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
Jun302014

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?

 

Friday
Jun272014

Friday: Jet Fuel + Daycare Days

Don't forget to enter the giveaway we have going on! I've teamed up with The Dukan Diet to give away a copy of The Dukan Diet Made Easy and a bag of their yummy apple cinnamon granola! Come on over to enter!


{taking the afternoon coffee break to a whole new level}

 

This was a rough week. All of the craziness over the last couple of weeks finally hit me like a ton of bricks. Luckily no sinus infections, but just extreme tiredness kicking in. I'm looking forward to a weekend with little to do...a bit of Aruba prep, a birthday party and seeing friends. Should be fun and relaxing!

{First day of 'school & Last day of 'school}

Today is Penelope's last day of 'school' until August. I used to hate when people called daycare 'school,' but since Penelope's daycare is actually part of a school and is on a school schedule, well, I think that qualifies. Like any other school, they close for 5 weeks over the summer. It's tough to account for those 5 weeks of child care, but we will make it work and she'll be going back in early August.

As this week approached, it never occurred to me that I'd be so sad that her year is ending. It made me reflect on almost a year ago when we said goodbye to our part-time nanny in prep for daycare.

I remember being a complete and total wreck on her first day last year, wondering how I could possibly leave my 6 month old baby at a daycare center with people who I didn't know. I was sick over it for weeks leading up to that first day. I think I was still in denial about it actually happening until the very moment that I handed her over. I even made my mom drive up to Jersey City to come with me. I needed her to see the place and tell me it was ok...that I was doing the right thing, that everything would be fine and that Penelope would be happy and well cared for there.

After so many tears, and feeling sick for the entire day, we made it through. That first week was so tough for me, though P took it like a champ and didn't seem to mind a bit. I grew to really love her caregivers. Penelope was happy 90% of the mornings I've dropped her off over the last year, and Shaun says the same when he picks her up. She was always exhausted by day's end, leading me to believe that she played hard and had fun. She would hug and kiss her 'teachers' and I know that she was loved and really found a home there. Other teachers in the building knew her as well, calling her 'Pen-a-lope' in the halls each morning. 

I'm sad that when we go back in August, P will move up to the next room with new 'teachers'...but I guess that will be every year from here on out, even once she gets to real school. It's hard not to bond and get attached to the people who are entrusted to care for your children...the people who seemingly spend more time with my child than I do. That's just the reality for a parent who works full time. It's something that I grapple with daily, and I'm so thankful that we had a great experience with daycare because it has made leaving her each day so much easier for me (though it's never really easy).

I am excited that she will be in a bigger room next year with age appropriate toys and more kids her age. I know she is going to love it! But for today, I'm a little sad, and that's ok.

I hope you all have a GREAT weekend ahead and please don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Dukan Diet Made Easy and some tasty apple cinnamon granola!

Wednesday
Jun252014

Dukan Do It: Weeks 5 & 6…and a Dukantastic Giveaway!

My Dukan pledge has really been put to the test over the last couple of weeks. Between 4 days in Las Vegas and a weekend of camping, I found it really, really tough to stay on plan. I went into both situations planning to do the best I could, but to also not let my diet dictate either trip.


In Las Vegas, I started each day with an egg white omelet with just a little cheese, ham and spinach. This kept me full for most of the day. On the trade show floor, it's so busy and there's really no decent food options anyway, so I stuck with a big breakfast and a couple of Dukan snacks throughout the day. I did have a free full fat latte one day and a KIND bar. In the evenings, it was a little easier. I did have my fair share of wine, but found it pretty easy to eat steak or shellfish anywhere we went. On Tuesday, we were celebrating earning the top award at the show, and so our entire company and client went out for a celebratory dinner at Jaleo. So good.

 

The menu is tapas and since there was 16 of us, they just devised a tasting menu for us. Even with this, it was mostly meat and veggies...nothing carb-heavy or extra fatty. So delicious and it was such a great evening, so I didn't stress over it. I ate what I wanted (skipping dessert) and felt fine about it.

Camping was a bit harder. Lots of grilling which made things easier, but I did partake in too much dessert and a pancake for breakfast one morning. Oh well. Onward and upward!

I had a tough time getting back on the horse come Monday morning. I had gained 2 pounds, which I wasn't thrilled about but was ok with. This week I've been trying to do mostly protein days to get back on track!

 

Meanwhile, the nice people at Dukan found my story over here on TAA and reached out to me to review their new book, The Dukan Diet Made Easy (which they will also be generously giving away to one lucky reader!). I had the original book and cookbook and wondered how different Made Easy would really be.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this new version. I consider myself a smart person who loves to read and write so it's not as though the original book was too hard to get through, however, Made Easy is really just that. It's broken down into smaller snippets and chapters with tips on the insets and motivational testimonials woven throughout. While I could have sat down and read this cover to cover (and did for a few evenings), it's really designed to flip through, picking up tidbits and nuggets of information along the way.

I also think this book does a great job of breaking down the core principles of each phase. When I first started the Dukan diet, I felt a little confused as to what I could eat when and how much. Made Easy makes it more digestible from the get go. And one of my favorite features? The meal plans and new recipes! By week 6, I'm in a bit of a rut to be creative, so I'm excited to use this tool going forward. I think this is a great book for those of you thinking about starting this lifestyle change, or for those of you who are already doing it and need some extra motivation. I find that the more often I read and research about Dukan, the more engrained it is into my mind and the more likely I am to stick with it. This book will be a great tool to peruse each day for just the motivation I need.

 

I also got the chance to try some of the Dukan food products. I was skeptical about trying these, but when I knew I'd be on-the-go for over a week, I thought this was a brilliant idea to keep me on track.

These were a huge help while traveling. I made the chocolate oat bran muffins and packed them in a storage container in my carry on. Once at the hotel, I refrigerated them (which I highly recommend in order to preserve them...I stayed at the Vdara which has a kitchen in each room, but for other hotels, I recommend calling ahead and reserving a mini fridge). I found that I needed to add a little sweetener to these (about 1 Tbsp Splenda baking mix did the trick), but they were great to have for the week. I would also try making a batch and freezing them individually at home, so they can be grabbed and taken along for a day at the beach or in my lunchbox.

They also sent me some of the granola, which I'll admit, I was really unsure about. It looked a little unappealing and I was worried it would be a bit cardboardy...but this was my absolute favorite of the bunch. Apple and cinnamon flavored, this is great by the handful or mixed into yogurt. Super tasty! I found that I had to measure it out to keep myself from overeating it :\

The granola is especially great for those occasions when you can't make your pancake or if you (like Shaun) aren't really a huge fan of the pancake since one granola serving accounts for your daily oat bran intake. I, on the other hand, relish my pancake every single evening as dessert, so I see the granola being more of an on-the-go or travel snack...or for those days when I simply cannot get it up to make the pancake (which really does happen to me). All in all, I was really pleased with the Dukan snack foods and will be buying them again.

And now for the fun part....the giveaway!

A big thanks to the Dukan team for partnering with me on this. I really do believe in these products and so I'm really excited to share them with one lucky reader!

What: 1 lucky reader will receive a copy of The Dukan Diet Made Easy + 1 bag of Apple Cinnamon Dukan Oat Bran Granola (because I loved it so much!)

How: Just leave a comment telling me what foods you eat while traveling...do you bring with you? Indulge? How do you stay on track?

When: It starts...right now! And will end on Monday, June 30 @ 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time

Who: Everyone can join, but it's limited to those in the United States for shipping purposes. If you are already doing the Dukan diet, then please enter to win a free snack and a great book! And if you aren't doing it and are considering it, then this is a great chance to win some free research. And if you don't know what Dukan is and don't diet...well then I still hope you'll enter because you might just enjoy this book and you will also get free snacks ;)

And!: If you want to try out some snacks or other products, the Dukan team has also generously offered TAA readers an exclusive coupon code (TAPP15) to receive 15% off at Shopdukandiet.com! (not applicable on shipping nor taxes; valid until 7/31).

 

Good luck! 

 

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