Gifts and Crafts · Miscellaneous

Quick and Easy Fabric-Bound Recipe Book

By Jennie Ramirez
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

My daughter Yvette is a talented baker-in-training. Over the last couple of years, her skills in the kitchen have ALMOST reached my own.

All jokes aside, baking is one of her passions and that is why I decided to make this semi-homemade fabric-bound recipe book. Here’s how I did it:

Supplies Needed
One 8″ x 10″ photo album that holds 4″ x 6″ photos/recipe cards (I found mine from the dollar store)
1/2 yard of fabric ( I used a cupcake-print since those are Yvette’s specialty)
Spray adhesive

Open the photo album and peel back the cardboard on the inside cover, making sure not to rip it apart from the inside binding. Do the same to the backside cover.

Cut the fabric to fit around the outside covers of the album, leaving a 2″ inch border of fabric over the edges of the album.

Spray adhesive to the exposed edges of the fabric as well as the outer border of the cardboard cover. Fold over the 2″ fabric edge and smooth out any wrinkles. Cut off excess fabric with scissors.

Spray adhesive to the cardboard cover you peeled away and smooth over the fabric edges you folded over so that they are sandwiched underneath the cardboard cover.

Now comes the fun part:

Pencil in the design you wish to paint on the cover of the book, then use fabric paint to fill in the pencil outlines. Let dry for an hour.

Finally, insert a few of your own favorite recipe cards and leave the rest of the album pages blank so the recipient can complete the book with their own recipes.


Gifts and Crafts · Miscellaneous

Customized Shopping Tote

By Monica ReyesClick to play this Smilebox slideshow

Everyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a shopaholic. The thrill of finding the cutest skirt at a great price or discovering the perfect set of earrings that finish off a flawless ensemble is truly exhilarating.

And who doesn’t want to look fabulous when they’re out shopping or simply running errands?

For the holidays, I decided to make these customized shopping totes for the other shopaholics in my life. They’re surprisingly easy to make and come out beautiful. The best part is that you can tailor each one to the person you’re making them for, giving them a unique, one-of-a-kind present that they can use every day.

Supplies Needed
1 blank tote bag (try Michaels arts and crafts store)
Fabric paint
Faux gemstones, jewels, etc. (optional)
Glue gun (optional)

The key here is to think of a design that fits the personality of the person who will be receiving the tote bag.  What’s the first thing you think about when you think of them? What’s their favorite hobby, sport, or food? Once you figure this out, the rest is easy.

For my abuela (grandmother), I decided to go with a garden-type design because she loves flowers. The fabric paints are easy to work with so that took no time at all. My mom had some leftover vine leaf ribbon from my son Evan’s baby shower (it was a jungle/monkey theme) and my sister and I scrounged up our leftover single earrings and mismatched jewelery pieces we had and found some nice flowers to hot glue to the bag design.

Use your creativity, take a look through some craft books, or check out for some inspiration to make your own customized shopping totes.


Decorations · Food and Drink

A Very French Birthday Party

By Amber Keiper

I think it’s every girl’s fantasy to visit Paris. It’s portrayed as such a romantic city – full of love in the air – what girl could resist? And with my deep love of french cinema, you can imagine just how irresistible the thought of visiting the “the city of light” is to me.

Well, my dream is finally coming true! This year my husband and I are planning to visit this famous tourist spot. I am so excited! So in an effort to bring a bit of “Perrie” to my friends and family, I decided to host a very french birthday party. Come and take a look:


French sodas While I was lucky enough to find these brightly colored French sodas with the Eiffel Tower pictured on the label, you can also opt to print your own beverage labels yourself. Try to use pictures of famous Parisian landmarks or classic French things: croissants, berets, Vespas…how about a couple kissing in public? Use your imagination! Avery has easy-to-use printer-friendly labels that work great.


French Canapes My best gal pal (and fellow Hip Chick Hostess) Monica, decided to make some delicious French canapés as an appetizer. The cool thing about canapés is that they are beautiful, delicious, and – best of all – super easy to make. (A hip chick hostess’ dream!) You can pretty much use any topping combinations you like. Just make sure they all go on a fresh baked baguette. For Monica’s delicious and easy canapé recipe, click here.
Also, did you notice the white serving tray, displaying the word “Paris” on the top plate? This is an add-on decal we created using black Contact paper and a handy, Xacto knife. Read more about this in our next article, Customizable Serving Trays In 5 Easy Steps. We’ll show you how we made a cute French Poodle serving dish as well as a zebra striped tray for Monica’s Animal Print Birthday Bash.


Eiffel Tower Centerpiece What’s a French birthday party without an Eiffel Tower centerpiece? I found mine at Pier 1 Imports, but you can also try Cost Plus World Market (another one of my favorite haunts). Then again, you don’t really have to spend that much, especially if you only plan to use it once,Visit your local consignment shops or check out what the internet has to offer.

Or why not take a stab at making your own Eiffel Tower centerpiece? Simply print four, identical images of the front of the tower on 8.5″ x 14″ (legal size) paper. Next, glue each piece of paper onto a piece of poster board, then use an Xacto knife to cut each side out. Finally, use a little tape along the inside of the tower to assemble each side together. Fini! Your centerpiece is done!


French Pastries (pâtisseries) Finally, the tour de force: dessert! We featured classic French desserts such as truffles and cookies. Yum! Notice the red pomander flower balls affixed to the pewter candlesticks? These are definitively French: pomander, or pomme d’ambre means “apple of amber” in French. (Very fitting for MY birthday, no?) For a step-by-step tutorial on how to make these gorgeous (and inexpensive) decorations check out my article, Crepe Paper Flowers & Pomander Kissing Balls.

Needless to say, if you plan on serving lunch or dinner, it would be perfect to have a few French dishes on the menu. We went with Chicken Coq Au Vin and French green beans!

What other French party ideas can you think of including? Share your thoughts, comments, and inspirations in the “Comments” section below. Au revoir for now!!!


Crepe Paper Flowers & Pomander Kissing Balls

By Amber Keiper

Walking into an antique shop in the old Niles district of Fremont, California, I stumbled upon a beautiful arrangement of pomander balls (aka “kissing balls”). “Wow,” I thought, “How great would these look in my living room?”

I asked the shopkeeper what the price for the set was. “$300,” was her reply.

I left that shop sad and wanting for something I had previously never heard or known about. I fell in love with those gorgeous pomanders that day and vowed to attempt to recreate the display myself.

After doing some research online and looking in my go-to party planning books, I decided to blend a few ideas together and create my very own crepe paper flower pomander balls. So here’s the Hip Chick Hostess version of how to make crepe paper pomander kissing balls. (WARNING! Once you make these and realize how easy they are to make, you’re bound to get hooked!)

Supplies Needed:

-Two plastic round bowls (12″ diameter)

Much cheaper than craft foam balls, these can be purchased from your local dollar store for $1 each.

-Three rolls of 72.5″ ft. crepe paper streamers

I got mine at my local dollar store ( but for a wider range of colors, you may need to go to a specialty party store.

-Glue Gun and 10 sticks of glue

To avoid frustration, I would go with a BIG bag of glue sticks because the last thing you want is to run out when you’re on a roll!


 You know, for cutting the streamers :)

-A 12″ ruler

This is to properly measure out the crepe paper strips.

Pomander Balls: Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Plug in your glue gun. While you wait for it to heat up, begin cutting the streamers into 24″ long strips.

Step 2: Next, crumple each strip into a ball and then flatten back out. This helps make the streamers roll easier.

Step 3: Your glue gun should be ready to go now. Taking one of the plastic bowls, squeeze a drop of glue (about the size of a pea) on each opposite end of the outer rim of bowl (top, bottom, left and right).

Step 4: Now, place the second bowl on top of the first bowl, rim to rim, creating a ball and gently press down so that the glue sticks both bowls together. Set ball aside to dry.

Step 5 :  Back to the streamers: Did you notice how the streamers have a concave curve to them from when they were wound into a roll when packaged? This convenient feature helps to make your flowers roll nicely and give them a rose-like look.

So, keeping the concave side facing away from you, take the short end of the streamer and roll inward, pinching the bottom edge with your thumb and forefinger.

Step 6: Pinching the bottom edge of the streamer together in your left hand, use your right hand to twist the length of the streamer away from you as you loosely bunch the streamer together around the inner roll in a clock-wise direction. Continue using your left thumb and forefinger to keep the roll from unraveling.

Step 7: Add drops of glue to the pinched edge every 3-4 bunches or so to keep it from unraveling. Make sure not to bunch the roll too tight – you want a nice, loose-looking flower, right?

Step 8: Once you have the entire streamer rolled up, add a final drop of glue on the pinched edge and twist. Then set aside to dry.

Step 9: Repeat process until all streamer strips are twisted into beautiful little flowers. The looser the bunches, the bigger the flowers. Don’t worry if the first few you make are not perfect – they can be used to fill in the gaps on the ball and won’t be too noticeable once the ball is assembled anyway.

Step 10: Now that you have all your crepe paper flowers assembled, it’s time to glue them to your plastic bowl ball. Take one of the flowers and snip off the twisted end and add a drop of glue in it’s place.

Step 11: Stick the flower to the top of the ball. Continue to glue the flowers around the ball, spacing them out enough to not crowd each other but close enough to not let the plastic ball from showing.

I used red crepe paper to make my pomanders. I stuck them to a pair of pewter candlesticks with some double-sided foam tape and used them to decorate my living room. Then, when a girlfriend of mine had a birthday party celebration, I made a bright pink pomander was able to easily remove one of the red pomanders and replace it with the pink one for her table setting.

So you see how easy these are to make. Though a bit time consuming, they cost around $6, which is a MUCH better deal than spending $300!

You can make many different variations of this using fresh or silk flowers instead of tissue paper. Though it may cost a bit more, it will save you the time of making the individual crepe paper flowers yourself.

We invite you to share your own ideas on how to improve or modify this crafty idea in the “Comments” section below.


Sue’s Stuffed Cabbage

By Susan Keiper

Not many people know this about me but I am a bit of a thrifty shopper. I love to go to stores and find the best bargains – no matter if it’s clothing, housewares, or grocery items. I love the utterly satisfying feeling of getting something I want or need at an unbelievable price (maybe you’ve had this same feeling before as well).

So whenever I stumble upon a great deal at the grocery store, I just HAVE to get in on it.

Of course, that means that I have to also find a way to use the item I’ve purchased…but that’s the real fun of it all, isn’t it?

On a recent shopping trip, I found an amazing deal on heads of cabbage. Taking a recipe I found from an old cookbook, I put my own twist on it to create the following Stuffed Cabbage Recipe below. It was a BIG hit with the family – even the picky eaters like my companion, Steve.

Take a look:

Sue’s Stuffed Cabbage

1 Cabbage (large head), cored

4 Chicken breast, cubed

6 Celery stalks, chopped

1 Onion (large), chopped

1 eight ounce package Mushroom, chopped

4 cups Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons Garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Sage

2 tablespoons Dried onions

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

2 teaspoon Salt

2 teaspoons Pepper

Optional: 1/2 cup Pecans chopped (or Cashews or Walnuts)

Cut chicken breast into small, 1/2″ cubes. Saute chicken breast together with celery, onions, and mushrooms and season mixture with garlic powder, sage, dried onions, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute together until celery is tender and onions are translucent.

Meanwhile, core the cabbage, making sure to keep the leaves in tact. Steam cabbage whole for 1/2 hour or until tender.

Once chicken is cooked through and celery and onions are at the right consistency, add breadcrumbs to the mix. Slowly pour in just enough chicken broth to hold the stuffing together until you are able to mold it into a ball (not too soggy or too dry).

Take 3/4 cup and press into an oval . Then wrap 2-3 leaves around the stuffing ball until completely covered. Place cabbage ball in 9″ x 12″ baking pan. Repeat process until you have 8 stuffed cabbage balls in pan.
Cover pan with foil and bake in preheated oven at 375 for 1/2 hour. Remove from oven and serve.

*For a fancy twist, you can add chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are great) to the stuffing mix.

Hope you like this rendition of stuffed cabbage. Try it out and post your feedback in the “Comments” section below.