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 parties (3)


Penelope Jane's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 1st Birthday Party

Well it's official.


A certain someone turned one year old on Sunday.


I've felt such a mix of emotions over the last few weeks leading up to this momentous occasion. Nostalgia for 1 year ago as we awaited her arrival, going through childbirth (yes, part of me loved that experience), spending those precious early days and nights with her, just feeling disbelief that she was here. Pride and accomplishment that we made it through the first year. Sadness that my baby is growing up. Happiness that my baby is growing up happy and healthy. And most of all, excited to celebrate my sweet baby girl. 


And to ring in the first birthday for my little Sweet P, I couldn't think of any other way than to have a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party. 


Penelope truly adores Mickey Mouse and we watch more of this show than I care to admit. When Mickey comes on screen, she lights up and if she's in the middle of a meltdown, Mickey is a great way to distract and relax her.

So with that in mind, I constructed the party with everything Mickey in mind. It started with the food (of course).


We rented a tabletop hot dog cart as the showpiece for our Hot Diggity Dog Bar.


The cart was awesome and had large trays for the hot dogs and two more to hold other warm goodies (we used these for saurkraut and hot dog onions). We provided lots of other fixin's too including pickled onions, cheddar cheese, relish, chopped bacon, Frank's Red Hot, and of course, ketchup and mustard. My mom made a big slow cooker filled with delicious Clubhouse Chili for topping and I purchased ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles along with little hot dog trays for serving. I think this was a really fun addition and of course, matched with the classic Mickey Hot Dog Dance theme.

Other food included Minnie Bagels, Pete's Potato Salad, Goofy Greens (with lots of dressings from which to choose, as well as dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese) and Meeska Mouska Mac & Cheese. 


And can't forget about the Handy Helpers! I set these up in white and metal Ikea planters lined with red napkins.


I made all of the table cards and Hot Dog sign with a super simple template in PowerPoint, printed them out and adhered them to card stock. I'm the furthest thing from a designer and so these did the job. I downloaded the Minnie font and that made everything look very 'Mickeyfied'.

I also made these flag banners using card stock and the Mickey Ears font. I taped the flags together on the back sides and strung them together with red baker's twine. This involved a lot {lot} of cutting and kind of made me wish I just had a Silhouette, but I did it over a few nights in front of the TV, so it wasn't so bad.

The finished product was so darn cute, it was worth it!

And I couldn't forget about the birthday girl's high chair...


Close up on her cute shoesies:


I had a blast making this photo board of some of my favorite photos from over the last year:


For added fun, we set out some of Pluto's Popcorn, complete with sprinkled toppings, including sour cream & onion, cheddar and chocolate marshmallow.


I kept drinks simple with wine (Trader Joe's FTW), beer, soda and a pretty water jug with lemon and ice. Honest juice boxes for the kids.


I made little goody bags for the kids, again with labels I created in PowerPoint. I filled the bags with a Mickey cup, crayons, bubbles, stickers, a puzzle and a package of Goldfish (one of Penelope's favorite snacks).


After we ate and played, it was time for dessert! We had a pretty sweet spread.


I ordered a huge cake (Mickey, of course) with one layer of yellow cake, one layer of chocolate and Bavarian cream filling. I also made chocolate-dipped Oreos to look like Mickey's pants. My mom brought a beautiful fruit platter and a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Edible Arrangement and my Aunt Janet made her famous chocolate chip cookies.


Penelope was not impressed with the Happy Birthday procedures.


It wasn't her favorite part, but overall, she was a champ throughout the long day.


After dessert, it was cake time for Penelope!


I made her smash cake in a mini pan and kept the decorating simple with white vanilla frosting, a red frosting P and yellow non-pareils. Again, a decorator I am not, but I made it with love!

We had such a great day. Shaun and I collapsed on the couch later that night to watch the Super Bowl while Penelope slept like a rock (and I finally got to enjoy some of the food!). It all seems surreal that I am the mother of a one year old child!

Happy 1st Birthday to my sweet baby doll, my little love bug and the light of my life. You have brought us so much joy and you fill my heart with overflowing amounts of love!



*I can put together a source list of products, if there is interest...please let me know! 


Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

If you like what you see here, be sure to 'like' us on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for more content, to share ideas or just to say hi!

This morning I'm blogging from my sister Kimberly's apartment. Last night we went to a cupcake making class at NYC's Butter Lane and I slept over her place afterwards. She had gifted me with this for last year's Christmas, but due to scheduling, we only just got around to going. It was so much fun (and super gluttonous!)! I'll have a full roundup for you once I get my photos uploaded, but just know this: I'm sugared and buttered out this morning :)

So this Saturday, I'm hosting a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner at our apartment for a few friends. I started the tradition of making a mini Thanksgiving dinner for Shaun and I in advance of the big event so that we could enjoy delicious turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing for more than just one day (don't you hate that? We wait all year for Thanksgiving food!).

We are also always traveling all over the great state of NJ on Thanksgiving, and so I always like to have a calmer mock Turkey Day for the two of us. Of course, the first year I did this, I'm pretty sure I used boxed stuffing, turkey cutlets and maybe even boxed mashed potatoes (yikes!). My, how my repetoire has grown.

Last year, we celebrated with our great friends Lindsey and Eric. Lindsey and I cooked the entire dinner...the turkey, buttery, creamy mashed potatoes (the real kind), sausage laced stuffing (no boxed version here), sweet potato casserole and pumpkin cheesecake. It was quite the feast!

the brined & roasted bird, ready for eating

creamy & wonderful mashed potatoes; my mom's no-fail recipe!maple mashed sweet potatoesI used Ina Garten's herb stuffing and fell in lovePaula Deen's pumpkin cheesecake recipe. oooooh my.This year, we've expanded the group to 8 people and set it up as more of a pot luck dinner so that everyone can join in the fun! I'm making turkey (and 18 pounder...help!), gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce. I can't wait to see what everyone else brings to the party! Tonight I'm going to start setting up the apartment (and cleaning up the joint since we've had a painter in alllll week...and side note, it looks amazing!) and will start getting my cook and bake on tomorrow! Meanwhile, if you want any of the recipes above for your own dinner, simply click on the photos. I can't wait to hear about what you all are cooking up for this holiday. I can't wait to share the recipes and roundup with you next week!

Questions of the Day:

How do you spend Thanksgiving?

Do you wish it was more than just one day, if only to enjoy the food longer?


for even more Thanksgiving recipes and ideas, check out our Recipes page, under the Holiday section!


It's {not} my party, but I'll find favors if I want to

There is nothing that I love more than a good party. Seeing friends and family, whipping up delicious dishes and just kicking back...it's a wonderful way to spend a Saturday, don't you think?

Next week we will celebrate my cousin's engagement at my parent's house. When my mom mentioned that they were brainstorming some food-themed party favors, I couldn't wait to push my way into get in on the fun. You may recall the truffle extravaganza that I helped Lindsey with for her engagement party...so fun!

I think food-themed favors are such a wonderful idea. Guests can enjoy them post-party and also eliminate trinket clutter. While looking around the web, I stumbled upon some truly fabulous and adorable party favor ideas that could easily be DIY'd and adapted for any party.

Red & Blue Taffy via Kara's Party Ideas

So chic and lovely. I adore the playful taffy and the color combo is so bold and different.

Red Velvet Cupcake Jars via cakies

Such a fun twist on the traditional cupcakes, and a lot easier to tote along for the ride home. I heart.

M&M-filled Glass Bottles via Haute Apple Pie

These ladies think of every detail for a party. A sweet label on the front adds the perfect touch to these adorable favors.

Butterscotch Moustache Pops via VintageConfections (Etsy)

I mean...could these be any more fun? Or cute? Not to mention the great photo ops.

S'mores Boxes via Parenting.com

I adore everything about this. I love the idea of DIY s'mores and there is something so pretty and sophisticated about a basic brown takeaway box with twine.

Mini Limoncello Bottles via My DIY Wedding

Such a fun and different idea. But, the real beauty here is the contrasting blue label tied with grass ribbon. Bellissimo.


Homemade Truffles (from Lindsey's Engagement Party!)

These were a bit of work, but came out oh-so-fun and special. I love.


Cookie Mix in Glass Jars via Bakerella

Everything she does is beautiful and chic, and these are no exception. How adorable?! Isn't everything prettier in a glass jar?



So there you have it. Some favors that I would love to receive at any party (so please invite me). I cannot wait to try DIY'ing some of these for parties over the next year!

Questions of the Day:

What's your favorite kind of party favor?

Have you ever DIY'd something fantastic to give out at a party?


psst...Kimberly is blogging all about finding that post-vaca motivation on The Peach & The Pit! Head over to share your tips!