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…

Supplies:

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)
Hinges
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 carful 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 bolded 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)

Ingredients

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)

Directions

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

CLICK RIGHT HERE FOR 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.

Cocktail Hour: Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

Ooooweeee. It’s been HOT around here lately. Boozy pops have been on my cocktail to-do list for a while and this weather seemed like the perfect opportunity. I had a hard time deciding what kind of pop to make though — it might be hot, but this time of year also means so, so much fresh fruit. Part of the problem was that I came across a whole rainbow full of yummy ice pops from 84th and 3rd, all of which seemed relatively simple and didn’t require adding sugar (so paleo/primal peeps who drink some alcohol, these are perfect for you). But I spotted one that called for dark rum and I had a teensy bit of Myer’s Jamaican Dark Rum to use up and a whole lot of Jamaican vacation withdrawal. So I went with that. The original recipe didn’t call for basil, but I was a little worried it would be too sweet with all that coconut milk (even without adding sugar, I find coconut milk a tad sweet sometimes). And I think the addition was a good call — the basil gave it the perfect balance.

Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops (slightly adapted from 84th & 3rd)
Makes 4 ice pops

Ingredients
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 6 large basil leaves, chiffonade
- 2 tbsp dark rum

Directions
Simmer berries and juice for 5 minutes. Blend berry mix, 1/2 basil chiffonade, and coconut milk in blender until smooth. Stir in dark rum and remaining chiffonade. Pour into ice pop molds (I used these) and freeze overnight.

* if you are making some non-boozy pops as well, follow same directions omitting rum.

A Feteful Life: Bluberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Pops

 

 

Kids Science Club

A Feteful Life: Kids Science Club

In case you missed it, we shared our fabulous Kids Book Club last week over at The Land of Nod’s blog, Honest to Nod. We all had such a blast at Book Club that when The Land of Nod asked what else we were cooking up for our kiddos this summer, we knew instantly that we had to expand our club idea to a Kids Science Club. And, fortunately for us, The Land of Nod has the most perfect party supplies available for our meetings. We got together for a few fun experiments, some sweet snacks, and lots and lots of fun. And we’re sharing it all over at Honest to Nod today.

We love our club so much that we think you should have one too! And to help you out, we’re offering a few free printables that coordinate well with the Meri Meri Fundamental Party Collection that we used – links to the downloads are below! The supplies are so, so cute, that we couldn’t help but think how super easy it would be to turn our little science club into a birthday party. So we went ahead and designed a printable invitation and party pack (including the straw flags, 2″ party circles, and milk wraps you can see at our club) all easily customized for your little scientist with a big day coming up. Take a look and gather those summer loves for some science fun!

Fete on!

Free Printable Links:
- Science Club Labels – can be used as place cards, food labels, experiment labels … the options are endless.

- DIY Rock Candy Favor Tags – see how we used these to put together a little tasty take home experiment! these are sized to fit 6-ounce mason jars, but you can adjust the size when printing to fit your own needs.

A Feteful Life: Kids Science Club

A Feteful Life: Kids Science Club

A Feteful Life: Kids Science Club

I Want It Now: Large Walnut Cutting Board

A Feteful Life: I Want it Now - Large Walnut Cutting BoardI’m in the market for a new wood cutting board. I currently have a pretty cheap Ikea one which has served its purpose for the last few years but I need an upgrade. I use my cutting board for almost everything (with the obvious exception of raw meat) to help protect and maintain my marble countertops. And, I think this beautiful walnut one by Boos will be perfect! I want it now!

What’s In My: Road Trip Bag

I have a confession to make… I don’t like road trips. In theory I love the idea of hitting the road and taking in all the amazing sights that our country has to offer. But in reality, I find it really boring and often very stressful trying to entertain two kiddos who are also bored. But, alas, we are headed on a family road trip soon so I need to figure out a way to maintain my sanity while trying to enjoy the start of my vacation. I’m already starting to plan what to pack in my road trip bag to keep things fun and entertaining…

A Feteful Life: What's in my Road Trip Bag

1. JanSport off trail backpack – When it comes to traveling (especially with kids) backpacks are my bag of choice. You can pack it full of stuff and still easily carry it while keeping your hands free.

2. Along the Way App – This handy app does exactly what its name implies – just type in your route and it will show you places to eat, grab coffee, shop, and even sightsee as you go.

3. Audio books from the library – Last time my husband and I went on a road trip we got an audio book to listen to and it was a game changer for me. It made the 7 hour drive fly by and I was even a bit sad when we got to our destination because I wanted to continue listening. Since our kids will be on the trip with us (and since my older son is now obsessed with Harry Potter) we’ll probably listen to something kid friendly like Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets but if it were just me, I’d be listening to Goldfinch which is on the top of my “to-read” list. While audio books tend to be more expensive than the paper or kindle versions, be sure to check if your local library has free ones for you to download!

4. Ray-Ban Aviators – I have the most sensitive eyes to light and I cannot drive without sunglasses. I think aviators are the perfect shades because their frames are light and airy but still give you a lot of coverage. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a classic.

5. Trader Joes Grand Slam Popcorn – This stuff is addictive! It’s sweet, salty and amazing. I love it, the kids love it, and it won’t last in our car for very long.

6. National Geographic Kid’s Atlas – If the kids loose interest in Harry Potter, I’m packing lots of little activities for them to do in the car. Both of the kids are obsessed with maps (just like me) and I think they will absolutely love this kid’s atlas, which includes maps, games, funny facts and silly attractions.