Fete Local: New Columbia Distillers + Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

Well, it took two fete locals for us to feature a local distillery, which is about two more than I thought it would. Fortunately, we recently found our way to a tasting of the fabulous Green Hat Gin and a tour of the first craft distillery in DC since prohibition: New Columbia. Co-owners Michael Lowe and John Uselton graciously showed us around their distillery, explaining their craft and how they opened up shop. Oh and pouring a few small tastes of their outstanding gins, of course.

New Columbia currently distills a classic gin and two seasonal editions (a Spring/Summer and a Fall/Winter) — we’ve had all of them and they are all truly delicious on their own or in a cocktail. I particularly like the Spring/Summer edition, which features floral cherry blossoms (from a local florist) and rosemary sunbaked in John’s own backyard. How’s that for local? Plus, keep your eyes peeled for a rye whiskey on which they’re currently working.

In addition to crafting fantastic gins, New Columbia boasts spectacular graphic design (from local Design Army) and an awesome backstory to their gin’s name (it’s the moniker of the legendary bootlegger to Congress). AND you too can check out the New Columbia Distillery, which opens its doors for free tasting and tours every Saturday from 1 – 4 pm. Father’s Day is right around the corner and we can pretty much guarantee that dads would appreciate a tour and tasting far more than another bad tie (or good tie, for that matter). We intended to take both Mr. Fetes with us, but they were too busy being awesome dads. Don’t worry, we picked up a little something for them from the Distillery’s retail store. But if you can swing it, a tasting and tour followed by eats and drinks at nearby Union Market would be fabulous. Also, if you really want to get involved, get on the Distillery’s bottling party list — if you’re lucky, you might get picked to help label and bottle a batch.

If you are just looking for the gins, the Distillery retail store is open Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. They are also in an impressive number of retail stores, restaurants and bars throughout DC, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware (you can check out all the DC spots right here). Pick up a bottle of the Spring/Summer edition and get busy making one of the Distillers’ favorite cocktails: Michael likes a classic gin + tonic and John’s into a Summer Rickey variation (btw, we learned that the Gin Rickey is DC’s official cocktail and you can expect to see something from us on that soon!).

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin


Japanese Children’s Day with CultureBaby

When I think of May, I immediately think of Cinco de Mayo. Little did we know, there’s another fantastic international holiday on the very same day: Japanese Children’s Day. And we have locally-run CultureBaby to thank for telling us about it! CultureBaby is a fantastic online children’s boutique specializing in international clothes, toys and accessories for babies and children. We first met founder Natalia Rankine-Galloway at Union Market’s Thread, where we oohed and aahed over their gorgeous children’s products, which celebrate global diversity while maintaining a modern design aesthetic. I really, really wanted a gold kiddo-sized Moroccan Pouf for my daughter, but I was totally taken in by this great tunic (I bought a dark blue and gold one) and picked it up for her 4th birthday present (she was totally taken by it too, btw).

I love that CultureBaby seeks out artisan-designed products from around the world that are also safe, non-toxic, and are made sustainably, ethically and under fair-trade conditions. And if that’s not enough, we obviously love and identify with a company  co-partnered by two smart ladies. I’ve continued to surf CultureBaby’s beautiful online shop, so I was really excited when Natalia asked if we’d be interested in sharing with you some of their wonderful products in celebration of Japanese Children’s Day. You all well know that we need no excuse to party, but these wonderful CultureBaby items certainly provide one. And since I LOVE fake shopping (you know, where I get to pretend shop what I’d buy for myself, but not actually buy it. what? are you saying that’s not a thing!?!), I’ve done you a solid and pulled together what I think would make a fabulous celebration — Happy Children’s Day!

UPDATED: Add to your celebration with this free adorable Kokeshi Doll party printable banner from CultureBaby! Just Click Right Here!

A Feteful Life: Culture Baby

1.  Koolmomo’s Kimono dresses look so comfy and party perfect! / 2. Make sure your toddlers party responsibly with this eco-friendly Confetti Push Pop! / 3. This Japanese designed chalk and wood cityscape is insanely adorable. In addition to this standard set, you can also chose from London or Paris. Love, love, love. / 4. This Koinobori is used principally to celebrate Children’s Day! Use it for the celebration and then hang it in your kiddo’s room. / 5. Monkey track flip flops!?! I wish these came in adult sizes. Really. / 6. French designer Madame Mo’s Yoko dolls are simply fabulous and Cam is quite happy Natalia shared one with us! / 7. Stylish jammies? We are in. / 8. Uncle Goose’s Kokeshi Doll Blocks are super cute and perfectly sized for the littles.

Disclosure: Natalia Rankine-Galloway gifted a Madame Mo Yoko doll and a Koi Fish Wall Hanging to AFL. No other compensation was provided and all opinions herein are our own. 

Fete Local: Salt & Sundry

A Feteful Life: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

One of the things we love most about living in D.C. is the ever-growing creative community. From craft cocktail mixologists to artisan food makers to home goods designers to DIY lifestyle bloggers (uhem, uhem ….), the city is experiencing a great surge in creativity. And we want to share it with YOU. So, we decided to start a new monthly series: the local shop feature. Each month we’ll visit a great local shop and share our top ten favorite items from the store, which is going to be a hard task given the abundance of creative goodness. That is certainly the case with our first featured shop: Salt & Sundry.

Located in the recently revitalized Union Market, Salt & Sundry has been a favorite of ours since opening about a year and 1/2 ago (you might recall it was on our shop local list for Small Business Saturday) and features a beautifully curated selection of housewares, linens, gifts, artisanal foods and covetable vintage finds. The shop is gorgeous, owner Amanda McClements is so lovely, and we had an incredibly rough time narrowing our favorites down to just ten items. As we remind ourselves often when working on our cocktail of the week, it’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it.

If you are in the D.C. area, stopping in to Union Market and Salt & Sundry is a MUST — especially during the upcoming Thread at Dock 5 event, which is a curated pop-up retail event running April 4-6. And for you unlucky souls who aren’t local, as luck would have it, Salt & Sundry recently opened up an online store carrying a select set of items from the store.

Without further adieu, here’s our Salt & Sundry Top 10!


A Feteful Life: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

1. Mint Farm Table — {R} — I tend to have a slightly more modern aesthetic, but I LOVED this gorgeous mint-colored farm table (hand-made by Amanda’s father). Maybe it’s just part of my mint phase, but this one-of-a-kind table was my favorite home piece in the shop. And I’ll take everything on it as well. {$795}

A Feteful Life: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

2. Moroccan Pouf — {S} — Who doesn’t love to sit back, relax, and kick up their feet? Skip the traditional ottoman and go with this gorgeous Moroccan pouf instead. I love everything about it! {$278}


A Feteful Life: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

3. Cheese Tea Towel — {R} — I could probably live on bread and cheese alone {and cocktails}. And this sweet tea towel has me covered with a list of cheeses made from the milk of cows, lambs, and sheep. {$26}

A Feteful Life: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

4. Turkish Towels — {S} — I really have a thing for Turkish towels and I love their beautifully curated selection. They’re soft, incredibly absorbent, and way more fashionable than your standard bath towel. {$20-$45}


A Feteful Life: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

5. Scrappy’s Bitters Gift Set — {S} — Take your cocktail making to the next level with these sample sets of artisan bitters. I took home a set and have already put them to good use – I’m sure you’ll be seeing a cocktail hour post (or two) using them in the near future. They come in sets of four (orange, aromatic, lavender & celery OR lime, chocolate, cardamon, grapefruit). {$26/set}

A Feteful Life: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

6. Homemade Gin Kit — {R} — I really wanted to just include the entire fabulous bar cart, but that’s cheating. So I narrowed it down to the locally-born gin kit that allows you to turn vodka into a small batch of homemade gin. Magic? Does it matter? {$50} (I also picked up one of those great white and steel mini cocktail shakers for my husband’s minimalist office bar tray, which were designed by Salt & Sundry and made locally).


A Feteful LIfe: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

7. Agate Coaster — {R} — So, yes, these coasters are technically servingware for drinks. But they are just gorgeous, so I’m picking them as my favorite for this category. They are the perfect balance between rough and polished and the colors are beautiful. {$16 each}

A Feteful Life: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

8. Black Cake Stand — {S} — I really regret not buying this cake stand when I was at the store and I’ll definitely be heading back in the near future to buy it! The black finish takes what would be a simple cake stand and makes it a statement piece. Just imagine how stunning a simple white cake would look displayed on here! {$72}


A Feteful LIfe: Local Shop Feature -- Salt & Sundry

9. BabyLit Books — {S} — I love these board book versions of major literary classics. The illustrations are colorful and fun and will be sure to capture any child’s attention. Skip giving your friends another copy of Good Night Moon when they have a baby and give them these instead. {$9.99/each}

S+S 11

10. Uncle Goose Egyptian Hieroglyphic Blocks — {R} — My son is completely obsessed with blocks and all things Egypt. He would seriously pass out if I brought this set of blocks home, so I’m going to save it for a special occasion. Uncle Goose’s blocks are beautifully crafted with non-toxic ink, so they’d work just as well for the younger kiddos too. {$56}

Small Business Saturday

On the heels of the big sales at the big malls & big box stores today, we have one of our new favorite shopping days of the year – Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday was officially recognized in 2010 and is the day we celebrate the Shop Small movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the U.S.

Here’s a round-up of some of our favorite DC spots to shop. {AND while you are back home and resting from shopping around town, you can check out A Feteful Life’s newly-opened Etsy store! We’ve got a few things available for purchase, we’ll be adding more, and are always available and excited for custom graphic design. Check us out!}


Small Business Food FavoritesUnion Market is one of my new favorite spots in DC. Opened just over a year ago, it’s home to a collection of artisan food stalls, restaurants and retail shops. Whether you’re going to just grab a bite (hit up Buffalo & Bergen or Rappahannock Oyster Co.) or to get some gourmet specialty food items (check out Red Apron Butchery, Rightous Cheese & Cordial Wine), this place can’t be missed! 1309 5th Street NE

Baked & Wired in Georgetown doesn’t get quite as much buzz as the other uber popular bakery in the neighborhood but it really should. The cupcakes are massive, their baked goods are amazing and the coffee is great. Not to mention you can order a pie and have it made in a glass Pyrex dish so it looks like you actually made the pie! How cool is that? 1052 Thomas Jefferson Street NW

Each Peach Market in Mt. Pleasant is the perfect fit for SBS because its focus is on providing the best local food products to their customers. They’re also big supporters of the DIY foodie movement, which you know is something right up AFL’s alley. It is the perfect place to get inspired for all of your holiday entertaining. 3068 Mount Pleasant Street NW


SBS Clothing FavoritesThread @ Dock 5 – While you’re food shopping and eating at Union Market this weekend make sure you stop by their special event Thread (Today, November 29th – Sunday, December 1st) featuring the best men’s and women’s fashion, accessories, handbags, beauty and homebrands. While not all of the artisans are local to DC (a lot of them are), they are all small producers. There will also be live music and lots of food & drink sampling. I will definitely be making a stop here this weekend! 1309 5th Street NE (2nd Floor)

Urban Chic is a small, family-owned business carrying big-name designers, such as tibi, Alice + Olivia, and Shoshanna. This is always among the first places I stop for an event dress and the clerks are always incredibly helpful at finding something that works for me {read: a youthful soul, but one who has two little children}. Urban Chic also supports its local community, which is what SBS is all about. 1626 Wisconsin Avenue NW

Lettie Gooch – Carrying both local and worldwide designers, Lettie Gooch is a great place to find something slightly more funky and unique — ranging from party dresses, to jewelry, to custom-made handbags. If you don’t want to look like everyone else around town, it’s a great place to go! LG also carries a selection of men’s clothes and sports a “boyfriend corner,” complete with comfy couch so your man can wait in peace while you shop. 1517 U Street NW


SBS Home FavoritesGoodwood – While I put this in the “home” category, it actually has so much more than that – clothing, jewelry, bath & body – just to name a few. They have great linens, glassware, furniture and decorative items. The great thing about this store is that their merchandise is always changing so every time you go, you’ll find something new. 1428 U Street NW

HomeRule was voted 2013 Reader’s Choice Best Home Goods Store by City Paper and we couldn’t agree more! This is our go to place for great finds for the kitchen, bath & body. Not to mention Christmas decorations starting this time of year. 1807 14th Street NW

Salt & Sundry is one of the only retail boutiques on the main floor of Union Market. It features a beautifully curated selection of housewares, linens, gifts, artisanal foods and covetable vintage finds. Honestly, I could just live in this shop, it’s so beautiful. And, lucky for you out-of-towners or those of you who can’t make it out on Saturday, they recently added an online shop! 1309 5th Street NE


SBS Bookstore FavoritesKramerbooks has been a DC institution since it opened in 1976. Go meet some friends for brunch and then do some serious book shopping for everyone on your list. From kids books to cookbooks, they have it all. 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW

Politics & Prose – This is my favorite bookstore in DC for many reasons but its children’s section is really just fantastic. On top of the amazing selection of books they already have, they’ll happily order almost any book you want. There’s a coffee shop/cafe in the basement next to the kid’s section that’s also worth a visit. 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW

Busboys & Poets – This isn’t the place to go if you want a one-stop shop for your holiday book shopping but that doesn’t mean it should be missed. The books here are curated to reflect local authors and authors that focus on social & political issues including civil rights, women’s and LGBT liberation. The restaurant/cafe is also a great place to meet up with friends for coffee or a bite to eat. 2021 14th Street NW (along with 3 other locations around the metro area)