Date Night In: Sushi

Before having kids, I was obsessed with sushi and we ate it at least once a week. Then I got pregnant with our first child and I was totally repulsed by the thought of it, which was fine because I couldn’t really eat it anyway. But, the feel lasted, and lasted, and lasted. It has only be in the last year (almost 6 years later) that I’ve gotten the sushi bug back. Phew. So, now that I’m back on the sushi wagon, I’ve been wanting to start making some at home and I think it would be a perfect date night in. Jim’s not one to help out in the kitchen but I can totally imagine him getting his precise engineer self on while rolling up some yummy new rolls. Here’s what I’m thinking…

A Feteful Life: Sushi Date Night In1. I’m not a huge fan of sake but I do love me some Japanese beer.

2. Sushi – duh, you need sushi for a sushi date night. Salmon rolls are my faves.

3. Since I’ve never made sushi before, this beautifully photographed and basic sushi cookbook will be perfect to help guide us through the process.

4. Aren’t these chopsticks and stands awesome? I love the little fish and the colors. Perfection.

5. I love this marble serving tray from CB2. Our sushi rolls will look beautiful on it!

6. A bamboo rolling mat is so inexpensive and easy to find at your grocery store or kitchen supply store. It doesn’t need to be fancy.

 

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!

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.

 

Date Night In: At the Bar Dining

My husband and I love to sit at the bar when we go out to eat. I think the fact that we get to sit next to each other (without the smirks that same-side table sitting draws) makes for an intimate dining experience. We like to share small plates with each other and that’s easier to do at the bar. Plus it’s something you absolutely can’t do when dining with kids, which is exactly what we’re trying to accomplish when out for an evening by ourselves. So I’d love to recreate that set-up at home for a date night in. We already have a bar in our kitchen, but here’s what else I’d pull together for a nice evening ….

A Feteful Life: Date Night In At Bar Dining

1. While we have a breakfast/wine bar in our kitchen, we haven’t invested in any bar stools yet. I love these CB2 acrylic ones — they’ll keep it nice and open (and I hate when bar stools don’t have a foot rest for us not tall people!)

2. Bar snacks are a must and this mix of smoky popcorn and Japanese rice crackers looks fabulous.

3. My husband and I both love Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown — it’s a great mix of culture, food, politics, and travel. And booze. I think it would be fun to put this on an iPad on the bar as background while we eat. Just like a bar.

4. We almost always order oysters on the half shell when eating at a bar (as long as it’s the right place to order such things). I haven’t dared try to do these myself, but I think I might have to. Plus, crushed ice.

5. I’m normally not much of a champs girl (it gives me a headache), but lately I’ve been drinking a lot of French 75s when we go out. They pair perfectly with oysters and include my other favorite spirit: gin. (I’m seeing a Green Hat Gin French 75 in my near future).

6. I still have a stack of monogrammed paper cocktail napkins from when I set up my husband’s bar tray for him. They’d be a fun addition to date night.

 

Date Night In – Take me “out” to the ball game

Today’s a a bit of a sad day in our house (for my husband at least) – last night the Pittsburgh Penguins lost in game seven in their Stanley Cup Playoffs run. I’m not the biggest sports fan but I still hate to see my home team loose. It’s not that I dislike sports, but I generally prefer to be at the game watching them in person, rather than on TV.

Now that hockey is officially over in our house, I know Jim’s attention will now focus on the Pittsburgh team that is currently playing – the Pirates. In an effort to make the season more enjoyable for both of us, I’ve come up with the idea of trying to recreate a night out at the ballgame at home. So take me “out” to the ball game and let’s watch some baseball!

A Feteful Life: Take me "out" to the ballgame

 

1. Pirates Pennant – I’m not planning to turn my family room into a sports den anytime soon but a vintage pennant to hang or to wave around is a classic.

2. East End Brewery – I love me some craft beer and this beer is no exception. If Pittsburgh isn’t your team, be sure to pick up something more local.

3. Gourmet Nachos – Don’t just pop open a can of nacho cheese to dip your chips into – make these amazing nachos instead.

4. Homemade Cracker Jack – There’s nothing more classically baseball than a box of Cracker Jack. If you can’t find a box, here’s a simple recipe to make your own.

5. Pirate’s T-shirt – Almost every sports t-shirt I own is from Old Navy. I love their vintage feel and you can’t beat the price!

6. Apple TV – If you don’t live in the local viewing area for home team, what are you to do? Luckily with an Apple TV and MLB.TV you can get all of your hometown team games no matter where you are.

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)

Date Night In: French Fondue Night

Thirteen years ago this month, Jim and I were a couple of kids in college headed on our first big trip together – Paris, France. We were poor college students, so we mostly stuck to eating French street food rather than at fancy 5-star restaurants, but we did make a few dining splurges during the trip. One evening we happened upon a little hole-in-the-wall fondue restaurant as we were strolling through the Saint-Germain-des-Pres District. I don’t even remember what it was called and I doubt I’ll ever be able to find it again but it will remain one of my favorite meals with my husband.

Ever since we had kids, we don’t get to go out as much as we used to but we still like to have a special date night in every once in a while. In honor of our trip to Paris so many years ago, here’s my inspiration for this month’s date night in. Fete on!

A Feteful Life: Date Night In - Fondue

  1. I love this vintage yellow fondue pot from Haus1215 and here’s a recipe for a classic french fondue.
  2. Sip a classic Saint-Germain and champagne cocktail.
  3. Whip up some of these easy french pastry puffs filled with ice-cream and covered in chocolate for dessert.
  4. There’s no need to get overly dressed up for a date-night-in but that doesn’t mean you should be wearing your sweats either! Stay comfortable but looked polished with this French-style sailor shirt from J.Crew.
  5. I got a pair of these white jeans from J.Crew last spring and I love, love, love them! They are comfortable, hold their shape and they go with EVERYTHING!
  6. Amelie is one of my favorite quirky romantic comedies. It’s funny, sweet, romantic and very French!
  7. Lighting a candle (or more) instantly adds romance to an evening. Especially a candle that smells as amazing as these candles by diptyque.
  8. I love these Pointed D’Orsay Flats from Old Navy. So cute and currently on sale for $23!