Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yellow Bicycle


Taste testing drinks for events is definitely one of the many perks of being a Hip Hostess. My most recent find is called the Yellow Bicycle. This caught my eye due to the fun summery name and the fact that Prosecco, my favorite, is the main ingredient. I love a nice refreshing, sparkly glass of anything in the summer.

Not to mention, the name has a cute meaning behind it. The bicycle part refers to the legend and lore of St. Germain, about how the elder flowers are carted down the mountain on bicycles.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride a bike well but I can drink one to perfection.

1/2 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
4 ounces Prosecco or cava
Lemon zest (optional)

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, then add St-Germain and Chartreuse and stir until well chilled.

Strain into a cocktail glass and then top with Prosecco or cava. Garnish with lemon zest.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

May Day

Forgotten Holiday Tradition.

I love the month of May, the air is crisp the flowers are starting to bloom and I know that beach weather and farmer’s markets are just around the corner. I can’t think of a better way to welcome the month than to celebrate May Day.

For those of you not familiar with May Day, it goes a little something like this. On May 1st go to your neighbor’s house and hang the May Day basket on their door handle or on the front stoop, ring the door bell and run. Watch their surprise as they open their door and see the May Day basket. The tradition is that if you are caught they give you a kiss but if you’re sneaky and don’t get caught, you can still come out from hiding and wish them a happy May Day.

This is such a lovely tradition and it can certainly be modified to fit your lifestyle. As a child we constructed paper baskets and filled them with fresh picked flowers and candy. This was accompanied by a card with a cute message. You could always use baked goods or small trinkets to fill the basket. It is a great feeling to make people smile and brighten their day and all it takes is a small May Day basket with a little ding and dash.

When I asked my husband if they celebrated May Day in Canada he said he hadn’t heard of it. After explaining the concept he said “oh yeah, we did that but with dog poo.”….Boys!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cambria Cove

New source for gifts.

I used to get so excited when I would get a new catalogue or magazine in the mail, but I swear that volume that comes through on a daily basis has doubled in the last 6 months. Now it's overwhelming. Before you can finish flipping through your newest pile of retail booty, another 3 or 4 arrive. Our paper recycling bin usually weighs about 200 lbs from what seems to be minor updates to catalogues or flyers that we received last week!

So when a new catalogue called Cambria Cove arrived this month, I was skeptical. Do I want to add this to my stack of "To Be Flipped Through"? Or do I want to send it straight to the blue bin? Well I'm glad that I gave it a chance!

Cambria Cove turned out to be a refreshing mix of all things related to the home. Journals, notecards, plates, glasses, gourmet food items, and much more. In the end, I dog-eared so many pages that I ended up keeping the whole catalogue instead of tearing out a page here and there. Here are just a few of the highlights that I think would make wonderful gifts for friends or for yourself:

Pretty soaps and candles make great hostess gifts!

From beautifully crafted utilitarian pieces to lovely serving pieces, the kitchen wares are on my wish list.
Potpourri and solid perfume never looked so elegant.
Mother's Day is right around the corner, and I'm sure she could use another album to store family photos.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Run for the Roses

Kentucky Derby Party Food.

The first Saturday in May is always an excuse for a good party...not just because it is actually starting to feel like Summer, but because of "The Derby." Any event that makes it socially acceptable to wear a big hat and drink Bourbon early in the day is more than alright by me.

Most people are more than aware of the Mint Julep and it's ties to The Derby, but I think this year I'm going to try my hand at a few other Kentucky Classics - The Hot Brown Sandwich and Derby Pie. Of course I'm going to have to hit the treadmill as hard as Smarty Jones and Big Brown worked the racetrack to burn off these calories, but it only happens once a year so it's worth it!

The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe
the official recipe of The Brown Hotel

4 oz. Butter
Flour to make a Roux (about 6 tablespoons)
3 - 3 1/2 cups Milk
1 Beaten Egg
6 T Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 oz. Whipped Cream (optional)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Slices of Roast Turkey
8-12 Slices of Toast (may be trimmed)
Extra Parmesan for Topping
8-12 Strips of Fried Bacon (I like to roast mine so that they are nice and flat)

Melt butter and add enough flour to make a reasonably thick roux (enough to absorb all of the butter). Add milk and Parmesan cheese. Add egg to thicken sauce, but do not allow to boil. Remove from heat. Fold in whipped cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place two slices of toast on a metal (or flameproof) dish. Cover the toast with a liberal amount of turkey. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the turkey and toast. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until the sauce is speckled brown and bubbly. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of bacon on top, and serve immediately.

Derby Pie

4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Karo light corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
9 inch deep dish pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all ingredients and pour into shell. Bake 15 mins and reduce heat to 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Mint Julep
**part of this must be made in late as the night before.

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Crushed ice
Silver Julep Cups (if possible...otherwise an Old-Fashioned Glass works fine)

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Walk on the Wild Side


Wildflower wedding bouquets add a "green," wild, free and natural look to any venue. With the wedding trend leaning towards organic and simple, many couples are opting for wildflower bouquets and boutonnieres. They have a romantic feel and work well in a mismatched formation.

Wildflowers offer plenty of vibrant colors and textures. Popular types include poppies, thimbleweed, New England Aster, forget-me-nots, cornflowers and Queen Anne’s lace, just to name a few.

It will take a minimum amount of research to determine what wildflowers are in your area and how easy it is to get your hands on them. Even if you opt for some traditional wedding flowers you may be able to supplement with some wild grass or heather from your area.

If you are looking for nature’s way of decorating check out these lovely pictures of bouquets from D-Magazine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Standing up for Cake Stands.

Wedding Cake Display.

So as I was going through wedding pics this week, I was reminded of one of the small speed bumps that I had along the line in my wedding planning - the cake display. Like a lot of other couples these days, my husband and I opted to do a smaller cake and supplement with lots of other small desserts. But with such a large open space for our wedding venue, I was afraid that our cake would get lost in the mix and not have the visual impact that we really wanted. Enter my search for the perfect cake stand.

Aye yie yie. Who would have thought it would be so difficult? Every professional baker takes pics of their smaller (3 tier or less) cakes on these lovely, vintage inspired-cake stands...but I had no luck. I searched tag sales, Ebay, and just short of NYC trash cans. I finally found my cake stand on a fluke trip to a store that I hadn't even considered.

So to help any of you out there that are having the same problem, I've assembled some of my favorite that I have found on the web in the past few months. I think they are a really smart choice for any bride that wants to make a big impact with a quaint-sized cake. And the best part is that you can use these beauties year-after-year on special occasions...a birthday cake always looks better on a pedestal. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Bright Side Project

Fun Site.

Would you like to visit a website where you get to see fabulous new artists each and every day? If the answer is yes, then you should definitely check out The Bright Side Project. Not only do you get access to the newest, hip designers and their creations, you also get a daily chance to win one of their creative pieces for your very own.

The idea behind The Bright Side Project is to bring you a little metaphorical sunshine every day, to help you stop for a second and remember life is (still) beautiful and there is goodness in the world.

The Bright Side Project definitely brightens my daily reads. Check it out, you won’t be sorry!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ten Dollars Well Spent

Art and Packaging.

You know when someone has done something kind and generous with only you in mind (like paid for the wedding of your dreams) and you want to give them a very special gift but nothing seems heartfelt enough. Well how about if the present itself was something you knew they/he/she would enjoy but the real emotional part of the gift was the one-of-a-kind packaging that reminded them of a special moment.

Alicia Lynn Carrier, freelance photographer and artist will draw whatever your heart desires, on a 5×7 piece of brown paper, also known as a lunch bag for just $10.

The best part is, after all the misty eyed sentiments have been exchanged, the work of art can be framed and reflected on for years to come.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nibble of Choice


Hold on to your hats. There is a new Olive in town. It’s called Castelverano, a little-known olive variety that has finally hit the states.

Thanks to their intense green hue, these glossy, oval-shaped olives are easy to spot. Chefs are obsessed with them and once you taste them you'll understand why. Picked young and cured with less salt than other olives, they have a smooth, buttery texture and a mild, clean taste.

Convivio chef Michael White loves them because they remind him of fresh olives he's eaten in Italy. "So many Americans are used to bad olives," he says. "They're too acidic, too vinegary; these are fresh and meaty." At Convivio, White warms them in olive oil and seasons them lightly with rosemary, chili flakes and garlic.

Next time you are having a get together or serving Gin martinis try this hip new treat. You won’t be disappointed and your guests will love to try something new. If you live in the NYC you can usually find Castelverano’s at Buon Italia at Chelsea Market. If you live in other areas many of the Whole Foods stores have been receiving shipments. They are also sold online at Buon appetito!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wedding Paper Divas Discounts!!

Invitation deals.

We at Hip Hostess love a good deal...and we also love Wedding Paper Divas. So you can imagine how excited we are that Wedding Paper Divas has an amazing deal for our readers right now!

The William Arthur line of Letterpress and Thermography stationary is rarely included in promotions by WPD, but that all changes now. If you order 75 of any item from the William Arthur line, you receive 25 for free. Pretty amazing, right? Click here for all of the details.

Brilliant Bouquet and Vintage Swirls Letterpress Invitations.

Pristine Pinstripes & Simple Equation Thermography Invitations

ALSO...Wedding Paper Divas is offering 25% off of thank you cards when you purchase invitations and response cards from their Signature Collection. Click here for the details.

Dandelion Dream and Pop Art Poppy thank you cards.
With all of these amazing promotions, there has to be something out there for any of you brides to love!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Downloadable Calligraphy by Emilie Friday


Lately I have found myself drawn to the romantic, swooping letters of calligraphy. It seems to glide across a page and effortlessly draw me in. Calligraphy is an art form that comes in handy in many situations. However, due to the fact that many of us don’t possess the skill or time to practice, we just end up dreaming of the perfect place card, invitation or monogram.
Well not anymore. Emilie Friday has made calligraphy easily accessible and affordable. Emilie offers custom downloadable JPEG files for between $30.00 and $35.00. You know from earlier posts that Hip Hostess is a fan of anything that can be purchased and reused. Emilie Friday’s calligraphy file easily falls into this category. Not only can you use the JPEG to design your invitations and save the dates, but then you can use individual lines for things such as, headers for a menu cards, escort cards, tags for favors, out of town bags, etc.

Also, after the nuptials you will still have a custom file for your newlywed dinner parties and don’t get me started on Holiday greeting cards.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Canadian Butter Tarts


One evening last week my husband said, “I have a craving for Butter Tarts.” To which I replied, “Huh?” You would be surprised how often this repertoire happens in our household. Canada so close yet so far away.

Apparently the Canadian’s have been keeping a lovely little secret from the rest of the world. That being these ridiculously delicious little butter tarts that can best be described as Pecan Pie sans pecans.

They are a cinch to make and absolutely fantastic with a strong cup of coffee. They are a great addition to any dessert table or picnic basket. One word of caution, they are VERY gooey, so I would not recommend in circumstances where licking your fingers is not acceptable.

Let me know if you like ‘em…eh?

Canadian Butter Tarts
Serving 8 individual tarts

1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup raisins
8 (3 inch) unbaked tart shells (This is the easy way out. You could also make your own pie dough or purchase ready made pie dough and cut circles out accordingly)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C.)

In a large bowl, beat the egg, then beat in brown sugar and salt. Stir in vanilla. Beat until light and bubbly, then stir in melted butter. Fold in raisins. Drop filling by spoonfuls into tart shells.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake an additional 12 minutes, until filling is set and pastry is golden brown.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sustainable Spirits

Organic Cocktails.

Now that I'm past my 20's, I suppose it's time to become more responsible. Which is why I'm going to start drinking organic vodka.

Nope. I haven't lost my mind or conjured up images from a dream. There really is USDA Certified Organic vodka - Crop Vodka. Made from organic grain and bottled and distilled in Minnesota, Crop Vodka is said to have an unbelievably clean taste.

And if you are like my husband who rolls his eyes at whatever he considers to be the "unnecessarily" organic, consider this: by not using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, these producers are protecting the land and water in our fine country. And the distilling process of Crop is so efficient that no carbon treatment or charcoal filtering is required – thereby saving resources and energy. Good for the earth = good for me...right?

And with tasty options like Cucumber and Tomato, I think I might even be able to convince my skeptical hubby to go green with our libations. Especially with the cocktail suggestions on the Crop site.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Flipping for Flip & Tumble

Shopping bag.

If you don't already have a reusable shopping bag, you really have to get onboard with the craze. They're practical, environmentally-friendly, and much more fashionable than the Saks bag you've been carrying around since December (if it has snowflakes on front and you're still carrying it in May, it must go).

Now I've become a bit of a connoisseur of these bags mostly out of necessity (a.k.a. I don't have room for a lot of shopping bags in my postage stamp apartment). I like Reisenthel for multiple options with long handles. I used Envirosax for my wedding out-of-town bags because the colors and patterns were so great. And I've discovered a new fave: Flip & Tumble.

The great thing about Flip & Tumble is that it incorporates my favorite things about the other guys (great colors, long handles, easily cleanable), but it also folds into itself for storage pouch necessary. Because if I can constantly lose my umbrella pouch, you know that I'm losing my reusable bag pouch.

Looks like I have a new bag for my Trader Joe's trip this weekend. Even if it makes my kitty cat sad that he doesn't have a paper bag to hide in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amy Tripple Photography

Photography and Babies.

For those of you that follow Hip Hostess regularly, you've heard me talk about the baby boom in the lives of my friends and family...and how it causes me great confusion because of my lack of knowledge about bambinos and bambinas. But with the recent arrival of my beautiful new niece, I have found another aspect of babydom that I can understand and and portraits!

When my brother-in-law and his wife showed us the photos prints that they had received of their newborn, I was floored. These are not the Sears photos that my generation got when we were growing up! Their amazing photographer, Amy Tripple, did an outstanding job taking beautiful pictures that highlighted all of the things that we love about babies - their little toes & fingers, their little bums, and itty bitty fat rolls (I wish they were as cute at 31 as they are at 3 weeks).

And Amy works with more than just newbies...infants and little kids are welcome too. No more awkward poses in front of a fake mantel at JC Penney. You can have fun picks of your kids that show their personality! My mother would have killed to have these options!

If you are in the Chicagoland area, definitely consider working with this gem of a photographer. Kids grow up so fast, and I think it is important to have great photos to capture these important moments in their life!

PS. I may be a bit partial, but these last two are my faves - it's my little niece, Makena!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sew Bettie Contest


All of you DIYers should listen up because Hip Hostess has another April contest that is perfect for you!

Sew Bettie is a Chicago-based textile design company that specializes in limited-edition prints sold by the fat quarter (18"x21")...the ideal size for small craft projects. Their cheeky designs are quirky, cool and certainly not to be forgotten. These happen to be some of my faves:

And Sew Bettie is offering one of our readers a free fat quarter of their choice! To enter, go to the Sew Bettie site and pick out your favorite designs. Then leave us a comment telling us what you like and what fun DIY project you have in mind (hint: there are some great ideas on the SB the fab lampshade below). The contest ends on April 30th and the winner will be announced May 1st. Good luck!