Sunday, January 31, 2010

Valentine's Day Papercrafts

If you're looking for great craft ideas this Valentine's Day, you needn't look any farther than the pages of a book. This garland of tiny heart flags could add a little romance to your room. Buy one at CoriKindred ($14), or let it inspire you to get crafty yourself.

While you're paging through your collection of dusty tomes, put one to good use with this Valentine heart wreath project from Flower Patch FarmGirl. She has a full tutorial plus pictures to help you get started. Now that's using your words.

{Photos via CoriKindred and Flower Patch Farmgirl}


Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Valentine In Your Own Words

Be My Valentine

I designed the crossword above using Discovery Education's nifty Puzzlemaker online (it came with a set of personalized clues of course!) Create a "Criss-Cross" (aka crossword puzzle) for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day using clues you write about your relationship. Puzzlemaker combines your words into a custom crossword that says all the right things. Print from there and give to your sweetie, or let it do the hard work then use the design to create your own version in pretty pinks and reds!


Friday, January 29, 2010

Hip SF Eats: Underground Farmers Market

Just back from my first time at the SF Underground Farmers Market, a pop-up event where you can try and buy food that's produced in backyards and home kitchens in the Bay Area (rather than the commercial kitchens required for a regular farmers market). You have to sign a waiver saying roughly, "Yes, yes, I know this grub was cooked up in someone's house without safety guidelines. I'm ready to roll the dice and take my chances!" Not to fret, it's quality stuff!

First up (top) I dined on a hearty corned beef sandwich on homemade bread from Lauren & Jon Bowne. Or at least, I think that was who it was from...they didn't have cards and there was also a sign that said Pearl's Kitchen... Either way, great sandwich!

For dessert I tried Heartbaker's lightly frosted heart-shaped brownie bite and a lemon meringue mini-tart. Sorry for the fuzzy picture, I didn't have my glamor cam with me. The lemon meringue had beautiful presentation, but a bit more crust than lemon flavor—a problem I quickly remedied with a tongue-tingling bite of Slow Jams lemon curd. That was fun, as I'd just seen Slow Jams creator Shakirah Simley in my last issue of Marie Claire. My take-home sweet was a pound cake with berries, also baked by Heartbaker.

Next up for me: finding heart-shaped cookie cutters so I can make brownie bites of my own. And readers, do you have any suggestions on what I can do with this big jar of tasty lemon curd? At this rate it'll disappear one spoonful at a time with my sampling. But if you have suggestions for what to spread it on, please leave them in the comments!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Poppin' Fresh Valentine's Day Treats

Call me indulgent, but I like a Valentine I can eat. And I love to bake. That's why I really like this heart-shaped pocket pie mold from Williams Sonoma. At $9.95 it seems like a great, affordable way to make consistently sized and shaped handheld pies. I'd package mine in wax paper with some ribbon or twine and top it with a rustic-looking gift tag. And it's perfect for the lazy baker (I say that fondly—don't we all like short-cuts?). Use store-bought rolled pie crust and pre-made filling and you can still say "I made that...it's from the heart" (okay, that pun was terrible).


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Valentine's Day Inspiration: Martha Stewart

Love her or hate her, Martha Stewart and Co. certainly know their stuff. I am constantly inspired by their creativity. No holiday passes without checking out what Martha Stewart online has to offer.

First up—Lacy Votive Holders made from lace sprayed with fabric stiffener (they use balloons to make the shape!) and fitted with tea lights in glass holders (tutorial and photos here). I find them utterly romantic. After Valentine's Day file this idea away for your next tea party or shower.

Make your own beautiful Heart-Shaped Soaps

Heart-Shaped Tea Bag tags—It's amazing what a different look such a simple touch makes!

Heart Seals for embellished envelopes.

This is only the tip of the iceberg from la Stewart. Check out more at their photo gallery of gifts and crafts.

{Images via MarthaStewart.com}


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Friday Giveaway Contest Winner

Congrats to follower "Nikolay," who is the winner the random drawing for a copy of THE TAILGATING COOKBOOK: Recipes for the Big Game by Bob Sloan. Have a great Super Bowl everyone!


My Frosted Valentine

Valentine's Day isn't just about romance...it's also about pink. And red. Valentine's Day colors, of course! And nothing is better than a Valentine's Day treat you can eat. Cupcakes are arguably my favorite dessert, and the Crumbs and Doilies blog doesn't skimp on inspiration. Check out their cupcakes above, made for a wedding but perfectly appropriate for Valentine's Day.

Making cupcakes at home? Try dressing them up a little! Cupcake Social has fun casings for your cupcake creations.

Try traditional pink or hearts

or for a little romance what about these floral liners?

and I love these edible hearts

There's plenty more at Cupcake Social, so browse the site and get baking!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Valentine's Day Candy Boxes from D. Sharp

Frankly, I'm not ready for Valentine's Day. I can feel it sneaking up on me, though, and I find myself unavoidably running into Valentine fabulosity to share. I think D. Sharp's online shop has some of the most unique items I've seen yet. Aren't these candy boxes beautiful? They manage to make even that much glitter look classy. The boxes are so great they'd take whatever you chose to put in them to a new level! The price gives me pause ($40-$42), but if you are looking for big impact wrapping for a little gift these might be just the ticket.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Macaron Mania

Is it just me or are macarons having a moment? The delightful little pastries, also know as French macaroons, are a merengue-based treat made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour and sugar. Traditional characteristics include a delicate, eggshell-like crust over fluffy pastry that is then filled with cream or butter, much like a sandwich cookie.

I had my first taste at the SF Wedding Fair at the Four Seasons, when E&O Trading Co, an Asian Grill in SF, offered me an amazing ginger-chocolate macaron. Ever since I've been craving more, and seeing them everywhere! You'll find they come in a rainbow of colors. In fact, do yourself a favor and watch this gorgeous parade of macarons at Chez Ladurée. France is clearly the place to imbibe in this pastry perfection—Chez Ladurée and Pierre Hermé being two of the top names in macaron-making. For a stateside bite, the picture at the top has me convinced that macarons from Paulette are the ones to try. If the flavor is even half as good as the look, I'm sold. (shown above: Carribean Chocolate)

If you're looking to make your own, this tutorial at Mercotte is honest and extremely well broken down. But be warned, making macarons requires diligence!

I leave you with a great drawing from Cakespy (the creation of one of my illustrators) of a cupcake besieged by colorful macarons. Sweet dreams!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Well-Dressed Hostess

Aprons may seem old school, but they are an important part of any hostess' fashion arsenal. Not only does an apron keep you clean but the right one will make you look good while wearing it. A top shop for this is Anthropologie. Their aprons look so good you'll be the very picture of a domestic goddess when you're cooking up your next party.

Here are a few of my favorite styles: {Top, Dotty Match Apron ($32)}

Extra Ingredient Apron, ($38)

3D Toile Full Apron, ($32)

The Lady's Apron, ($32)


Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Giveaway: The Tailgating Cookbook

To help one lucky reader prep for the Super Bowl (coming up on Sunday, February 7th, folks!), I picked up a copy of THE TAILGATING COOKBOOK: Recipes for the Big Game by Bob Sloane (Chronicle Books). His recipes range from the ridiculously easy (Chex Mix and Wasabi Peas), to the exotic (Gator Steaks), to standard stadium fare like Brats in Beer.

The giveaway is open until midnight on Monday. If you're a follower via Google Friend Connect (see below right of homepage) you are automatically entered into every Friday Giveaway. Otherwise, send me an email at hostess@host-itnotes.com to enter the contest (no spam, I promise). The winner will be drawn randomly and announced in Tuesday's post.

Here's hoping you score!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Frilly Pastels from Kate's Paperie

Lately I've been thinking about purchasing ramekins so I can start baking all sorts of little sweets. But plain-jane white ones just haven't convinced me they are worth my valuable cupboard space. I am, however, sold on these colorful little beauties from Kate's Paperie. Rather than wimpy white they are given a pastel wash in four different colors, and fluted to look a little like cupcake wrappers. Love it!

Of course, I wouldn't want them to feel lonely, so I'd have to consider getting some of these matching dessert plates as well.

And while the credit card is out....this tea towel is awfully irresistable...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Super Bowl Party Inspiration: Vintage Football

Vintage Football Player, AllPosters.com

With the Super Bowl coming up, now is a great time to start any party planning. But how do you begin without knowing which teams are playing? One great spin on the traditional Super Bowl celebration is decorating with a vintage football theme. There's no need to go over the top—remember, everyone's eyes will be on the television. But wouldn't one of these old-school posters be fun over a buffet table? Stock your bar with vintage soda brands from Galco's Soda Pop Shop (check out the "Classics" section). Add to that some great tailgating snacks and a few cupcakes topped with vintage football cake toppers (try searching Ebay or Etsy.com), and you've got the start of a great party!

Power of West Point, AllPosters.com

Breaking that Tackle, AllPosters.com


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Party Inspiration: Buttons

I have buttons on the brain this week. It started with these fabulous shortbread button cookies I saw on Nikole Herriott's blog Forty-Sixth at Grace (found via Design is Mine). Check out Nicole's full tutorial and additional photos here. She's even typed up some lovingly designed instructions you can download and print for yourself.

Now add to that a trip I just made to The Buttercream Studio in South San Francisco. Cake designer Tracy Auseklis has a terrific bakery where she makes her beautiful custom wedding cakes and specialty cakes (for showers, birthdays, or whatever you'd like). Her cakes are delicious, and, while eating her Belgian Chocolate Cake with Oreo Buttercream Frosting, this cute little display cake caught my eye (see the buttons?)

A lightbulb went off—I simply must plan a baby shower for an expecting friend with the theme "Cute as a Button!" Button shortbread cookies as favors for the guests, one of Tracy's cakes to serve, pretty buttons can be incorporated easily into floral arrangements and garlands, and Martha Stewart has a quick little tutorial on how to turn buttons into napkin rings here.

If you have any button-inspired ideas I've missed, please leave them in the comments!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Fresh-Squeezed Goodness in a Glass

In my opinion you can never have enough glassware (that's just my opinion...my cupboards and my husband might beg to differ). So for me, these Squeeze Juice Glasses from Crate and Barrel are a must. The alphabet art is clever and cute, and they are a refreshing play on your boring basic glassware. At just $2.95 each I can't gripe about the price either, so I'll be getting my daily dose of vitamin C from these beauties soon, I hope!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dessert Designs by Bonjour mon coussin

Now you can lay your head down on the sweetest of treats thanks to Bonjour mon coussin. Styles from this super-talented designer and graphic artist team from France are displayed on pillow covers in lush colors and conveniently sized to accommodate IKEA pillow inserts. The pillows go for 44 euros stuffed (roughly 63 USD) or 39 euros unstuffed for the large 47x47cm version. Most pillows come in 32x32cm and 18x18cm as well. Sweet dreams!

{Found via Uncle Beefy}


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cake Stand Love: Fishs Eddy

Beautiful cake stands are usually few and far between, not to mention expensive. Vintage pressed glass and other fancy numbers can cost up to several hundred dollars or more! Just check out the February issue of Martha Stewart Living if you want to see what a $500+ cakestand looks like (and you do, though you'll senselessly start hoping for one of your own). For the hostess who can't quite afford the mostest, but wants to look like she can, there's Fishs Eddy. Fishs Eddy is a funky dish store I was introduced to while living in New York. They carry tons of dishes and silverware from old roadside diners, railroads, hotels and country clubs, plus lots of cheeky new items. All of the cakestands pictured above are from their site and come in a range of sizes and prices from $20-$100. Check it out, and while you're there take the time to scope out their snazzy pitchers as well. You'll love it!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chalk it up to Good Color

You may recall my love for fun, functional paints. Needless to say I was thrilled to pop over to the Hudson Paint website today and discover that they carry chalkboard paint not just in black or dark green, but in almost every color in the crayon box! Chalkboard paint has a multitude of uses—paint a wall in a child's bedroom to encourage their creativity, wooden napkin rings to turn them into place cards, jars and bottles and write their contents on them, and much more. Now you can paint items in your home in vibrant colors to complement your style rather than having to stick with the plain, school-day colors of old. Hudson Paint sells their writable, washable chalkboard paint by the quart ($24.95) which covers up to 100 sq. feet. Try some today, and get organized, get creative, and get your style on display!


These Classic Games are a Piece of Cake

One of my gaming geek friends posted this to his Facebook page the other day and I couldn't help but be impressed! Jewelry-maker Robin Dahlberg of Steelhead Studio throws a big game bash to start off the new year. This year she went above and beyond, making 100 cupcakes each individually designed to represent a classic game! Now that is commitment to a party theme. Thanks, Robin, you're a party inspiration!

100 Cupcakes (Pics by Steelhead Studio—row 1: Battleship, Mario Bros, Sonic, Pacman; row 2: Mortal Kombat, Monopoly, Scrabble, Hungry Hippos—found via Kokatu)



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sweet Paul Guest Posts for Design*Sponge

One of the best things about finding a blog you like is the community you'll find there. Often a blog will have a blogroll on its sidebar. This is a list of blogs the author likes or follows. If you like the writer's aesthetic, chances are you might enjoy what's on their blogroll as well. It's like getting a good recommendation from a friend and one of the best ways to expand your own network.

I also love it when the sites I read have guest bloggers write for them. Guest posts bring new energy and expert knowledge to mix things up and can introduce you to something unexpected. One pleasing example is taking place on Design*Sponge this week. They invited food and prop stylist, crafter, blogger, and soon to be magazine mogul Paul Lowe to contribute a week's worth of winter-themed posts for Design*Sponge. Paul's first guest post is terrific, but even better, thanks to D*S, I've discovered Paul's own blog, Sweet Paul. Full of recipes, designs, and more, Paul's blog is delightful! Just check out these fantastic images from a story Paul styled for Redbook magazine. He filled 80 glass ornaments with feathers then hung them from the ceiling, and the effect is stunning. Photos by Ellen Silverman.

I can't wait to click through Sweet Paul's past posts to see more, and, of course, check out the links on his blogroll when I'm done. I may just find my next new favorite thing.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Free Vintage Labels

Good news! One of my favorite websites iDIY is back after a holiday hiatus from blogging and boy am I glad to see them. iDIY spotted these fabulous vintage labels and even more from Suzee Que's Flickr stream along with templates and instructions for filling and printing them here at WorldLabel.com. These designs are for personal use only. Try incorporating them in handmade cards, labeling jars, or creating personalized book plates. Get creative!


Friday Giveaway Contest Winner

Congratulations to our Friday Giveaway contest winners! Host-It Notes followers Syl and London Girl will both receive a hardcover copy of Amy Sedaris' fabulous entertaining book I LIKE YOU: Hospitality Under the Influence. Thanks to all for participating. See you at the next giveaway which should take place in 2 weeks.


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