Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Moon Cakes

Food tradition.

In China and throughout many Asian countries, people celebrate the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon occurs when the moon is at its roundest and brightest, signaling a time of completeness and abundance. This year the Moon Festival falls on Saturday, October 3rd.

There are many legends and stories about the history of the moon festival ranging from: paying tribute to the lady in the moon, to the belief that “When the moon is full, mankind is one!” Whatever your beliefs, this is a beautiful tradition and a great way to add a little fun to your normal Saturday night.

One of the ways the Chinese celebrate is to make delectable little cakes known as Moon Cakes. They are extremely ornate and filled with many different goodies. They are extremely hard to make, so if you have an Asian market in your area that may be the best way to get your hands on some. I plan on taking a jaunt to upstate New York this weekend which will definitely include a little hand holding under the bright moon and a delicious moon cake.

If you can’t find moon cakes in your area I am sure the lady in the moon wouldn’t mind a tribute with an equally tasty moon pie!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Mer Mag
These handmade invites for a ladies tea were easy to make and lovely to the eye!

Aesthetic Outburst
Seriously cute DIY owl costume…he is going to score SO much candy in a few weeks!!

Another day. Another chocolate craving. Belgian Chocolate Tirimisu Verrine. Yes, please.
Hanging an assortment of antique hand mirrors as an art display is definitely a glamour do.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Breakfast in Bed

Plan for yourself.

For those of you who don’t know me, I like to celebrate every chance I get. I find ways to treat myself for life’s little accomplishments on a regular basis. If I leave the dentist cavity free…I grab a Greek coffee with plenty of real sugar and cream. If things are getting crazy at Hip Hostess we often stop for an indulgent lunch of oysters and champagne. I truly believe that it is those special little moments that get you through the tough times. It is the old school, you have to stop and smell that rose whenever possible, theory.

That being said, I also try to plan a day about every 6 months where the hubby and I celebrate true, out and out laziness. We usually do this on a Sunday which makes for a pretty busy Saturday of errands but the rewards are well worth it. Many people think it is silly to plan such a day…why not just let it be spontaneous?

The answer is…then the apartment wouldn’t be stocked with delicious, easy to grab delicacies, movie classics and I always buy one special treat. Sometimes it is new fuzzy blankets or robes to laze about in all day. Other times I buy spa products and end my self indulgent day with a facial. A few chocolate truffles never hurt either.

The reason I bring this up is that on the Hip Hostess blog we write a lot about tips for easy, unforgettable entertaining. But every once in a while you have to plan a day to cater to yourself!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Watercolor Wonderland

Talent Spotlight.

I am constantly amazed by the talents of artists within all areas of design. Whether it is graphic, interior, industrial, or fashion design, there are so many places to find inspiration. My new stationary inspiration is Courtney Khail.

For anyone that can appreciate true artistry, her work will blow you away. Truly unique, Courtney's work blends dreamy hand-painted watercolor with the hard lines of stamping to create a look that is unlike anything that I have ever seen in the world of paper. And when I asked her to tell me a bit about herself and how she designs all of her amazing pieces, I could tell from her response that her work is a true passion. So I'll share those words with you:

"With my work I strive to keep the focus on the art and on the client. To me, something custom shouldn't just mean that it has your name or monogram- actually, I try to steer clear of that. I try instead to focus on what matters to my client- is it a certain color, flower being used in her wedding bouquet or activity they love to do? If so, that's what I want to work with!"

"So whether it is a wedding invitation, a set of note cards for a gift, or just to write "thinking of you" letters, I make sure that everything is especially created for my client. Each design is first drawn by me, then each piece is individually hand painted and then hand stamped with the design. You get to feel the ink, follow the brush strokes, and see the subtle variations of each piece."

So please make sure to take a look at Courtney's work and spread the word that there is some amazing new talent in the stationery world.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Twisted Tequila


On our most recent trip to our favorite pub, my husband and I spotted a bottle of something a bit unusual behind the bar. So we asked our favorite bartender, "what the heck is Patron Cafe?" He promptly poured 2 complimentary shot glasses of the dark liquor for us and I prepared myself for the worse, because how on earth could coffee flavored tequila be a good idea? is delicious. Straight up and slightly chilled, Patron XO Cafe tastes like a smooth espresso with a little (but actually big) alcohol kick.

So instantly my brain went to the possible martinis and cocktails in which you could use this delicious elixir. So I made a quick jaunt to the Patron website and found a suggested cocktail that is exactly what my entertaining thoughts had imagined. Check it out below. It will be a daring and delicious addition to your drink repertoire.

Ladies Night Martini
1 oz Patron XO Cafe
1 oz Stoli Vanilla
1 oz Amaretto or Frangelico
coffee beans for garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with coffee beans.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sound Advice

Great Find. Great Cause.

So, how cool is this. The Sound Advice project has found a way to print out the waveform of a message. Actually, it is what would happen if you spoke into a microphone, printed out the message and then cast it into a bracelet. The below bracelet is saying, “I believe in you.”

The bracelet will only set you back $18 and can easily be recorded on this website. The program also donates the net proceeds to drug use, awareness and prevention. The program was started to help parents relay important messages to their children. However, I don’t see anything that will limit you from leaving any little secret coded message you would like to share for any loved one in your life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

La Maison Du Chocolat

Chocolate Splurge.

I am a self-proclaimed chocolate aficionado. one pays me to judge competitions or write articles about the subject, but my 30+ year love affair with this confection makes me feel like I could. Which is why I have to talk to you about La Maison du Chocolat.

La Maison opened on my block in NYC at the end of last year and I have been avoiding it ever since. All I need is to become addicted to a place that I have to walk by every single day. There aren't enough treadmills at the NY Sports Club to erase the damage that I could do. Alas, I caved in this evening during a fit of chocolate craving and OMG, OMG, OMG...I am in love.

The best part of these chocolates is that the complexity and intense flavor truly satisfies even the craziest of cravings in 1 to 2 pieces, making my fear of devouring an entire box in one sitting obsolete. My recommendations would be the Quito (Semisweet Dark Chocolate that has a lovely smooth matching ganache inside) and the Rigoletto Lait (Caramelized Mouse with milk chocolate coating). Trust me. They are SO worth it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Etsy Shop-Made by Michelle Brusegaard mbmb
Everyone should have chic sticky notes at their fingertips.

The House that A-M Built
This gives new meaning to labour of love.

How About Orange
With cold weather on its way…everyone needs a cool pillow project to keep them busy.

Confessions of a Tart
Because no Link Love would be complete without tempting your tastebuds.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beer and Cheese?

Food Pairings.

I look forward to the arrival of my monthly issue of Food and Wine magazine. I know I will always find something that is new and interesting. In the October issue it was beer and cheese pairings. Now wine and cheese together is as common as peanut butter and jelly. But beer and cheese is a little more unexpected yet still sounds delicious.

The article by Andrew Myers of Washington DC’s CityZen gives you a fun, interesting beverage-food combo to try out at your next gathering. With football season upon us this would be a great way to incorporate a little surprise element into the normal beer and wings routine. Andrew says that the key to the pairings is a good fizzy beer which enhances the flavors in the cheese.

I will admit that football parties do not rank that high on my list of things for giving up my beloved lazy Sunday’s. However, if you were to tempt me with a plate of stinky cheese and fizzy beer…I’ll be there.

Here are the suggested pairings:

Hefeweizen with Goat Cheese - Hofbrau Munchen’s citrusy hefeweizen is a light German wheat beer that’s excellent with soft, tangy cheeses.

Brown Ale with Spanish Mahon - The nuttiness and hoppy flavor of Brooklyn Brewery’s brown ale pair well with mild cow’s-milk cheeses.

Imperial Stout with Blue Cheese - North Coast Brewing company’s chocolaty and deep Old Rasputin Russian is a hearty stout, perfect for stinky cheeses.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

DIY Ribbon Boutonniere


I was recently inspired by this photo of a simple and elegant ribbon boutonniere. Because you are working with fabric, the color options are virtually limitless compared to flowers, and the cost of this project is next to nothing. So I thought I would give it a try. Check out the unbelievably simple instructions below for how you can make your very own ribbon boutonniere.

2 yards of ribbon (I used grosgrain)
Cotton Thread

Fold the ribbon in an accordion style. You want the total length of each fold to equal the diameter of the final boutonniere. In my case, I made each fold 2.5" and the final boutonniere is 2.5" across.

Sew a couple of tacking stitches through the center of the ribbon length and knot the end to keep in place.

Fan out the folds.

Fine tune the folds so that each division is as evenly spaced as possible. Cut the "loose end" in a diagonal for a more finished look.

Sew a button over the tacking stitch to finish off the boutonniere. While stitching the button on, stitch slightly outside of the initial center tacking stitch. This will hold the fanned out folds in place.

And for less than $5 and 10 minutes of work, you have a beautiful and stylish boutonniere!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Embroidery Hoop Heaven

DIY Decor.

I love this creative, easy and economical idea. Design Dazzle uses embroidery hoops to add visual interest to a nursery creating a modern day mobile. However, this idea could easily be incorporated into many areas of your home or even event space. It is a great, economical way to create an ambience by adding pattern, color or theme. The hoops and fabric combinations are light enough to hang almost anywhere and most craft stores and fabric stores sell fabric remnants at a highly discounted rate. With so many different styles of embroidery hoops and fabrics available this project is an easy way to incorporate your personality into any situation.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You need this.

Registry recommendation.

When my husband and I registered for wedding gifts last year, he thought I was absolutely ridiculous for registering for a salad spinner. He argued that I would not possibly use it enough to justify the space that it would take up. Well he was wrong, wrong, wrong. I use my salad spinner at least 4 times a week. I use it to clean, dry, and store salad or herbs and I save a ton of money by not buying the pre-washed and pre-cut greens.

But this weekend I came across something that might trump my beloved salad spinner. A collapsible salad spinner. For those of you out there that are registering for wedding gifts, you have to include it on your list. And I'm so jealous of those of you that receive it...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mini Caramel Apples

Fun Food Idea.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with caramel apples. I love to eat them but, let’s face it; you must be in the comfort of your home, with no one around, to really go to town on a caramel apple. There is just no graceful way to eat those suckers. You will always have a face full of caramel and 2 days and 2 washings later you will still manage to find some in your hair.

This proved to be a problem for caramel apple lovers everywhere…until Sakurako Kitsa had the genius to put together a tutorial on mini caramel apples. Imagine being able to enjoy caramel apples at parties, in public, even at weddings. This, my friends, is a huge breakthrough and this fall I vow to eat mini caramel apples in public at least once a week!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

May Luk
I just love this LOVE platter.

Labor of Love
Beautiful pictures of what had to be an amazingly fun wedding!

Funky Black Owl
The nautical inspired light fixtures in this kitchen are absolutely drool-worthy.

Butterfly Food.
Because Vampires are so hot right now…and Halloween is right around the corner.

MA Belle
Say YES to lots of saturated color…

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mad About Mad Men


Every once in a while I open a magazine and become god smacked by the beauty of the images that I see. The September issue of Vanity Fair elicited one of those moments. The photos of Mad Men stars January Jones and Jon Hamm just ooze glamour. I've decided that my Fall/Winter 2009 party looks are going to be entirely based on these images.

And for a little help in perfecting the red lip/dramatic eye liner look, I'm going to seek the expert advice of my local Sephora make-up artists. The "Cat-Eye" is one of their signature Fall Looks as well. Maybe they'll help me find the perfect red lipstick...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Flying Fig

Cocktail Recipe.

I have a fondness for figs. I like them served along side a strong cheese, stewed with brandy and especially paired with pork tenderloin. Fig trees usually bear fruit twice, once in the early summer and then again in the late summer. Since I like figs in almost any form, I decided to take advantage of the last crop and search for a fig inspired adult beverage.

I ran across The Flying Fig, on the Chow website, which was a semi-finalist in the Cocktail Square Off contest hosted by Square One Vodka. Honestly, for a casual drink at home I would usually skip a drink recipe that has this amount of ingredients and needs muddling. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the figs, Elderflower liqueur, agave syrup and fresh mint would be worth pulling out the mortar and pestle. In the end, I am glad that my lazy side did not win out because this drink was everything I wanted it to be…refreshing, light and delicious.

This drink may not be ideal for a large crowd since it is a bit labor intensive and really needs to be strained more than once which could get really messy in large quantities. However, if you are having a couple friends over for dinner or just want to plan a special evening for you and your sweetie, this drink won’t disappoint.

The Flying Fig

2 to 3 fresh organic figs
1/2 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
2 ounces Square One Organic Vodka
1 ounce fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice
1/2 ounce raw organic agave syrup to taste
Fresh organic mint, leaf garnish

Muddle diced fig in the elderflower liqueur (reserve one slice for garnish). Add cracked ice, vodka, lemon juice, and agave syrup. Shake vigorously. Slap one mint leaf, rim and drop in chilled cocktail glass along with reserved fig slice. Strain cocktail into glass.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Remembrance

Thursday, September 10, 2009



This time of year you can find great bargains on big bunches of Sunflowers. Sunflowers symbolize strength, warmth and nourishment. They are also one of the easiest flowers to arrange. They look great in any container and make a bold statement all by themselves. If you are stopping by the farmer’s market don’t forget to grab some of these little beauties for your home.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Managing Mending Materials

Organization Idea.

Every Spring and Fall when I switch out my clothes, I usually undertake a few organizing projects to add a little more order in my life. Ironically, while organizing some old magazine issues I found a great idea in a 2007 Martha Stewart Mag on how to add some order to another part of my life.

If you are anything like me, you quickly get overwhelmed by the spare buttons and threads that come with new clothing purchases. It doesn't take long before they take over your sewing kits. I currently have two tins filled with those little packets and do you think I could every actually find what I needed if I did lose a button? Nope.

That is why I think this idea below is genius. All you need is plastic business card organizers and a binder. You can label each divider with a small piece of paper, so that finding the appropriate supplies when needed is a snap. Now I can hardly wait to get my sewing kit in order!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Heart of Light
This cake is so simple, yet so elegant.

P is for Party
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recession was the inspiration behind Christi Bennett's fabulous Swap Party.

Blue Morning Dress by Magnolija
Who says you can't be stylish and comfortable when lounging.

The Inspired Bride
Love this hot cocoa vial DIY…it would be great for a favor or a gift.

These little tasty morsels are next on my baking list.