Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch

This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Pizza. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that 
help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Now that Halloween has come and gone, I will admit that I am swiftly shifting into full-on holiday mode. My sister and brother in-law will be coming home from Florida in a few weeks for Thanksgiving and I am just so ready for all of those festive celebrations. Today I am back at it with my pals at Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Pizza (formerly Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza) to share a cocktail recipe with you that is perfectly fall! You could serve this up at your Thanksgiving dinner, for sure, or make a pitcher for an impromptu happy hour with friends. Bake up a few boxes of your favorite Virtuoso flavors to pair with it and you’re in instant hostess mode. I’ve dubbed this one the fizzy spiked pear punch! It’s made with pear juice, prosecco and vanilla vodka so it tastes a bit like fall, if fall were melted into a glass and served over ice. The pear flavor? Completely irresistible in my book. Yum!

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch
Makes 12 servings

  • 4 cups pear juice
  • 1 bottle prosecco or champagne
  • 3/4 cup vanilla vodka
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • Fresh pears for garnish

Pour pear juice, vodka and simple syrup into a pitcher and stir to combine. Pop a bottle of bubbly and slowly pour the full bottle into the juice mixture in your pitcher. Stir again, gently. Fill glasses to the top with ice and serve up your pear punch! Garnish with slices of pear. (Tip: I ran my pears through my mandolin to get those cool pear-shaped slices of fruit.) Adjust the sweetness by adding more or less simple syrup, or skip it entirely!

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

With this particular cocktail, the Virtuoso Four Cheese and Signature Spinach were especially delicious, but you can track down your favorite variety by checking out the store locator to find out exactly where it is sold near you. Or you can even put in a request with the manager at your favorite store! The pizzas (now showcasing a new name and a sleek new box) feature the same fresh ingredients as they always have, and the thin crust bakes up to crispy perfection in about 12 minutes. (I prefer to bake mine directly on the rack to make the most of that crust!) Virtuoso is gourmet frozen pizza that you’ll enjoy just as much binge watching holiday movies as you will serving it up to friends. Don’t be confused by the new look! Everything inside the box is just as delicious as it has always been.

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Admittedly, I spend quite a bit of time trying to think of cool cocktail recipes and flavor combinations for every season, but this is one of those that I know I’ll be making on repeat! The pear juice makes it so special and rather unexpected, and I’ve really been growing to love champagne cocktails lately, too. Something about those bubbles is just so so good! (Full disclosure, I’m all about the bubbly every day always and forever anyway.) As always, let me know if you give this one a try – I think you’ll really love it. Cheers, friends!

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Fizzy Spiked Pear Punch Champagne Cocktail | Cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, party recipes, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

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[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 Virtuoso on Facebook!

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The Hello Sessions 2016

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

Last month I was excited to make my maiden voyage to Portland, Oregon for The Hello Sessions! Melissa and Joy, the founders and masterminds behind the conference, invited me to speak back in January and I was eager to join in on the fun. Fast forward to a crisp morning in early October and I was off! The festivities kicked off that evening with a welcome party at Schoolhouse Electric. With music from DJ Aquaman, who put together an incredible playlist just for the event, food by Let Um Eat and drinks from Union Wine Co, it was the perfect way to kick off the festivities! Plus, ever a School Electric fan, allow me to assure you – their flagship store is dreamy. Like, next level dreamy. I resisted the temptation to shop on the spot, but I promise I came home with a wish list a mile long that I’ll be referencing often as we continue renovating and decorating the house!

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The next morning we were off to The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel, a really cool event space with giant windows, huge ceilings and a wonderful atmosphere for a day of learning and inspiring. Illustrator, author and artist Lisa Congdon was the keynote speaker and her messages about legitimacy and pursuing creativity through a passion for and commitment to your craft were spot on. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Lisa speak, do so! She’s sweet, funny and beautifully insightful and her talk was far and away my favorite part of the day. Then, I took the reigns for the next 90 minutes, talking about business and growing a creative business. I had so much fun sharing my experiences with the ladies gathered in that room, and I can’t thank them enough for the warm and loving reception.

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

After lunch from Clyde Common (the most incredibly tasty sandwiches and giant cookies), my sweet friend Sarah of Sarah Hearts gave us all an education on creating videos. We got to play with some fun new tools and apps in person and I honestly learned so much. It has inspired me all over again to start producing some cool video content for all of you. (You can check out Sarah’s video expertise on the Sarah Hearts Facebook page!) The workshop sessions closed out with Nicole of Bot Communications talking about authenticity on social media. Nicole is a wonderfully compelling speaker and her message resonated with everyone. Be real. Be you. Share it with the world. Got it! To close the day, my lovely friends Sara and Melissa of Alice & Lois presented a cool DIY craft for everyone in partnership with Minted while everyone mingled and enjoyed charcuterie and ice cream sandwiches.

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon | Blogger conferences and events for bloggers featuring @cydconverse

A huge thank you to Melissa and Joy for asking me to be a part of The Hello Sessions! It was a super quick trip with a red eye flight home after dinner following the sessions, but it was worth the hours spent flying cross country. After being pregnant last year and taking care of a baby sidekick throughout this year, it felt really good to get back in the saddle of speaking and presenting. Plus I loved getting to meet so many great new ladies in addition to seeing my friends Melissa, Sarah, Amy, Melissa and Sara. (So many Melissas and Sara(h)s!) My only regret is that I didn’t have more time to play and explore Portland, but it is definitely a city I’ll be visiting again!

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[Photos by Linnea Paulina Photography.]

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Easy Spooky Halloween Party Decor

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

If you’re hosting a Halloween party and need some quick, easy last minute ideas for your requisite Halloween decor, look no further! When I shared my homemade Halloween bark recipe earlier in the week, I mentioned that I was sharing a handful of tips on pulling together your Halloween party decorations on the Maurices blog. Today I wanted to share a few more photos of the world’s simplest Halloween vignette. If you’re not the type who goes all out and decorates every square inch of your house for Halloween, but you still want to do something that feels appropriate for a party, this is your answer. Again, you can find the breakdown of all my party tips over here and keep scrolling for the links for all of the recipes and DIY projects you see here in these photos!

Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse

Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse

Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse

Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse

Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse

Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse

Spooky Halloween Party Decor Ideas | @cydconverse

Want to recreate everything you see here? Check out my Halloween party styling tips. Make these salted caramel pumpkin cheesecake parfaits. Give my Halloween candy bark a whirl. Make a spooky bat Halloween centerpiece and cool insect taxidermy!

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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DIY Golden Insect Taxidermy Plaques

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

By now I’ve preached time and again about how my favorite kind of Halloween decorations are those that are slightly spooky, dark and a bit glam in a goth kind of way. I think a few touches of something slightly off, a mix of metallics and lots of black can really set the scene without having to get too carried away with things. Recently I made these cool DIY taxidermy plaques, inspired by a candle I spied at Target that was black and covered in golden beetles, and my love of insect taxidermy cases and mounts. (Also, by “love” I also mean fear in equal parts. They’re so creepy!) The supplies are few, the steps are simple and the results are especially awesome.

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

supplies2-600x24

  • Wooden plaques
  • Black spray paint (matte or chalkboard paint)
  • Plastic bugs or insects
  • Gold liquid leaf
  • E600 or similar
  • Paint brush
  • Sawtooth picture frame hangers

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

Begin by spray painting each of your wooden plaques with several light, thin coats of black spray paint. Be sure to choose a paint with a flat or matte finish. (Chalkboard spray paint would work great!) In between coats, give each of your insects a coat of liquid leaf. Keep in mind that unlike paint, the liquid leaf is oil-based and therefore quite strong in smell so you’ll want to work in a well ventilated space. One coat should cover your insects with the exception of a few touch-ups here and there. Once your plaques are completely dry, use a small hammer to attach a sawtooth picture hanger to the back of each one. Then flip it back over and attach a bug to each plaque using E6000. (Which, incidentally, is also heavy in the fume department so be sure to keep those windows open while you’re attaching your bugs!) Then simply hang on the wall and you’ve got instant Halloween party vibes going on!

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

DIY Taxidermy Plaques | Halloween ideas, Halloween decorations and Halloween party ideas from @cydconverse

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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Our Housewarming Party Menu

This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Pizza. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that 
help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

When we were planning our recent housewarming party, I was determined to come up with a couple of really killer appetizers to accompany the Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Pizza that was the star of our menu. With Virtuoso’s thin, crispy crust and fresh, flavorful toppings as my muse, I decided we’d serve up a big selection of pizzas paired with antipasto skewers and zucchini veggie balls. I finished everything up with a great cocktail and made sure the fridge was stocked with good craft beer. Then it was just all about hanging out with friends. Done and done!

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

Antipasto Skewers

In our city we’re known for great Italian food because of the large population of families with Italian heritage in the area. If there’s one thing we don’t skimp on around here it’s a great antipasto to accompany pizza at every turn. That tradition is what inspired these antipasto skewers! They’re a twist on a classic antipasto, somewhat deconstructed and assembled on a skewer to make for a perfect party snack! Make them in advance, switch them to suit your own flavor preferences and then line them up on a tray to serve. [Click here for the recipe!]

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

Zucchini Veggie Balls

I am all about the bright, delicious flavor pairings of Virtuoso and wanted to offer friends a second appetizer that was really inspired by those ingredients. At our party we served up the Seasoned Chicken, Pepperoni & Ham, Mozzarella & Pesto, Mushroom, Tomato & Goat Cheese and Pepperoni Pesto pizzas! (Oh and good news! Even though Ristorante is now Virtuoso, all the ingredients and flavor combinations are the same just with a new name!) I pulled the last of the zucchini from my mother’s garden and made these zucchini veggie balls, which are an adaptation of one of our favorite family recipes. They’re loaded with garlic and parmesan and they’re honestly the very definition of incredible. (Especially alongside the Tomato & Goat Cheese pizza if you ask me!) [Click here for the recipe!]

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

Pumpkin Ale Spiked Cider

To round everything out, I made a pitcher of pumpkin ale spiked cider. It was a little tip of the hat to fall and a really easy way to serve drinks for a crowd. I mixed everything up in a pretty pitcher that morning and had ice and mugs ready to go so friends could serve themselves as they arrived. While the pizzas finished baking (they bake from frozen to crispy perfection in just 12 to 14 minutes), guests were sipping and mingling and already enjoying appetizers. Which brings me to one of my easiest pro party tips! Have drinks and apps ready to go and you’ve already impressed your guests. It’s that easy. [Click here for the recipe!]

Pumpkin Ale Spiked Cider | Party appetizers, party cocktails, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

It was so much fun to have our friends over for a festive afternoon, and the recent rebranding of Ristorante to become Virtuoso made for the perfect way to host a really special yet casual celebration. You can find Virtuoso in it’s fancy new box (designed with love to help their passion for pizza and the freshest ingredients shine through) at your local grocery store by checking out the store locator or feel free to put in a request with the manager at your favorite grocery destination! With a bold new name and tasty toppings you’ll go crazy for, it’s sure to become your new favorite way to entertain on the fly. In the meantime, be sure to check out all the photos from our housewarming party if you haven’t already, and be sure to pin all of the recipes from the party menu so you can give them a try!

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

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[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 Virtuoso on Facebook!

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