Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Easy Canapé Recipe: "Pretty Round Bites"

A friend of mine loved "apps" so much that when he was a kid, his Mom used to make every Wednesday night "Appetizer Wednesday" at home. She would serve a variety of little hors d'oeuvres instead of a conventional dinner for the family. What a Mermaid move.

Often times, I'd much rather order a few  little 'starters' to share with friends at a restaurant instead of a meal. Cocktails and canapés go together like Mermaids and martinis. With that in mind, I'd love to highlight one of my favorite canapés to serve at a cocktail party.  Pretty Round Bites, i.e. Pistachio, grape and goat cheese balls.  Let me show you just how pretty (and EASY) these are to create.

Start with 2 ingredients: A goat cheese log and a bunch of red seedless grapes. 

Next, introduce your third and final ingredient, pistachios.  I usually purchase one large bag for this recipe.  Remove the shells from the pistachios.  Then, toast them lightly in a pan. Do not use oil in the pan.

Pour your toasted pistachios into a large Ziploc bag and crush them.  I just use a heavy spoon and bang away on the top of the bag--this is also good for stress relief. :)

Slice the goat cheese to create little round discs and flatten them.  

Insert one grape in the center of each goat cheese disc. Next, mold the goat cheese around the grape so it is completely covered and takes the shape of a ball.

Take your goat cheese grape ball and roll that around the crushed pistachios until all sides are evenly covered.

Put balls on a pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

Remove from refrigerator, slice each one in half and place on a pretty tray. I like to turn some of them upside down and I always leave a couple of the balls uncut for presentation.  Aren't they pretty? They taste even better than they look!

Clearly, these were well-received by my friends. A few were spared and still tasted great the next day.


Monday, July 16, 2012

It's a C. Wonder-ful World.

We wanted to share a few photos from our event with the delightful C. Wonder pop-up shop in Southampton.

Spoiler Alert: Upon entering a C. Wonder store, you may feel more like a guest at a party than a shopper.

To explore a store could turn into the best surprise of your day as there is something beautiful and unexpected around every corner. Be prepared for lovely people to walk up to you with trays of fresh squeezed lemonade and frozen Popsicle sticks to keep you cool, then indulge by filling a bag of treats from a colorful candy bar.  Enjoy music spun by a Dee Jay and the chance to win great prizes all day long just because you walked through the door. Oh, what a C. Wonderful world...

Mermaids & Martinis was featured as a favorite C. Wonder Summer Beach Read at this party so we decorated an area with fantastic stuff from around the store. I even carved out a spot as a book signing "office" to greet guests. 

Which I took very seriously, of course.

I honestly didn't think it was possible for me to love Sharpies any more--until I found that pretty porcelain elephant catch-all to put them in! (Monogrammed ones also available!) And, how about the pink phone and iPad keyboard?

WHAT? Come again??!!  Please honestly tell me that I can walk around your store and pull any piece of jewelery I want to wear for the party? OK, tell me again.

A few of my favorite picks were a sweet Love You  bracelet (I also picked one up as a gift for a love!) and the signature C. Wonder charm bracelet. It was so fun to twirl around and discover each new dangle, from a whimsical monkey to a Faberge-style egg.

Hey Ms. Dee Jay...how fab is she? 

Another reason I'm in love with C. Wonder? They have the best staff.

A few times during the party, I was invited to spin their wonder wheel and hand out prizes to lucky shoppers who could win everything from monogrammed gift sets to beach chairs to a full-on shopping spree.

This picnic basket hurts my feelings I love it so much.  


And, yes, I think I will ride away into the Southampton sunset on one of your colorful city bikes complete with wicker basket and a bell.  Cute. With a capital C. 

Thank you for the perfect Summer day spent at this lovely spot.  And, special thanks to Mermaids Jamie Malkin, Shelley Colangelo, Jennifer Edwards Milam of Reveal, Daniela Maron, Selmin Arat and Julie and her entire store team for being so amazing and making it all happen in such a beautiful way.

Check out my event inspiration and favorite C. Wonder product picks on Pinterest for this event @ http://pinterest.com/mermaidhil/c-wonder-event/

Hilary xo

PS: Missed it? Come join us in Nantucket for another book signing party on July 28th from 11-1! See you at the C.!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fin-tastic Finds: Pretty Little Things.

It's often the slightest detail that makes the biggest effect in your home or at an event. In the name of all things pretty, I've been fishing around for vintage pillow cases, old-school patches, Hippie candles, DHOOP incense sticks, pink salt, nautical stacked rings and a rope bracelet to warm up your wrist (or your dinner table!)

Ikat and geometric prints go well together. In fact, many prints (especially the ones that seem like they may clash) often look spectacular when placed in clusters!

I found these bohemian candles at Elizabeth Bauer in NYC. (http://www.elizabethbauerdesign.com/) Light up these, and to really set a mood, DHOOP incense sticks lit outside can create a relaxing and meditative atmosphere.  Bring on the wine and free spirits!

My friend Stella is the Mermaid Maven behind these one-of-a-kind patches. Sew them onto a military jacket (Stella bought her jacket at the Army/Navy store and collected patches from her travels to decorate it), or use these to create colorful coasters for your next travel-inspired party!  Just cut out cork or foam core board to size, and paste the patch right on top.

You won't find these in a wedding registry, but what a beautiful way to celebrate a marriage! My Aunt Cheryl let me dive into her vintage pillow case collection last weekend! These delicately embroidered pieces have a timeless charm and look even better when mixed and matched with a modern set of printed bedding or fabrics.

Your Breville juicer may live in the back of a pantry, but these charming linens will dance to center stage.  I love how the lace on this one doubles as her dress.  eBay strikes gold again!

Himalayan rock salt gives off a beautiful coral hue, and boasts some major health benefits too. Why not mix some in to update your salt shaker?

And because a hostess should decorate herself as well as she decorates her home, I've included some chic (and cheap!) finds that will be a hit all summer long.  List-making made a little easier with this beautiful paper journal found at Roberta Freymann in East Hampton. (http://robertafreymann.com/)

The knot details of these rings from C. Wonder look intertwined when stacked together. So pile high! (http://www.cwonder.com/)

I picked up this rope bracelet in Montauk for $1.50.  Found at any beach side shop - an affordable accessory that looks great layered with other bracelets. At a price like this, how cute would these rope bracelets look as napkin rings for your next Summer dinner party?

I hope this week's Fin-tastic Finds has you feeling inspired! Whether you find yourself peering into your Aunt's linen closet or headed to your favorite store.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mermaid Material: Americana

I saw a tweet the other day that stated “The only thing you can count on in this life are those yearly Old Navy American flag t-shirts”.

It’s funny, but also indicative of the fact that many people simply flock to purchase a mass produced American flag t-shirt because they're so pressed for time around the 4th. As one of the Mermaid mantras says in my book, part of creating a great party atmosphere is setting aside time to dress up yourself, not just your table.

And because I am a huge fan of finding creative solutions that are affordable and time-efficient (and really, who isn’t?). I wanted to share a few inspiration pieces with you that will save you time and protect your savings, in the chicest way possible!  How is that for Patriotic?

Rock Star Romper. Oh, how I love you.  It cinches at your waist, it flutters in the wind, the only thing it doesn’t come with is a 1950’s pin up poster. Slip on a printed romper and go minimal on the accessories, or go for a simpler one and pile on the gems. Complete this adorable look with a pair of espadrilles or wedges. Stuart Weitzman's "Alex" style are a personal favorite (and apparently Jennifer Aniston’s too!)  

This entire look (from her head to her toes) hurts my feelings I love it so much.  Moving on...

Flag Inspired Fingertips.Your nails are a great place to make a bold statement. If you have a steady hand, challenge yourself with a DIY manicure, like the one below, courtesy of fellow blogger heartnat.blogspot.com!

But, in the end, the 4th of July should showcase things that are distinctly American, which is why I just have to pay tribute to the classic soft T-shirt. And if this American staple is going to be your clothing item of choice this holiday, make sure you find one with personality and edge. I'm a big fan of this weathered Haute Hippie style, which I've already purchased in the T-shirt version and yes, I will be wearing it tomorrow. 

Have a great holiday, I'm off to make my Flag cake.  ;-)

PS: For more 4th of July inspiration, check out my pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/mermaidhil/4th-of-july/

Monday, July 2, 2012

Raise the Flag, Raise a Glass.

Burgers, Budweiser, BBQ's...just a few celebratory things that America can entirely call its own.

The big event of the Summer is almost here, the fourth of July.  A day to celebrate all things distinctly American. Nothing says this better than a backyard BBQ or shore dinner, complete with a patriotic menu, signature cocktails brimming with red, white and blue, and of course - flags and fireworks!

With this in mind, here are some Mermaid tips on hosting an effortlessly charming soiree - even though the holiday falls on a plain ole Wednesday this year - we believe every day is a good enough reason to raise a glass. 

Festive flatware housed in mason jars with colorful ribbon...

Berry up.  You almost have to wonder if the Founding Fathers themselves were on a berry bender when they chose to declare America's independence in the sweltering month of July. Strawberries, raspberries, bluberries and blackberries are in peak season and the perfect low calorie addition to brighten up anything from cocktails to desserts.

Serve some savory with the sweet.  How great are these patriotic cones filled with chips?

Don't love all that tradition?  Move away from the grill and set your alarm clock.  My friends, the Mulberry Sisters recently did a segment with me on their radio show about hosting fourth of July fetes. Their family hosts a big pancake breakfast every year! How cute is this idea to dress up your waffles?

A fun idea for the kiddos is to set up a red Radio Flyer wagon in the yard and fill with ice, drinks, candy and tie a few red, white and blue balloons to the handle. 

Kids and adults will love these cones to cool down.

End your party with sparkling send-off centerpieces that can double as party favors and you will have officially earned your host stripes (and stars.)

For more inspiration, check out my fourth of July pinterest board: