Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Break

Hip Hostess is going to take a week off to eat far too many cookies and be with our families during the holidays. We hope that you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Minute Appetizer


It's Christmas Eve and you've still got remnants of scotch tape all over you from wrapping your last minute gifts for tonight's family party. And to make matters worse, you were supposed to bring an appetizer and just didn't have the time to prepare something in advance.

Don't resign yourself to the slightly dodgy-looking crudite tray leftover in the produce section. The following recipe is extremely simple, should be assembled on-site (so you were supposed to wait until the last minute), and will have a sophisticated enough taste that people will think you planned it in advance. Enjoy and have fun!

Picture and recipe via Kitchen Connaisseur

Chutney Baked Brie
1 tsp Moroccan Spice Blend or Mild Curry Powder
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 16oz Wheel of brie or camembert cheese (a 4-5" wheel)
1 cup (1 jar) Mango Chutney
1 French Baguette cut into 1/2 inch slices, or water crackers (I like Carr's)

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

2. In a small bowl, stir the Moroccan Spice blend and Roasted Garlic Olive Oil together. Using a pastry brush spread the mixture on all sides of the brie wheel.

3. Place the painted brie wheel in an oven proof dish. Spread the Mango Chutney over the top. Place the dish is the middle of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the wheel puffs out and the cheese is soft. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with slices of baguette or water crackers.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to Build the Perfect Fire


Nothing is quite as nice as sitting by a wood-burning fireplace when the weather outside is quite frightful.

The only problem is that the perfect fire isn't so easy to build and maintain. Using the exact same method (the boy scout "tipi" method), has yielded me mixed results for years. I blame the wood (it's too wet). I blame an over zealous amount of newspaper (it makes too much smoke). And then I just throw my hands up and say oh well...this will do.

Then I started reading about the "Upside Down Fire" method. Those who have tried it say it's foolproof. It burns for hours without any attention needed and the fire is nearly smokeless. I definitely think this is worth a try. Check out these detailed instructions.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate


I know we have been talking an aweful lot about beverages lately, but tis the season to drink lots of fun drinks if you ask me.

Last week, Brandi highlighted a very cool hot chocolate variation. This week, I've got another one...Gingerbread Hot Chocolate.

When I was in London, I picked up the above product from Hotel Chocolat and practically happy-danced my way through the streets just thinking about it.

We gave it a try when back home and I absolutely LOVED it...but my husband thought it had a bit too much of a ginger bit for his taste. He liked the idea, but it didn't work for him.

So if you might be a bit shy of ginger or don't plan to be in London anytime soon to buy the above product, here's a homemade variation that I came up with that should suit you just fine.

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
Serves 1

1 cup milk (any fat content)
8 tsp chopped semi-sweet hot chocolate
dash of ground ginger
dash of all spice
dash of cinnamon
1 - 2 tsp honey

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat until scalding, but not boiling. In the meantime, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 second intervals until just melted. Stir the spices into the chocolate.

Slowly whisk the chocolate into the hot milk, giving it a good froth. Add enough honey to sweeten to your liking. Pour in a mug and enjoy!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

A plywood subfloor meets a DIYer with a Krink pen and patience. This result is so flippin cool!

A faux bois Yule log gift box? Love it.

Paris versus New York
Simple graphics that say it all…

Twig and Thistle
Felt pinecones are pretty cool.

Cannelle et Vanille
Check out these gorgeous little holiday tarts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Homemade Cocktail Onions

Gift idea and recipe.

So here it is almost Christmas time and the list of to-do’s seems never ending. When I saw this fantastic homemade cocktail onion recipe, I thought what a wonderful and unique gift idea to share. It is a great gift that is inexpensive, different, and can be done in steps between all of your other running around.

They are a great addition to holiday drinks or even just as snacks. If you want to kick it up a bit, put them in a basket or bag with a copy of Mad Men and a couple of martini glasses. I know the group at Sterling-Cooper could make quick work of these at one of their afternoon meetings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Eggnog Flavored Booze

Holiday-Friendly Liquor.

If you recently saw a dark haired girl, doing a happy dance, in the middle of a NYC liquor store…that was me. You see, I love Egg Nog, but am not a particular fan of making it from scratch and the pre-made drinks at the store contain my daily intake of calories in one glass. When I saw RumChata on the shelf, my first thought was how many of these can I carry. Then I thought, I should pick up some more Advil for the next morning.

RumChata didn’t disappoint. It is smooth, rich and clean-tasting, flavored with cinnamon, vanilla and rice. It kind of tastes a little like cinnamon rice pudding. It is actually made to taste like the Mexican beverage Horchata. You can use it as an after-dinner cordial or mix it with espresso vodka. Some other thoughts are hot chocolate, coffee and maybe even ice cream.

Any way you slice it, this rum based drink has made me very merry.

Friday, December 17, 2010

10 Best Beauty Products


In the December issue, Lucky magazine named their Top 10 Best Beauty Products of the past decade. There are a few that I've been meaning to try (YSL Frozen Cherry Lip gloss and Pssst Dry Shampoo) and a few that I didn't know I needed to try (Covergirl LashBlast and Givenchy Mister Light).

Of the rest, I have used and continue to use these two:

Tarte Cheek Stain

OPI Nail Lacquer in You Don't Know Jacques

What I'd like to know is what our readers love. What products can't you live without?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Haute Chocolate


It is no surprise that I like dessert, family holiday projects and things on a stick. How lucky am I that the giverslog has a tutorial that incorporates everything?

She calls it hot chocolate on a stick but I think it should be coined Haute Chocolate instead. It is tres chic and what a way to add a wow factor to a party, gift or holiday dessert buffet.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Nostalgia


I'm not much for gadgets, but I am just loving that Polaroid has a new instant camera. It's smaller and cuter than the old-fashioned kind. The film doesn't cost a mint. But it still gives you that instant gratification that was so much fun before. Wouldn't this be fun to use over Christmas?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Country Living
This photo makes me warm and fuzzy.

How About Orange
Great tutorial on how to make these cute paper snowflakes.

Good Housekeeping
Check out all the fun ways to decorate using peppermints.

The Sprouted Kitchen
Delicious, healthy and perfect for gift-giving.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Think Pink

Hot Color.

Panetone has spoken and the color of the year is (drum roll please) ... Honeysuckle 18-2120.

Say goodbye to last year’s turquoise. This is what Panetone had to say about the color choice, “Let the bold spirit of Honeysuckle infuse you, lift you, and carry you. Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage, and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.”

photo courtesy of Casa Sugar

Geez, I was just thinking of adding a few Honeysuckle throw pillows to my sofa and maybe some cool new shoes but I had no idea it was going to be a life altering. Bring on the honeysuckle people!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Creative Gift Wrapping


I LOVE wrapping gifts. Perhaps it's my obsession with beautiful packaging, but I think it is well worth the effort do something special and unique. And during Christmas when all of the gifts are piled under the tree, I also consider my wrapped gifts part of the home it should be beautiful right?

When I saw these three fashion-inspired gift wrap ideas in Instyle Magazine, I was instantly in love. I think the monogram might be my favorite. I always run out of tags or have a difficult time finding ones that I actually like. Wouldn't it be fun to just monogram the outside of the package and leave my mis-matched santa tag collection out? So chic!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Reading

Book Suggestions.

When the thermometer drops below 30 degrees and all of my favorite tv shows go on a brief holiday hiatus, I find myself craving a warm fire, a big blanket, a cup of tea or coffee, and a really good book.

photo courtesy of moonlightbulb on flickr.

Last year during this time, I was smack dab in the middle of house hunting and spent my spare time reading MLS sheets. But this year, I want to savor some juicy literature. I'm talking pure, fictional escapism.

I just picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I know I'm way behind on this bandwagon, but I'm loving every minute of it so far. And at least I'll have it read before Daniel Craig heats up the screen with the movie adaptation.

But I know that I'm going to breeze through this one pretty quickly, so I'd love some recommendations from you all out there. Whatcha reading these days??

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Homemade Thin Mints

Cookie Recipe.

The holidays don’t really conjure up visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, but they do make me start thinking about cookies. Who am I kidding? I think about cookies all year round. But I do get a little more organized about my cookies around the holidays. I love the idea of a holiday cookie exchange as a time saver and a way to try a number of different style cookies.

This year, I am going do a homemade version of the beloved Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. They look yummy and everyone loves a good mint-chocolate combo. Check out the recipe here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Ornament Wreath


I've been admiring the below picture on This is Glamorous all week. That wreath is divine. I love the clean, monochromatic look of the silver ornaments. And the mixture of matte and shiny is just so lovely. And I got to wondering, how hard would this be to make?

So I did a little online searching, and Good Housekeeping has super easy instructions on their site (along with some other DIY wreath ideas). Here's how the experts at GH recommend you make this gorgeous holiday decoration:

"Buy a straw wreath about 22 inches in diameter from the crafts store. Using 1/2 yard of white felt cut into 3-inch-wide strips, wrap each piece around the wreath, pinning to secure and overlapping the edges. Take assorted Christmas balls and attach to the felt with a low-temperature glue gun, using the smallest balls to fill in holes and gaps. This is also a great way to use older ornaments that may not look good from all angles. You can also add small stars, snowflakes, or other ornaments to give your wreath a unique look. Hang with wire, wrapped securely around "top" of wreath. (Note: You'll need to add the wire before you cover the wreath completely with ornaments.)"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

This is Glamorous
Loving the bright pink and super chic topknot hairstyle.

Apartment Therapy
Some great holiday decorating ideas from Donna Hay.

Shim and Sons
This advent calendar is genius and adorable

The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Fruitcake scares me. But the excellent step-by-step on these fruitcake cookies is peaking my interest…

Monday, December 6, 2010

Guest Post from

3 Beautiful Autumn/Winter Flowers

I have a very pedestrian knowledge of flowers. So when we received an email from offering to teach us about great flower options for this time of year, we jumped at the chance. Prepare to learn a lot...

Flowers have a way of changing a mood and will even sometimes help you to realize that your life isn’t as bad as you thought it was. Flower gifts have been appreciated and adored since the birth of mankind and we want them around us at all times. This is why we keep them in our gardens, use them as decorations for our special moments in life, and even use them for remembrance; because they have a special place in our hearts.

Autumn/Winter is a season that produces some of the most beautiful flowers and there are three in particular that are favourites of ours. These flowers will brighten up your garden when it is desperately needed and at a time when most of your plants are fading these flowers will be full force.


Chrysanthemums, which are also called Mums or Chrysanths, are a beautiful sight in autumn and were first grown in China. The flower was brought to Europe in the 17th century where its popularity grew by leaps and bounds. Chrysanthemums are divided into two groups, the Garden Hardy and the Exhibition.

Garden Hardy Chrysanthemums are able to withstand some harsher weather conditions and are relatively sturdy. Garden hardy Chrysanthemums will be much easier to grow and will take little maintenance while the Exhibition will need to be cared for and could very easily not last as long. While Exhibition Chrysanthemums are more of a fragile type and often need to be stalked there is no denying the beauty of these flowers.

In Asia Chrysanthemums flowers are boiled to be used as a tea. It is believed that the Chrysanthemum tea has many medicinal purposes such as treating influenza and other common conditions.

Chinese Bellflower

If you are looking for a flower that is easy to grow and can withstand harsh conditions then this is the flower for you. When most flowers beauty is fading the Chinese Bellflower, also called the Balloon Flower, is just starting to mature and the exquisiteness of this flower is all that your garden will need. The Chinese Bellflower is a beautiful autumn flower that is native to East Asia and is also sometimes called the Japanese Bellflower. The Chinese Bellflower more commonly has blue flowers but there are also varieties of the flower that produce pink and white (Korea).

The root of the Chinese Bellflower is commonly used as treatment for colds and coughs and in Korea it is a common ingredient found in salads.


The Aster can be grown in almost any climate, it is found in colder areas of the world and it has also been grown in warmer climates. The Aster’s name is Greek meaning “Star” because of the shape of its flowers which bear a strong resemblance to those of a daisy. The flowers can come in a variety of colors including white, purple, lavender, pink, and red. The Aster is also a favourite of butterflies so if you want the presence of butterflies in your yard then an Aster will attract them.

For some autumn is a dreaded time of the year because so many of the beautiful flowers and plants in our gardens are vanishing. This is why it is a great idea to compliment your garden with autumn flowers like Chrysanthemums, Bellflowers, and Asters. At a time when many of your other flowers are shrinking away these flowers will be in full bloom and filling your garden. Building a beautiful garden can add so much value to your home and property so if you are thinking of selling your house then creating a breathtaking garden should not be ignored. Personal loans are a great way to put value into your home and it will be one of the best investments of your life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday Karaoke

Holiday Entertainment.

My new favorite song on the radio is “Gettin Over You” by David Guetta. Every time this tune comes on I can’t help but dance around and who doesn’t love to belt out the lyrics with Fergie. I was always amazed at how much I sounded like Fergie, why did I not persue singing instead of event planning?

Suddenly while singing the same song in my kitchen without the backup I started looking around for the dying cat…OMG…Fergie has been carrying me!

So this got me thinking, every year around the holidays I buy some board games or video games. Just a little something to kick up the fun. This year I was thinking I would spend a little more and get a good karaoke machine. I OBVIOUSLY need one with all the bells and whistles.

While walking through Costco what did I see right before my eyes but a professional Emerson Karaoke machine for $89.99. If you are looking for a little karaoke action at your upcoming events this deal can’t be beat. Fergie better watch out!

Friday, December 3, 2010

HH Brit Baby List

Gift Ideas.

Once again...I'm reminiscing on my trip to London. This time it's all about baby gifts.

Our good friends Chris and Priya had just told us that their soon-to-arrive baby is a boy, so I was on the hunt for a unique gift to supplement my tried-and-true registry gift selections (pack n play or baby bjorn).

I absolutely went gaga for The White Company section at Harrods. Classy, understated, and too freakin adorable, The White Company is a great option babies of both the blue or pink distinction. Here are some of my faves:

Baby Toiletries - Gorgeous packaging that can sit out in your bathroom without turning it into a primary color wonderland.

Babies 1st photo album - White linen with silver detailing. It's an elegant way to keep track of the baby's first year.

Stuffed toys - These ULTRA soft toys come in three different sizes. Even infant tiny. And they are safe for the baby to snuggle from birth.


And no sooner did I land in the US, and I had received an email from another great UK based baby/kids product company,Sparkle and Spin Kids. Vibrant and fun, these products are even more great options for a unique gift.

I'm loving these toys:

And don't you just love these adorably funky kid's clothes too?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What to bring?


It’s time to start thinking about what to bring to your holiday get-togethers. Last year, I was all about the crostini. This year I have an almost incurable desire for pate of all types which made my decision easy. I’m going to leave the meat pates to the experts but have chosen a vegetarian pate that gets its hearty flavor from mushrooms. I like this dish because while still being a dip type of appetizer it is a little more avant-garde and different than your normal dip and chip scene. Plus you can’t beat the presentation which is basically throw it in a cute bowl and put some scallion or chives on top. It is best served with pumpernickel or rye bread.

Vegetarian Chopped Liver
(via Melissa Clark)
Yields about 2 cups

2 oz. unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
2 fresh thyme sprigs
¾ lb. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, cut into medium dice
½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps cut into medium dice (2 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. dry sherry
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 hard cooked eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Flaky sea salt to finish
Thinly sliced scallions or chives for garnish


Melt the butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is dark brown, 15 to 20 minutes-it should be darker than gold, but not black. Stir in the cremini and shiitake, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and golden and the liquid they release has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the sherry and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the pan, until almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Let the mixture cool to room temperature

Transfer half of the mushroom mixture to a food processor. Add the walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, zest, ¾ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Process until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining mushroom mixture and the eggs. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve in a crock or bowl drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and scallions or chives.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The HH List

Favorite Things.

Oprah’s “O” list just hit the newsstands. Here are a few items from the “HH” list. I am sure there will be more to come but this should help get your personal wish list started.

Artisinal Rum, Vodka and Gin
About $30

Lacquer Ring Box by Thomas Paul-Ring Box

South House Boutique-Burlap wine bags

Lekker Home Furnishings-Olive Oil Dish