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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Friday
Aug292014

Five Things Friday

{a lovely glass of rose on the terrace}

 

It's just about summer's end as the last summer holiday weekend approaches. We are starting to feel the first signs of Fall, with a crispness in the air and a cool breeze on the city streets. I don't mind. I have had a wonderful summer and did so many fun things with my family. I'm ready to welcome Fall and all of its bristly leaves, tall boots, warm beverages and pumpkiny goodness with open arms. This weekend, we'll be celebrating the end of summer with a party at my parents house, followed by some relaxation and maybe some fun around Jersey City if the weather cooperates! I'm changing things up a little for Five Things Friday and including even more 'Five Things' toward the bottom of this post. I hope you enjoy!

Have a truly wonderful and safe weekend! 

 

{my new TV obsession; Scandal! I started watching without Shaun and now I can't find enough time to continue my binge!}

 

{graphic tees that can be layered with shorts, jeans, leggings & a leather jacket. Forever 21 has a ton on the cheap}

 

{loving essie's fall 2014 collection; especially the perfect cover up, 3rd from left}

 

{fun city art that I'd love to hang in my home; ikea; found via create, bake, celebrate}

 

 

5 Things in Pop Culture This Week:

UpRoxx ranks the most evil character on Always Sunny…I was 5 for 5, though I think the order of top 2 are debatable.

I was so sad to hear that Joan Rivers is in the hospital. I have the Fashion Police Emmy/VMA special queued up for tonight.

Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie got married. I actually already thought they were married, so…

Can it be true? And do we want it to be? 

It turns out Tony Soprano is

 

5 Food Links I Loved This Week:

copycat pumpkin spice latte. I can't wait to make this so that I can save $5 per cup at Starbucks and also not be poisoned.

sno ball brownies.

cool, summery strawberry pudding pops, perfect for the kiddos!

use up those extra berries on some sweet and savory balsamic soaked strawberries & goat cheese crostini 

amazing key lime pie popcorn, which just takes me back to siesta key

 

5 Other Things I Read This Week:

a great read: 7 things people with anxiety want loved ones to know

these paper box drawer organizers had me at hello

i will gladly work on these 10 behaviors to steal from your kids

after much debate in my office, we're glad catherine agrees: don’t put away your whites just yet.

couldn't have said it better myself: 8 things I’ve learned about marriage

 

 

Thursday
Aug282014

Vacation in Siesta Key, FL

Earlier this week, I shared some awesome little donuts that we found in Siesta Key, but I thought it would be fun to recap the whole trip!

 

We traveled down to Siesta Key, FL a couple of weeks ago for a vacation with Shaun's family. Since the tiny area was located on the Gulf Coast, we flew into Tampa and it was about an hour and a half ride to Siesta Key from the airport.

 

 

We stayed at the Sarasota Surf & Racquet Club, a nice condo association right on the beach. Though our unit was a little bit of a walk from the beach, it was close enough that Penelope could walk from our condo (though I think she was probably ready for a nap by the time we reached the water!).

 

 

She acted like such a little big girl, I couldn't even handle it. We brought her puddle jumper, which has been a great floatie for her this year.

She is still skittish about floating on her own (which I'm fine with!) and in the ocean, she only went in to about knee deep, but I felt better having her protected in case she fell or dipped under somehow. As an aside, I also really love this float because it is a US Coast Guard certified life jacket as well! Though she was just under the suggested minimum weight for it (30 lbs), it fit her pretty well and I'm glad we will have it for next summer too (it goes up to 50 lbs!).

We purposely made little to no plans while in FL so that we could wake up when we felt like it (or when Penelope mandated), leisurely eat breakfast, allow Penelope to nap, and spend time lounging on the beach. 

 

 

Since August in Florida is low season, we had a lot of space on the beach. The shore line was so flat that we could easily sit near the water and let Penelope just wander around us a bit, and even walk down to the water line. 

The downside of low season? Storms!

 

We got caught in the rain more than a couple of times, and one day was a total wash. I really didn't mind, though. And the storms kinda came and went the rest of the time. It would be sunny and bright and then we'd suddenly see some scary clouds roll in with lightning and all. A few times we ran inside, and a few times we stuck it out. The storms were so fast and furious, that they left a few giant puddles in their wake. These also made great kiddie pools for Penelope (and Shaun) to run through.

 

They also spent lots of time digging holes and building sandcastles.


We went out in town a couple of evenings, which was great. We had dinner at the Daquiri Deck, and went back for post-dinner drinks one night. I had the blue, electric lemonade version...so good! I'm not usually a cocktail drinker but the heat made a glass of Malbec pretty unappealing. This was a great, refreshing (and booze-filled) beverage. We also enjoyed live music.

 

Late in the evening, the bar was bumpin' with a DJ to boot.


We also found live music at lots of the other local spots. This band did some fantastic Sublime covers. Shaun has always been a huge Sublime fan, and the music reminded me so much of our college days, when we were first dating. Great stuff.

 

The Siesta Market was a great, nearby spot for all food and alcohol things, especially in the wine and beer department. Is it me, or does it feel like I was walking into Clerks?

 

The area is so tiny that golf cars (in addition to cabs) actually serve as transportation for people from downtown to their hotels, resorts and condos. Shaun was pretty psyched to test one out and so we hailed a cart back to the condo one evening that we stayed out for a drink while my in-laws took Penelope back to the resort (in our rental car, safely strapped into her car seat).

 

On Saturday, Shaun had rented a red Mustang convertible, as a gift for his father's birthday. They had the car to tool around town for Saturday and Sunday morning. I took a few rides as well and though I'm not really a car person, it was pretttty sweet.

 

So fun to ride around with the top down and Bon Jovi blasting. Are we Jersey or what?

 

Travel-wise, Penelope did well enough. On the way there, she was super antsy and just didn't want to sit still. On the ride home, we flew at night and so she was tired, worn out, and ready to just kick back with some Frozen on the iPad. Generally, she has been a champ all 3 plane rides that we've taken her on thus far, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't glad that we have no flights on the radar for the coming months...and by the time we do fly again, P will require her own seat. Woop!

 

All in all, it was such a nice trip and always fun to explore some place new! I feel very lucky that we were able to do 2 big vacations this summer (the other one to Aruba!) and have one more on the horizon for next week...our annual trip to Lewes, Delaware! Though I must admit, I'm excited for that trip to be based in the car, not a plane ;)

 

Tuesday
Aug262014

10 Things You Should Know About Sending Your Child to Daycare

 

Next week, school will start and many of you (including some friends I know!) will be sending your children to daycare or 'school' for the first time. Whether for a few days a week or full time, making the decision to send your child to daycare is not an easy one. We began sending Penelope when she was a mere 6 months old and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I look back on that first week and wonder how I got through it? In the months leading up to that first day, I wouldn't even allow myself to think about it, let alone accept it. But here I am, over a year later. We've made it through so far and I'm here to share a few things that I've learned with all of you first timers. 

1. You are going to cry. Probably a lot.

During the days leading up to her first week, I cried myself to sleep. I kept thinking to myself (and whining aloud to Shaun), what if she needs me and I'm not there? Not such an unreasonable thought. I cried each day any time I thought of this. When I finally brought her that first day, I put on a brave face until I handed my sweet baby over. And then the floodgates opened, and I cried. I cried the whole way to work and a few times in the bathroom stall throughout the day. The next day, it was a little less. And even less the day after that. Eventually, I stopped crying. I saw her happiness each morning as she was surrounded by loving caregivers in a safe and fun atmosphere with children her very own age. And my tears were replaced with smiles.

 

2. Remember that schedule you finally got her accustomed to? Yeah, that's going to change.

I wrote out Penelope's schedule in fun colored markers on bright white paper and proudly handed it over to her 'teacher'. I'm pretty sure that was deposited right into the garbage. Once your child is in daycare, they are a whole new plan that may follow the whole class or vary by group. Either way, you just have to accept it. Since P hated naps when she was younger, I realized that I should be excited for the professionals to get her on a new schedule!

3. She will learn to do things without you.

And it sucks. It sucks hard. I remember dropping Penelope off one morning and being told that she was crawling. Like, no big deal. She started crawling. I felt so devastated because I had yet to see her crawl. It made me sad. And made me realize that there will be things that I'll miss. I'm a full-time working Mom and that's just the reality of it. So I asked them not to tell me those things. As long as she was progressing...Great! But I wanted to pretend like seeing her crawl on a Saturday morning was the first time she did it. And so I did.

4. Your child will get sick.

I always read and hear about how 'daycare kids' get so sick all the time. Well, it's kind of true. Penelope certainly is not sick all the time, but P has had two rounds of Coxsackie and at times, a seemingly constant runny nose. We got through it. In a way, I'm glad that she is exposed to germs so she can build her immunities!

5. You will get sick. And maybe your husband too.

I've had 3 debilitating stomach bugs since P started daycare.
THREE.

 

6. The first time you see the center's number light up your phone screen, you will probably have a small heart attack that may take a few years off of your life.

The first time this happened, I was completely rattled. I saw the number and just panicked. It turned out that they were calling all of the parents with a reminder that the tuition payment deadline was approaching. So, yeah. Heart attack unnecessary.

7. She will make friends.

And really, what is cuter than that? Penelope has made friends in daycare and when I ask her if she is excited to go to school and play with her friends, her face lights up. Her teachers tell me that she and another girl played together every day last year and they'd wait for each other to wake up from naps. Does it get better than that? I want Penelope to be comfortable around kids all the time. I know it will make her a more patient child and someday, hopefully, a great big sister. I know she would not be getting that same interaction with kids her own age; learning to share, learning to play, learning to socialize; if she were at home with a nanny or even with me.

8. She will have fun.

After sending P to daycare for over a year, I would never take her out or look back and regret our decision to go from nanny to daycare. In fact, I can't imagine her being cooped up in our apartment, day after day, with me or with anyone else. At daycare, she has a big room to play in, special chairs for breakfast and lunch, and exciting, new toys to discover.

9. You'll wonder if you are doing everything wrong.

Isn't that the everyday life of being a parent? I second guess everything that I do as a mother. And at the end of the day, as long as I know my girl is happy and so, so loved, well, I feel like I've done my job. It might not be a perfect set-up, but what would be? 

10. You will be ok.

It won't always be easy. In fact, like so many other parts of parenthood, it's really, really $&@!-ing hard. I still cry some days when I have to leave her. Last week was especially taxing since P was teething and had a raging, blazing diaper rash. It broke my heart to have to bring her to someone else for the day and head off to work. I worried all day long. But knowing she was in excellent care and that she was happy every day at pick up got me through it. I think it's usually harder on Mom and Dad than on our little ones. So many days I hate being a working mom (many days I love it, too) and I can't help but wonder if I'm making the right choice for my sweet baby doll. When I see her happy smile, her little round belly and chubby cheeks, and those long yawns and eye rubs at the day's end, I can't help but feel as though I am.