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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Life Lately: America, Aruba, Anniversary & Aging

It's been a while since I've posted and I'm sorry but I'm not sorry...following the holiday weekend, we jetted off to Aruba for a vacation with my family and family friends. It felt good to mostly unplug and though we had wifi access, even on the beach, after a crazy couple of months of feeling completely run-ragged, I really wanted to limit my internet time. So I did. And it was great.

A lot has gone on over the last two weeks, so I'll take it from the top.

We had no real plans for the 4th and so we decided to hang around Jersey City. Despite the rain all day long, it cleared up for an evening at Liberty State Park, where JC hosted a huge festival and fireworks. Though it was tough to navigate with a toddler in tow, you really couldn't beat the view. Flags, Freedom Tower...so beautiful.

P was getting antsy so we decided to hop the light rail back to Newport, our old neighborhood, in hopes we could still catch the fireworks from there with less of a crowd. Though we had some obstructed views, we enjoyed some ice cream while watching the gorgeous fireworks light up the sky over the Hudson River, from both Jersey City and the east side of Manhattan, just beyond the Freedom Tower.

It was really amazing and even Penelope kept oohing and aahing and saying 'wooooow' while enjoying her vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles.

Sunday morning we were up and at 'em early to catch our morning flight to Aruba. I have lots of feelings on traveling with a toddler and I'll do a post on that soon, but in short, let's just say those feelings include anxiety, stress and why-the-#$@!-did-I-do-this. But it was still a fun time otherwise!

We spent most of the trip on the beach or by the pool, eating, drinking and watching the World Cup. With the USA out of the tournament, we cheered for Holland and sported our Holland World Cup tee's that we purchased in Aruba in 2010 during the last World Cup finals.

It was more of a trip and less of a vacation being there with Penelope, but it was really fun to bring her into the pool and ocean, spend time with family and friends and enjoy some afternoon beach games. I have so many more great photos from the trip of the entire family, but they are floating around on my camera and my sister Kim's camera! If I can get it together, I'll do an Aruba photo dump later this week! But also this:

Cute baby in a bathing suit alert.

While in Aruba, we also celebrated Shaun and my 6th wedding anniversary!

We had a nice dinner alone at Anna-Maria's which is essentially an Italian restaurant in someone's backyard. Very quaint and very anniversary-like.

We didn't exchange gifts because there was really no need. A delicious dinner did the trick.

Shaun asked me what has surprised me the most over the last six years, and my first thought was that I never imagined we'd still be living in Jersey City! I always thought we'd rent there for a couple of years, have our city fun and then move to a house in the 'burbs. Six years ago, I never expected that we'd be still there, owning a home, raising our daughter there and trying to decide if this is where well be for the long run.

After dinner, we got hot fudge sundaes and hit the shops to pick out my birthday present, which brings me to...

Today is my birthday and I'm officially 32 years old.

{this photo is not from today, but from when I was in Las Vegas, looking dressed up for a day of trade showing!}

It's weird but not weird. I can't believe that number is my age but since I kind of stopped counting my age after 25, it doesn't really matter all that much what the number is, right? Really the only thing bumming me out today is that I don't have any fun nail polish on my nails, and that makes me feel old because I just didn't have the energy to get to painting them last night.

I have no plans really, aside from eating anything I want today (especially a good bagel for breakfast!) and hanging at home tonight with Shaun & my Penny Bird with copious amounts of cake, while I await a sugar-induced coma tomorrow. 

I haven't done a Dukan update in a while but I'll try to do that this week. The short version is that I have kind of bailed on it over the last week and a half with a few extra pounds to show for it...but I plan to get back to the attack phase tomorrow!

So that's the short version of what's been happning in my world lately.

How have you been? How did you spend July 4th?

What have you been eating, watching, reading?  I have updates on all of that in my world planned for you as well...


Almost Friday

{I had a visitor at work this week!}


Happy Almost Friday! It feels like Friday, since tomorrow is the holiday, doesn't it? I have a half day at work today and will be spending Friday and Saturday at home in Jersey City. I really hope that the storm holds out because our plans for the 4th include a sprayground here in JC, followed by the Freedom & Fireworks Festival! It's rare that we have no plans for Independence Day, and so I'm excited to spend it in Jersey City this year.

We are also prepping for our annual trip to Aruba and the plane leaves on Sunday. I have a lot to do, but am so glad that I have two days to do laundry, pick up some last minute toiletries and surprise airplane toys for Penelope and pack. I'm admittedly a tad bit nervous for an almost 5 hour flight with a 17 month old, but we'll do the best we can and copious amounts of snacks will be our BFF I'm sure.

Shaun was home with Penelope all week and I think he is ready for a break. He brought her into my office yesterday to meet everyone and hang out for a little while. It was great.

This week I finished Tell the Wolves I'm Home. Loved this book! I hope that you will join the discussion the week of July 14th! We have our little book club in Aruba next week, and I can't wait to discuss. Meanwhile, I started reading Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. I'm about a third of the way through it and really enjoying it! If nothing else, it certainly makes me long for a summer home. Thanks to Christine and Jackie O. for the tip on this author! I'm really just thrilled that I'm back to reading again. I was in such a rut for a long time, so this is very exciting for me. I will probably download a couple of other books in case I get some reading time in on the beach next week. Ugh I really just can't wait.

In case you are interested, here is the synopsis:

   On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted:  friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
   But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact - and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev's world her own. 

In other news, we have a winner for the Dukan Diet giveaway! I chose the winner at random via comment entries, using random.org's number generator:

The winner is Ann K! Ann, please send me an email (theavidappetite@gmail.com) with your home address so that I may get your prize off to you as soon as possible!

That's about it from here! I'll try to do a few posts next week, but mostly, I plan to unplug completely. It's so needed after the last few months of non-stop go, go, go. I hope you have a GREAT 4th of July...stay safe everyone!

What are your plans for 4th of July?


How Was Your Weekend?

Since I couldn't get it together to post a reminder yesterday, I'm leaving the Dukan Diet giveaway open until tonight @ 11:59PM to allow for any last entries! If you haven't entered to win a copy of The Dukan Diet Made Easy and a bag of yummy apple cinnamon granola, then please head over and enter!


We had a gorgeous weekend around Jersey City. For the first time in months, we stayed close to home and it was such a needed break to have limited committments for a couple of days.

On Friday, my office closed early and I had a welcome afternoon to do some wandering and shopping in SoHo, before meeting up with Shaun to pick Penelope up from her last day of daycare. My first stop was Warby Parker. I have a ton of FSA money lingering that needs to be used, and so a few new pairs of glasses were on the menu.

I ended up with 2 pairs of eyeglasses and 1 pair of prescription sunglasses. Now the question...will they arrive in time for my trip to Aruba?! We will see. 

I also wandered over to David Z to look at sandals. I was still in need of a casual sandal for summer and have been eyeing up Birkenstocks for a number of weeks now. I never, ever liked the look of Birkenstocks, however, now that they are back in style, there was something about them that I really loved. Perhaps it's that now I'm a Mom and only want super comfy footwear, regardless of what it looks like? 

But in all seriousness, I really LOVE these sandals (looks like Nordstrom is out of the white, but all of the other colors are so pretty too!). They are so cute. I love that the white upper makes them a bit more fem and since they are faux leather, they are super easy to clean. The bottoms are still in the molding-to-my-feet stage, and so they haven't reached maximum comfort yet, but I know it's on the horizon. Overall, I'm a fan and I know they will be great eveningwear for our upcoming Aruba trip.

I guess it was the weekend of spending money, because I also picked up a water table for my sweet P. 

Do you think she likes it? I had been eyeing them up for a few weeks, and when I realized we'd actually have time at home this weekend, I knew I had to get one. On Sunday, she spent most of the afternoon in her bathing suit, splashing around. This was actually taken post-bathing suit, when she proceeded to get soaked yet again in there. I know that this will be an awesome addition for her over the next bunch of weeks while daycare is closed. Now she can splash and play on our terrace...fun for P and easy for Mom, Dad & Grandmas.

We had a great Sunday afternoon barbecuing with friends and it was SO hard to get back to work this week. Luckily it's a short week and then it's off to vacation!

How was your weekend?