Happy New Year! + 2014 Things

{on our 6th wedding anniversary in Aruba} 

 

hi!

How are you?

I've really enjoyed taking a nice break over the last week from blogging and, in truth, from real life in general. We had a really, really nice Christmas and continued celebrating into the weekend. The last few days I've just been sleeping in a bit, relaxing with Penelope and just having no obligations. It's really the only week of 2014 that has been like this and it's really enjoyable and liberating. I've had lots of blog ideas but just not the stamina to write any of them. But! I wanted to end the year with looking back on what a great year it was. I'm not one for New Year's or New Year's resolutions, but 2014 was particularly great and I'll be sad to see it go.

Tonight, we'll be ringing in 2015 with a big steak dinner prepared at home, some champagne and perhaps a viewing of the Newsroom finale. And to really close out the year, I put together some twenty fourteen highlights. I hope you enjoy! Have a wonderful New Year's Eve and please...be safe!

 

{kinky boots on a snowy day}

 

{celebrating penelope jane's 1st birthday + talking about pj's birth day i/ii/iii}

 

{celebrating fEaster + Easter

 

{i bought tieks}

 

{portobello mushroom pizzas}

 

{mdw at the beach}

 

{dukan breakfast: scrambled eggs + canadian bacon + a lotta coffee}

 

{so much great TV; heartbreaking, hilarious and totally consuming}

 

{4th of july in liberty state park}

 

{aruba}

 

{amazing mini donuts} 

 

{sunset in siesta key}

 

{amazing salted caramel apple cheesecake bars}

 

{cheeeese}

 

{cookie butter bars for a baby shower} 

 

{fun in the orchards}

 

{best bloody brunch}

 

{mickey mouse}

 

{holiday cookie baking}

 

{christmas eve celebrations}

 

 

see ya in 2015!

 

 

 

Have a Merry Christmas!

 

Well, another year and another Christmas has arrived. I hope that you all have such a wonderful holiday and get to spend it with those nearest and dearest to you. I won't be blogging much for the rest of the week as we'll be doing the Jersey Christmas circuit and having a little Boxing Day celebration (aka Christmas Morning Part II) for the three of us on Friday. I'm really looking forward to having a week and a half home with my sweet Penny Jane, it is so needed and welcomed. Thank you for hanging out with me this year...every year that I write The Avid Appetite, I love it more and more. Have a very Merry Christmas! I'll see you next week.

xo,

Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS: I took about 100 photos to get what you see above. Little nugget wanted to RUN! and I swear she intentionally turned away from the camera when she saw it. Just keepin' it real for ya ;)

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.

 

Four Things Friday

{i made this santa hat cake for our family christmas party last weekend & it was a hit!}

 

We're in the home stretch to Christmas and I couldn't be more excited. I have 98% of my gifts purchased, about 65% wrapped and a free weekend ahead to enjoy the simple pleasures of Christmas that sometimes pass me be in the flurry of holiday prep. On tap for this weekend:

  • watch Scrooged & Elf (we did Christmas Vacation last night, but it may make another appearance)
  • build a gingerbread house with Penelope
  • drink hot cocoa by the Christmas tree
  • finish wrapping gifts
  • take Penelope to the Turtle Back Zoo for Frozen weekend
  • wear my mistletoads pajamas
  • sneak away for a viewing of The Family Stone, if I can make it happen
  • possibly get to the park, if the weather permits
  • partake in some holiday baking therapy

I hope you all have a great weekend and soak up the holiday time! I'll be on blogging sporadically next week, and certainly before signing off for Christmas.

What are your weekend plans?

 

{simple teacher gifts: a sweet mug filled w/hershey kisses + a gift card}

 

{the sweetest/most amazing baby shower cake!}

 

{my favorite holiday album this year; it's sweet, soulful, subtle and simply christmasy}

 

Nothing formal this week for links, just a few things I'm digging:

how cute is this snowman cheeseball?

while we're on the subject of cheese, i'm dying over this epic cheese board

i need this red velvet hot cocoa

on this weekend's baking list: these christmas funfetti truffles! adorable!

also these creamy eggnog cookie bars. #whyiseggnogsoawesome

seriously? this christmas candy cheesecake is food porn at its finest

one of my favorites: eggnog crumble crunch cake. yum.

and since it's unlikely that anything i make will resemble the beautiful photos in the above links, check out these holiday baking/cooking disasters which had me laughing out loud.

 

and in non-food related news:

this article about how jersey city is the new arts & food powerhouse made me happy

an honest look at those flawless family holiday cards {ours is a photo of P that took over 100 shots to get just 1 that was good enough}

did you have your office holiday party yet? did any of these awkward moments happen? our office is tiny and we had a really nice, low key and special dinner at blue ribbon bakery & kitchen

'tis the season: 27 things you might not know about Christmas Vacation

and 20 facts you probably didn't know about A Christmas Story {one of my family's all-time favorites}

i haven't talked about it here yet, but entertainment weekly recaps Sons of Anarchy's final episode.

 

 

Serial

Are you guys listening to Serial?

After my sister Christine and my friend Allie raved about their obsession with it, I had to give it a try.

I was hooked within the first 5 minutes.

Serial is a podcast featuring one story, told episodically week by week. Season 1 follows the story of a 1999 murder case in Maryland. In 1999, a high school senior, Hae Min Lee, was murdered and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of the crime...but with so many inconsistencies and questions around the case, can we really be sure that he did it? When reporter Sarah Koenig (also the narrator of the story) was asked to look into this closed case by a family friend of Adnan, she quickly became fascinated with the case and developed what I will call an obsession. She befriended Syed, poured through case files, recreated timelines of the day the murder occurred, turned the investigation into a podcast and now shares it with the world.  A spin-off of NPR's This American Life, Serial is all the rage this days.

I've never been one to listen to podcasts, e-books or even the radio because I find that my mind wanders. With Serial, I look forward to my commute everyday so that I can listen! I only have 2 episodes left and man will I be bummed when it's done.

Have you listened to Serial? Are you as obsessed with it as I am?

What other podcasts or ebooks would you recommend?

Kiddo Christmas Clothes

{girls: rosette dress/reindeer pj's/sparkle & spice pj's/sweater dress/silver sparkle shoes/boots}

{boys: plaid shirt & tie/bulldog pj's/santa pj's/sweater vest/hat/sneakers}

 

One of my favorite things about having a child at Christmas time is the clothes!

Oh Lord, there are so many unbelievably adorable clothing options to help celebrate the holidays (tutus! sparkles! sweater vests...oh the sweater vests!). I try to restrain myself...but it's really tough. I pulled together some adorable holiday clothing that I love, above. We don't have all of these things, but we do have the rosette dress, both girls pajama sets, and more that's not even pictured here.

This past weekend was Penelope's Christmas pageant at school and while she refused to stand for a good photo, I did manage to snap the above. I had originally bought this pretty Carter's velvety dress months ago to save for Christmas (seems to be out of stock now, though). Then, I found the rosette dress (pictured in the collage) which was just too darling for words. On the morning of her pageant, as I scrambled to get her dressed and ready, she was super excited to wear this dress. She is just getting to the point of being a little excited about wearing certain things and this dress got a pretty strong reaction. Unfortunately, while I had previously tried the dress on with P standing, she had not sat down in the dress. When she did, it became clear that the dress was just too tight across the mid-section. Why would they make a dress for a toddler with no give whatsoever? P immediately started crying from the pain and I thanked my lucky stars for being too lazy to return the original red velvet dress, which fit perfectly. #momwinning

Also white tights + black patent leather shoes = cutest thing ever.

{an elf's four main food groups/christmas is coming}

Some of you have also commented on some of Penelope's cute pop culture t-shirts that she's been sporting. I actually bought both of these shirts from a zulily sale way back in August when I was shopping for her Halloween treat bag. I saw them and had to snap them up immediately because I knew I'd never find them again. Unfortunately, I can't seem to track them down and no company was listed on the order email or on the neck labels. They aren't officially licensed (don't tell my office about that!), and so it's hard to track down the original source. If anyone can find these, please let me know as I've had lots of people asking!

Lastly, this past weekend we celebrated Christmas with my dad's side of the family and we tried to match the kiddos in their pajamas! If you recall, we also did this last year:

I hope we can get the kids to agree to this every year because really...how cute is this?!

So that's the holiday goods we are loving this season!

Do you buy special holiday outfits for your kids? Pajamas? Dresses? Suits?

What are some of your favorites this year?

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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!