Saturday, October 31, 2009

Plethora of Pretty Pillows

Etsy Find.

When I'm having a humdrum day, I often find myself wandering to Etsy to see what items are on their "Hand Picked" list. This week I was drawn to the work of Pillow Happy. I clicked on the one Hand Picked item and quickly found myself in an etsy shop filled with so many original deocorative pillow designs that I could hardly contain myself.

Every single item in this etsy shop is just so cool. I especially love the modern interpretations of natural objects - like the modern fern and willow or even the clusters of green pebbles. Amazing! Make sure to check their work out. I think you'll find it refreshing.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Spotted: Pestos with Panache by Lauren

With the holiday’s right around the corner, Hip Hostess is on the lookout for unique gift ideas. When I spotted these fun Pesto’s with Panache by Lauren I knew I had a serious contender for my gift list. The line up of flavors includes Fabulous Fig & Gorgonzola, Pumpkin Chipotle, Bangin’ Blueberry, Succulent Strawberry, Proscuitto & Smoked Almond and last but not least Decadent Dark Chocolate & Ancho Chile. The pestos are packaged in cute little tins and can be found at Also, a fun little fact that you could include on the gift card to all your foodie friends is, they were the winner of The Nibble 2008 “Outstanding Artisan” award. Try these fabulous pestos on sandwiches, mixed with pasta or use them to top bruschetta at your next get together. They are already on my wish list.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cheese Truffles

Appetizer Recipe.

I'm originally from Indiana and sometimes I get crazy cravings for our Midwestern comfort food. During the holidays, my family loves nothing more than having a couple of assortments of cheeseballs as snack options. They are easy to make, casual enough to graze over all night long, and delicious.

So when I saw this new twist on my old favorite from Southern Living, I actually did a little happy dance. Get this...Blue Cheese Truffles. They are so freakin' cute and dare I say chic...what a perfect way to jazz up the standard cheese tray at your next party!! This recipe will tend to be a bit salty because of the nature of blue cheese and the bacon (everything is better with bacon), so I think that I'll serve it with a large selection of fruit to balance the flavors. I cannot wait to try this!

Blue Cheese Truffles
Makes 6 appetizer portions

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 (4-oz.) container crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon

1. Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Cover tightly, and chill at least 1 hour or until firm (can chill up to 3 days).

2. Roll cheese mixture into 3/4-inch-round balls. Roll each ball in bacon. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. If chilled, let stand 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crayon Bouquet

Kids Centerpiece.

While I was browsing through my latest issue of Real Simple I came upon another great idea for a children’s table…a crayon bouquet. There are just a few steps and the end result is a colorful crayon burst that would be centerpiece worthy on any children’s table. You can always set out a box of crayons but the truth is that the point of a children’s table is to capture the attention of the kiddo’s and intrigue them enough to keep them busy for an extended period of time.

This is a simple project that is visually appealing and something different that will excite the kids to explore the sphere, looking for their favorite colors. I would suggest using a plastic based table cloth covered by brown paper or butcher’s paper which will make the entire table an artist’s palette. The plastic, incase you have a very dramatic Picasso on your hands. Always protect the furniture…learned this lesson the hard way.

To make the crayon bouquet, slice a third off the stryofoam ball to create a flat bottom, then cover the ball with finger paint. When dry, insert crayons close together, starting at the top and using only bright colors.

You don’t have to limit the centerpiece fun to crayons. If you have an older crowd, colored pencils and markers could work as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Link Love.

These ghostly white pumpkins are darling.

How about Orange
This DIY bow could be a stylish lifesaver if you are in a pinch and need to wrap a gift.

Bakerella in cahoots with a friend = one freakin’ awesome marriage proposal.

The new black label items are absolutely stunning. With so many choices, I just can’t decide which one I want!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scary Candy Apples


Okay, Okay…I know Halloween is only a week away and you have already planned your party and partially executed. However, these apples are so awesome and chic looking that I couldn’t resist just one more Halloween post. On the plus side, they are really easy to make and would only add a few dollars to your budget. It may inspire an entryway theme that you hadn’t planned on? Dark black vases or candelabra’s with dark red roses and matching glossy red and black apples. Check out the tutorial and a few tips at Mattbites.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

War of the Walls

DIY Decor.

When you live in a small apartment you have have to be selective with what you put in it. And when you live with a husband in that apartment, you have to make sure your selections walk the line between masculine and feminine. One too many ruffles makes him uncomfortable. One too many bits of sport memorabilia makes me insane.

So I'm happy to admit that I am totally gaga for this Pop take on a classic deer head. I have been spying a similar version on Etsy for sometime now that is costlier. With feelings of guilt for a possible breach in frugality, I was relieved to find this DIY that will let me accomplish the same effect for a fraction of the cost.

The best part is that in the balance of the masculine and feminine design, both me and my better half win on this one!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Penant Stamp Roller


What did we do before blogs? I can’t imagine not being able to get such great inspiration from people like Cathe Holden. She took a couple items from her junk drawer and thought, “oh hey, how cool would a pennant rubber stamp roller be.” And she was right.

Check out the tutorial below from Cathe’s blog on how you could make your own stamp roller to adorn your gifts and parcels. Also, enjoy the fact that you just received a valid reason to never feel guilty about not cleaning out your junk drawer!

While at the hardware store the other day, this seam roller caught my eye. It’s a tool for wallpapering. Then, from my kitchen junk drawer, I dug up a grocery store produce rubber band and a new project was born. A pennant rubber stamp roller!

I cut the band and measured it to fit around the roller without stretching. Then trimmed one side straight and marked off the tops of my banner for the tops of the pennants, and drew a string line close to the edge to keep the pennants connected.

Along the bottom, I marked in between the top mark measurements for the bottom corners of the pennants.

Using a very strong spray adhesive, I adhered the strip of rubber to the roller.

I trimmed out the triangles along the bottom of the band with my Xacto knife to create the pennants.

I dug out my stamp pads and with several practice runs on scrap paper- I was ready to roll. Curve your roller as you slowly go to get a great draping effect. I was only able to get one really good length of pennants per inking. It also helped if after inking my roller I wiped off the edge of the wood rollers to prevent those edges from accidentally printing above or below the pennants.

Use a pennant roller to add a sweet message to a letter, or a nice message on a shipping package.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vintage Treats

Halloween Idea.

There is no question that the 80's are back. Every store that I walk by is paying a not so subtle homage to the era of big hair, tight pants, and bold colors. Some of these trends I am willing to accept again, some of them are staying buried in my parent's basement with my Tiffany & Debbie Gibson tapes. But I think there is an area of 80's culture that is being ignored...

Brandi and I recently made a trip to one of my favorite stores on the Lower East Side, Economy Candy. This place is like walking into a time warp of treats. Candy cigarettes, Big League Chew, Pop Rocks, Fun Dip, Bottle Caps...the list goes on and on. After 20 minutes of reminiscing about all of the saccharine selections, I became convinced that I had to come up with a reason to buy a boatload of these "old time" treats.

Well what better reason is Halloween?!? My Halloween party goers are all just big kids from the 80's like me and my husband. So while our focus for the evening will be costumes and libations, you better bet I'm sending my peeps home with something slightly different than the customary mini chocolate bar assortment. And if they get half as excited about Fruit Stripe Gum as I did, I'll have done my duties as a hostess.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wedding Cake Toppers

Etsy Find.

To be honest with you I am not really a wedding topper kinda gal. My taste usually falls towards simple and elegant. I generally prefer a wedding cake that has subtle detail which ties into the wedding.

However, I recently saw something that swayed my opinion…the fantastic, detailed work of Jenny at Lollipop workshop. Jenny customizes the bride and groom to capture every aspect of what makes the couple unique. I love the quirky little details. Visit her etsy shop to see all the amazing options.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Stylish Events
Gorgeous Fall Wedding Cakes

Eat Drink Chic
Downloadable Homeade jam labels…adorable

St. Louis Entertains

These mimosa's only have eyes for you.

Swiss Miss
A Tree that grows books

Smitten Sticks
Check out the new launch of Smitten Sticks

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hip Hostess Halloween Graphic

DIY Graphic.

How much fun is halloween? To quote Jim Gaffigan, "You dress up like a superhero. Bang on your neighbor's door. And they give you candy." What's not to love?

To get in the spirit of Halloween, we whipped up the little graphic below for our readers to use in any DIY projects that you choose. Whether is a treat bag tag or a cupcake flag, use it as you please. Just right click on the image. Save the image. And get crafting.

And we'd love to hear from you and see pictures of any fun projects that you can conjure up.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Great Recipe Inspiration


It comes as no surprise that Hip Hostess loves to cook and EAT. We write often about easy entertaining methods, great recipe and product finds, as well as cool new ingredients.

In doing research for the above we continually run across new sites that are inspirational and sometimes just darn cute. In this post, Amber and I have compiled a list of a few of the out-of-the-ordinary sites that we find ourselves going to again and again.

We would also love to hear about your favorites.

Sprouted Kitchen
Healthy Food you want to eat

Seven Spoons
From late summer vegetable tarts to Banana Cream Pie…I want to make them all.

No take out
Complete with shopping list, tools, pantry items and game plan.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Spiked Apple Cider a Day...

Cocktail and Cold Remedy.

I've fallen prey to my first cold of the season...uck! Now my doctor told me to gargle with saltwater and take ibuprofen, but I've got my own remedy in mind. Normally I drink enough hot Earl Grey tea to put the British to shame, but since it's apple season I'm switching it up. My favorite Hot Spiked Apple Cider will soothe my throat and knock me out for a good night's sleep...and it's completely delish. Give it a try whether you are sick or not. It just makes you feel good.

Hot Spiked Cider

1 gallon apple cider
8 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon whole allspice
lemon peel (about 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon)
whiskey or dark rum

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Bring almost to a boil, then turn heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain. Serve in a mug with one ounce of rum or whiskey

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sweet Topiaries

Candy Decor.

I love topiaries in any form whether they are covered with moss, flowers, strawberries or in this case candy. Topiaries are great for incorporating color and form into your décor, tablescape or on your holiday buffet. This how-to from allyou shows you how just a couple of items can turn into the above. Use candleholders, cordial glasses or vases from around your home as pedestals. Try grouping in varying sizes and heights.

Styrofoam balls
Black spray paint
Low-temperature glue gun
Assorted candy such as Reese's Pieces, candy corn, black gumdrops, jelly rings and Skittles

1. Spray balls with black paint. Let dry.

2. Glue candy to balls in a uniform pattern, working in concentric circles around the entire ball. Let dry completely before displaying.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cranberry Beans


When my husband and I go to the farmer’s market we make it a priority to pick up some type of new, fun ingredient that is outside of our culinary comfort zone. The last couple times we picked up baby bok choy and squash blossoms. While I have eaten both of those in restaurants I did not have the faintest idea how to prepare them at home. I will admit that part of the fun for me is researching blogs and food websites to come up with a suiting recipe. The experiments have been both good and bad, but it always makes dinner a little more exciting.

That being said, this weekend’s market pick was cranberry beans. I was drawn to them because the coloring is very unusual. I didn’t find out until after the purchase that you lose the beautiful marbling to the cooking process, which got me thinking about some centerpieces, but that is a blog entry for a different day.

I chose a recipe from the Streaming Gourmet and set out to make some delicious Cranberry Beans with Garlic and Leeks. The beans give the dish a slightly nutty, creamy texture that is only enhanced by the garlic and leek flavor. The best part is that it is a perfect accompaniment to all the roasted meats that are so comforting in the fall and winter. To be honest, I find myself having portion control issues with mashed potatoes, risotto and polenta, so I couldn’t be happier to have a delicious fiber filled alternative.

Cranberry Beans with Garlic and Leeks
Serves 2
2 cups shelled, fresh Cranberry Beans
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups, 99% fat-free chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp chives, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
pepper to taste
1. Bring 6 cups of salted water to boil. Add beans and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in heavy-bottom medium sauce pan. Add leeks and sautée gently until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and sautée for 1 minute. Add cooked beans and stir to coat. Add broth, butter and salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Add bay leaf and let cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring as needed. Add additional chicken stock to keep beans moist, if necessary.
3. While beans are cooking, mix grated lemon zest, chives and minced garlic in a small bowl. Add this mixture to the beans near the very end of the cooking time. Remove bay leaf, add fresh ground pepper to taste and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Ceramic Canvas
Chocolate coconut tarts that take only 5 ingredients and are easy to make. Sign me up.

Design Sponge
Invitations printed on handkerchiefs…genius.

Utterly Engaged
These DIY Mr & Mrs coffee cup jackets from this e-zine would be so charming at all kinds of events.

Sunday Suppers
I love the mismatched salt and pepper shakers used as bud vases. Just lovely.
Second City Style
Paris Fashion Week…Valentino, je t’aime. Je t’aime.

Monday, October 12, 2009

3 Day Weekend

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Baked Potato Gnocchi with Gussied Up Marinara


Sometimes I find inspiration from the weirdest places. This time it was from the television show House. Yup...the show about a cranky, yet brilliant, doctor. Weird

Last week, House was trying to transfer his addictive qualities to something more productive and started cooking. During the course of the show he mentioned that making homemade gnocchi with baked potatoes rather than boiled potatoes makes them lighter and fluffier.

It never even occurred to me to make homemade gnocchi let alone the difference between methods, so I considered this a challenge. I found a great recipe for the gnocchi from Simply Recipes and a recipe for gussied up marinara sauce from the Bride & Groom Cookbook.

The result had my husband declaring me a genius cook. If only he knew how easy it was...

Baked Potato Gnocchi

2 lbs whole baking potatoes
2 beaten egg yolks
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spear the potatoes with fork tines in several places around each potato to vent moisture as the potatoes cook. Bake the potatoes directly on oven rack in their skins for 60 - 75 minutes until tender. Let cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes, cutting them open to help cool and let more moisture escape.

2. When potatoes are still warm but not hot, scoop out the potatoes from their skins. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer and into a large bowl. (I didn't have a potato ricer but mashed the potatoes by hand and fluff them up a bit with a fork.)

3. Add the flour, egg and a pinch of salt. Mix by hand until you have a nice pliable ball of dough. Do not over mix.

4. Prepare a work area and dust it with flour. Take the dough, a baseball-sized piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter. It is very important to keep a light touch while you are rolling the dough. Gently roll the dough with your fingertips while while exerting the lightest pressure outwards, not down, to draw the dough out.

5. Cut the tubes of dough into pieces about one inch long. Using either the tines of a fork or your fingertip, press against a piece of the dough and roll it slightly to form an indentation (good for catching the sauce). As the gnocchi are made, place them on flat baking pan, lightly dusted with flour or lined with wax paper. At this point you can freeze the gnocchi ahead of time. Freeze them first on a floured or lined tray, then once frozen you can put them into a freezer bag for more easy storage. To cook, just put the frozen gnocchi into the boiling water for the next step.

6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil in a shallow saucepan. Gently drop the gnocchi, about 10 at a time, into the water (the frozen gnocchi cool off the boiling water fast and alter the cooking time if you do too many). As soon as they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon, draining well. Arrange on a warm serving dish. Continue cooking the gnocchi in the same manner.

7. As soon as all the gnocchi are ready, pour heated pasta sauce (recipe below) over them and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Gussied Up Marinara Sauce

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Chopped Onion
1 tbsp Chopped Garlic
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 lb Spicy Italian Sausage - casing removed and crumbled
1 jar Newman's Own Marinara Sauce
3/4 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped or julienned fresh basil

Heat olive oil in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the sausage and continue to cook until sausage is done and onions are translucent. Add the prepared spaghetti sauce, sugar, and oregano and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and basil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for 1 week.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sponsor Love

Wedding Paper Divas
People are going to start making their holiday plans soon. Send these adorable Thankgiving invites to put together your group of guests.

Moments of Elegance
With cold weather approaching everyone would be thankful for a warm cup of tea in their welcome bag.

Uniquity Invitations
Uniquity Invitations is offering Hip Hostess readers a free matching save-the-date or thank you template with the purchase of a template set.
Luna Bazaar
Check out the great sale items at Luna Bazaar. These little numbers are a great way to incorporate color into any event.

Paisley is a classic print that adds just the right flair in this invite.

Everything is cute when it's min-sized. Especially these itty-bitty oil and vinegar favors.

Papeterie has been busy with a fabulous new website launch that includes color preview tools. Use this coupon code hiphostWL for a 10% discount through 10/31/2009.