting to wear maternity leggings here and there. Because I waited so long to wear anything maternity, I kept it super simple when I was shopping. Lots of black, stripes, leggings, a few colorful tops, longer camis, a handful of tunics, etc. With fall coming I was thinking about basics I could layer with my existing cardigans, scarves and blazers without having to drop a ton of dough on a new wardrobe for just a few months. I am planning to splurge on a great dress for my shower though. Any suggestions on where to shop? ASOS has an awesome maternity collection so I have my sights set there at the moment.
Give Me All of the Advice
I am still soliciting all of your advice. Whether it’s on wardrobe, registry, any tips for pre or post c-section, you name it. I’d love to hear from those of you who have walked this walk before! Things still feel very surreal and I honestly can’t believe we’re going to have a little one joining us in just a couple of months. Sometimes I am still shocked to even be pregnant! So trust me, I need all the advice you can give me. Fire away!
September 3, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Seattle Chocolates. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that
so generously allow The Sweetest Occasion to keep on keepin’ on!
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my love for chocolate-covered fruit. There is just something so darn delicious about fresh fruit covered in a really good chocolate that makes people happy. Today, I’m in the business of making people happy! But we’re taking it up a notch, making the most scrumptious homemade chocolate truffle fruit bites, coating them in all kinds of goodness like coconut and sea salt and we’re snacking until our taste buds are really super happy. These yummy chocolatey bites make the perfect late summer dessert. You don’t have to spend too long in a hot kitchen, they’re made with my favorite chocolate truffle bars from Seattle Chocolates, they’re a breeze to make in advance, and ideal for serving up at a backyard barbecue. Need more convincing? Yeah. I didn’t think so.
When I was thinking about making these fruit bites, I was definitely inspired by the chocolate flavors themselves. The Total Toffee is a super sophisticated take on a toffee bar, it’s sweet and decadent and just so so good. (What is it about toffee that is so amazing anyway?) The Dark Chocolate is an absolute classic. Rich, smooth and definitely my perennial go-to favorite. On the other hand, the Coconut Macroon packs a bunch with real coconut and sea salt, giving it a slightly tropical flavor profile that I totally love. I am definitely not disappointed that I have a whole stash of chocolate truffle bars left over around the house!
- Seattle Chocolates Chocolate Truffle Bars in your choice of flavors (I used the Total Toffee, Peanut Praline, Dark Chocolate and Coconut Macaroon bars and could never possibly pick a favorite)
- Assorted fresh fruit (like bananas, apples, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, apricots etc.)
- Coconut oil
- Assorted toppings and garnishes (such as coconut, sea salt, toffee bits, peanuts, etc.)
- Parchment paper
We get this party started by rough chopping the chocolate. (I love the Seattle Chocolates truffle bars for this, because they elevate the flavor profile way beyond the basic chocolate-dipped strawberry.) For every 1 cup of chopped chocolate (approximately two truffle bars) you’ll need 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Place both in a microwave safe bowl or over a double boiler and melt slowly, stirring often. The coconut oil helps the chocolate smooth out and create the perfect chocolate dip for your fruit. While your chocolate is melting, prep the fruit! Give everything a good washing and pat dry, then slice up your apples and chunk up your bananas to the desired size.
When the chocolate is melted, carefully dunk each piece of fruit individually then transfer it to parchment paper to cool. Once they’re cooled slightly, it’s time to top! I played off of the flavors of the Seattle Chocolates truffle bars with my garnishes and used things like coconut and coarse ground sea salt, but you can switch things up however you like. Bits of toffee, chopped peanuts, you name it! Transfer the fruit to the fridge and serve chilled.
These bites will stay fresh in the fridge for a couple of days, especially if you give the apples a splash of lemon juice before dipping to keep them from going brown. You can prep in advance if you want to serve them up to guests or at a party. All of that noted, it’s also totally ok to eat them immediately and not share with anyone at all, because they’re really delicious and you deserve a little treat! For more chocolate-inspired ideas and recipes, be sure to follow Seattle Chocolates on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook because they make really yummy chocolate.
[Design, styling + photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Seattle Chocolates. Read more about our editorial policies.