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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Monday
Dec152014

Cookie Time

A couple weeks ago, we had our holiday baking day with my mom. My sisters and my cousins gathered at my parents' house for a day of non-stop cookie baking. We always have lofty ambitions and this year was no different. Some of our classics got the boot this year in favor of trying something new, but I think it was our best year of cookies yet. All of the cookies turned out awesomely. My favorite to eat is a new one that we added this year: Giada DeLaurentiis' peanut butter cookies with blackberry jam (we used raspberry though!). My favorite to look at? The cocoa thumbprints, pictured above. They just look like beautiful, snowy Christmas ornaments and I adore them!

One of the things I was most excited for was to have Penelope join in the baking fun. I wasn't sure if she would have any interest, but she was totally into it. She had a blast {and did a great job!} flattening out rolled balls of cookie dough for baking and filling up the cocoa thumbprints with sprinkles and candied cherries. She also got to experience some of the perks of baking, which is sampling the goods as she went along ;)

I took lots of photos, so I'll let them do the talking from here.

Are you getting into the baking spirit? What's on your list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Thursday
Dec112014

Kicking off Christmas

 

This past weekend we kicked off the holiday season in full force.

We don't have many weekends that are just the three of us deciding what we want to do and when, but this was one of them. It was nice to have loose plans with minimal obligations. It's one of my resolutions for 2015 - to commit to less.

Anyway.

The weather was forecasted to be mostly terrible for a lot of the weekend so I was adamant about getting our Christmas tree on Friday night. That way, we would avoid the rain and could decorate it all weekend at our leisure. Well it straight up poured on Friday evening. My train was so delayed getting home. I arrived home at 7:30 which is very late for me, especially on a Friday. We darted right over to the 14th street Garden Center in Jersey City to get our tree.

 

The trees were covered so totally dry and we chose one pretty quickly.

 

While the gentlemen tied and wrapped our tree, we went into the store to pay and let Penelope look around.



I spy a Christmas elf.

On Saturday, we were up and ready for our building's holiday tree trimming.

 

Every year, the residents enjoy coffee and snacks while decorating our large lobby tree. I wasn't sure how Penelope would do with decorating but she was totally into it.

 

She understood being 'gentle' and that the ornaments were delicate. All of the kids got cracking and before we knew it, the bottom quarter of the tree was completely filled in :)



Penelope also enjoyed more than one doughnut. She loved chasing around the bigger kids and cried when it was time to head home!

Our original plan was to take Penelope to Sesame Place on Saturday for their Furry Christmas, but since the weather was so miserable we postponed to Sunday. Instead, we hit Jersey City Project Market, a holiday festival with tons of local vendors selling handmade goods and lots of local food trucks and stands.

The rain was coming down in sheets but luckily most of the event was in covered tents.



I sipped on a really great apple cider Bellini and I plan to make some for a Christmas party this weekend!

Shaun and I shared these amazing cheese curds with sriracha mayo.


Meanwhile Penelope kept herself busy with a lovely cupcake from Cocoa Bakery.

It was really fun to spend an afternoon among Jersey Cityans, supporting the local business and culture. I hope that Jersey City has a lot more of these kinds of things!

On Sunday, we woke up for music class, let Penelope take her nap and then it was off to Sesame Place for the late afternoon and evening.

 

The whole park is decked out for their 'Very Furry Christmas' and it was adorable. The lights were fantastic and it was great to walk around the park without sweating (as in the summer time).

Penelope really had a blast, but not without a few meltdowns. It was cold and she was straight up terrified of the characters.

 

But, she absolutely loved the rides!

 

There were plenty of rides for P to enjoy and so Shaun and I took turns riding with her. It was pure joy. There was one ride that the 3 of us could go on together and since the park wasn't crowded, we could actually just stay on the ride and go a few times. After every stop, Penelope would look out and yell, "MORE!"

We had a really good time and I'm glad that we made the effort to take her. By the end of the night, P was a screaming mess and ready to GO. So we made our way home and it was really sad to say buh bye to to such a great weekend.

We have another fun & Christmasy weekend ahead! Have a great day!

 



Tuesday
Dec092014

Mom Obsession: Car Seats

Hi friends! How are you?

I missed posting yesterday because I had a great weekend just living life with my little family and, well, posting just wasn't in the cards. I'll have a recap later, but for today's Baby Talk Tuesday I want to talk about something I'm obsessed with: car seats.

 

I don't like to think of myself as a person who is afraid of life. But, I am afraid of things in life. I love life and I don't want to do anything to screw up my chances for a nice long happy one. Things like drugs, smoking, skydiving, motorcycles, fast cars and bungee jumping just never ever appealed to me. All of those things scream *death trap* loud and clear, like a ringing in my ears that just won't quit. I might be overreacting, but I have always led and continue to lead an optimistically cautious life.

When I became a Mom, more fears wiggled their way onto my plate and permeated my mind. Since I was pregnant with Penelope, I developed an irrational fear. I was terrified that she would somehow suffocate once she was born and I would lie awake in the middle of the night, feeling her beat me up from the inside and thinking about how to keep her safe. I was a lunatic about blankets (or lack thereof), just the right clothing, nothing near her face - ever - because I just had this fear plaguing me. I'm sure lots of moms feel this way about one thing or another. It could be possible choking, falling, or another myriad of safety hazards that parents need to contend with.

At the top of my list, right up there with suffocation, is car seat safety. Simply put, cars scare me. My child not being buckled in properly scares me. My child riding in a car with anyone else who isn't me scares me. And that's why I'm obsessed with car seats and safety. I feel as though it's the one piece that I can control. I cannot control other drivers or human error. But you can bet that I can control the safety of my child strapped into her seat.

I love that car seat safety is becoming a hot topic. It needs to be talked about. Putting a child in a car is probably one of the more dangerous things that parents do. I read all of the articles about what is and is not the right way to buckle in a child. I've watched countless YouTube videos on how to tightly install a seat (though having the fire department install it is obviously the best option). I follow The Car Seat Lady on Facebook and am psyched that she is working with uberFAMILY to install car seats, ensuring that families have a safe option for their children to ride. Check out her Facebook page as a great resource!

For both of Penelope's car seats (we started with the infant carrier seat and upgraded to the convertible seat once she outgrew the other), I researched for weeks, noting safety, ease of use, comfort and, most importantly, it's idiot-proofness in installation. I plan to keep her rear-facing as long as possible. She is tall and a little cramped this way and I discussed it at length with my pediatrician. Though she is tight, our doctor was adamant that she stay rear facing for as long as possible - and at the very least until 2 years old. She may not be the most comfortable that way, but the research supports the fact that she will be safe. In fact, it's 5 times safer this way. 5 TIMES!

I don't think that I'll ever feel like I have a firm grasp on all of the car seat safety issues. I'll always wonder if I'm doing it correctly, if it's safe enough, if my sweet baby will be protected in case the worst happens. But, I'm trying. I continue to read, research and work to make car riding the safest it can be for Penelope. It's now an obsession and I think it's an ok one to have.

What are your thoughts on car seats?

When did you turn your child from rear to forward facing, or when do you plan to?

Do you have any crazy Mom fears?