Hi, I'm Rachel.

A few years ago I could barely boil water.

True story.

Determined to be a kick ass wife, I developed a love for football and learned to cook in my tiny Jersey City kitchen. I spend my days working in Manhattan, my nights and weekends chasing after a rambunctious toddler, and the hours in between cooking with my husband and feeding my TV habit...oh, and I blog about it all! 

Welcome to my world!

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Lots of Random Christmas Fun


Happy Christmas week!

We had such a nice weekend in and around Jersey City. We actually had no commitments this weekend and it felt really nice to just take some time to enjoy doing Christmasy things. This post is a bit of a mash up of all of the Christmas things I want to cover before Christmas is here, so it's long and random. I hope you enjoy it though!

On Saturday, I really had an itch to do some baking and so I got to it!



On the list were peppermint brownies with buttercream, creamy eggnog cookie bars, funfetti cake balls, and dark & sticky gingerbread loaf cake. Everything turned out so decadently, but my favorite of the bunch was the gingerbread cake.


So sticky, so delightfully gingerbready and just all around delicious. I plan to make up some treat plates this week to share with co-workers and to bring for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations.



On Saturday evening, we took Penelope to the Turtle Back Zoo. They had a holiday lights special and a Frozen-themed night so we thought it would be such a fun outing for Penelope.


In addition to hating on her picture with Santa, she essentially cried and/or whined throughout the evening and so we called it quits pretty early on. Still glad we went, and her Santa picture is pretty priceless. Even the other parents in the queue couldn't get over it. 

Ah well.

I also took some time this weekend to photograph some of our holiday decor!

I've been meaning to document some of my favorite Christmas ornaments for a few years now and never really had the time to photograph everything. Well having a free weekend right before Christmas really helped me get 'er done! Once I started snapping away, I realized that there are SO many ornaments on our tree that I love so much. I always try to purchase a Christmas ornament on any vacations or travels and love having them to commemorate key milestones in our lives! I had so many that I grouped them into some collages below.

{pirate ship/estonia bell/baby's first}


 {jackson hole moose family/budapest egg/albuquerque balloon fest}


{swarovski snowflake for our new home/cookie monogram/aruban palm}


{siesta key/london things}


{our new home/estonia bell 2/swedish horse}


{favorite target ornaments/our first christmas/rainbow row}

and our stockings:

No mantle up in this place, but we do have a nice ledge underneath our living room window. A little clear tape in lieu of stocking holders did the trick {I'm terrified P would pull heavy holders right down onto her noggin}.



On Sunday, we hit the park so that Penelope could burn some energy. It was cold, but still fun. 



After heading home for the rest of the day, P napped and then we made a gingerbread house! I had never done one of these before and I feel like I've been missing out on something major for many years. We had a blast putting this together and Penelope LOVED it. She mostly enjoyed snacking on gum drops and mini marshmallows, but she also really liked sitting at the kitchen table like a big girl, listening to Christmas music and occasionally adding a few {previously licked} candies to the mix. We tossed the mini jawbreakers that came with the kit, so the colored candy is a little sparse {noted for next year to have some other toddler-approved candies on hand!}. It's not gorgeous, but it was made with love and I'm happy to have this new tradition for us to do together. With all of the frosting and sticky hands, i didn't get to snap any photos of her enjoying the process and so I asked Penelope to take a picture with the finished gingerbread house. This was her response:

I swear, we really did have a great weekend aside from this moment. And the whole Santa thing. Just keepin' it real for ya!


Have a GREAT couple of days leading up to Christmas! I'll be back tomorrow with a quick post before the holiday.

How did you spend the weekend?

Have you ever done a gingerbread house?

What are your favorite Christmas ornaments?


also: our favorite traditions {which have changed since P came along!},  how we spent christmas 2013, my favorite christmas song.



Four Things Friday

{i made this santa hat cake for our family christmas party last weekend & it was a hit!}


We're in the home stretch to Christmas and I couldn't be more excited. I have 98% of my gifts purchased, about 65% wrapped and a free weekend ahead to enjoy the simple pleasures of Christmas that sometimes pass me be in the flurry of holiday prep. On tap for this weekend:

  • watch Scrooged & Elf (we did Christmas Vacation last night, but it may make another appearance)
  • build a gingerbread house with Penelope
  • drink hot cocoa by the Christmas tree
  • finish wrapping gifts
  • take Penelope to the Turtle Back Zoo for Frozen weekend
  • wear my mistletoads pajamas
  • sneak away for a viewing of The Family Stone, if I can make it happen
  • possibly get to the park, if the weather permits
  • partake in some holiday baking therapy

I hope you all have a great weekend and soak up the holiday time! I'll be on blogging sporadically next week, and certainly before signing off for Christmas.

What are your weekend plans?


{simple teacher gifts: a sweet mug filled w/hershey kisses + a gift card}


{the sweetest/most amazing baby shower cake!}


{my favorite holiday album this year; it's sweet, soulful, subtle and simply christmasy}


Nothing formal this week for links, just a few things I'm digging:

how cute is this snowman cheeseball?

while we're on the subject of cheese, i'm dying over this epic cheese board

i need this red velvet hot cocoa

on this weekend's baking list: these christmas funfetti truffles! adorable!

also these creamy eggnog cookie bars. #whyiseggnogsoawesome

seriously? this christmas candy cheesecake is food porn at its finest

one of my favorites: eggnog crumble crunch cake. yum.

and since it's unlikely that anything i make will resemble the beautiful photos in the above links, check out these holiday baking/cooking disasters which had me laughing out loud.


and in non-food related news:

this article about how jersey city is the new arts & food powerhouse made me happy

an honest look at those flawless family holiday cards {ours is a photo of P that took over 100 shots to get just 1 that was good enough}

did you have your office holiday party yet? did any of these awkward moments happen? our office is tiny and we had a really nice, low key and special dinner at blue ribbon bakery & kitchen

'tis the season: 27 things you might not know about Christmas Vacation

and 20 facts you probably didn't know about A Christmas Story {one of my family's all-time favorites}

i haven't talked about it here yet, but entertainment weekly recaps Sons of Anarchy's final episode.





Are you guys listening to Serial?

After my sister Christine and my friend Allie raved about their obsession with it, I had to give it a try.

I was hooked within the first 5 minutes.

Serial is a podcast featuring one story, told episodically week by week. Season 1 follows the story of a 1999 murder case in Maryland. In 1999, a high school senior, Hae Min Lee, was murdered and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of the crime...but with so many inconsistencies and questions around the case, can we really be sure that he did it? When reporter Sarah Koenig (also the narrator of the story) was asked to look into this closed case by a family friend of Adnan, she quickly became fascinated with the case and developed what I will call an obsession. She befriended Syed, poured through case files, recreated timelines of the day the murder occurred, turned the investigation into a podcast and now shares it with the world.  A spin-off of NPR's This American Life, Serial is all the rage this days.

I've never been one to listen to podcasts, e-books or even the radio because I find that my mind wanders. With Serial, I look forward to my commute everyday so that I can listen! I only have 2 episodes left and man will I be bummed when it's done.

Have you listened to Serial? Are you as obsessed with it as I am?

What other podcasts or ebooks would you recommend?