DIY Kids Party Favors

I know some people are anti kids party favors, but I have to say that I am firmly in favor of them. I think it is important for my kids to understand that having friends attend a party, whether or not a present is involved, is something they should be thankful for and show their appreciation. And I feel like they get that and truly want to show their thanks to friends and family for helping us celebrate. That said, I always try to have my kids help me make party favors for their party and generally provide something either consumable, educational, and/or not just more plastic toys. I happened to LOVE the DIY rock candy party favor we had at our science club last month, which got me thinking about what favors I might get together for upcoming kids parties. Here are some of my favorites!

A Feteful Life: DIY KId Party Favors

1 / What kiddo doesn’t love making art? Lovely Design put together these adorable collage packets to send a little art project home with each child. Perfect for post-party-sugar-rush winding down at home.

2 / I’ve wanted to make story stones for my kids for some time now and I think a little muslin bag with a few stones would be the perfect thing to help keep a kiddo occupied on the ride home.

3 / OK, so this one is candy, which I try not to do since I’ve inevitably just filled up kiddos on sweets at the party. BUT sending this bubblegum necklace home in a little kit for each child would be a great consumable activity.

4 / It looks like tasty salt water taffy, but this one is ingeniously disguised sidewalk chalk. What a perfect favor for a summertime party!

5 / Another win for Lovely Design with these personalized pennant flags. I like to try make party decorations last by using them in my childrens’ rooms. I love that Lovely Design took this concept to favors and I can imagine all the littles so excited to find their own initialed flag.

Cocktail Hour: St. Germain Sparkler

A Feteful Life: St Germain SparklerApple season is upon us and this cocktail is a must for any apple lover out there. Plus, it uses some of that huge bottle of St. Germain that I bought while I was at the beach so, double bonus. The original recipe calls for 4 ounces of apple juice which I find makes it a bit too sweet for my liking. So, I would recommend going down to 2-3 ounces and adding more club soda.

St. Germain Sparkler (adapted from Food & Wine)

Ingredients

1 ounce St. Germain
1 ounce Green Hat Gin (or vodka)
2-3 ounces good quality apple juice (or cider)
Club soda
Apple slices for garnish

Directions

In a wine glass filled with ice, add the St. Germain, gin, and apple juice. Stir to combine. Top off with club soda and garnish with an apple slice or two.

 

 

Backyard Barbecue

A Feteful Life: Birthday Backyard BBQAugust is a busy month in our house with both of our kid’s birthdays two weeks apart and our anniversary in-between them. In the past we’ve had separate birthday parties for the kids and we try to separate them by a few weekends — Brady’s the weekend before his birthday and Owen’s the weekend after his birthday — but this year that just wasn’t going to work out. So, instead we decided to throw a joint backyard barbecue with some of our good friends, family and neighbors instead.

We were blessed with some unseasonably comfortable weather and had a blast celebrating our two boys. And, luckily for us, the awesome online party supply store Party Pail, contacted us to see if we had any parties coming up that we could use some of their plain party goods for… ummm… yes!

A Feteful Life: Birthday Backyard BBQI generally love buying plain party products and then customizing them myself. Like these custom stickers on the plain white paper cups from Party Pail. I also designed these star drink flags to go on their bright orange striped straws.

A Feteful Life: Birthday Backyard BBQFinding a simple way to nicely display cutlery is always a challenge. You can’t get much simpler than these empty tin cans wrapped in burlap ribbon!

A Feteful Life: Birthday Backyard BBQWhat would be an AFL party without a hand stamped napkin? It’s another easy way to add a personal touch.

A Feteful Life: Birthday Backyard BBQI absolutely love these baking cups from Party Pail. Most cupcake liners loose their color or pattern once you bake the cupcake. Not these! They were just as vibrant after baking as they were before. And they looked great on this simple cardboard cupcake stand that I wrapped in some more burlap ribbon.

A Feteful Life: Birthday Backyard BBQThese chevron treat cups with custom labels were the perfect way for us to send our guests home with a little treat.

A Feteful Life: Birthday Backyard BBQHappy Birthday to my sweet boys! And, check out our Etsy store to pick up the party pack or invitation for the party. Fete on!

I Want It Now: Leather Camera Strap

A Feteful Life: Leather Camera Strap

My DLSR still has the factory strap on it and I’m super over it. It’s not cute and while it keeps my camera around my neck or over my shoulder, it doesn’t work cross-body, which is a must. I found these handmade leather straps from Tap & Dye and I want one now!

Weekly and Monthly Planners

With the kids heading back to school and after school activities and work stuff heating up again, I’m in need of a new daily planner. While keeping track of things in my iPhone works, there’s nothing quite like putting pen to paper to make me remember what’s happening in my life. Plus, I’m not really a fan of the updated iCalendar app because it is impossible to get a long-range view of upcoming events.

I’m in love with these beautiful planners that have both weekly and monthly calendar pages so I can get my long-range planning view along while being able to focus on the details in the weekly section. Which is your favorite?

A Feteful Life: Weekly and Monthly Planners

1/2/3/4/5

 

 

Dining Al Fresco… Greek Style

If I could pick one place in the whole world to visit, it would be Greece. I’ve never been and I’m absolutely dying to go. Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Athens… I don’t care, I want to go and soak up the culture and food. Since that dream isn’t happening anytime soon, I think it’s time for me to bring a little bit of Greece to me. Here are some of my favorite ideas to throw a Greek inspired al fresco dinner. Fete on!

A Feteful Life: Greek Inspired Al Fresco Dinner1. Nothing screams Greece to me more than the combination of blue & white and these beautiful dishes from West Elm are no exception. I love their modern yet organic feel.

2. Candles are essential when it come to al fresco dining. There are a lot more ornate or detailed lanterns on the market these days but these simple wood ones from Crate & Barrel would be perfect!

3. Start out with a simple mezze platter of dolmas, olives, feta & hummus like this one from PopSugar. Add some chicken souvlaki and some greek yogurt with berries and you’ve got yourself a meal!

4. While dining under an olive grove would be best, I’ll have to settle with creating my own grove of olives by using olive branches as the centerpiece.

5. Keep things casual but elegant by decanting some greek white wine in a decanter and serving the wine in tumblers rather than wine glasses. I love this rustic blown glass set from VivaTerra.

 

Cocktail Hour: White Peach + Blackberry Gin Fizz

A Feteful Life: White Peach + Blackbery Gin Fizz

Having my kids home all summer has been both wonderful and trying — particularly so on grocery store trips, which they love to do and I always think sounds like such a good opportunity. They’ll be helpful, and they’ll learn how to read prices, and taste new things. And they do. And then they also want everything they see and I end up spending gobs of money on stuff we either shouldn’t eat or couldn’t possibly eat before it spoils. Hence this week’s cocktail hour recipe of fresh fruit. Yes, they NEEDED white peaches. “We LOVE peaches!” But wouldn’t you know that they wouldn’t eat a gosh darn peach once we got home. Cue googling “white peach cocktails.” A lot of sangria results, of which I’m not a big fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love wine. I just don’t love fruit and wine. And then I ran across a sweet-looking recipe for a white peach fizz using fresh fruit. Add in blackberries + mint and I had a delicious cocktail that used up some sweet summer produce. Win, win.

White Peach + Blackberry Gin Fizz (based on Adventures in Cooking)
Makes 2 cocktails

Ingredients
- 1/2 cup good gin, chilled
- 1 cup club soda, chilled
- 1-2 tablespoons white peach simple syrup* (recipe below), chilled
- 4 blackberries
- 8 white peach slides (4 for muddling, 4 for garnish)
- a handful of mint leaves

Directions
1. Muddle 2 peach slices, 2 blackberries, and a few mint leaves in the bottom of each serving glass.
2. Split gin, club soda, and simple syrup between the two. Stir until well blended.
3. Float the remaining two peach slices on the top of the drink. Serve immediately.

*use less simple syrup (1/2 tbs per drink) if you like your cocktails not too sweet and just add more club soda

White Peach Simple Syrup (slightly adapted from Adventures in Cooking)

Ingredients
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
- 1 white peach, sliced into 1/2″ thick slices

Directions
1. Macerate the white peach slices in a small saucepan with the sugar and water.
2. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and allow it to cook for 30 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Then strain peach pulp out and reserve syrup. Keep the syrup refrigerated until use.

A Feteful Life: White Peach + Blackberry Gin Fizz

A Feteful Life: White Peach + Blackberry Gin Fizz

A Feteful Life: White Peach + Blackberry Gin Fiz

Nature Playdate

A Feteful Life: Nature Playdate

What better way to enjoy summer than to get outside and to explore nature?! Our AFL crew has tackled books and science and now {with a little help from our friends at Land of Nod} our kids were ready to take on the great outdoors. We had an amazing time roasting marshmallows around our campfire, eating bugs {yum!}, crafting and heading out on a rock finding adventure.

We’re sharing all of our fun today on the Land of Nod’s awesome blog Honest to Nod so be sure to head over there and check it out! You can also visit our Etsy store to get the digital download of the invitation and party pack! Now get out there and start exploring!

I Want it Now: Chelsea Rain Boot

A Feteful Life: Chelsea Rain BootI’m in the market for a new pair of rain boots. Earlier this spring I took my old rain boots out of the closet only to find an empty sippy cup of milk turned upside down on the inside with the contents of the cup soaking the inside of my boot. Within a day the smell was horrible no matter how hard I tried to clean them. Yuck!

So as fall approaches, it’s time to get a new pair. I’m not a big fan of the heavy clunky variety that seems to be the popular style of the moment so I’ve been stumped. Then I spotted these new boots from J.Crew. Score!

Date Night In: Big Vacation Planning

What? Vacation planning doesn’t sound like a hot date night? I disagree. I continually find that traveling with my husband shows me something completely new about him (like when we went to Mexico a few years ago and out of nowhere he busted out fluent Spanish. Me: “YOU CAN SPEAK SPANISH?!”). So I really look forward to planning new vacations and making new family memories.

Plus, we’re finding that as our life gets busier and busier (just like everyone else’s), setting aside time to properly plan for vacation is actually hard to do. That’s generally how we end up in random places with no plan, googling and yelping as we travel there, which sometimes turns out awesome (Vieques, for example). But we’ve got a big vacation on the brain that is going to take some serious planning: The 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

My husband and I went to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics and didn’t know we were going until about 5 days before we left. Joel happened to have work in London at the time, my inlaws graciously agreed on short notice to take the kids, and that was that. We had a few event tickets from a client, but like the good Jersey boy he is, my husband hustled the rest. Now we’ve been to London many times, so we were fine spending a lot of the time schlepping all over town tracking down random ticket sources, pub-hopping as we went. But I want to actually see Brazil and we want to take the kids, so some real planning is in order. And working together on a challenge proved to be so much fun the last Olympics, that I happen to think it’d make a great multitasking date night in. Here’s what I’ve got cooking ….

A Feteful Life: Date Night In Vacation Planning

1 / I love Lonely Planet’s guide books, which I’d definitely pick up beforehand. We’re thinking we might do a week at the Olympics in Brazil and then possibly a week after in neighboring Argentina.

2 / Staying in for date night doesn’t mean you can’t fix yourself up. I love Kate Spade’s Brazilian-inspired collection, including this Ipanema Scatter Necklace.

3 / What would a South American vacation planning session be without Mara Hoffman’s bright colors? This little shirt dress even has alpacas!

4 / Caipirinhas. Did I even need to say it?

5 / Even planning ahead, alcohol + sugar = lets make some impulsive decisions (e.g., “yes, of course we should go for the room upgrade!”). I’d make these traditional Brigadiero for sure.

6 / I have travel bags stuffed full of maps, brochures, ticket stubs, etc. I’d like to do this one right and get a travel planner/journal. This all-in-one book has room for itineraries, checklists, and journaling.

Let the games begin!