DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece

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

I can’t believe that Halloween is just a couple of weeks out! This time last year we’d just had our baby shower and we were working hard to finish up and shoot Baby E’s nursery. At roughly 35 weeks pregnant, I was officially in the home stretch. I had already planned, prepped and photographed countless holiday season posts and I was racing the clock to do do do as much as possible before a little baby appeared in our lives. Being back in this season, with Halloween candy already stock piling in the pantry for the hundreds of trick or treaters we’re expecting, is kind of mind boggling. That said, I love good, simple Halloween decorations and DIY ideas so I have a few new ones up my sleeve to share with you this year. Today we’re kicking things off with a cool Halloween centerpiece that most closely resembles a plume of bats flying out of a bunch of branches. It’s a quick, easy craft that anyone can make in 20 minutes or less. Yes, anyone. Even those of you who think you aren’t crafty.

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

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

supplies2-600x24

  • Thin branches, 3 – 4′ tall
  • Bat cut-outs (or use a stencil/template to cut from card stock)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks
  • Cylinder vase

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

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

To get started you’ll need small bat shaped cut-outs of some kind. I found these glittery bats at Michaels and saw similar ones at Jo-Ann. Alternately, you could do a search online for a bat template or bat clip art to trace and cut out of black card stock. You’ll also need a bundle of thin, scraggly branches. I found birch branches at the craft store that happened to be painted black and were perfect for the centerpiece I had in mine. Try to find something at least 3′ tall to create a large, dramatic centerpiece to instantly add a little Halloween ambiance to your party.

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

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

Arrange your branches in a tall glass cylinder vase until you find the arrangement you like best. Then run a thin bead of hot glue along the backside of the center of the bats and carefully press each one onto a branch to secure. Be careful not to burn yourself with the hot glue! As you’re working, disperse your bats and make sure they’re pointed in slightly different directions to give them the appearance of a flock of bats that have been disturbed and are flying up and out of the branches in a hurry. For reference, my centerpiece used 24 bats that were just shy of 3″ across the widest part of the wings.

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

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

And that’s that, friends! A fun, slightly spooky, simple Halloween decor idea for your repertoire. If you’re still feeling crafty, take a few minutes to check out more of my favorite easy Halloween ideas.

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

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Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Chances are strong that you’ve seen some variation of this pumpkin cheesecake parfait recipe floating around, because it’s one I seem to see a lot of this time of year. I’ve had a version written on a stained index card tucked away in one of my favorite vintage recipe boxes for years. I’ve made it twice already in the past month, because little Em’s big brothers can’t get enough of these little parfaits and usually wrestle each other over the last one. (Also, that last part is completely true.) It’s a quick and easy dessert, perfect for fall, perfect for Thanksgiving, perfect for following up Sunday dinner. I make mine with the addition of caramel and a bit of coarse ground sea salt because it makes for a really good pairing with the pumpkin cheesecake mixture. This is one of those no-bake dessert recipes you’ll grab for again and again, so whip up a batch and enjoy!

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits
Makes 6 servings

  • 10 graham crackers, crushed
  • 4 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 14 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons caramel sauce

Using a small mixing bowl, combine crushed graham crackers and melted butter, then divide equally and press into the bottom of (6) small jars or dessert bowls. In a separate mixing bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth and whipped. Add the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the vanilla, 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and beat until well combined. Fold in canned pumpkin puree until smooth. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the heavy cream, remaining vanilla, 1 tablespoon caramel sauce, and white sugar. Beat until peaks form and it reaches whipped cream consistency. Then fold half of the whipped cream into the pumpkin and cream cheese mixture. Spoon the pumpkin mixture into your jars, then top with whipped cream by either spooning it or piping it on top. Drizzle remaining caramel sauce over each parfait, then add a pinch of sea salt to each. Make the day before, the morning of or right before serving.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

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

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Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

I promised over the summer when I shared my grapefruit Moscow mule recipe that I was going hard on Moscow mules from basically now until eternity. I’m making good on my word today, with your new favorite drink of fall! An apple cider Moscow mule made with cinnamon sugar, fresh apple cider and ginger beer, of course. We’re officially at the point where we keep ginger beer stocked in the fridge at all times. Because you just never know. Maybe you come home from the cider mill with a jug of fresh cider and the mood strikes you to whip up something tasty and delicious. Maybe that happened to us the other day. Maybe I’m not going to judge you however and whenever you drink your mules. No judgement here, friends! Just be sure to give this one a try. You’ll be glad you did!

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mule
Makes 1 serving

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 3 oz ginger beer
  • 3 oz fresh apple cider
  • 1 tsp cinnamon sugar
  • 2 or 3 apple slices
  • Cinnamon stick (optional)

Place an apple slice or two in the bottom of a copper mug or cocktail glass. Sprinkle in the cinnamon sugar, then muddle with the back of a spoon. Fill the mug with ice, then pour in vodka, ginger beer and apple cider. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with an additional apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Sip and enjoy!

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

The Sweetest Occasion

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

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A Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

One could make a pretty sound argument that this post was merely an excuse to play dress up with my kid. Not far off, friends, not far off. Since capsule wardrobing has become such a trend, I thought it would be fun to put together a fall baby capsule wardrobe for Em. We’ve basically reached the point going on a year later where we’ve worn through most of the clothing she received as gifts at my shower and when she was born, save for a few fancier party dresses. As I’ve been shopping for her I realized I’ve been shopping seasonally and effectively putting together mini capsule wardrobes, so I thought it would be fun to share some of the pieces I picked out for fall.

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

Folks, babies grow quickly. I categorically do not believe in having 27 pairs of pants in any given size, because they just outgrow things so incredibly fast. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on really cute, mix and match pieces she can wear for a season and get the most use out of every item as possible. Generally by the time the season changes, we’re onto the next size and if not, we just carry forward anything she can still wear. So, no, I’m not wastefully replenishing my kid’s wardrobe every season like some kind of diva. In fact, I could confidently hold my own in a debate that this is actually a really smart way to stretch your budget while decking your kid out in a killer wardrobe. Mix and match, friends, mix and match. Just say no to dedicated outfits that match nothing else.

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

For fall, I decided that the star of her wardrobe would be this great Army green parka. She gets so many compliments on it already and it’s a size that is going to allow her to wear it for several months. I love the pairing of pale pink with that green, so from there we picked out a few cute tops, jeggings and a little dress that all coordinate. Chambray and white round everything out for a little collection that even Daddy can figure out on his own. (Gosh, such a cliché, but seriously, Daddy needs all the help he can get.) Of course we still mix in other jeans and tops, but this allowed us to refresh her wardrobe with the sizes and seasonally appropriate pieces she needed in a way that didn’t require us to buy a bunch of must-wear-together outfits that couldn’t be worn any other way. Ain’t nobody got time for that. (And, hell, most of us ain’t trying to spend the money on that.)

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

My favorite part of this post? The obligatory overload of cute baby photos. The baby who is already ten and a half months, friends. Ten and a half months! Insanity. And if you wondered, yes, the first birthday party plans are officially underway as of this week. But more on that another day. In the meantime, if you needed a pick me up today with a cute baby fix, you’re welcome.

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

Baby Capsule Wardrobe for Fall | Baby fashion, best blogs for moms, and baby style from @cydconverse

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

[1:Bow headwrap | 2: Poplin utility parka | 3: Mudcloth baby headband | 4: Patterned swing dress | 5: Chambray polka dot top | 6: Ivory jersey leggings | 7: Pink ballet slippers | 8: Metallic moccasins | 9: Fair isle joggers | 10: Chambray pocket shirt | 11: White embroidered lace top | 12: Rolled cuff jeggings | 13: Peter pan collar top.]

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Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar | Entertaining tips, party ideas, recipes, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

Since my first foray into making donuts this spring with vanilla bean cake donuts, which I doused in blueberry glaze, I decided I couldn’t let the ubiquitous pumpkin spice season pass me by without making another batch of donuts! Or, in this case, I made like three or four different versions of these donuts until I decided they were good enough to pass the test. And then, I decided because they originally called for so little butter, we should just make them vegan and tried that out a couple of times, too. So here’s the deal with these particular donuts. They’re exceptionally good. They’re best eaten the same day and precisely 0% of people are going to guess that they’re vegan. Oh, and unlike a lot of “pumpkin” spice concoctions, they do in fact contain pumpkin. They’re also pretty darn simple to make so if you haven’t yet gotten yourself a donut pan, I suggest this one. I coated them in cinnamon sugar because my favorite apple cider donuts from our local cider mill are covered in cinnamon sugar and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Skip the cinnamon sugar if you like a less sweet donut and serve ’em up with coffee for the perfect fall treat.

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar | Entertaining tips, party ideas, recipes, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar | Entertaining tips, party ideas, recipes, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar | Entertaining tips, party ideas, recipes, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar
Makes approximately 12 donut 

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 10 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup cinnamon sugar (2 tablespoons ground cinnamon to 1 cup of white sugar)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of the coconut oil and pumpkin. Gently mix into the dry ingredients until just combined being sure not to over mix. Spray a donut pan generously with non-stick cooking spray, then spoon donut mixture into each ring until 3/4 of the way full. (Dough will be sticky and quite thick so use the back of your spoon to spread it around if need be.) Bake for 11 – 12 minutes or until donuts spring back to the touch. Remove to a wire rack to cool. While cooling, prep your cinnamon sugar and make sure the remaining 4 tablespoons of coconut oil are melted. Then, one by one, quickly dunk each donut in coconut oil and then toss in cinnamon sugar until well coated. Return to the wire rack and then eat as soon as possible but beware! One will definitely not be enough.

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar | Entertaining tips, party ideas, recipes, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar | Entertaining tips, party ideas, recipes, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar | Entertaining tips, party ideas, recipes, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

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

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