Cocktail Hour: Chocolate Gelato Stout Float

A Feteful Life: Chocolate Gelato Stout Flout

I’ve seen a number of different alcoholic floats floating around this summer and wanted to give one a try. My entire family (OK, me. And the kids because I keep taking them with me as an excuse) has been addicted to gelato this summer. And I thought chocolate gelato + stout would be a fabulous combo. Is it a drink? Is it a dessert? It doesn’t matter: it’s delicious.

Chocolate Gelato Stout Float (A Feteful Life)

- 1 pint chocolate gelato
- 1 bottle good quality stout

Fill a chilled pint glass 3/4 of the way with gelato. Pour in stout to the top. Devour.

Fete Local: Cork Market

Fete Local: Cork Market

When we first moved back to DC from the Bay Area we had an awesome loft apartment in Logan Circle. I loved that apartment and neighborhood so much. A lot of growth and development has happened there since we left and it all seems to have started with the opening of Cork Wine Bar.

The wine bar was opened by Diane Gross & Khalid Pitts who happened to be our next door neighbors in that cool Logan Circle building. When we moved in, they were in the design and development phase of getting Cork open. It was so exciting to hear them talk about their new venture and how they were taking the risk of leaving their jobs as lawyers to follow their passion for good wine and food. It’s something that Rebecca and I find particularly appealing since that’s exactly what we’re starting to do now!

And the risk sure has paid off for them – within two years of opening the wine bar they opened Cork Market, which has an amazing selection of wine, cheese, gourmet ingredients, charcuterie, etc… Pretty much your one stop shop to throw a killer cocktail party or wine night. Here are our top 10 picks to do just that…

Fete Local: Cork Market

1. Baguettes - They had a great selection of artisan bread but these baguettes are the perfect food for a party. Slice at an angle, toast with some olive oil and coarse sea salt and you have the perfect base for any topping.

Fete Local: Cork Market

2. Oil-Cured Tomatoes – And speaking of toppings, you can’t get much better than these house made oil-cured tomatoes. Leave them out to come to room temperature and then spread them on that crostini you just made. Your guests will be in awe.

Fete Local: Cork Market

3. Cheese – Cork Market has an amazing selection of artisan cheeses and their staff can help you pick the perfect cheese for your taste. This Lenora goat cheese is right up my and Rebecca’s alley.

Fete Local: Cork Market

4. Charcuterie – They have a very interesting selection of pre-packaged charcuterie (i.e., Wild Boar Salumi) but how often can you get the good stuff sliced fresh for you? That’s definitely our pick!

Fete Local: Cork Market

Cork 12

5 & 6. Staff Picks of Red & White Wine – Their selection of wine is extensive. You can definitely ask a staff member for help but I love how they have “staff picks,” all at a reasonable price. Pick up a few bottles of the red & white!

Fete Local: Cork Market

7. Lemonade Syrup – Definitely pick up some of this house-made lemonade syrup and mix it with some club soda to give your guests a refreshing non-alchoholic alternative. You could also spike it with some bourbon and make an awesome boozy Lemonade.

Fete Local: Cork Market

8. Dolcezza Gelato – We’re a bit obsessed with gelato over here at AFL and Dolcezza is our gelato of choice. It’s SO good and it’s local! Buy a lot, it won’t last long.

Fete Local: Cork Market

9 & 10. Vin Santo and Biscotti – When Jim and I were traveling through Italy before we moved back to DC, we spent some time in Tuscany and fell in love with this classic Tuscan combo. Serve the Vin Santo chilled and dip the biscotti in this sweet dessert wine as you sip it. Molto Bene!

Fete Local: Cork Market




I Want It Now: Nelson Saucer Pendant

A Feteful Life: I Want it Now Nelson Saucer PendantWhen my husband and I were remodeling the kitchen of our new house a few years ago, we replaced a lot of the lighting fixtures throughout the whole house. I was debating between this Nelson Saucer Pendant light and another one at the time. We ended up deciding on the other one and I have always regretted it. It’s only been a few years so I don’t think I can change out the fixture yet but I really really want to… now!

Ginger Beer Spare Ribs

A Feteful Life: Ginger Beer Spare Ribs

I’ll be honest. You’re gonna want to make out with these ribs. And they almost didn’t even happen.

Ever since we had the most incredibly delicious ginger beer pork chops in Jamaica, I’ve been wanting to make some version of ginger beer pork. I had my heart all set on slow cooked pulled pork, but the recipe I made just didn’t work out. And it didn’t look appetizing at all in photos. I was bummed. Then we went to our local Farmer’s Market this past Saturday and spotted some yummy looking pork spare ribs. I still had ginger beer left, so my mind got to spinning. I promptly came home and looked through all sorts of ginger beer and spare rib recipes. And came up with THE BEST and insanely simple ginger beer spare ribs. Seriously, people. Get. On. This.

Ginger Beer Spare Ribs

- 2 lbs pork spare ribs*
- 1/8 cup jerk seasoning
- 1 1/2 bottles ginger beer
- 1/2 bottle ketchup
- olive oil for brushing grill

1. Preheat oven to 325 F and fire up your grill. Carefully brush grill with olive oil. Generously coat spare ribs with jerk seasoning. Grill ribs 3-4 minutes each side, until they’ve got a good sear.

2. Place seared ribs in a large roasting pan. Whisk ginger beer and ketchup together in a large bowl. Pour mixture over ribs. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

3. Place covered ribs into oven for 3 1/2 – 4 hours (I checked mine at 3 1/2 hours and the meat was already falling off the bone).

4. Remove pan from oven and transfer ribs to a large platter. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Pour sauce into a medium saucepan and bring to rolling boil. Boil for 5 – 10 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for another 20 minutes.

5. Serve ribs warm with sauce.

*I did roughly 1 lb/person, but keep in mind that spare ribs typically don’t have a ton of meat on them. So if you’ve got lots of people or just a small number of hungry people, I’d go up on that number.

A Feteful Life: Ginger Beer Spare Ribs

A Feteful Life: Ginger Beer Spare Ribs

A Feteful Life: Ginger Beer Spare Ribs

A Feteful Life: Ginger Beer Spare Ribs

Fete at Home: DIY Cedar Railing

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & Gate

When we bought our house three years ago, there was a lot of work that needed to be done to the house both on the inside and outside. For the first two years, the interior took priority resulting in a new kitchen, small addition, HVAC overhaul, and new windows just to name a few. Slowly our focus has been shifting to our backyard as the kids get older and their desire to play outside on their own grows.

My biggest area of concern with letting the kids head out there on their own is what we affectionally called the “Pit of Death” — a very open area where steps lead down to our basement door. There was no good way to secure the area without installing some kind of railing and a gate. We contacted several contractors and their estimates were ridiculously high so we decided we could design and build something better and for much less money (it helps that Jim is game to tackle most of my crazy project ideas).

So, with a few design meetings, a trip to a local building supply store (they had a much larger selection of wood than Home Depot or Lowes), and a day of labor we have our custom DIY railing and gate. I am absolutely in love with how it turned out and it was a much easier project than either Jim or I anticipated! Here’s what you need and how we did it…


2×4 pressure-treated studs
1×2 pine furring strips
1×6 Cedar (for the top rail)
Tongue and Groove Cedar Paneling
Wood Screws
Masonry Bolts (sleeve anchors)
Hook & Latch
Hammer Drill (to drill into the brick)
Circular Saw (although a mitre saw would have been more helpful)

Total Cost: $250 (excluding the drill and saw)

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateA quick sketch to ensure designer(me) & builder(Jim) are on the same page
A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & Gate
A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateLaying out the 2x4 frame of the railing before securing any of the pieces together

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateJim built the frame before securing it to the brick ledge and wall

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateMake sure the frame is plum and level before securing by using shims (a cute helper doesn't hurt either)

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateSecuring the frame to the brick with sleeve anchors

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateOnce the frame was anchored, Jim started by adding a piece of 1x6 cedar as the cap piece
for the railing

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateWe used inter-locking tongue & groove cedar to make the horizontal paneling of the
railing. Since our railing was longer than the 8' long pieces, Jim made sure to 
cut the pieces at varying lengths. 

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & Gate
A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateThe last piece was a bit tricky because our concrete pad slopes away from the 
house. After some careful measuring and cutting we got a perfect fit!

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateAfter all of the side paneling was installed, we used another piece of 1x6 cedar to cap 
off the front of the railing

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateThe final step was building and installing the gate. We cut the tongue and groove 
cedar paneling to an equal size and braced the door with 1x2 furring strips.

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & Gate
A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateWe bolted a piece of 1x6 cedar to the wall to the right of the stairway and mounted the gate to it. Once the hardware was added to the gate, it was
ready to be installed. 

A Feteful Life: DIY Cedar Railing & GateA little teak oil and a day to dry and we have our perfect (and safe) solution!

Cocktail Hour: Mint & St. Germain Margarita

A Feteful Life: Cocktail Hour - St. Germain Mint Margarita

Hello from the beach! The kids and I escaped the heat of DC for a few weeks with my parents at the beach. It’s been a nice break so far with lots of sandcastle building, wave surfing and shell collecting. And, of course, some nice summery cocktails for me!

It’s fun having my parents around to test some cocktails that I’ve been wanting to try and this margarita is a big winner in my book. With its strong mint flavor, it’s almost more of a hybrid mojito/margarita. Not only do you muddle some mint when making the drink, I also infused my simple syrup with some mint. And speaking of simple syrup, I tried a new method of making my syrup with no heat (after reading this article on Food52) and I’m sold. It was quick, effective and there was not waiting for it to cool. Perfect!

A Feteful Life: Cocktail Hour - St. Germain Mint MargaritaA Feteful Life: Cocktail Hour - St. Germain Mint MargaritaA Feteful Life: Cocktail Hour - St. Germain Mint Margarita

St. Germain Mint Margarita (from Waiting on Martha)


1.5 oz. Silver Patron Tequila
1 oz. St. Germain
1 oz. fresh lime juice + more for garnish
1/2 cup club soda
Splash of simple syrup (using the cold method mentioned above infused with a mint leaf)
2-4 mint sprigs + more for garnish
salt (optional)


In a cocktail shaker add mint leaves and muddle. Add ice, tequila, St. Germain, and lime juice. Shake and test, if sour add simple syrup. Take one lime slice and run it around the rim of your glass then immediately dip glass into salt and twist. Fill glass with ice and pour margarita mixture, add club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime.



DIY Picnic Printables

A Feteful Life: Picnic Printables

One of my most favorite things about this summer thus far has been the vast number of picnics we’ve been having. From front porch lunches, to outdoor music concert dinners, we’ve been eating outside a whole lot. It means less cleanup for me and an ability to stay out and about for longer periods of time. And my whole family’s been loving it. But just because it makes things more simple, doesn’t mean it has to be plain. So I had in mind to put together a printable set of fun labels to dress our picnics up a bit. Then, in fortuitous timing, party supplier PartyPail asked us if we’d like to test out some of their plain party goods. Perfect!

In keeping with my current love of the black + white combo, I designed a set of labels and straw flags that I used on a variety of PartyPail’s great picnic goods (plain white cups, chevron dessert cups, large clear cello bags, and striped straws). And I loved the printables so much that I decided to share them with you for free. Just click on the link at the end of the post to download them. Print the circle labels on plain white label sheets and punch out with a 2″ circle punch. Print the straw flags on white paper or cardstock, cut out, and glue on a striped straw. Always simple, never plain!

p.s. my easy picnic menu? salted watermelon + chèvre + mint; prosciutto + mozzarella + basil baguettes; dark chocolate almond bark with sea salt

A Feteful Life: Picnic Printables

A Feteful Life: Picnic Printables

A Feteful Life: Picnic Printables

A Feteful Life: Picnic Printables

A Feteful Life: Picnic Printables

A Feteful Life: Picnic Printables


Disclosure: PartyPail provided AFL with paper party goods in exchange for this post. No other compensation was provided and all opinions herein are our own.

I Want It Now: HR Monitor Watch


A Feteful Life: Polar HR WatchI love long distance running, but I go through cycles of training for races and taking it easy. I’m gearing myself up to get back in the game and want a new GPS watch to help, but one that also has heart rate monitoring to help get my butt in gear for cross training. I’m kind of in love with this Polar FT60 — the men’s version, of course, because “women’s versions” are always awful colors. I want it now!

Date Night In: Grand Budapest Hotel

I know they aren’t for everyone but I really love Wes Anderson’s movies (and so does Jim). I fall head over heals in love with the visual worlds that he creates, the quirky & flawed characters and his amazing detail of design which brings it all together. And, his newest movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is no exception. We had hoped to get to the theater to watch it while it was on the big screen but it just didn’t work out. Luckily, it lends itself to a perfect date-night in and that is exactly what we did. Here’s what you need…

A Feteful Life: Date Night In - Grand Budapest Hotel 1. Grand Budapest Hotel – currently on OnDemand so no need to wait for it to come to Netflix!

2. Mendl’s Pastry Box – Get a downloadable template by Chamelle Designs to make your very own Mendl’s pastry box! It might not gracefully fall open upon untying the ribbon like the movie version but it’s still pretty awesome

3. Courtesan au Chocolat – Use Buzzfeed’s tutorial video to make your very own courtesan au chocolat. Yes please!

4. Society of the Crossed Keys Necklace – Inspired by the necklace that M. Gustave gives Agatha in the movie, you can become part of the Society of the Crossed Keys thanks to this lovely necklace made by The State’s Line.

5. Coupe Glass – Sip some sparkling wine out of a vintage inspired coupe glass and you’ll be instantly transported back to the 1930s.

6. Champagne or Sparkling Wine – Get a bottle of some fancy french champagne or try a bottle of Hungarian sparkling wine, like Torley.

7. Wes Anderson Bingo – While I’m perfectly happy to just sit back and watch a movie, these Bingo cards created by Slate would be a fun way to add a little competition to the evening.


Tropical Party Ideas

If yesterday’s cocktail hour post was any indication, I clearly refuse to believe that our tropical vacation is over. Therefore, I’m desperately trying to convince anyone who will listen that we should throw some kind of tropical party. No particular celebratory event or tropical destination necessary. Just, “yay, tropical!” Here are my top five tropical party favorites:

A Feteful Life: Tropical Party Ideas

1 / Paper & Stitch’s DIY honeycomb garland and drink stirrers — love, love the bright colors of these honeycomb.

2 / Tropical cocktails are a must, but no one wants to get stuck behind the bar (even if it is a tiki bar). I would definitely give this Paradise Punch from TheKitchn a go.

3 / There’s a jerk at every party, but I’d keep these festivities friendly with Jerk Shrimp Tacos + Pina Colada Crema.

4 / My kids would lose it over these DIY Fruit Balloons from Oh Happy Day. Fabulous!

5 / In case you missed ‘em in our cocktail hour yesterday, I’m obsessed with these rainbow-colored whole fruit ice pops from 84th & 3rd, all of which have boozy options. Make some without for the kids and make everyone happy.