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! 

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Entries in christmas (33)


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.



Christmas 2013 Recap

I took a nice long break from blogging (and real life!) over the last couple of weeks and celebrated a wonderful Christmas with my family. Today I'm back in action and although everyone has moved onto New Year's, I'm finally getting around to sharing our Christmas 2013 Recap.

Since my office was closed during the week of Christmas, I ended work on December 20 feeling so ready to welcome the holidays in all of their glory. I spent most of Saturday cleaning, organizing and prepping snacks for a visit from my favorite West Coaster, and my long time bff, Catherine. She was in town for Christmas, and man was it so great to spend a few hours with her! Of course, I didn't get to snap a photo this time, but here's a sweet throwback from my bridal shower back in 2008:


As usual, time was too fleeting!

Sunday we headed to Brooklyn for brunch at Kimberly and Nick's apartment. Once again, I was having too much fun eating and mingling to remember to snap a few photos, but I did steal this photo of their beautiful (and enormously tall!) tree. Gotta love apartments with high ceilings!


Monday was spent relaxing and doing that last bit of gift wrapping while also making this awesome corn dip for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Again, no photos. Sorry! Just trust me, it was so so good and with a couple of edits, this is my new favorite dip.

Tuesday morning, we were up and out bright and early for our annual Christmas Eve breakfast with my family. My dad started taking us to breakfast on Christmas Eve as kids in order to give my mom some solo time at home to prep for the evening's festivities. Now that we're grown, she joins us. And I was really excited to introduce this tradition to Penelope! 

Lots of Christmas Eve breakfasts in her future, for sure ;)


I cannot get over her. Sigh.

After breakfast, we headed back to the house to prepare for the evening. We chopped, plated, decorated and set the tables for a night of food, drink and merriment. 

Of course, Penelope was the belle of the ball.

And her sweet Christmas dress didn't last long...instead, she was in her Santa's Little Helper shirt & leggings in no time.

Though Penelope didn't quite get the whole 'opening presents' thing this year, she did enjoy her fair share of paper (ripping and eating). 


We got our first taste of 'put-this-together-right-now' fun, with the whole family cheering us on.


Unfortunately, P wasn't so into the put-together version of the toy to actually sit on it and play, but she did admire it from afar.

We also took some photos by the Christmas tree.

Tough to get a good one with a 10 month old in tow.


We did manage to get a nice group shot on the stairs:

Late in the evening, Shaun went to church with his family and I stayed behind to relax with mine. Around 1AM, Shaun and I exchanged our gifts. My favorite gift? A new soft and snuggly blanket for our evening couch relaxing. My man knows me so well ;)

On Christmas morning, P actually slept until around 8:00. She then proceeded to actually hug and snuggle with me in bed for a little while.

It was the best Christmas gift I've ever received :)

Once the family was up, we all headed downstairs for leftover cookies, coffee and gift opening.

Santa brought lots of gifts to us all, especially for Penelope.

Note her reindeer feet. #whyarebabypajamasthecutestever

After some relaxing, we got dressed and headed over to Shaun's parents house for Christmas Day celebrations.

Penelope once again received so many generous gifts. That is one lucky girl.

And I, of course, got to dress her in yet another adorable Christmas outfit.

I think I was pictured out by this point, because this is where my photos end. We had a great day with family and headed home late that evening. 

Unfortunately Shaun had to head back to work on Thursday, and I spent the rest of the week snuggling with my little bear. Now it's off to celebrate the New Year! I hope you have a fantastic and safe New Year's Eve...I'll be back in the next couple of days with my hopes for 2014!









Weekend + The Holiday Spirit

It's a super snowy morning today and although I had to traipse through it to drop Penelope off at daycare, I still love it. I finally have reason to wear my fancy snow boots. I get to wear a scarf all day and drink copious amounts of tea, and watch the snowfall from my office desk next to 10 ft loft windows. All in all, not too shabby I guess.

This weekend we really got into the holiday groove. It all started on Thursday evening with picking out our Christmas tree! Though it cut into her bedtime, Penelope helped pick out a beautiful first Christmas tree and a poinsettia to boot.  

We decided to downsize a little this year since we have less space with P crawling around, but still fell in love with a 6 ft beauty from the 14th Street Garden Center in Jersey City.

Friday evening, we just couldn't get it up to trim the tree since we were a) completely spent from the week and b) prepping for a weekend of picture taking and cookie baking. Instead we watched an episode of Sons of Anarchy (can't believe the season is almost over...still one of my faves!) and were snoozing by 11.

Saturday we were up bright and early to head out for Penelope's first Christmas photo shoot. It was so sweet and fun and I'll be sure to post the photos when I receive them! Penelope was a champ through the entire thing and all of my anxiety over her sitting still and/or being a cranky butt were put at ease. Tempting fate, we decided to try our hand at seeing Santa that afternoon. I had visions of parking space fights (If anyone has done the Jersey mall scene - esp at Christmas - you know what I mean), mobbed lines, and a crying baby who would ultimately have pooped through her clothes once we got to the front of the line. Luckily, we must've gone at the exact right time - or God was shining down on us - because we easily found a spot, the line was only 5 people deep and Penelope once again was a champ.


I was secretly hoping for a crying photo with Santa (does that make me a bad Mom? The woman taking the photos seemed to think so), but she did ok and was mostly only concerned/scared by the woman dressed as an elf who was trying to make her smile. #fail.

Saturday night we headed to my parents house since Sunday was our annual Christmas cookie baking day with my mom! Penelope was enamored with their Christmas tree, as I expected. 

It was fun to have Penelope with us for baking this year, though she did mostly floor sweeping and baby cheese doodle eating while the rest of us carried the hard labor. 

8 batches of cookies later, we were completely spent and headed home in the snow. Sunday and Monday were spent hanging lights and trimming the tree. Times have sure changed since we could get all of that done in one night! 

Just missing its skirt and a topper (that's the final piece for tonight!)

And lastly, I'm excited that we got our Christmas stockings! Shaun and I never got stockings for Christmas (outside of our childhood ones at our parents' houses), and so when I got one for Penelope, I thought the whole family should match. I'll post more pics once they are hung by the chimney TV with care.

So that's how we spent our whirlwind weekend and how we've been getting into the holiday spirit lately.

Are you all decorated for the holidays?

Where do you go to see Santa?