November 6, 2013 | by cyd
A few years ago I started making butternut squash soup and I have to say, there’s been no looking back. It’s definitely a cold weather dinner staple ’round these parts, because it’s delicious and takes the chill right out of your bones. Also, it’s deceivingly simple to make and can be switched up with whatever herbs or spices you love best or feel like indulging in at the moment. If you can chop up a squash, you can make this soup! We had it earlier this week for dinner for the first time since the air has gone chilly so I decided it was high time I share the recipe. The other night we chose to top ours with sauteed portobello mushrooms, but have fun and mix it up however you like.
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 medium red onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp flat parsley
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup veggie stock
Begin by peeling and chopping one large butternut squash into roughly half inch cubes. (Oh, and don’t forget to scrap out the seeds, too!) Toss the squash in a bowl. Peel the garlic cloves, chop your onion into big chunks and toss those into a bowl, too. Drizzle with the olive oil and add fresh cracked black pepper, sea salt, parsley and crushed red paper to taste. Toss to coat well. Dump the contents of the bowl into a glass baking dish lined with parchment paper and roast at 350° for about 45 minutes or until all the veggies are tender. Once done, transfer everything back into your bowl, add veggie stock and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. For a thicker soup, scale back on the veggie stock or add more for a thinner soup. You can also use milk and a touch of sour cream to make the soup a bit richer if you’d like. It’s delicious either way! Serve it up topped with sauteed portobello mushrooms if you like (I definitely suggest it) and be blown away by your yummy soup creation.
[Photo by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
November 5, 2013 | by cyd
A day late and a dollar short, but voila! A color palette for you. (Because I know you guys love them so.) There’s no denying that this week a whole bunch of us are thinking all about Thanksgiving. Oh and holiday shopping lists…but let’s hold off on that for a few days more, shall we? So naturally between dreaming up hostess gift ideas, admiring pretty centerpieces and plotting for all the holiday projects and inspiration I want to share with you in the coming weeks, this week I’m all about cozy seasonal colors. Warm shades of cinnamon, cider and walnut just feel like November, don’t they? Just looking at these images make me fall in love with fall all over again. And have me wanting to try this autumn punch cocktail. Yum!
[Photos, from top: Monica Hines from Scout | How To: Simplify | Kara Rosenlund from At Home In Love.]
November 5, 2013 | by chelsea
by Chelsea Costa
Even though this month’s floral DIY is teeny tiny, it’s making me hugely happy. This one is such a simple, super-fast addition to a tabletop or party. They’ll literally take you about 5 minutes, and pretty much anyone can do it. Plus, they’re perfect for everything from casual every day dinners to jazzing up the table at your Thanksgiving feast. Let’s make some mini pumpkin bouquet centerpieces!
- mini pumpkins
- a few small fall florals
Trim the stems of your mini pumpkins if they’re unruly. Wipe pumpkins clean with a damp cloth and let dry. Then, using the awl, poke a small hole near the top of the pumpkin, angled slightly toward the center. Be very careful to not puncture through the bottom side of the pumpkin and injure your hand. It shouldn’t take much pressure. Once you have a hole, open it slightly wider by gently rotating the awl.
Snip one or two fall blooms so that their stems are just about 3 inches long. Insert into the hole in the pumpkin. Rearrange until it’s adorable!
That’s all there is to it! These look so, so sweet lined up on a dining table, or bunched together any old place. I love mixing and matching the flowers with some leaves, grains, and greenery, so feel free to experiment. Just a teeny tiny way to celebrate fall! xoxo
[Photos by Lovely Indeed for The Sweetest Occasion.]
Weathered Wood Spheres from West Elm
Gold Shears from Gingher
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 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
November 4, 2013 | by cyd
Last week my gal pal Chelsea of Lovely Indeed (and, you know, DIY contributor to The Sweetest Occasion) shot over a preview of her new ebook Make Your Day, an amazing collaboration with Chelsey of The Paper Mama. I have to say, it’s pretty brilliant. I love the styling and the photography throughout the book, but what I love most is the passion behind the whole project. In a nutshell it’s about a love for DIY. Good, simple, awesome crafts designed with a passion for all things handmade in mind. Of course, it’s loaded with amazing tutorials and DIY ideas. But most importantly (at least for a lady such as myself), it’s like fuel for my DIY flame.
In a nutshell, this handy little DIY guide is going to have you itching to add a little bit of handcrafted love to your every day world. From the coolest DIY mugs to pretty serving pieces, Chelsea and Chelsey (yeah, isn’t that cute?) have you covered. And can I just say – the holidays are coming! Needless to say, handmade gifts just got really really cool this season.
Oh, but the awesome doesn’t stop there. The ladies of Make Your Day are offering The Sweetest Occasion readers a special discount! The ebook is already handsomely priced at just $12 for loads of DIY goodness, but you can take advantage and get an extra 20% off if you use the code MYDAYISMADE20 at checkout. For more details bounce on over to Lovely Indeed! You can purchase your copy of Make Your Day here.
Congratulations, ladies, on a truly lovely collaboration!
[Photos from Make Your Day.]
November 4, 2013 | by cyd
This post was sponsored by Air Wick. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so
generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep on keepin’ on!
I’m so excited today to be sharing the first in a series of six holiday DIY ideas in partnership with Air Wick! Inspired by Air Wick’s limited edition holiday fragrances, I’ll be sharing one project for each of the next six weeks, all designed to help you craft the ultimate homemade holiday this year. Today we’re talking hostess gifts! As you’re traveling and attending parties and holiday dinners over the next several weeks there’s going to be no shortage of need for a great hostess gift. Sure, the typical wine or flowers is always a great option, but I personally love putting together a great gift basket. It’s easy to do, won’t take up much of your time and the end result is the prettiest little gift that will leave your hostess feeling really special. Who doesn’t love that?
When thinking about what I personally wanted to stash in my hostess gift baskets this year, I drew inspiration from Air Wick’s Vanilla Butter Cream Cupcake candle. The fragrance just makes me think of all things cozy (and, um, really delicious treats) so that’s the direction I took when selecting goodies. I actually themed the basket around the fragrance itself with elements of vanilla and baked goods to create a heartfelt gift for a holiday hostess. I’m including a suggested list of supplies and goodies to put in the basket, but feel free to switch it up and have fun – I especially love customizing baskets with a specific hostess’s personality in mind!
- Small to medium sized baskets
- Air Wick Vanilla Butter Cream Cupcake candle
- Tea towels or a set of pretty cloth napkins
- Homemade vanilla extract (recipe below)
- Vanilla coffee beans
- Baked goods (think bread, cupcakes, scones, etc.)
- Packaging supplies (parchment paper, twine, kraft bags, tags)
I started by picking up a few cute baskets – they were just a few dollars each. Next up, I love a mix of edible treats and sweet keepsakes that a hostess can treasure after the holidays so I found pretty cotton tea towels to tuck inside the basket and paired it with one of Air Wick’s color changing candles. A loaf of homemade bread, vanilla coffee beans and a bottle of homemade vanilla extract (recipe below) rounded out the bounty! When in doubt, I always like to repackage things to make them feel a bit more special. So here I placed the coffee beans in a kraft paper bag, and tied it with kitchen twine and a little tag labeling what is inside. So easy, but it gives that homemade touch that I love for holiday gifts! I also really love that from sipping on coffee to nibbling on something sweet the whole gift basket has a cohesive theme that makes it really special. In this case, it’s all about the vanilla!
Making homemade vanilla extract is easier than you think! You just need bourbon (or rum works great, too), whole vanilla beans and mason jars to get started. Begin by cutting each vanilla bean lengthwise, then place the beans in a jar. The general rule of thumb is three vanilla beans per 1 cup of liquid. (That’s six halves once you’ve cut them lengthwise!) Cover the vanilla beans with alcohol, shake, lid tightly and then store in a dark place for a couple of weeks up to a month. To gift, I like pouring the extract into cute flip-top bottles. Your friends and family will love that you made something homemade for them – especially those that love to bake!
Ok, ok and because I couldn’t resist showing off how cool Air Wick’s color changing candles are, I’m busting out a little animated gif action for you today. When I first lit one I was kind of blown away at how vivid the colors are and I think it makes them really special. There’s not a hostess in the world who wouldn’t love to get one of these pretty little gems tucked inside a gift basket loaded with goodies!
[Design + styling by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion. | Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]
Baskets purchased at Christmas Tree Shops
Tea towels from Target
Flip top bottles can be found at Everything Kitchens
Nail polish is Sunset Kiss by JulieG
Vanilla Butter Cream Cupcake candles by Air Wick
This post is a collaboration with Air Wick. For more homemade holiday ideas, follow along on Facebook! Read more about our editorial policies.