AFL Elsewhere: Dot & Bo

A Feteful Life: Dot & BoAre you ready for fall!? Head over to Dot & Bo’s blog Design District, home of great curated modern design collections, to get our 5 Expert Tips for a Fall Fete and our favorite picks from their new Modern Fall Tablescape collection. Fete on!


Starry Night Party

I’m a little bit of an astronomy buff. I’ve been known to wake my kids up in the middle of the night to try and catch a meteor shower. And a stargazing party was high up on my list this summer, but I didn’t get to it! So I’m thinking of moving the party indoors this fall and putting together a starry night party full of midnight blue, metallics and twinkling lights. Here’s what I’m thinking for decor ….

A Feteful Life: Starry Night Party

1/ DIY french dot constellation table runner — OK, who wants to make this for me?! Amazing.

2/ Gold mercury glass votives — I love the shadows these cute little shimmery votives cast.

3/ Honeycomb decorations — these pretty honeycomb shapes remind me slightly of planets and help mix in a few other tones.

4/ Glitterati slate pillows — I’d love to have a low dining table and strew a bunch of these metallic print pillows on the floor.

5/ Starry string lights — these gorgeous lights come in a variety of bulb colors on flexible copper wire.

6/ Agate earth coasters — some of these totally remind me images I’ve seen taken in space. Plus, agate.

7/ Copper mirror tray — so shiny and perfect for my low table.

8/ Tassel garland — I love metallic tassels and, having made many of them, can appreciate when someone else does the work!

9/ Gold pouf — the reasonable price of these faux leather poufs would let me scatter several around.

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!

Dog Days of Summer Party

Oh yeah. They’re here and they’re hot. I’m talking about the dog days of summer, friend. But I’m sick of talking about how hot it is. I’d rather celebrate these dog days with a fabulous hot dog inspired party. Let’s do it — before you know, we’ll be complaining about how cold it is!

A Feteful Life: Dog Days of Summer Party

1 / I love the hot dog party A Pair of Pears held for their pup’s 1st birthday. And I would totally use their invitation for my own Dog Days of Summer party.

2 / Pop print? Oh yes. I’d be making some envelope liners, garlands and party signage with these great hot dog printed papers from Whimsy and Nonsense.

3 / Remember these puppies? The pop Koons’esque minis would look great scattered about and sent home as favors.

4 / A DIY hot dog garland. Shut the front door. Head over to A Pair of Pears for the free template and DIY instructions. I might make this just for my home.

5 / These striped lanterns would look fabulous.

6 / You want your dog to look cute! Dress it up with a striped tray (necessary to catch all the fixins).

7 / Speaking of those fixins, how about a DIY hot dog bar set up to make dogs from around the country? Let’s be frank, much like the garland, I might just make this at home for like a Thursday night.

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.

Kids Book Club


A Feteful Life: Kids Book Club

I love how excited my kids get over simple celebrations of the things they love. It really doesn’t take much to make them happy, and one of the things they love most is reading. So I thought it would be really fun (and educational) to get a kids book club together over the summer. Suzanne was on board immediately and we invited some other friends to join, too. We had our first book club meeting last month, with a little party too of course, and had a total blast. Head on over to The Land of Nod’s Honest to Nod to read all about it!

Easy July 4th Party Ideas

Every year, right around the middle of the summer, I start to feel overwhelmed. The kids have been out of school sufficiently long, we usually have one vacation under our belt and another coming up, and the heat and humidity have me kicking myself for willing warm weather. And July 4th is pretty much the beginning of that, which means I drag my feet about the holiday. Then my inner fete pipes up and I throw something celebratory together (usually for our annual Family Olympics we hold over the holiday). And I’m always happy I did! So, in case you’re finding yourself in a similar situation, here are some great, EASY July 4th ideas to spur your party self. Come on, if I can do it, you can do it!

A Feteful Life: Easy July 4th

1. Hang a bunch of patriotic-colored tissue paper fans. I’m a fan of Oriental Trading Company’s incredibly priced sets. Easy, cheap, and reusable.

2. I love these red, white + blue push pop desserts. Even easier, make something similar in little cups.

3. Holiday sangria. Enough said.

4. Free printable sparkler holders. I don’t trust my kids enough to give them sparklers yet, but if I did, I’d be printing some of these.

5. Super simple crepe paper + lights. Love this idea.

DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

A Feteful Life: FREE DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

I’ve run the gamut on party favors: from homemade slime for a kiddo birthday party to more upscale bath + beauty products at a wedding shower, and everything in between. And I’ve finally settled on my favorite favor presentation for most small’ish items (and I’ve also settled on giving away small items in general): a clear bag, made sturdy with a favor tag inside, and folded over and secured with a coordinating sticker on the back. It’s a no-fuss, minimal packaging that still looks well styled.

I’ve been using these so much lately that I thought I’d share a set of bright, summer-colored tags and stickers with you! {Just read through the directions and click the link at the bottom of the post to download}. In addition to whatever favor you’re giving away (our DIY lip balm is a great favor, btw), you’ll need:

– white, heavyweight cardstock (at least 90 lb weight) to print the favor tag
full sheet sticker/label paper to print the stickers
– a 1.5″ round punch
– a pair of scissors
– clear plastic favor bags (the files are set up for 4.75″ X 6.75″ bags, but if you have smaller ones, just reduce the size when you print)

A Feteful Life: FREE DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

A Feteful Life: FREE DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

1. Print out the tags onto heavyweight card stock and cut out. Print stickers onto sticker sheet and punch out. 

A Feteful Life: FREE DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

2. Place favor tags into plastic bag and add your favor. Leaving enough room for the favor, fold the plastic bag to the back.  

A Feteful Life: FREE DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

3. Secure the flap of the plastic bag on the back with sticker. 

A Feteful Life: FREE DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

A Feteful Life: FREE DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

A Feteful Life: FREE DIY Favor Tags + Stickers

CLICK RIGHT HERE to download your free set of favor tags (first page) and stickers (second page). Fete on!

Shrimp Summer Rolls + Sweet/Spicy Cashew Sauce

A Feteful Life: Paleo Summer Shrimp Rolls and Sweet/Spicy Cashew Sauce

One of my absolute most favorite foods is sushi. And almost every time I order from my favorite DC takeout joint, I get shrimp summer rolls with spicy peanut dipping sauce. But I’m trying to take it easy on the rice and soy, so I haven’t had much sushi lately. And that’s meant not a lot of summer rolls either. I decided that there must be a way to make relatively “clean eat” summer rolls and so I researched and shopped and chopped until I found the closest clean substitute I could. And they are delish!

Now, because one of my favorite things about summer rolls is the gorgeous transparent rice wrapper, I kept them. If you want these to be completely clean/paleo/primal, you can use a large green leaf instead (collard green or chard are my favorites to use as wraps generally, but a lighter green would probably work best with the flavors here). The rice wrappers took a little bit of practice, but they were surprisingly forgiving. I used my favorite crisp veggies, but these are so versatile, you can pretty much use whatever you want. I also subbed kelp noodles for the rice noodles traditionally used in the rolls — they were SO crunchy and really soak up whatever flavor you add to them. I actually think they might be my new favorite thing and can’t wait to try them in other Asian dishes (and they’re totally paleo compliant!). For the kicker, I came up with a fairly “clean eat” sweet/spicy cashew dipping sauce to take the place of my beloved peanut sauce. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty flipping good.

Shrimp Summer Rolls + Sweet/Spicy Cashew Sauce (A Feteful Life)


Summer Rolls

  • 12 – 15 rice wrappers
  • 1, 12 ounce package of kelp noodles, rinsed and drained
  • about 40 shrimp, cleaned, deveined, cooked and cooled (I bought mine pre-everything)
  • 4-5 mini cucumbers (also called Persian cucumbers — you can use regular cukes, you just won’t need as many)
  • 3 carrots, peeled, end trimmed
  • 2 bell peppers (I like red and yellow for the color)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 large bunch of fresh mint

Cashew Sauce

  • 1/2 cup cashew butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Tamari or Coconut Aminos
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp Sambal Olek (Asian chili paste)
  • 1 tbsp sweet Thai chili sauce (this isn’t paleo, but if you want to leave it out, just up the Sambal Olek and raw honey a bit)
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • hot water to thin sauce, as needed


Summer Rolls

  • Julienne vegetables and wedge avocado, and set them up in a row for easy access. Place kelp noodles, shrimp, and mint within reach as well.
  • Wet a tea towel or cloth napkin and set on a flat surface. Fill a shallow pan with water and place nearby.
  • Place one rice wrapper in water pan and soak for about 20-30 seconds (until it just starts to get soft). Remove and carefully place on wet towel.
  • Place selection of vegetables (I used two julienned pieces of each) in middle. Top that with a bunch of kelp noodles, then 3 – 4 shrimp, 1-2 avocado wedges, and a few mint leaves. Fold in ends, then roll up from right to left.

Cashew Sauce

  • Place all ingredients in a microwaveable bowl and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well.
  • If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water and stir well until you reach the desired consistency.

A Feteful LIfe: Shrimp Summer Rolls + Sweet/Spicy Cashew Sauce

A Feteful Life: Shrimp Summer Roll + Sweet/Spicy Cashew Sauce

Shrimp Summer Roll + Sweet/Spicy Cashew Sauce