Date Night In: Rooftop Bistro

We live in the middle of the city without a yard to spare (thank god for the parking spot that lives in our former backyard!), but we have a tiny outdoor space on our roof deck that we make serious use of in the warmer months. It could use some sprucing up — at the moment it’s a mix of grilling area/nice outdoor sectional/a formerly nice steel table covered in “washable window crayons”/24,000 army men, insect toys, tiny water cups — but once I do a few things, I’m really looking forward to having a date night in at our own rooftop bistro. Over the years, my husband and I have realized that the key to a good date night (at home or out on the town) is: (1) good, but not overly filling, food; (2) a few drinks, but not too many that I fall asleep at 10; and (3) the ability to have actual conversation, which hopefully isn’t all about our kids. And I think my idea of a rooftop bistro date covers all three. Here’s how:

A Feteful Life: Date Night In - Rooftop Bistro

1. When we first decorated our roof deck, I had bistro string lights (like these) all around the perimeter. They hit the road when the kids showed up, but I think it’s time to bring them back. It’s like instant romance.

2. A new intimate dining table is definitely in order and I love this marble and chrome Wayfair table paired with IKEA’s URBAN chair.

3. Date night in at our house doesn’t start until after the kids have gone to bed, so I really like the idea of working cooking time into the date by grilling pizza together. The Kitchn has a great cooking lesson on getting it right and I’m dying to try The Bitten Word’s carmelized-onion and gorgonzola grilled pizza.

4. While the pizza is grilling, I’d love to sip these Italian Sangria Floats.

5. I imagine that the patterns cast about by these mercury tea light holders from WestElm would look so pretty at night.

6. While we’ve never been to Italy together, we spent a great mini-vacation last summer in Boston and had a fabulous time exploring the city’s South End — particularly testing out the pastries from several Italian bakeries to find our favorite treats. Modern Pastry won and when he can, my husband sweetly brings back rainbow cookies and cannoli from there when he travels on business. I’ll have to figure out how to ship these in for date night.

7. A little Italian Love Songs from Dino can’t hurt (find it here or on Spotify too)

I Want It Now: Professional Ice Crusher

A Feteful Life: I Want It Now: Ice Crusher

 

I swear that ice tastes differently depending on its shape. Standard ellipse-shaped ice from the average fridge taste OK. Crushed ice from a fridge tastes better. But commercial-grade crushed ice? The best. I was explaining my ice issues to Suz over delicious Green Hat Gin cocktails at Thread last week, which happened to have fabulous ice, when she said something that illustrates exactly why we are friends: “Well, obviously you need a professional ice crusher.” Obviously. This one’s on sale and I want it now.

Cucumber-Radish Slaw

A Feteful Life: Cucumber Radish Slaw

I originally intended to make a risotto for this post (and I’m sure I will at some point in the near future) but when I was at the grocery store last week I came across the most beautiful rainbow radishes and I couldn’t pass them up. On top of that, we had such a gorgeous weekend in store that I couldn’t bear the thought of being cooped up inside stirring my risotto. This simple slaw was just the ticket and was a beautiful addition to the flank steak we threw on the grill. Fresh, colorful, acidic and crisp. I think this may be my go-to slaw for the foreseeable future.

A Feteful Life: Cucumber Radish SlawA Feteful Life: Cucumber Radish SlawA Feteful Life: Cucumber Radish SlawA Feteful Life: Cucumber Radish Slaw

Cucumber-Radish Slaw (by Everyday Foods)

Ingredients

1-2 english cucumbers (I used one very large one)
4-6 radishes (to equal 1 cup)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion

Directions

Peel English cucumbers. Halve lengthwise; scrape out any seeds with a teaspoon. Slice cucumbers very thinly on the diagonal.

Thinly slice radishes. In a large colander, toss vegetables with coarse salt. Top mixture with a plate that fits inside colander; weight with a heavy object. Drain in sink 20 minutes; squeeze vegetables in paper towels to dry.

Transfer to a bowl; toss with minced red onion, cider vinegar, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon sugar; season with salt and ground pepper. Serve immediately.

A Feteful Life: Cucumber Radish Slaw

DIY Dip-Dyed Drink Stirrers

A Feteful Life: DIY Dip-Dyed Drink Stirrers

Earlier this week I showed you the lovely dip-dyed birthday dinner I threw for my sister. Well, today we’re getting our DIY on and showing you how to make the drink stirrers from the party. They are so easy and festive, and can be the perfect addition to any celebration.

A Feteful Life: DIY Dip-Dyed Drink Stirrers

  1. Supplies needed – white tissue paper, gel food coloring, wooden skewers, glue stick and scissors.
  2. Cut a strip of tissue paper about 1.5″ x 6″.
  3. Make the dye using 2-3 drops of gel food coloring and about a cup or two of water.
  4. Loosely roll the tissue paper.
  5. Dip 1/4 to 1/3 of the roll into the dye and leave it there for 1-2 seconds. Let the excess dye drip into the bowl and then dry on a drying rack. Feel free to repeat the dipping steps several times (allowing the dye to dry in-between) to achieve the color you desire.
  6. All the dye to fully dry before moving on to the next step.

A Feteful Life: DIY Dip-Dyed Drink Stirrers

  1. Fold the strip of dipped tissue paper in half.
  2. Cut fringes into the tissue about 1/3 – 1/2 down. Then add a little glue on one end and place the skewer on the glued area.
  3. Roll the tissue paper around the skewer, adding glue as you go and being sure to keep the roll tight.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Drink Stirrers

Finally, tassel the fringed area a bit and get ready to party!

 

 

Cocktail Hour: Tin Box-Inspired Painkiller

A Feteful Life: Painkiller Cocktail

You’ll have to wait just a bit longer until I get my pictures together from our recent vacation to Vieques, Puerto Rico to get the whole scoop, but you definitely shouldn’t wait to make this DELICIOUS cocktail inspired by our favorite restaurant on the island: Tin Box. We visited for both dinner and brunch and every single drink they mixed up was fabulous, but their Painkiller was the best I’ve ever had and will forever remind me of our time there. This isn’t the exact recipe, but it’s the closest I could get.

Tin Box-Inspired Painkiller

Ingredients
4 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce Pusser’s Rum
1 ounce Ron del Barrilito Rum (Tin Box’s special twist on the drink)
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce cream of coconut
grated fresh nutmeg
ice

Directions
In a cocktail shaker, combine pineapple juice through cream of coconut. Add ice and shake. Strain into glass of ice. Grate fresh nutmeg on top. Drink umbrella optional.

It’s Party Time… Dip-Dyed Style

A Feteful Life: Dip-dyed Birthday Party

My lovely big sis had a birthday a few weeks ago and in honor or her big day, my mother and I put together a little dinner party to celebrate. Way back when, in our first post, I mentioned my desire to try out some dip-dying party decor inspired by some dip-dyed streamer. Here was my chance and I absolutely love how it turned out. I also think this would be an absolutely beautiful way to decorate for an Easter brunch or dinner.

A Feteful Life: Dip Dyed Birthday Invitation

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Dinner

I dip-dyed a table runner, place cards, drink stirrers, cupcake liners, streamers and white pillar candles. For everything except the pillar candles, I used gel food coloring to make the dye. Just a few drops of the gel, a little water and you’re ready to get dying. If you wanted to dye fabric you would need to get a stronger dye specially designed for fabric to ensure that it will stay dyed after being laundered.

The table runner is simply white wrapping paper dipped in the food coloring dye. It’s best to roll the paper loosely so the dye will be able to reach each level (no worries if it doesn’t though because you can always do some touchup by dipping some paper towels into the dye and then dabbing the dye on the blank spots). Also, be sure to do one side and then let it dry before dipping the other side to avoid having the dye run.

For the place cards, I printed them out of a thicker stock of paper so they wouldn’t buckle too much from the dye. They still did a little bit but I like the effect. I also made to sure to dip them several times (drying in-between) to give the dye more dimension.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Party

The wax on the candles won’t take the dye from the food coloring (not sure if it would work with fabric dye but let me know if you try and it does). Instead I simply took a teal stamp pad and dabbed it on the candle and then rubbed off the excess with a paper towel to give it the dip-dyed look.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Party

Of course we had to celebrate with some bubble and of course there were decorative drink stirrers. I made these out of strips of tissue paper (about 1″ x 5″). I lightly rolled the strips and dipped them in the dye. Then, I gently unrolled the paper and let them dry on a drying rack. Once dry I cut fringes into the paper about half way through and then glued the paper onto wooden skewers with a glue stick (skip the Elmers or glue gun because the tissue paper is too fragile). Once you get the paper glued on, ruffle the fringes a little.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Party

I love how these cupcake liners turned out! It did take a little trial and error though to get it right. When placing the liners in the cupcake pan before filling, be sure to have two dyed liners in each up. If you just use one, the white of the liner takes on the color of the cake and doesn’t give you the same effect. Having both liners keeps the white white and lets the dye pop.

The final decoration that I dip-dyed was a roll of streamers. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, leaving a few areas void of the dye. It turned out looking more like I just dyed the edges on the inner part of the streamers rather than doing a full dip-dye. Oh well, I still think it looked cool.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Party

It was a great evening celebrating with my family and I can’t wait for us to get together for our next celebration!

 

I Want it Now: Krups Wine Dispenser

A Feteful Life: Krups Wine Dispenser

What the what?! I was strolling through Crate & Barrel the other day looking for some new stuff for my patio area and I came across this little guy. Wine on tap! With a built in aerator and temperature control! This could definitely be dangerous but I want it now!

 

Favorite DIY IKEA Hacks

I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA. I vacillate between nightmares of my early-20′s self putting an entire apartment worth of furniture together with 8,000 small wooden pegs and the dreaded IKEA allen wrench and the great leaps IKEA has made in design recently (I particularly love the new PS 2014 Collection, which should hit your IKEA this month, and the TRENDIG 2013 Collection, especially the geometric dishes). And just in case I ever get enough time, tools, and space to do so {or convince Suzanne’s super DIY savvy husband Jim to help me}, I’ve been running up a pretty serious tab of IKEA hacks to undertake. Here’s what’s currently topping my list:

A Feteful Life: Favorite IKEA Hacks

1. Dream Green DIY’s easy paint hack of LINNMON tables.

2. This hack of IKEA plywood drawers looks easy enough for me.

3. I’ve really been loving poufs lately and if I suddenly acquire mad sewing skills, maybe I can whip this hack of an IKEA ottoman up.

4. Sugar & Cloth’s hack of the MALM headboard using Stikwood looks super awesome.

5. Hither & Thither’s quick spraypaint hack of the PATRIK Swivel Chair (which I actually used to own).

6. It’s no secret how we feel about bar carts and I love this hack from Style Me Pretty.

7. Petite Apartment did a great mid-century mod hack on the IKEA BESTA cabinet.

8. Another great Style Me Pretty gold and gilded hack.

9. A mid-century modern hack of the prolific LACK coffee table.

Hello from… Walt Disney World

A Feteful Life: Hello from Disney

A few months ago Jim and I took our kids to Walt Disney World and we had a blast! I know there are a lot of people out there who are a bit cynical about Disney but I am definitely not one of them. Maybe having two boys keeping me a safe distance from the princess craziness helps, but my love for Disney goes back a lot further than having kids.

My grandparents lived in Orlando so we always went down to visit as a kid and then, as luck would have it, my dad got transferred to Orlando when I was in 7th grade. We lived there until I finished 9th grade and we went to Disney more times than I can count. My family went again after my freshman year of college but boy have things changed in the last 16 years – from Animal Kingdom to FastPass to the new Fantasy Land, just to name a few.

We knew our older son Brady was ready to go but we weren’t sure our almost 2.5 year old, Owen, would get anything out of the trip. Luckily, Disney is free for kids 3 years and younger (score!) so we didn’t feel like we would be wasting any money if he didn’t enjoy the trip to its fullest. We shouldn’t have worried because Owen did great and had a blast.

A Feteful Life: Hello From DisneyDay 1… We didn’t tell the kids we were going on a trip so Brady thought we were driving Daddy to an early meeting before heading to school. The excitement he had when he found out what we were doing is one of my favorite memories… ever. After arriving at Disney in the late afternoon we headed to Downtown Disney to check out the Lego store and to try to eat at T-Rex (a dinosaur themed restaurant). The Lego store was a huge hit but T-Rex was packed so we ended up at the Rainforest Cafe instead. Oh well…

A Feteful Life: Hello from the Magic Kingdom

Day 2… The Magic Kingdom. This was by far Brady’s favorite day and in hindsight I wish we would have saved it for last. While every other park was awesome, nothing compared to his first roller coaster ride. And, there’s this thing that Disney does called a parent swap, where you can take turns riding (without having to re-wait in line) if one of your children isn’t tall enough for the ride. Lucky for Brady, this meant that he got to ride many rides twice! There were still lots of rides that we could all go on though, and I think everyone’s favorite was the Peter Pan ride because my kids are a bit obsessed with Jake and the Neverland Pirates right now.

A Feteful Life: Hello From Hollywood Studio

Day 3… Hollywood Studios. Speaking of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, we had breakfast with him and some other Disney Jr. characters. It was definitely a highlight for both kiddos. Then on to more rides. Star Wars was a big hit with Brady (and again, got to ride it twice). Another big hit with both kids was the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. The spiderweb jungle gym is awesome.

A Feteful Life: Hello From EpcotDay 4… Epcot. I was a little worried that the kids wouldn’t enjoy Epcot that much since it seems a bit more tailored to an older audience but there was still a lot of fun stuff for them. We went under the sea with Nemo, talked to Crush the turtle, and went Soarin’ through California. They even really enjoyed the World showcase (even if it was just an impromptu dance party in an Italian Piazza). We also had lunch in Mexico underneath a volcano and dinner in Morocco, which included awesome music and belly dancing.

A Feteful Life: Hello From the Animal Kingdom

Day 5… Animal Kingdom. This is the only park I had never been to and I had no idea what to expect. We were all blown away and I wish we would have had more time there (we could only stay until 3pm because we were flying home that evening). The Kilimanjaro Safari is really just incredible! We went there first thing in the morning and all of the animals were out. We also almost got charged by that rhino!

It’s only been a few months since we’ve been but we definitely have the Disney bug and are trying to figure out when we can go again. I love that each time will be such a different experience as the kids get older and their interests change. And the more we go, the less we have to do each time, which means more pool and relaxation time!

A Feteful Life: Hello From Disney

 

 

 

 

Cocktail Hour: Rhubarb Basil Cocktail

A Feteful Life: Rhubarb Basil Cocktail

Apparently I’m on a bit of a pink cocktail kick with the Elegant Spice a few weeks ago, the cocktail inspiration with the cherry blossom party and now this pretty little one! It must be all that dreaming of spring. And, you know it must be spring when you start to see rhubarb pop up at the grocery store and farmers markets. Yay!

Rhubarb Basil Cocktail (from theKitchn)

Ingredients

3 medium basil leaves
3 tablespoons rhubarb puree (recipe to follow)
1.5 ounces vodka
club soda

Directions

Put the basil in the bottom of a glass and press with the back of a spoon to bruise slightly. Add the rhubarb purée and stir. Add vodka and ice cubes and top with club soda. Garnish with a basil leaf.

Rhubarb Puree (from theKitchn)

Ingredients 

12-13 stalks of rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Directions

Chop the rhubarb into small, 1/2-inch pieces. Put in a medium saucepan with the sugar and water. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the rhubarb through the strainer, pressing to get as much of the rhubarb out as possible. Discard the leftover fibrous bits.

Use rhubarb purée in this cocktail or pour over ice cream. Yum!