Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Link Love

Beautiful summer tablescape.

Strawberry Lemon Shortbread bars…the perfect addition to a picnic basket.

Emmaline Bride
Check out this spread on cute presentation methods for macarons.

How about Orange
All you need is a little masking tape.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Crazy Cocktail Concoction

Foodie Destination.

Last week I was incredibly fortunate to have dinner at Next Restaurant in Chicago, the much-lauded new venture from the genius mind of Chef Grant Achatz. I won't go on too long about it because much has been written from those that are far more eloquent than I. But yes, it was absolutely amazing. And yes, the duck really is as good as everyone has said.

But what I am going to talk about is the attached cocktail lounge, The Aviary, where my hubby and I had some of the most mind-blowingly creative and delicious pre-dinner cocktails.

As all of the drinks are created in the cocktail kitchen instead of a traditional bar, your really aren't sure what you are going to get when you order one of their 18 in-house cocktails. So when we ordered "In the Rocks", whose description was very much like an upscale Old-Fashioned, we were a little surprised to be served this...

Yes. That is an egg of ice, whose center is my delicious Old Fashioned just waiting to be released. How do I get to my delicious drink, you ask?

With a custom-made sling-shot that fits perfectly over the glass to crack it just perfectly, of course. Like this:

* Enter the sound of me squealing with delight *

I wish that I could tell you how to do this at home and impress the hell out of your house guests, but that isn't going to happen. Instead, get your rear to the Windy City and wait in line at The Aviary like all the other foodies. It's worth it.

And if you were wondering how they did this. Here you go.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Balloon Vase


Family Chic has a great tutorial on how to change a regular drinking glass into a vase using only a balloon. When you see the picture you might say “huh”, but when you check out the step by step instructions the genius will become clear.

This is a terrific way to easily change a tablescape to each event without the expense of finding the perfect pieces for your table. The best part you don’t have to store a bunch of vases. Also, the vase is so darn cute that you only need a tiny flower for each vase which also saves money.

I do believe a row of brightly colored balloon vases with white daisies lined up and down the center of a picnic table would make quite a pop.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Herb Pots


I have to laugh at myself at the grocery store when I'm buying flat leaf parsley. I have to stare at it and sniff it for a few seconds to make sure that it isn't cilantro...every single time. And the sad thing is that I probably buy parsley at least once a week.

Which is why I love this "vintage" idea from Martha Stewart.

Simply paint the name of each herb in your garden on to individual terracotta pots. It looks more elegant than the plastic nametags of norm. And it will prevent me from clipping my cilantro...when 9 times out of 10 I need the parsley.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baked Radish Chips


I have serious affection for radishes, but recently found out that most people don’t have the same love. This recipe might just change your mind. First we brought you kale chips as a healthy snack and now why not add radish chips to your baking list.

They are plentiful at this time of year, inexpensive and have practically no calories. Three of my favorite things! I have a batch in the oven now and plan on munching on a bowl full of radish chips while I watch The Next Three Days this evening. Sorry popcorn…you’re staying on the shelf tonight.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

Once Wed
I love the subtly of these ombre-dyed place cards.

Bella Eats
Banana pudding ice cream. Oh my! Does that sound delicious!!

The Burning House
I love the concept of this site. If your house was burning, what would you take with you? Seeing everyone’s individual lists is very interesting…

Poppy Talk
Monochromatic white flower arrangements in assorted vessels look so chic.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Again with the Mason Jars?

Hold up…don’t put away those Mason Jars just yet. Instead get out the spray paint and check out this tutorial.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bling Basics

Jewelry Care.

Recently, I had a diamond fall out of my shared prong wedding band...and unfortunately I wasn't able to recover the diamond. Uck! What did I do wrong?

For those of you that have wedding bands or engagement rings with diamond surrounds, maintenance is the key to avoiding my mini disaster. Since we spend so much time on computers and doing work with our hands, our rings slowly distort "off-round". This loosens the settings and allows for stones to fall out. A simple and inexpensive yearly cleaning and tune-up from your jeweler to check the setting is all that you should do...and don't put it off!

And if you have a plain band, I still would highly recommend a professional cleaning once a year. I have been diligent about cleaning my ring own my own. But when they gave it back to me after a professional clean, it was like I was receiving a brand new ring. So lovely...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Grilled Cheese Genius


Isn't it funny how the "simplest" foods can present the biggest challenges? One of my favorite comfort foods is a grilled cheese sandwich...with the perfect golden crust and gooey cheesy center. The problem is that by the time I get my cheese to the proper goo-factor, the outside is normally a wee bit dark for my liking.

Which is why Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in NYC is a freakin' genius.

photo via palewire on flickr

In this month's Glamour magazine, Gabrielle says that she uses Hellman's mayonnaise instead of butter on the outside of bread when making her grilled cheese. It's more stable than butter and can remain on the pan over medium low heat for longer...allowing for the coveted goo-factor of which I dream.

Thanks, Gabrielle. You rock.

PS. Make sure to pick up a copy of Gabrielle's memoir - Blood, Bones & Butter. So good.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Clever Cocktail Napkin

Party Idea.

This genius idea today comes from the Pink Taco (insert junior high style giggling) at the Planet Hollywood in Vegas. You gotta love when someone takes the mundane and adds some humor. Behold the genius cocktail napkin:

I loved it so much that I swiped two so I could blog about it. Wouldn't it be fun to have a custom set like this made for a big party where your guest list was predominantly single. Talk about a conversation starter.

So tell me...do you think this is clever? Or were the margaritas just confusing my judgement?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Boozy Milkshakes

You know a great way to kick up a burger and potato salad bbq…boozy milkshakes. I love the idea of not going overboard on the food and just having a good grilled burger with all the sides. However, in true Hip Hostess fashion, you can “wow” them with one of these 3 delicious adult milkshakes.

Strawberry Cream

Blueberry Malt

Salted Caramel

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Link Love

Cannelle et Vanille
Homemade strawberry yogurt…the perfect treat.

Martha Stewart
New spin on the beloved paper lantern.

Blog 2 Modern
Check out this cool label idea.

Moth Design
Framed shopping bags…hmmmm.

Monday, May 16, 2011

DIY 4th of July Confetti Bottle Rockets

You are probably saying, “This girl has lost her mind”, it is not even June yet. I know, I know, but this project seems a little time consuming, but oh so cute. I want to give you plenty of time to gather supplies and construct a couple, here and there, on rainy days or in front of the TV.

I think these confetti rockets are adorable for outdoor d├ęcor for your Fourth of July get-together. They get to look cute all day and then either fun for the kids to pull the string or in my case drunken adults.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wineberry Box


Who knew that boxed wine could look and taste so good? Check out Wineberry's take on wine in a box:

With wine offerings from classic French regions, a capacity equivalent to 4 bottles per box, and 3 weeks worth of freshness once opened and refrigerated, what's not to love?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Teacher Appreciation

With the school year coming to an end, I thought this was a cute thank you for your child’s teacher. It’s cute, personal, practical and inexpensive. Plus it’s a great way to teach your child about gratitude. Check out the tutorial plus templates at Lisa Storms.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Watermelon Punch Bowl

This is the perfect idea for creating cute, inexpensive vignettes throughout a summer time event. I would make them ahead of time and nestle them in a cooler surrounded by ice. Then bring them out on trays for an afternoon refresher. I like the idea of it being reminiscent of grandma bringing out sweet tea but with a modern “wow” factor.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Bitter Sweet
Chocolate ice cream with Coconut Caramel Sauce. There goes my diet…

Street Peeper
Note to self: employ scarves more frequently in wardrobe for instant glamour.

Apartment Therapy
This DIY painted headboard is just too cute!!

Style Me Pretty
What a gorgeous English Tea set-up!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Turtle Cakes

When I see cute ideas such as this, I always think it would be the perfect activity for children at your summer events. What kid wouldn’t like to decorate their own dessert…especially if it is making an adorable sea turtle.

The best part is you get an activity out of it and all you need for prep is to buy or bake a few cupcakes and get some candy for turtle parts.

Easy Breazy Fun!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gaga for Garden Gear

Outdoor furniture and accessories.

I had no idea that my cabin fever would extend into May this year. But alas chilly temperatures in Chi-town just won't stop, and I keep day dreaming of having a drink al fresco in the sun...if it really does still exist.

To add to my daydreaming, Viva Terra sent their newest catalogue with outdoor gear. Drool.

Here are some of my faves that I'm lusting after...

Reclaimed Contempo Collection
I love that there are slim modern lines applied to rustic material.

Valencia Teak Chair
Mies inspired outdoor chair...straight to my heart!

Bottle Garland
This would be SO lovely at a party along side candles and strings of white lights.

Terracotta Water Jug
So sculptural and efficient at the same time.

Topiary Forms
I'm pretty sure that I don't have the patience or skill for creating a real topiary, so these forms should do the trick.

Temple Bells
I'm not sure how these guys sound, but they sure are gorgeous.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Month of May

Drink Recipe.

It is quickly becoming a reality that summer is just around the corner. I have decided to make May health month. I am going to eat healthier, exercise regularly and really focus on myself for one entire month.

Among other things, one of the goals for this month is to make sure that I hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This sounds easy enough right? It should be, but I am the world’s worst at drinking enough water. So, when I saw this fat-flushing cooler in this month’s Health Magazine I thought, “2 birds 1 stone”.

If you are anything like me and could use a little hydration and if in the process some fat disappeared it wouldn’t be unwelcomed…then check out this recipe. It looks simple and refreshing.

Fat-Flushing Cooler
In a large pitcher, combine 2 quarts brewed green tea (8 cups) with slices of orange, lemon, and lime to give it a citrusy-sweet punch. Enjoy up to 1 pitcher a day. Serve over ice; refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vanilla Pear Muffins


When I saw this photo I immediately thought these would be perfect for Mother’s Day. Not only do they look delicious and moist but they are also beautiful. If you are planning a breakfast or brunch for mom or if your mom is miles away then maybe a tin of these sent special delivery would be a welcomed treat. Check out the recipe here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Skinny Cinco

Drink Recipe.

The day that I learned how many calories were in a margarita was a sad, sad day indeed. But when Cinco de Mayo rolls around, what am I supposed to do? You know that I'm going to drink margaritas and practically bathe in guacamole.

So this year, I'm going to give the Hungry Girl's Magical Low Cal Margarita a try. I have everything that is calls for already in my shelf and it sounds delicious. And if you've never tried any of the HG recipes, sign up for her daily newsletter or buy one of her books because they are awesome.

HG's Magical Low-Calorie Margarita

3/4 cup Sierra Mist Free (or Diet Sprite Zero, or your other fave no-cal lemon-lime soda)

1.5 oz. tequila

1 packet (two 5-calorie servings) sugar-free powdered drink mix, lemonade (like the one by Crystal Light)

2 tbsp. lime juice
Optional: lime slice for garnish and salt or no-calorie sweetener for rim of glass

If desired, run some lime juice along the rim of the glass and dip into a dish of salt or sweetener. Mix all ingredients together. Pour over 1 cup of crushed ice. Optional: Garnish with lime slice. Enjoy. Serves 1!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Fish Food Blog
Dig this pattern for pie crust.

Great use of baskets as wall art.

Emmaline Bride
Love this simple yet sophisticated thank you bag.

Smitten Design
Outdoor Envy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gilchrist & Soames BeeKind Collection

Welcome Basket Idea.

One of the first things that I do when I check into a hotel room is scope out the bathroom...and the free products. I cannot tell you how many times even rather high-end hotels have truly disappointed me with their terrible shampoos and conditioners. But I certainly can't fit all of my liquid beauty items in a ziplock bag for airport security, so my nightcream comes with me and I suffer with frizzy hair from crummy hotel conditioner.

And that's why I love to encourage brides & grooms to consider putting nice, luxurious bath products in their hotel welcome baskets...especially if you know your hotel is lackluster on their offerings. A line that I was recently introduced to is the Gilchrist & Soames BeeKind Collection.

Not only does G&S BeeKind have a scent of lemon verbena, extracts of honey, and certified organic extracts of red clover, calendula, lemongrass and chamomile...*ahh*...but it's a good cause. They are supporting honey bee and sustainable pollination research at the University of California at Davis Entomology Department by donating a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the BeeKind™ Collection to the University's Honey Bee Research Program.

And as much as I love honey, I like to do all that I can to help out the honeybee issues that we are having in the US. So what do you think? Wouldn't some of these products BEE a great addition to a wedding hotel welcome basket?