Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Coffee for a Cause


What if you could do a good deed before you even stepped foot out of your home in the morning? It's as easy as buying the right kind of coffee for your morning cup (or three).

Green Mountain Coffee has recently released its Spring Revival Blend, featuring Fair Trade Certified coffee from Rowanda. The farmers of Rowanda are still recovering from their country's brutal civil war, and the hope is to bring awareness to the extraordinary coffee that these farmers produce. This particular blend received a Coffee Review of 90 out of 100 and is described as having "sweet-toned, fresh aroma, with hints of orangy fruit, dry berry, dark chocolate." Yum!!

This Limited Edition Spring Revival Blend can be purchased directly at Green Mountain's site and participating sellers in various cities. This type of product is something that makes Hip Hostess very happy. It's something new and exciting all while contributing to a great cause. What a great way to start the day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

21 idea-filled outdoor dining rooms.

Ritzy Bee
Inspiring ideas for a spring garden party

Pretty Chicky
This wedding was a succulent success!

These cupcakes should make an appearance at every party this Spring!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Make Over the Milk.


Last Saturday marked the first day of Spring, which to me means, “bring on the al fresco brunch plans.” Get-togethers with friends this time of year tend to move to earlier times, that way everyone can get out and enjoy the beautiful day.

Brunch is an easy way to entertain. It usually consists of an egg dish, some fun bread type items and a salad of some variety. This is usually accompanied by coffee and an iced tea or alcoholic beverage.

One thing I love to do is throw in an unexpected item right from the beginning. What could be better than walking up to the coffee bar to discover choices of three liquid additives…milk, cream and rich chocolate milk. This Food Network recipe for rich chocolate milk only takes a couple of steps and makes a fantastic cafĂ© mocha very easy.

Everyone will be very happy about the indulgent, delicious option that will set the tone for a fantastic day ahead.

Bring 2 cups whole milk to a simmer, then whisk in 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder and 1/3 cup superfine sugar until smooth. Puree in a blender to fully dissolve; use right away or chill.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bridal Cocktail Party


We love when our readers write us to tell us about ways that they've incorporated ideas we've shared, or share some new ideas with us. We have a passion for entertaining, and we get very excited to see that in others as well.

Last week one of our readers, Barbie Tilman, wrote in to tell us about not-so-typical bachelorette party that she threw for her best pal Margie. With a great story behind the party and wonderful photos by her friend Jessica Lorren, I just knew that we had to share this with you. Here's the story behind the event in Barbie's own words:

"My best friend Margie was ANTI a bachelorette party, but she did agree to let me throw her a low key cocktail party for our 6 best friends. It was such fun to plan. The bride and our best friends all grew up in Palm Beach, but have moved all over the country, so it was a blast for everyone to be together for a fun filled weekend. I went with a classic Palm Beach theme of pink & green & told the girls on the invitation to dress in "Palm Beach Glam" attire...bold, bright & Lilly-esque. The bride loves margarita's and wine, so they were the poison of choice for the night. I found wine glasses at the neatest little gift shop (KT Jane's/ Tampa) that I could monogram with her initial, that she LOVED."

"I also found the cutest cocktail flags for the margarita's there. Everything else was diy....the pom pom's hanging from the cocktail pavilion, the flowers, decor and food. My parent’s house in Palm Beach was the perfect gathering spot for the party, as we all use to congregate there & sneak drinks in high school. Naughty, Naughty!! We had the best memories there growing up…pool parties, slumber parties, sweet 16 parties, etc…. so it was just so fitting that we’d do her little pre-wedding cocktail celebration poolside at that house. Margie LOVED this fun night of "Margie's Margaritaville" in Palm Beach."

PS. Barbie recently started her own wedding planning business in Palm Beach/Tampa/Kennebunkport, Bumblebee Weddings. Brandi and I know a thing or two about branching out on your own. Congrats to you and best of luck in the world of entertaining!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spotted: Polka Dot Balloons

I am definitely smitten with these fun polka dot balloons, available here in 10 different colors.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wine Cocktails

Cocktail Recipes.

I'm a big fan of Imbibe magazine as well as their online site. They always have a fresh perspective on the art of all things libation.

Recently they posted an article about the history of cocktails containing wine as a main component. Which made me wonder, why don't we drink more cocktails where hard alcohol isn't the driving force? Below is my favorite suggestion from this article. I think it sounds refreshing and lovely!

Sauternes Cup No. 4

Method: Mix together in a large jug. Serve as cool as possible.

2 Bottles of Sauternes
1 Bottle of Iced Sparkling Muscat Mosel
Slice of Cucumber
Juice of 4 Oranges
Juice of 2 Lemons (strained clear)
3 Bottles of Iced Soda Water

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easter Baskets

Healthy choices.

About this time every year, I start adding extra errands to my weekly list to pick up treats for Easter baskets. This year I have decided to include some healthier candy options into the baskets. Note that I mention the word “some healthier” because in my book, no Easter basket would be complete without a Cadbury Egg and a Reese’s peanut butter cup. I also like to include some little non-candy items that I know the person would enjoy.

I was very excited when I opened my April issue of Food Network Magazine and saw the feature, “Goody-Goody Basket. Each candy has a nutritional boost in some form. I will share the list below.

Gimme Omega 3-This candy bar consists of chocolate coated puffed rice that is loaded with flax and has 350 mg of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. The candy bar and many other healthy choices can be found at

Jelly Belly’s New Superfruit mix-Filled with juices from acai berries, cherries, cranberries, blueberries and pomegranates. They can be found at most stores or if you want to order online

Dark Chocolate Rabbit-The dark chocolate rabbit has 18 percent less sugar than a milk-chocolate bunny and it’s loaded with heart-healthy polyphenols.

Fruity Bears-This is a great alternative to gummy bears and half of the bag provides 100 percent of the daily-recommended dose of vitamin C. They are also made without artificial dyes or corn syrup.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Made By Girl
Can you believe that this was a DIY table setting? Bravo!

Cake as art? Love it.

Inspiration Bubble
Best firewood storage…EVER.

Paper Crave
So intricate. So cool.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Yulia Kunze


Although I had a bit of an issue with watching the Oscar’s this year, thanks to Cablevision. I didn’t have any issues jumping on the computer the next morning to check out the fabulous style of the actors and actress’ as they walked the red carpet. I have to say I had more than a few favorites but one in particular really blew me away. That was Cameron Diaz with her show-stopping Hollywood glam from head to toe.

This got me thinking, how can I, incorporate some Hollywood glam into my life? That’s when I ran across Yulia Kunze and her amazing vintage style hair accessories. Yulia uses salvaged antique embellishments as well as pieces of vintage accessories from around the world to create her own gorgeous, one-of-a kind pieces. Yulia has many unique pieces to choose from and all with a rich history and a fabulous design.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Special Night

Date Night.

As I shuffled my husband out the door this morning with 25 lbs. of leftover fruit salad from a Hip Hostess event, I am reminded of how great he is. He didn’t even complain once about my obsession to not let any food go to waste or the fact that he had to lug the extra weight on the subway and across town to his office.

I am the planner in the relationship, so naturally our activities tend to lean towards my tastes. That’s not to say that if he mentions something he would like to do I don’t jump at it. But frankly that doesn’t happen to often.

When I saw an advertisement for the 25th year anniversary for Pale Rider, I suddenly had an idea. I would plan a night dedicated to all my husband’s favorites. I ran to Blockbuster to pick up Pale Rider, my husband loves old Western’s which is not my favorite thing, so of course they don’t make it on the queue very often. Picked up a couple of filet’s mignon, the man loves his red meat and a nice bottle of his favorite red.

I can’t wait till my husband comes home, he will be so excited. I would love to hear about the special G-rated ways in which you show appreciation for your partner.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spaghetti Scrub

New Cleaning Tool.

It's not often that I become this intrigued by a cleaning product, but The Original Spaghetti Scrub has me thoroughly excited about doing dishes...and that says a lot!

Made with corn cobs and peach pits they require little to no soap or detergent. After you're done cleaning, just rinse and hang on the faucet to dry. They last for months, don't carry mold or smell yucky after use, and apparently can even be used to peel vegetables because of their unique abrasive qualities.

Has anyone tried these miraculous cleaning machines? This inquiring mind wants to know all about it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

National Sauce Month


March is National Sauce Month the perfect time to stretch your culinary wings and add a sauce to your repertoire of go-to recipes. I personally like a quick and easy sauce with a lot of variety. Sometimes at the end of the day I feel like I can’t possibly make one more decision, all I want to do is relax and not talk or think for at least an hour. But the nagging question of “What are we having for dinner?” needs to be answered before this can happen.

We always seem to have chicken of some form in the fridge, so an easy solution is Chicken with Pan Sauce. About a year ago, I ran across the below recipe from Recessipes and have been using it ever since. It allows me to have a glass of wine and put my feet up and still enjoy a delicious meal that doesn’t feel like I skimped.

Once you have mastered this sauce, you can check out Recessipes site for variations using just a few more ingredients.

Chicken with Pan Sauce


4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 tbsp cold butter
2/3 cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup finely chopped shallot or onion
2 tbsp whipping cream


Place each chicken breast half between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound the chicken lightly to about ¼” thick. Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet melt 1 tbsp of the butter on medium high heat. Reduce to medium. Cook chicken for 6-8 minutes or until no longer pink, turning once. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm.

Add wine, broth and shallot to the same skillet. Cook and stir, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Bring to boil. Boil gently for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is reduced to ¼ cup. Reduce heat to medium low.

Stir in cream. Add the remaining 4 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp at a time, stirring after each addition until butter is melted. Sauce should be slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon sauce over chicken.

**Note: It is important to reduce the liquid to ¼ cup or the sauce will be to thin.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patty's Day Remedy

Hangover Help.

There are few holidays that give us the unabashed excuse to overindulge in alcoholic beverages no matter what day of the week it if falls on the calendar. St. Patrick's Day is one of those days. Sure you may have celebrated this weekend by watching your city turn the river green or throw a really big parade...but tonight there is a very good chance that you'll still have a Guiness or Jameson in honor of our Irish friends.

My goal today is to help to prevent you from making the somewhat inevitable Shamrock Shuffle to the bathroom tomorrow morning after said overindulgence. So I did a little research on what is scientifically proven to help curb a hangover...or at least lessen its ugly effects.

Fried and Fatty Foods
Though I swear by a Spicy Chicken value meal from Wendy's the day after as a cure, studies show that eating fried and fatty foods before or during drinking is what works. In fact, Mediterraneans have been known take a spoonful of olive oil before drinking to ward off a hangover. So load up on those sliders and nachos tonight. It's good for you in the long run.

Eggs contain large amounts of cysteine, the substance that breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde in the liver's easily depleted glutathione. So basically, eating that egg sandwich first thing in the morning can help mop up the extra toxins left in your body.

No surprise here. As a prevention method, try drinking a glass of water with every glass of alcohol. Don't'll still be feeling "cheery" even if you do. And drink a big glass right before you go to bed too. In the morning, drink water liberally to rehydrate. Sports drinks and other non-carbonated drinks with a little sugar will help replenish your system even faster.

Fruit Juice
Personally this hurts my stomach just thinking about it. However studies show that juices increase the rate in which bodies get rid of toxins. Plus you are filling yourself with vitamins to boot.

Aspirin or Acetaminophen
If your stomach is sensitive to aspirin, stick to the acetaminophen. But all studies show that you should pop a dose of these pain relievers before heading to bed. Your symptoms tomorrow morning should be lessened...and who doesn't want that.

Moral of the Story:
Before: Eat some greasy food.
During: Drink lots of water.
Before bed: Drink a glass of water and have 2 aspirin or acetaminophen.
Day after: Have some eggs and juice and drink water all throughout the day.

Slainte! Have a Happy St. Patty's Day!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

A Cup of Jo
I love the idea of an art installation as a birthday surprise.

Davie and Chiyo
Looking for the perfect gift?
Fric and Frac
A lovely array of branches in all different styles.

The perfect presentation.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Etsy Find.

Oh how I love a fabric flower. Fabric flowers hit the wedding scene hard a few years ago and have held on strong. Whether you pinned one on your dress, put one in your hair, or carried a bundle as your were the height of cool for using a fabric flower.

And I think this all still applies! Which is why I was so excited when Emma of Hapitat on Etsy reached out to us to show us her work. It's a fantastic blend of vintage fabrics, seared edges, feathers, anything else unexpected. And I'm absolutely gaga for the over sized flower hair pieces...they are just so chic.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Props for Pottery Barn

Home Decor.

This is the time of year that I totally get Spring Fever. I'm over the cold weather, snow, and grey skies and long for temperatures that start with at least a 5, tulips & daffodils, and sunshine. So when I got home from after a week of traveling to a mailbox full of magazines, catalogues and bills I was instantly drawn to the fresh cover of the new Pottery Barn catalogue.

And I have to tell you that some of the Spring & Easter place setting photos that are within the pages of this catalogue are really inspiring. I love the mixture of old and new in all three of these examples. Now I really can't wait for Spring to arrive...

Friday, March 12, 2010

POPcorn Culture

Gourmet Gift.

I don't need to be at the movies to crave popcorn as a snack. And while I love just the basic butter and salt, I'm more than happy to jazz things up a bit too.

When I ran across these popcorn seasonings from Urban Accents, I was SO excited. I make some pretty good seasoning mixes myself, but I am pretty psyched to try some of UA's choices: Margarita Lime, Smoky Chipotle, Sweet & Salty Kettle, Asiago and Cracked Pepper, and Dill Pickle.

And while you are perusing their site, make sure to check out their assortment of exotic popcorn kernels. Wouldn't an assortment of kernels, seasonings, and a container make a great hostess gift?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gifts for Guys

Gift Ideas.

I don't know if any of you have this problem, but I sometimes have a difficult time finding gifts for my better half for very special occasions. While sports tickets and nice dinners are always a winner with my husband, sometimes I'd like to kick it up a notch for anniversaries and birthdays.

So when I came across Chris Parry's Etsy shop, I knew that I'd found a winner. Each of Chris's pieces are handmade and customized in a way that will make it unique and special for those very important occasions. Here's a few of my favorites:

Fingerprint Cufflinks:
Just submit a black and white copy of your fingerprint, and Chris will emboss your unique "signature" on this very useful gift.

Fingerprint Wedding Band:
Another genius way to incorporate your fingerprint.

Guitar Picks:
These silver picks can be engraved with virtually any quote. If your guy doesn't actually play guitar but wishes he did, you can also get these picks made as a key chain.

Customized silver collar stays makes a utilitarian item so much more special.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chocolate Editions

Sweet finding.

I love a chocolate bar that doesn’t make me decide which kind of chocolate to eat. This Mary and Matt bar lets me enjoy a range of chocolates starting with dark or milk and ending in white. I wonder if I can count the Neapolitan bar as one serving of fruit?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Link Love

Twig and Thistle
I’m actually jealous of this 1 year old…how amazing is his 1st birthday party?!?

Style Me Pretty
The floral details on both the cake and the monogram are just lovely at this California wedding!

This look from Alberta Ferretti is stunning for any special event. Maybe even a wedding…

Once Wed
This vellum chuppah is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Save the Date


While perusing my favorite blogs I ran across this generous gift from The Inspired Bride. It is a free downloadable Save the Date. It is a super cute design and talk about a huge savings and an instant theme.

The link has instructions, as well as, two different color themes to choose from. If you have an upcoming birthday party, bridal shower or even just dinner party…this is your lucky day!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Easy Appetizer


It's never a bad idea to have items in your pantry or freezer that you could easily throw together for appetizers in a pinch. I always have an assortment of crackers and cheese and often the makings for a quick bruschetta.

This week I was perusing Fox & Obel in Chicago and spotted frozen blini from French Gourmandises. They are basically baby pancakes that make the perfect base for a wide variety of apps...and they seem super fancy even though they are SO easy. If you aren't in Chicago, you can always try your local gourmet grocer or order from here.

And just in case you were wondering what to put on top of these blinis, here are few ideas:

Creme fraiche and caviar
Cream cheese, bacon pieces, and chives
Creme fraiche and smoked salmon or trout
Brie, slivered almonds, and fruit preserves
Sliced strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar and whipped cream
Chopped cooked apples with cinnamon

Friday, March 5, 2010

Easter Treats

Chocolate Treats.

I realize that Easter baskets are technically supposed to just be for children, but I would like to protest. I like chocolate just as much as (if not more than) those that ride a yellow bus. And when I spotted these adorable chocolate truffles from Moonstruck Chocolates, I knew that they were the perfect treat for us grown-up kids. Don't you agree?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

ABC Paper Cup

Fun Find.

Do you ever look at something and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I had one of those moments when I saw ABC paper cups display at TheDieline.

These great design on little paper cups ensures they will be a great additive to any situation. The possibilities are endless.