Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sparkling Centerpiece


As far as I'm concerned, we are all just big kids when it comes to the 4th of July and playing with sparklers. Which is why I absolutely love this idea from Better Homes and Gardens.

Simply anchor a monochromatic arrangement of flowers in a vessel with florist foam. Insert sparklers within the arrangement. When it's time for fireworks fun, just pull them right out and light them up. Isn't that great?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Green Wedding Shoes
Pancakes at a wedding…Awesome!

Eat Drink Chic
Homemade gifts are all the rage!

The Funambulist Damsel
Can't decide whether you want cake or pie…have both.

Etsy Banyan Hippo
It's almost July…time to buy cute summer bags.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade Maraschino Cherries


Looking for a way to impress your guests? How about homemade maraschino cherries? Toss out those radio-active neon red cherries that you have had in the refrigerator for years and serve your guests something they won’t soon forget.

Cherries are plentiful and plump and even on sale this time of year. The grocery store carries mainly bing cherries but if you are looking for a more exotic mix then check out your local farmer’s market. I was there last weekend and they had a nice variation of colors and flavors.

This is a sexy treat that is not only versatile but will add eye candy to your beverage or flair to your bar.

• 1 pound sweet cherries such as Bing, washed
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup water
• ½ vanilla bean split lengthwise, seeds scraped, pod and seeds reserved
• 1 cup maraschino liqueur, preferably Luxardo

Stem and pit cherries, reserving the pits. Place pits in a resealable plastic bag, cover the bag with a kitchen towel, and, using a meat mallet or the bottom of a frying pan, smash the pits.

Place sugar, water, vanilla bean pod and seeds, and smashed cherry pits in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes.

Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium container with a spout and strain the syrup. Reserve the vanilla bean pod, making sure to remove any trace of the pits, and discard the remaining solids. Add the maraschino liqueur to the syrup and stir to combine.

Place cherries in a 1-quart container with a tight-fitting lid and tuck the vanilla bean pod in the center. Pour the maraschino syrup over the cherries, cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least 5 days before serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bubbly Beverage

Drink Recipe.

These is no rule that says the best cocktails have to be completely complicated and contrived. I'll take a Belini, Vodka Tonic, or Cuba Libra any day.

A fantastic base for a simple cocktail is prosecco, cava, or champagne (all are kinds of sparkling wine...just from different countries). They've given us the mimosa, belini, and kir royale just to name a few. And here's a great idea that I recently read in Instyle Magazine. Add a single vanilla bean to a glass of the bubbly for a decadent infusion of flavor. Doesn't that just sound amazing? And the best thing about the vanilla bean is that there is no need to switch it out between glasses. The potency will remain even after you refill your glass several times. Salut!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fabulous Contest for a Fabulous Book


Recently, we had a wonderful guest post from Colleen Mullaney, the author of the new book "The Stylish Girl's Guide to Fabulous Cocktails." Colleen really knows her stuff when it comes to entertaining and the ever-important element of libations.

So we were extremely excited when Colleen offered to give one of our lucky readers a free copy of her fabulous new book! I'll tell you that it's chock-full of great drink recipes as well as ideas for party playlists, festive attire recommendations, theme ideas and much more.

To enter our contest, leave us a comment telling us your favorite signature drink and why. Make sure to include an email where we can reach you. We'll accept entries until July 9th and announce the winner on July 12th. We can't wait to hear what you like to serve at your parties. Good luck, gang!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jelly Belly Gourmet Soda

How’s this for a fun factor at a children’s birthday party? Colorful bottles with soda that tastes like Jelly Belly jellybeans, this is seriously the stuff that kids dream about. The soda has 90 calories and is made with sugar not HFCS and is available in lemon drop, sour cherry, green apple, tangerine and blueberry. The product is due to be released shortly by Black Bear Soda Company and will be marketed to grocery stores and available at Walgreens.

Don’t forget to look for Jelly Belly gourmet soda the next time you find yourself at the corner Walgreen’s (why are Walgreen’s always on a corner?) You are sure to make some kids very happy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Disposable Gelato Cups


There are few things that I like better on a hot day that a scoop of ice cream or gelato. It just always hits the spot.

The next time I have a get-together, I think I might use these adorable disposable gelato dishes from Williams-Sonoma to serve a frozen treat. It's a presentation for a delicious treat that is just as delightful to the eye. Perfect.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

Pia Jane Bijerk
This charming window display in Amsterdam would be lovely at a party as well.

I love the handmade appliqué on this vintage Danish mod chair.

Style Me Pretty
This combination of beautiful paisley table runners with pops of bold color accents makes for a gorgeously rich-looking table setting.

Cannelle et Vanille
If these gluten-free coconut doughnuts taste as good as they look, they would be a very good way to start your day.

Monday, June 21, 2010



It’s no secret that Emersonmade can’t seem to make anything that is not adorable, I am especially loving the collection of floral tie tacks for men. I really like the little pop of color in an unexpected location. I also love the fact that it is very economical compared to boutonniere’s and you don’t have to worry about it staying pinned properly or wilting. Come on guys, give up the colored, striped socks for some dandy do tiny tie tacks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Roasted Berry Bruschetta


It is no secret that the most flavorful dishes are made with ingredients that are in season, fresh and full of flavor. That being said, I can’t get enough of summer strawberries. Strawberries are in full effect with their peak season being from April to July.

I saw the above recipe on yumsugar and knew that it would make an appearance at my next get-together. People expect to see strawberries in desserts, breakfast dishes and on cheese platters. Why not mix it up and serve it as the appetizer. The contrast of green in the arugula and the red of the strawberries on a white platter makes for a striking presentation.
It’s easy, delicious and beautiful.

Roasted Strawberry Bruschetta

2 cups strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 loaf ciabatta bread
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup soft goat cheese
1 cup baby arugula
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Slice the strawberries into a bowl and gently mix to coat with the balsamic vinegar. Spread strawberries out on a baking sheet and bake for five minutes. Remove and let cool.

3. Cut the ciabatta into equal slices, coat with olive oil, and broil on each side until toasted and crisp.

4. Spread goat cheese on hot bread, top equally with the roasted berries and juice. Set a few pieces of arugula on each. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Serves 8.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Grilled Peaches and Bocconcini


I absolutely love grilled peaches. Giving a slight sear to this juicy pitted fruit brings out the flavor even more and adds a bit of complexity that is SO addictive.

So imagine my excitement when I saw this recipe in InStyle Magazine for Grilled Peaches with Bocconcini. Adding fresh mozzarella to grilled peaches simply cannot be a bad thing. Also...I love Donatella Arpais's restaurants and trust that this will be a welcome addition to my weekend grill menu.

Grilled Peaches and Bocconcini
Serves 10-12

1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
4-6 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into 6 wedges
1 lb. bocconcini, packed in water
20 small basil leaves (plus extra for garnish
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bamboo skewers

Drizzle some olive oil onto ridged stovetop grill or brush gas/charcoal grill grates with olive oil. Grill peaches for 2-3 minutes per side over high heat until nicely charred. Slice each wedge in half and place in a bowl.

Add bocconcini, basil, shallots, oil, and vinegar. Toss gently until well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste,and let marinade for 15 minutes at room temperature. Slide bocconcini and peaches onto bamboo skewers and tuck basil in between layers. Serve on platter.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Lovin'

Fun Summer Finds.

I don’t know if it is because I am really ready for summer or if every entertaining item is really awesome this year, but there is cool stuff everywhere I turn. I thought I would share a few of my favorites.

Rowboat Cooler


VerTerra eco-friendly disposable dinnerware

Kram paper napkins

Cold Avocado Soup

Soda Crates

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Picnic DIY


Summertime means eating and drinking outside. Next time you are heading to an outdoor festival, concert, or even just an evening date with you honey, consider this ingenious DIY from Martha. All you need is a tablecloth and some folding expertise to make this lovely.

Then when you are done with your grub, you can fold it up neatly and easily carry it home in your handbag. Genius!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

The Cinderella Project
This proves all you really need is just a pop of color

For the Love of Design
Check out Kelley Moore's new design and entertaining webseries "So Much Moore" premiering June 14th.

Twig and Thistle
Learn how to make these cute fabric envelopes.

What I wouldn't give to have a few days here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pesto Presto


Fresh basil is absolutely wonderful by itself, but when it's in season I love to buy big bunches of it and make homemade pesto. I'll make large batches and freeze them in small plastic containers to use whenever I feel like spicing up a regular recipe. Here's some of my favorite ways to use pesto:

- Mix equal parts mayo and pesto for a zesty sandwich topping.

- Toss spinach leaves and assorted veggies in a mixture of pesto and a little extra parm for a light side dish.

- Spread pesto over toasted bread and top with a slice of garden fresh tomatoes (heirloom is wonderful) and a little salt and pepper

- Serve as a sauce over simple grilled chicken breast.

The possiblities are endless! Give my favorite pesto recipe below a try. I promise that you'll love using it to give your regular meals a boost!

Homemade Pesto
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts**
3 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 9 cloves)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

** If you can't find pine nuts or if they are too expensive, I've used all walnuts before.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Guest Blog

We're so happy to have a guest post today from Colleen Mullaney, the author of "The Stylish Girl's Guide to Fabulous Cocktails."

Pre-Plan for A “Pop-Up” Party! by Colleen Mullaney

I love when friends stop by. Weekends are the best times for those special impromptu gatherings with friends I call “Pop-up Parties.”

It’s a glorious Saturday afternoon right after your kids’ sporting games finish. Neighbors walk by and stop to chat and stay. Or you run into friends during errands and you’re all in need of a little fun. No sitter? No problem. Bring the kids and make it a multi-generational playdate. That’s what makes Pop-Up Parties so great. They’re spur of the moment and the more the merrier.

Mixing up a pitcher of Festive Sangria is perfection in a jug. So easy and the best thing about pitchers, is they’re self serve so you can enjoy the party! It’s always easy to add more wine to keep the party flowing. Snacks should be easy and quick too. I always keep staples in my pantry so there’s no excuse not to host. (See tips on Pull together an easy platter of cheeses, flat breads, dried fruits and nuts. Dinner can be as simple as a potluck; even sharing each other’s leftovers is fun. Put on a mix of fun tunes – anything from Colbie Caillat, Coldplay, Sting and U2 – and you’re always ready for friends to stop by.

Sunday brunch is also a fabulous time for Pop-Up Parties. Our family often invites friends over on a lazy weekend morning. Whip up a pitcher of Morning Glories and watch the morning melt into the afternoon. Add a potato and onion frittata, roasted asparagus and fruit salad and off you go! Put some classics on the hi-fi like Ella, Frank, Julie London or Michael Buble. Set the scene by keeping it simple. Bunches of the same flower tied in bunches set in clear glass vases or fresh cuttings from your garden set a buffet table in style. Enjoy!

Colleen Mullaney is the former editor-in-chief of Jo-Ann,Family Circle Home Crafts and FTD In Bloom magazines. She has written numerous books,including It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere, Punch: 36 Punch Recipes, One of a Kind Weddings, Faux Fabulous Florals and Fairy Parties: Recipes, Crafts and Games for Enchanting Celebrations.

Colleen lives in Westchester, New York, where she hosts playdates, whips up dinner parties, toils in the garden and adds a bit of flair to everything she touches. Visit her website at:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sweet Scents.


I received a set of these small Voluspa Floraison candles late last year, and every single time I light one of them I love them even more. The scents are so pleasant and not the least bit overwhelming. And even though these beautiful votives are petite in size, each candle burns for 25 hours. For a set of 6, it’s $45. A splurge for sure if you are anything like me and usually buy great big jar candles when they go on sale. But know that the Voluspa Floraison set will last very long and is definitely worth it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Real Parties: Baby Shower

Party Details.

Well it’s official. I can finally admit that I’ve entered the time in my life when I’m no longer going to bridal showers and weddings every summer weekend. Instead…it’s a baby boom amongst my friends. And when I found out that my best friend and her husband were expecting a baby, I think that it took me all of 30 seconds to say, “Now that I’m in Chicago, I’ll throw you a shower at my place!”

We had the shower this past weekend, and I’m happy to say that everyone had a wonderful time. And my ignorance on most things baby-related ended up being less of a hindrance than I thought. Here are some of the details that I thought you might like.

Clockwise from top left:
1. Invite: I designed a shower invite using an umbrella theme and creating simple graphics to represent typical baby gifts.

2. Dessert: I opted for a variation on whoopie pies. Orange creamsicle – vanilla cakes, orange cream cheese filling, a slim layer of orange marmalade, and colored sprinkles to fit the theme.

3. Baby bingo: Inspired by a product made by Knock Knock, I created custom bingo cards for our guests. It kept everyone engaged in the gift opening…including the guys.

4. Flower buckets: I found these adorable orange tin buckets at Target for $1 each. Because I didn’t trust that they were leak-proof, I used a clear plastic glass as a liner and then filled them with white chrysanthemums. I was able to make 4 arrangements for a total of $10. What a deal!

Clockwise from top left:
1&2: Gift/Activity: I designed a set of alphabet flashcards that matched the nursery color scheme. Each guest wrote a little note to the baby on the back. I’ll have them laminated so that the parents can use them in a photo mobile as décor…and then as a learning tool as the baby grows older. I like the idea that as she learns to read, she’ll have little notes from family and friends.

3: Flowers: My motto is to stay monochromatic. It’s hard to go wrong and you can easily put together flowers yourself that way.

4&5: Signature cocktail/bar presentation: Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been keeping any neat looking clear glass bottles (from wine, sparkling lemonade, etc). I designed new labels to coordinate with our theme and filled them with a Hip Hostess favorite – Cranberry Ginger Jazz. I like the idea of keeping the bottles non-alcoholic and allowing guests to add a little zing if they wanted. Our liquor of choice was Rosangel hibiscus-infused tequila.

We all had a lot of fun and we were so happy to celebrate such an exciting new step in the lives of our friends, Jade and Zoran. Congrats to you both. We love ya!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Urban Outfitters

Inexpensive vases.

Urban Outfitters is usually not my scene. However, I am loving their online simple bottle vases and the best part is that they range in price from $12.00 to $28.00. They would be a welcome addition to your summer tablescape or a lovely hostess gift if you know someone who is always inviting you to outdoor events. If these don’t float your boat for hostess gifts, how about these bowls on sale at Anthropologie for $8.00.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

The Kitchn
I’ve already proclaimed my love for Weck jars. Imagine how I feel about these pendant lights made out of the jars!!

Just Something I Made
This crafty pencil jar would be a wonderful favor at a party.

Desire to Inspire
A wooden soaking tub….how divine.

These wedding shoes are unbelievably lovely. I kind of want them.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Love it or Leaf-It

Fun Find.

I like to check out Molla Space every once in awhile to see what new and interesting things they have for sale. Today, they have a new take on the Post-it note called Leaf-it. The thought behind Leaf-it is, when you make notes for yourself you no longer have those unsightly squared sticky notes all over your desk. Leaf-it will enhance your work space by having lovely looking leaves around, bringing spring to your desk everyday.

I have also thought of a few other ways to use these, it would be a great alternative to a guest book or a fundraiser or really anywhere you want guests to leave behind inspirational messages. It would be easy to turn the leaves into something artful as a keepsake.

Let me know your thoughts…love it or leaf it?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pool Party Chic


On the streets of Manhattan I have been noticing women sporting a chic new hair accessory. Now truthfully it is not all that complicated…it is in fact a hair elastic with a pre-tied knot. When I first saw it, I thought it would be a great way to incorporate some fun into a situation where you needed to sport a ponytail, for instance, a pool party or outdoor bbq. When I got home, I looked up the bands only to discover that they are called Bop Bijoux and are accompanied by a price tag of $45. That was the last time I thought about the cute hair accessory.

Until…I was checking out one of my favorite blog reads Yellow Brick Blogspot and saw that Lyndsy had found a variation of the same hair tie for $5.80 at this website. Now everyone can be poolside chic without having to take out extra insurance for their hair accessory.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Weck Jars

Multi-use containers.

I think that some utilitarian objects are just as beautiful as they are useful. One such item is Weck canning jars.

These guys are fantastic for canning, for sure. But can't you also see them as great containers for spices, pastas, beans, etc in your pantry? I'd also love to take a huge cluster of these (sans lid) and place a votives inside for an illuminating centerpiece. How about as a vase or even a make-shift pitcher for juice or lemonade? The possibilities are endless since they come in so many great shapes and sizes. Love them!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lime or Orange?

Chaser choice.

As we have mentioned in past posts, Hip Hostess was in Puerto Rico in April coordinating a destination wedding. The first few days Amber and I were all business. But as soon as the final i was dotted and t crossed and the bride and groom blissfully happy on the way to their honeymoon, it was time for a little celebrating.

The first thing Amber did was bring a tray of tequila shots to the table. Now this is not out of the ordinary for us but what was out of the ordinary is the way they were served…with an orange slice covered with cinnamon. We were intrigued by this new accompaniment in place of the usual lime and promptly did a taste test…again and again.

In the end, we couldn’t decide whether we liked the lime or the orange better. So, we decided you shouldn’t have to choose. At your next get together where tequila will be served buy your limes and salt but don’t forget the oranges and cinnamon as well. Let your guests decide lime or orange?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Easy Summer Appetizer


During the summer, I'm sure you'd much rather be spending your time outside than in the kitchen. So if you need a quick appetizer for your next get together that requires no cooking, I've got the perfect one for you.

Prosciutto e Melone...aka prosciutto and melon. The pairing of the salty dry-cured ham and the sweet fruit is just divine.

What I do is pull apart paper-think slices of prosciutto and lightly lay them in a mound on a platter. Then slice up either cantaloupe or honeydew and arrange around the prosciutto. I like to do it this way rather than wrapping each melon slice because it can sit out longer. When you wrap the melon with the prosciutto, the salt breaks down the melon and you can end up with a watery mess rather quickly. It is SO easy and incredibly delicious with a glass of prosecco or white wine.

Buon Appetito!

** Note: Cantaloupe is in season starting in June throughout the rest of the summer and honeydew is best in late July/early August through September.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration

Create My Event
Hamburger cupcakes how adorable.

green Wedding shoes
Everything about Leah and Neal's barn wedding is picture perfect.

Don't throw away your Sonic drink carriers just yet…turn them into these amazing DIY gift baskets

Smitten Kitchen
Love asparagus but running out of creative ways to serve…how about pizza?