Monday, August 31, 2009

Sponsor Love.

Reminder to is the last day to enter to win our Flirty Aprons contest.

Now on to some love for our sponsors...

Uniquity Invitations
Don't forget these cool new address labels when purchasing your print your own invitation suite.

Luna Bazaar
Unique centerpieces will be a snap to create with the new lanterns and glassware Luna has added to their repertoire.

Check out their new bridal collection available at The modern designs are amazing and affordable.

This color combo is a stunner…

Personalized playing cards would be an amazing favor for a Vegas wedding.

Wedding Paper Divas
WPD is not just about wedding invites. And I just love some of their party invitations…including this adorable option for a surprise party.

Moments of Elegance
This new Wedgewood-inspired cookie is a wonderful new addition to their line.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

10 Good Cheap Liquors

Budget Buy.

I ran across this great recession worthy article on the Chow website. They asked several spirit experts for their recommendations on the top 10 good, cheap liquors. The experts provided inside information for great picks for $20 or under. And better yet the criteria stated that it couldn’t come in an easy-grip plastic bottle. This is fantastic advice if you are having a cocktail party and are going to be mixing liquor with additives or just want to provide liquor on a budget. Without further ado, here it is (drumroll) the top ten.

1. Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey (about $13). Adam Lantheaume, the owner of Boston Shaker store, says this rye is excellent, even in a spirit forward drink like a Manhattan.

2. Rain Organics Vodka (about $15). Rain has silly packaging, but A.J. Rathbun, author of Good Spirits, says the vodka “is clear and had a good, clean taste,” although he says to avoid the flavored versions.

3. Flor de Cana Black Label Rum (about $18). For nearly the same price as a bottle of Bacardi, you can pick up a bottle of aged Nicaraguan rum with much more complex flavors.

4. Wild Turkey Bourbon (about $20). Daniel Hyatt, the bar manager of the Alembic in San Francisco, says this bourbon has always been a great product for the price.

5. Milagro Silver Tequila (about $20) It can be hard to find a good bargain amoung 100 percent agave tequilas. Charles Joly, chief mixologist at the Drawing Room in Chicago, recommends Milagro because it’s authentic, versatile and delicious.

6. Beefeater London Dry Gin (about $18). The Alembic’s Daniel Hyatt says this is a classically flavored, well-made London dry gin: “They’ve been in the game a long time.”

7. Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye (about $14). This whiskey, according to the Drawing Room’s Charles Joly, “stacks up against brands two to three times the cost.” Just make sure you get the 100 proof.

8. W.L. Weller Special Reserve (about $16) Good Spirits author A. J. Rathbun says this seven-year-old boubon has a smooth, full taste and is great for cocktails.

9. Famouse Grouse Finest (about $20) Hyatt calls this classic blended whisky a great Scotch that’s easy to drink on its own but “has enough malt and strength to mix a cocktail with, should you desire.”

10. Lunazul Tequila (about $18). This 100 percent agave tequila is what Toby Malone of Chicago’s Violet Hour says that both the blanco and reposado are good, and “for the price point I’ve never found better.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Baby Booty

Etsy Baby Gift.

Rainy dreary weekends in the Summer have one benefit. They allow me to slow down and get caught up on things that I need to do around the apartment. At least that what I should be doing. In reality, I spent my most recent rain day scouring Etsy for fun finds. It might not have gotten my bathroom clean, but I think it was just as productive because I found Pretty Little.

I am always on the lookout for unique, cute, and uncomplicated baby gifts for the boom of babies that my friends have been having recently. And this is the jackpot! Pretty Little makes the most adorable baby booties that you have ever seen! Each piece is made to order so you can customize size, color, and bootie style to your liking. Here are some of my favorites:

Cuddly Teddy Bear Booties cute!
And for the future Rock Star babies, these Pirate Booties!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Watermelon Keg

Recipe and Presentation Idea.

Labor Day is just around the corner and with it brings the last of the summer picnics and barbeques. If you really want to say farewell to summer and “wow” your guests, what better way than a fully functioning watermelon keg. Please check out the very comprehensive tutorial here.

The tutorial states that this project takes about 90 minutes to complete. My suggestion would be to do it in two separate steps and hollow out the watermelon the night before and keep in the fridge overnight. The site of guests arriving to the host cursing at a watermelon may not be the first impression you want to make.

Here is a one option for Watermelon Punch:

1 large watermelon
1 L bottle Mount Gay Rum
1 package fresh mint leaves, stems removed
6 limes
lime juice
lemon juice
After juicing the watermelon, run the juice through a sieve to remove any unwanted seeds. Add the lime juice and lemon juice to taste and then throw in a package of whole fresh mint leaves with the stems removed. Next add your rum to taste. You are going to need to add ice throughout the day so keep in mind the drink will dilute.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seasonal Sauteed Side


I just finished watching Julie & Julia (which I LOVED) and it got me to thinking a bit about a professional cook that really inspires me, Ina Garten. For years, I have watched all of her food network episodes, printed out countless recipes from her site, and tested recipe after recipe in her amazing cookbooks. I've learned so much and I (and my husband) are completely grateful.

One of my favorite "Ina Lessons" is that you don't need to have an arsenal of a 1000 recipes to be a good cook. Instead if you can master a few and learn from their concepts, you can easily create variations that will make your options seem limitless.

So using this concept, I've tried a few variations on Ina's extremely simple but delicious Sauteed Fresh Corn recipe. With wonderful deals at the farmer's market, I end up buying a lot. And instead of eating the exact same thing every night for a week, I thought I should spice it up. Here's one of my favorites:

Southwestern Sauteed Sweet Corn
4 ears of corn
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, minced (optional)

Remove the husks and the silk from the corn. Using a chef knife, cut the kernels off as close to the husk as possible without removing any of the husk.

Heat butter and oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook garlic and jalapeno (optional) to pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the corn and saute for 8-10 minutes until corn is less starchy. Gently stir in the black beans, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until beans are heated through. Squeeze juice of one lime over the entire mixture and finish with any additional salt & pepper that you would like to taste.

Serve this dish warm as a side...or it is also a great topping to use in homemade tacos or in a taco salad. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inpiration.

Swanky Tables
Who's up for some cute Orange Banana Smoothie Pops?

Jars of Cute
Beautiful and good for the environment.

Everyone should have a chandelier in their bathroom.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cube of Conversation

Party Game/Activity.

Do you ever have those last moment panics before a dinner party when you're not sure if your guests are going to hit it off. Will there be those uncomfortable moments of silence? Will you spend your entire dinner keeping the conversation going and thus not eating a single bite of the food that spent all day preparing?

No need to worry any longer, Table Topics has created conversation cubes that are sure to keep the banter booming. TT's newest cubes are titled Dinner Party or Not Your Mom's Dinner Party and contain 135 thought-provoking questions.

I personally love the idea of the Not Your Mom's Dinner Party Cards, because I would love to know the answers that my guests would provide to any of these examples:

Is public nudity beautiful or inappropriate?
What song would you like to sing at karaoke?
What’s the biggest crime you’ve committed?

And don't forget to check out the Table Topics site for some of their other great products - from place cards to coasters to wine napkins.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stylish Stool DIY


I saw this project in the May issue of Instyle Magazine and thought it would be such an easy and inexpensive project to do. And talk about adding some personality to your home!

All you need is:

an inexpensive stool (I happen to like this $13 option from Ikea)
decals (try,,, and
craft knife
paint (if you don't like the base color of your stool).

With the craft knife, trim along the edges of the decal (in the case of this photo, all of the black edges). Remove the paper backing and apply to the stool (which you should have painted before). Carefully peel away the matte top layer.

Who knew that fun, stylish, and frugal could be so easy?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rosemary Flatbread with Blue Cheese, Grapes and Honey


The Italians serve focaccia or schiacciata, which means “smashed” or “flattened” in Italian, as a way to use leftover grapes from harvest. This intrigued me because with fall fast approaching I have been searching for alternates to my normal summer appetizers.

When I saw the below recipe in Food and Wine magazine, I knew I needed to give it a go. The results where phenomenal, each bite has a contrasting flavor of sweet and salty and the bread is just the right thickness for the perfect amount of crunch.

Normally, when entertaining I like to have the meal prepared and ready to go. But this bread is worth breaking the rules. You can prepare the majority ahead of time and have the oven pre-heating so that when the guests arrive it just takes a quick 15 minutes from oven to table. The smell of fresh baked bread is so comforting and inviting.

A couple of tips:
If you don’t have a pizza stone you can heat up a baking sheet in the oven before placing the flatbread.

If the thought of yeast makes you uneasy you can cheat the system and shave off some valuable time by purchasing ready made pizza dough. The results are not quite the same but still delicious.

If you would like to serve this as more of a meal then you can easily reduce the salt and add Prosciutto or any other cured meats. I like to serve with a side of honey.

1 envelope active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound red grapes (1 1/2 cups)
Coarse sea salt
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon snipped chives

In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and sugar with 1/4 cup of the flour. Stir in 1/4 cup of the warm water and let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, fine salt, pepper and the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of water; stir until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a draft-free spot until billowy and doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°. Place a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven, and preheat for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press and stretch the dough into a 13-inch round, then transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel. Press the grapes into the dough and sprinkle with sea salt.

Slide the flatbread onto the hot stone and bake for about 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the grapes have begun to release some of their juices. Sprinkle the blue cheese on top and bake for about 2 minutes longer, until the cheese melts. Slide the flatbread onto a work surface and drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with the chives. Cut into wedges and serve.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Coffee Cuff

Maybe it’s my love of coffee…but I find this genius. Who wouldn’t like to have a cool bracelet and a coffee cuff in one?

Contexture design has come up with an elegant wooden bracelet that can slip off your wrist and onto your coffee cup. Fashion + function. Plus it is handmade from reclaimed architectural veneer offcuts.

It is a bit of a splurge at $68 Canadian, but totally worth it when you imagine the scenario. You have just grabbed a cup of coffee with your co-workers after receiving compliments all day on your swanky new bracelet. Then the barista hands you your cup of joe with the cardboard coozy. To which you reply, no need to waste paper, I have my own. That is so James Bond!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where do you find inspiration?

I am a morning person…I love to get out of bed, fix my cup of coffee and search the internet in total peace and quiet before the phone starts ringing, blackberry starts buzzing and my husband and dog arise. It is easily my favorite hour of the day.

I realized today that in this early morning zen moment, I usually find myself drifting towards the Bellocchio website. It’s funny because most of what they have is beautiful yet totally impractical for me at this moment in time. I dream of one day having a room filled with treasures like straight pins with Murano glass heads contained in a small, shagreen-style box with a blue label. And to go with the perfect straight pin you would also need a European flat head construction safety pin, with a tiny ball at the base that is made in France and contained in the perfect little green box.

I would also definitely need a pair of Charles X scissors complete with mother of pearl handles.

And who doesn’t need a Navette with cotton twine? Even though I am not sure what it is the presentation is fantastic.

And just in case a non-beautiful object might make its way into an otherwise perfect room. Of course, I have red and aqua boxes for just such an occasion.

Even though this might seem insane to some, I assure you it is what keeps me sane in many ways. I would love to know your favorite indulgent websites?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.
This DIY is a fantastic way to spice up an outdoor party.

Chubby Hubby
Spiked French Toast as a hangover cure. Bring it.

Simple Song
I’d find it hard to rip open a gift wrapped in these beautiful papers.

Pops of color on white are always fabulous…but this fushia pendant shade is doubly fabulous

Monday, August 17, 2009

Spotted: New Shesham Collection at West Elm

On hot days, one of my favorite things to do is cut through West Elm to get quickly and coolly from 18th Street to 17th Street. The only problem (if you can call it that) is it never goes quickly, because I usually get sidetracked by the new wares at this reasonably priced home goods store.

This time my reason for a self-induced traffic jam was the new Shesham Collection. Each item has a patchwork appearance to it with the wood grains pieced together in a random pattern. This alignment gives it a slightly rustic charm, but the smooth finish and clean lines are all modern. Of course my favorite part of the collection is the cake stand, but you should check it out for yourself.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Think Outside of the Box

Design idea.

Oh how I love beautiful packaging. A beautifully packaged item in the window of a store will stop me mid-sentence and full stride as I walk down the busiest streets of Manhattan. What can I say? I'm a marketing team's dream.

Which brings me to something that happened in my household last year. As my husband and I were receiving our wedding and shower gifts in the mail, we were pleasantly surprised by some wonderful packaging. When we picked our Nambe flatware set, we had just seen it in a case at Bloomingdales. We had no idea that each set would be packaged in a lovely, hinged box. As each set came in the mail, we stacked up the empty boxes because we just couldn't stomach throwing them out.

And then I remembered a few pages that I had pulled from past Domino Magazine issues (RIP). First, is this office with piles and piles of books and Hermes boxes (too bad I don't have a stockpile of those). This is way too messy for me, but I like the concept.

And then there is this apartment, where the designer neatly stacked an odd array of coffee table books to make impromptu side tables. We're getting closer...

And so we ended up with this. My beautiful, modern Nambe boxes made the perfect side table. And the best part is that each box contains things that I was hopelessly trying to organize in my very small space (playbills and tickets, birth announcements, memorable greeting cards, etc).

So for those of you that are receiving wedding or housewarming gifts, think outside of the box. You might be able to put that beautiful packaging to work in your home too.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flirty Aprons Contest


I love to watch old movies or tv shows, but what cracks me up about them is how impeccably dressed the Hip Hostesses of their time were when doing house chores. If my husband thought he was getting the put-together June Cleaver before we got married, I'm sure it came as a shock when he had to look at me in my ripped up sorority t-shirts and track pants while cooking dinner.

But one cannot always wear our "comfy's" when cooking. With open layouts in so many houses and apartments, entertaining for a crowd means being a virtual Food Network TV Host. You have to balance looking good, being charming, and cooking up some impressive grub all while entertaining your guests. Luckily our newest find, Flirty Aprons, will help you keep that balance.

Practical and fashionable, Flirty Aprons has an amazing assortment of adorable retro-inspired aprons to choose from. With great color combos and contrasting patterns, you'll look just as put together as our 50's Hostess counterparts. I recently got my very own apron in the cherry pattern and I just love the quality of the fabric and the fabulous attention to detail.

And now you have a chance to win one of these wonderful aprons too. For a chance to win your choice of any Flirty Apron, just leave a comment below telling us what you like best from the Flirty Aprons site. The last day to enter is August 31st. We'll announce our winner (chosen at random) on September 2nd. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hudson Chalkboard Paint in Color

Fun Find.

My day just got a little brighter after seeing that Hudson Paints has added acid green, bright orange, hot pink, turquoise, purple, red and many more to their line of chalkboard paints. The price per gallon is only $24.99. You can order from or if you live in the NYC area it is available at Tivoli Mercantile in Red Hook. Check out a few of cute projects that Raina Kattelson already crafted.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dinner for Two

Cookbook Recommendation.

When your are cooking for just two people, it is really easy to get stuck in a rut. I love to try out new recipes but so many interesting recipes yield a lot servings and can take quite a while to cook. And while those are perfectly fine for the weekend or when you have guests, most of us want to be able to prepare something in 30 minutes or less during the week.

I received the Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook as a wedding gift last year and it is the perfect remedy for this problem. In the last week, I've tried several new recipes and loved them all. I've included one of these below. And make sure to grab a copy of the book for yourself so you can spice up your weekly dinner options!

Pasta with Pesto, Shrimp, and Sweet 100s
Serves 2
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
8 oz Angel Hair Pasta
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
8 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup pesto
1 cup halved sweet 100s or other cherry tomatoes
grated Parmesan
lemon wedges for garnish
Fill a large saucepan 3/4 full of water. Bring to boil over high heat and add kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally until al dente (about 4 minutes). Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.
Heat the olive oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Turn the shrimp over and add the garlic. Continue cooking for about another minute until the shrimp is opaque in the center. Add the reserved cooking water and pesto and stir until incorporated. Add the pasta and tomatoes an toss to combine. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with sprinkling of grated Parmesan and lemon wedges.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Link Love

Rachel Ray Magazine
What a great way to make back to school fun.

Pie Pops...what will she think of next.

Arm Chair Trader
So simple, yet so elegant.

Let this be your inspiration to get out there and soak up the sun.

Little Birdie Secrets
Who doesn't love party poppers? Check out the tutorial here...

Monday, August 10, 2009

To do or not to do

Task organizing ideas.

This time of year has a tendency to get a little hectic. Summer is drawing to an end and everyone is trying to fit every summer activity they haven’t accomplished yet into 3 weeks. The kids are headed back to school which means many supplies and clothes to purchase. Here at Hip Hostess things have become really busy in the last week and not that we are complaining but it means we need to be more organized than ever.

Hip Hostess has a daily morning meeting where we go over our to-do lists and organize our tasks for the day. This is pretty easy when you have a computer in front of you with a nice, neat excel spreadsheet. But it seems that if I am out and about and an idea or task strikes I end up with tiny scraps of paper throughout my purse. And trying to translate my scribbles can be a task in itself. Sure I could enter the info in my BlackBerry, but sometimes it is just quicker and easier the old fashioned way.

So I decided to go in search of some fun downloadable lists that I could use both in the office as well as on the fly.

How About Orange
Created by Erin Vale
This is a great find. Not only does Erin offer a Freakin to-do list which makes me laugh a little every time but also a Dreamy blog topic list and a pain in the groceries to buy list.

The Project Girl
This is great if you want everything on one page for easy purse snatch ability.

Blah, Blah, Blahg
Created by Baca Creative
This list is great because it helps keep the focus on what is really important.