Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

Cannelle et Vanille
I’m itching to get back to Europe, and these images from Basque seaside towns is fueling my desire!!

With This Ring…
So simple and so lovely

Oh Happy Day
Now wouldn’t these make organizing a bit more fun??

Style Me Pretty
The blue glass ball jars are the perfect contrast to rich red and creamy white flowers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Souffle Success


As much as I love to cook, there are still a few things that strike a considerable amount of fear in me. One of those items is souffle. The whole dish just seems so precarious and easy to mess up...and I hate failure.

But ladies and gentlemen, I have conquered my fear. I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa and Ina claimed that she had a fool proof recipe for a Cheddar & Spinach Souffle. She was right!

Check out my resulting dish of yumminess.

So if you, too, have been afraid of souffles. Give this recipe a gander. Follow it to a "t", and you will be SO proud of yourself.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Should Have Known

Make-Up Tricks.

I have been wearing make-up for many years and consider myself to be pretty adept at most techniques. I can apply red lipstick and maintain a perfect pout. I can do an Audrey Hepburn-esque liquid liner cat eye. But the second I attempt to apply false lashes, I become all thumbs...and left-handed thumbs at that!! After many, many frustrated minutes of trying, I usually give up and become very cranky. Not a great way to start a festive evening.

So when I was reading an article in Glamour Magazine about the "3 Tricks We Should All Know By Now" (no need to rub it in), I finally figured out what the heck I have been doing wrong for all of these years!

Here are the important points that I learned from Glamour's article.

1. You're supposed to look down in a mirror!! Apparently, when you look straight-on into a mirror it is very difficult to get the right angle to position the lashes. Hence my 20 left thumbs.

2. After you apply the glue to the lash (individual lashes or small sections are easiest), you have to wait 20 seconds to let it get tacky. I certainly wasn't waiting long enough before.

3. When you apply the lash with slant tweezers, wiggle it into place instead of just laying it on top of the lash line.

4. Use dark glue instead of white. It will blend into your lashes better when dry.

5. Apply one coat of mascara before applying lashes and then one coat after to up the intensity and make them blend into your real lashes.

6. At the end of the night, press a cotton ball soaked in eye make-up remover against your eyelids. They slide right off (as apposed to pulling your skimpy real lashes off with the falsies)

So with these new tips in mind, I think I am ready to give falsies one more shot. Hopefully it's not too late to teach an old dog new tricks!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Monkeys, Goats and Cats, Oh My!

Funky Food.

Truffle sniffing pigs are old news. You’ll never guess where animals are popping up now. I’ll list a few below that I ran across in Food Network Magazine. One thing is for sure, it would make for interesting dinner conversation and you’ll damn sure ask where your expensive coffee came from.

The makers of Monkey-Picked Tea say that trained Chinese monkeys pick this rare type of oolong, which grows too far out on mountain cliffs for people to reach. The tea tastes more delicate and floral than typical oolong. $20 for 2 ounces at thinkgeek.com

In parts of Morocco, tree-climbing goats help harvest prized argan nuts by knocking the nuts from their branches. Once the nuts are on the ground , locals remove the kernels and roast and press them to make argan oil. Chef’s covet the oil’s nutty flavor and drizzle the stuff over salads, appetizers and even desserts. $53 for a 250ml bottle at kalustyans.com.

In Indonesia, catlike animals called civets harvest the beans used for Kopi Luwak coffee. At more than $100 per pound, it’s some of the most expensive joe in the world. We’ll spare you the details on how the beans are cultivated (it has to do with digestion), but fans of the coffee claim the unique process gives it incomparable smoothness. Gives whole new meaning to good to the last drop. $50 for 200 grams at amazon.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lookin' for Some Hot Stuff


I have to say, today is one of the few times that I'm going to recommend something that I, myself, have not tasted. But I trust my mother, and we just spent 10 minutes on the phone talking about a cracker...so I know it has to be good. I'm talking about Brown Box Crackers.

Only sold on their online store, Brown Box Crackers is a Texas-based company run by a woman named Beth who has been growing exotic chile peppers organically since 1999. She takes all of this "spicy goodness" and bakes it into her crackers with a kick. According to Mom, these guys have a vibrant cheesy and hot pepper flavor that is unbelievably addicting. In fact, she's running low on her stash and seemed a bit concerned.

Besides using them for basic appetizers, I'm already thinking of ways that I can use these to spice up recipes. Maybe crumble them up and use them in place of dry bread crumbs in meatloaf or meatballs? Crumbled over chili? Crumbled over taco salad?

Yep...gotta place my order this week. Thanks for the tip, Mom!

UPDATE: I just received my very own package of these crackers. LOVE AT FIRST BITE!!! And highly addictive.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Limited Edition Liquor

Cocktail Recipe.

A few weeks ago I was on a serious mission at Binny's Beverage Depot. I had a goal of what to buy and my ZipCar rented for a specific, short amount of time. As I'm speedily pushing my cart from the sweet tea vodka section over to beer, I was literally stopped in my tracks by some fantastic and unusual packaging. That bottle was Absolut Brooklyn.

Absolut bottles are always very simplistic and sleek no matter what the infusion. But this bottle had an illustration of a brownstone stoop and the usual Absolut seal of Swedish Spirit master Lars Olsson Smith was given a makeover a la Spike Lee's Mars Blackmon. That's all I needed. Sold.

Once I had a chance to experiment with what I later found out was an Apple and Ginger-Infused Vodka, I realized that this bottle is way more than packaging. The flavors are clean and crisp and need little accompaniment to make a tasty cocktail. But by far my favorite, is the aptly named Stoop Party.

Stoop Party

1 part Absolut Brooklyn
1 part Cranberry Juice
1 part Ginger Ale

Build over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

*** One more reason to buy this Limited Edition Libation is that Absolut is donating $50,000 of their profits from the sale of this product to Habitat for Humanity - NYC. They'll use this money to build homes in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

A Cup of Jo
A wedding cake made of cheese...be still my heart.

Create my Event
Simple yet eye catching and I love the seed packets as part of the decor.

Sweet Paul
The perfect Labor Day dessert.

How about Orange
These cute origami houses are perfect for seating cards at a housewarming.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sweet Roasted Grapes

Accoutrement Recipe.

While flipping through the pages of my latest Food Network Magazine I saw the words “Sweet Roasted Grapes” and knew it this recipe would be making an appearance on my next cheese tray. It looks easy, syrupy and a fun dish for people to try. I’m thinking Labor Day weekend will be the perfect chance.


Grease an ovenproof skillet with 2 tablespoons butter. Add 1 pound seedless grapes and ¾ cup walnuts; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Roast about 25 minutes in a 500 degree oven. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Simmer the juices with 1 tablespoon honey on the stove until syrupy about 6 to 7 minutes. Off the heat, add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of pepper. Pour the syrup over the grapes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ikea Crazy

Party Supplies.

To paraphrase comedian Jim Gaffigan: "Don't you feel weird drinking wine out of anything other than a wine glass? It makes you feel like a lush. Can I get a refill in my Yatzee cup? And fill up the sippy cup too while you're at it. Danke."

It is SO true. If I'm having a big party, I'd rather serve wine in a ceramic planter than in a plastic cup. Thankfully, Ikea makes it possible to avoid the solo cup with a little more class...and without breaking the bank.

I just received their newest catalogue this past weekend, and here are some of the pages that I dog-eared for future event supplies.

BONUS flatware - 16 pieces for $3.99??? Bu-bye plastic fork. Hello stainless steel.

REKO glasses - Fantastic modern detail with a touch of charm. And they are $1.99/6. Right on.

DIOD glass - At $1.99/glass, this is a bit pricey for a big party. But they are so cool and fantastic color options make them even more appealing.

BARBAR Tray - $5.99 for an adorable utilitarian piece. Yes, please!

LEENDE carafe - $9.99 for a 41oz container. Fantastic for premixing martinis and then just shaking over ice to serve.

Love the whole page. But one super notable.

SVALKA red wine glass - $4.99/6pk. Shut the front door...that is fantastic pricing.

Lighting galore!! I'll take the whole page, but I'm dying for:

NEGLINGE candlestick/tealight holder - versatility in a 49¢ package. I can just imagine a table filed with varying heights of taper candles and votives.

STRANGNAS series: Black and white turned pillar holders. Love it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wine Diaper

Cocktail packing supplies.

Often while unloading my car full of groceries I hear the dreaded shattering of glass followed by a stream of purple liquid flowing down the street. This actually happens more than I care to admit and it always seems to be when I REALLY need a glass of wine.

First of all, what is it with those shiny black bags that they give you at the wine shops. It is made out of the slickest possible plastic they can find and if you get two bottles they are just a little too heavy for the cheap plastic. No matter what you place the bottles in they somehow find their way out of the bag over the back seat onto the floorboards and next time you brake there they are.

I realize it’s not the worst problem a person could have but let’s just say it has happened enough times that I have decided it’s time to do something about it. That’s when I found Wine Diaper (unfortunate name) which is just a simple padded, resealable bag which protects the wine bottle and will absorb the liquid if any bottles break. They are 3 for $15 and can be purchased online here.

Not only will they save me dollars in broken wine but I also love the idea that I will again be able to take a bottle of wine as a gift when traveling. I plan to put the bags in my glove compartment and leave the streets of Brooklyn stain free.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Simple Centerpiece


For many people of my generation, the word carnation conjures up really bad prom corsages in all sorts of unnatural colors (a la 1985). But I think these simple flowers get a bad rap. They have full blooms, last a long time, and are modestly priced...all very good things in my book.

So when I had a party this past weekend, I decided to employ the lowly carnation in a way that would make it really shine. And it couldn't have been easier to do.

All you need is an assortment of clear glass bottles and glasses in different sizes and heights. Then cut the stems of each carnation so that they peak out the top of each bottle by about 3 or 4 inches, fill each bottle about 3/4 full, and remove all leaves that hit below the water line. Arrange these bottles in a staggered array down the center of the table.

Voila! An eye catching centerpiece that is cheap and easy. In fact the most difficult thing that you'll have to do is drink a fair amount of well-packaged beverages...and that isn't such a bad thing, is it?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Olive and Sinclair

Well-Packaged Treats.

I will admit that I am usually drawn to more modern design but when I saw this packaging I couldn’t help envisioning these bars in an antique soda crate next to some good old fashioned lemonade. They would be the perfect additive to an ice cream social type of theme. They come in 67% Chocolate, 75% chocolate, sea salt and salt and pepper. Check out their blog for a list of retailers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

The Style Files
Seriously awesome bathtub.

Twig & Thistle
Absolutely adorable circus-themed invitations.

Canelle et Vanille
I totally want to dive right into this gorgeous frozen raspberry mouse. Yummo.

Feather Love Blog
This unique cake topper is just too dang cute.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Real Deal

Cocktail Recipe.

I usually only order a Mai Tai if I am someplace tropical, but I had no idea that the fruity drink I was being served with pineapple juice and grenadine was actually an imposter. The real Mai Tai that was created by Victor Bergeron Jr. of Trader Vic fame in the 1930’s has finally been released.

This seems like the perfect “wow” factor for a summer get together. It will take a little pre-planning since some of the ingredients are a bit out of the ordinary. The secret ingredient is Orgeat which is an almond-sugar syrup made from whole blanched almonds. The nut oil according to Vic gives the syrup a richness that can’t be duplicated with a cheap syrup made with almond flavoring and sugar. The two websites that I found that carry this product are small hand foods and Trader Tiki’s. After you track down this ingredient the rest is pretty straight forward and the drink itself is super easy to combine.

I have ordered my Orgeat and will be taste testing the real Mai Tai before the summer’s end. I do have one question though, if the Mai Tai is from Trader Vic’s than why were the Werewolves of London drinking Pina Colada’s? Oh well, at least their hair was perfect.

The Original Mai Tai Recipe

2 ounces aged rum
¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, juiced lime half reserved
½ ounce orange curacao
¼ ounce simple syrup
¼ ounce orgeat
1 cup crushed ice
1 mint sprig for garnish


Combine all ingredients except the mint sprig in a cocktail shaker, shake vigorously, and pour the entire contents into a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the juiced lime and a mint sprig.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Boxman Studios

Pop-up Party.

The word pop-up is pretty hot right now in NYC. I get emails constantly telling me about a pop up restaurant that will be around for the weekend or high end designers having a pop up store in random locations for sample sales. So, why not have a pop up party?

Boxman Studios will deliver a 500 sq. ft. solar powered storage container complete with bamboo floors, a bar and lounge furniture that has you ready to party in 20 minutes. If only I had a grassy knoll somewhere.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bacon Marmalade Sandwich


Oh how I wish that I had thought of the Food Network. I can sit mesmerized for hours just staring at the ridiculously delicious food being prepared. One show that I'm starting to love is "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Fantastic chefs giving the scoop on their favorite foods is surely a recipe for success in my book.

Ever since I saw the episode of the best items "between bread", I cannot stop thinking about the Bacon Marmalade Sandwich from Prune in NYC. All of the others sound delish, but this one I think I can replicate now that I no longer call Manhattan home.

One thing to note on a sandwich this simple is that you must use the best ingredients. It makes all the difference between a simple dish being only ok or great. Here's the skinnny...

Bacon Marmalade Sandwich
2 slices of fresh pumpernickel bread, lightly toasted
2 pats of butter
1 tbsp Polaner Orange Marmalade
5 strips Applewood Center Cut Smoked Bacon, roasted (see below)

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Be sure to get complete coverage. Spread the marmalade on one of the pieces of toast (it will act as a glue to keep the bacon in place). Top with bacon and then second slice of toast. Cut in half and enjoy!

Roasted Bacon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay bacon on a sheet pan and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until really crispy. Dry on paper towels.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Could you eat this?

Fascinating Food.

A farmer in the Hebei Province in China has perfected the Buddha shaped pear by inserting the pears into moulds when they are young. The pears sell for the equivalent of $7.32 per pear. While I find this fascinating, I don’t believe I could actually bring myself to eat it. First of all it’s like a work of art and second, Are you suppose to eat a Buddha? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Target Teaser

Home Goods.

There's a very special little place on 2nd Street in Manhattan that I absolutely adore. The John Derian Store. The quaint store has stacks and stacks of their signature decoupage glass plates and platters, paper weights, and coasters...along with the most charming and cheeky collection of furniture, lighting, and tableware. These pieces are special and unique...as well as an investment. And I love it.

So when I opened my Lucky magazine this weekend and saw a 2 page ad announcing the release of a John Derian collection for Target, I vigorously tore out the ad and started searching the web. The only problem is Target's website doesn't have a single picture of what to expect. And because of my excited page tearing, I couldn't even scan the picture to show you the pieces on the ad. But it doesn't matter. John Derian = gorgeous stuff.

According to the ad, the pieces are available as of September 5th and are priced starting at $1.49. Amazing!! I've marked my calendar for a Target trip. I missed out on JD's Target Collection in 2008...and I won't let that happen again. Happy shopping, all!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

The Cinderella Project
Looks like Harry Potter was here.

This almost makes me want to get into a tent.

Blackberry and Lime miniature tarts…delicious.

This site is chock full of packaging inspiration.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ecojot Winners


What a way to start the week. We have the pleasure of announcing the five randomly chosen winners of our Ecojot Contest!

Our five winners are:

Mrs in May
Kari Alison
Sebrina S.

If you are listed above, please send an email to us at amber@hiphostessny.com. Thanks to all for entering and stay tuned for future contests!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Water Wake-up

Gift Idea.

One of my cousins is preparing to be a Freshman in college this year, and I'm secretly a little jealous. What isn't to love about college? It's your first true taste of independence (kind of), you move to a new place, meet new people, and basically live an awesome existence for four years. Yeah...I'm jealous.

As a graduation/entering college gift, my husband and I put together a dorm-life survival pack. I only wish that I had seen this product before putting our package together.

Yes these alarm clocks by Bedol What's Next are cute and bright and cheery...but you know what makes them totally genius? They run purely on energy powered by tap water. Crazy, huh?

I think this is an amazing gift idea for anyone, but particularly new college students. It's cheap ($29). It's cute (love that it's shaped like a water drop). And tons of celebrities love it too (Leo, P. Diddy, and Jessica Alba to name a few). And come on...it runs on water!!! For up to 3 months without having to refill it. Too cool.

And if you aren't feelin' the water drop design, look what's being released in September. The "Smiley" is $10 more and comes in a variety of colors...my favorite is this charcoal grey. I repeat...great gift.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Music Voting Site.

You know what my least favorite part of planning a party is? The music.

I will sit and agonize over my vast collection of random music and stress about whether the group of guests that I have invited will understand it makes total sense to me to play Roxy Music and follow it up with Snoop Dogg.

Which is why the day before a party, my husband usually finds me muttering to myself and looking like this...

Thank god someone was a freakin' genius and came up with the fantastic site SongVote. This 100% free service allows you to have your guests create the playlist. It's as easy as this:

1. Create a profile.

2. Create a "Contest".

3. Set your parameters - Event Date, Description/Genre, Number of Votes allowed, End Date for entries

4. Invite your guests to view the "Contest".

5. Your guests go to your "contest" and make suggestions of what to play...as well as vote to increase rank of what other guests have picked.

Voila! Instant playlist.

Since I know that our readers will want to give this a try, I've created a little contest for you to participate in. I want to hear your suggestions for my Afternoon Blogging Songlist. The VIP Code is hhblog and your password is 992.

I'm anxious to see what you all suggest!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

She's So Creative

Etsy Find.

Have you ever been invited to a party and wanted to bring something a little more special than a bottle of wine or flowers. Well I have the answer for you. She’s So Creative makes clever aprons that are packaged in cute containers. A couple of my favorites are the “Salad Dressing” apron that literally sports a carrot, tomato and lettuce putting on their lingerie, pantyhose and evening wear. I also love the “Pasta Bowl” which shows Farfalle, Rigatoni and Rotini bowling. These clever aprons are sure to get a laugh from your hostess and they have matching notepads to boot.

You can check them out on etsy.