Encore Bistro Francais

On Sunday I got briefly acquainted with the small town of Rye, NY. Rye, an old town settled wayyyy back, has a vast historical presence with a small-town feel. Interestingly enough, the quaint, wooded, location is only a half an hour away from the city…as in New York City. But you’d never guess. The day was a perfect fall day – sunny with an occasional cool breeze. I meandered the Main Street searching for the quintessential location to lunch. It was a casual French inspired cafe that drew my attention. The place was called Encore French Bistro. French words tiled the walls, and the menu was scattered with the love language. I ordered the Croque Monsieur. This is a signature French dish – similar to the American concept of a grilled cheese, only better. It’s thin pieces of bread layered with ham then bread, then, cheese repeating several times. The buttery delicate taste is something few foods rival. The meal came with frites (French fries) and salade (salad). Everything was tasty! Judging from the photo, I’m sure you will agree I’ll be heading back for lunch again soon! :) 

xoxo Rachel 



I have been doing a lot of traveling lately and I feel homesick. It’s ironic because when I am at home, I use reading as a tool to travel, and take me far away. I took this picture a couple weeks back at the lake my family goes to. So I figured, just maybe, when I read while I’m gone, it will take me back home. 


xoxo Rachel

Garden Veggies and a Curious Kitty Cat

Emma, my adorable cat, is incredibly intuitive and curious about people, objects, and shoes (she has an obsession over crawling into people’s shoes or rubbing against them). She also likes to help out in the kitchen… 


When I harvested some garden vegetables, I wasn’t surprised Emma was right there, ready to get in on the action.  


Unfortunately for her, the vegetables remained in their vegetative state and didn’t scurry away like one of her toy mice. The vegetables also didn’t smell or taste like Fancy Feast®™. Emma might have been mildly discouraged, but I couldn’t be any happier. I love fresh garden vegetables! 


I got some nice cucumbers, juicy vine ripened tomatoes, and an eggplant.

Emma was amused nonetheless. She followed me around watching me clean the vegetables and then cut up a cucumber and tomato. I playfully offered her a bite, but apparently cucumbers and tomatoes do not suit her taste. She knew I was only teasing. Instead I gave her some Fancy Feast®™, because after all, she was such a good helper…wait! What did Emma do to help? 

xoxo Rachel 

Summer Ice Cream

Now, I have to be honest, I like a good ice cream cone all year round. If someone offers me ice cream in 5 degree weather there’s still a very good chance I won’t decline. But, I think summer brings out my fondness for the chilly treat. I enjoy going to various ice cream parlors to sample the real deal. I like authentic old-fashioned ice cream scooped straight from the bucket. That part alone is enough to make my tastebuds tingle. My eyes gleam with delight as I marvel over my waffle cone, towering with ice cream. I assume the cone scooper at the parlor uses similar archetectual design and engineering skills applied in the mastery of building the Empire State Building, because surely there would be no other way. As I push the door open to exit, I hear the iconic clang of a few jingle bells. The humming of insects all around creates an ambience like no other. There’s truly nothing better, to me, than being outside, taking in summer, whilst carving away artfully at an architectural phenomenon. But it’s more than the dreamy imagery – it’s a summer tradition. 


Featured is a Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream in a Handmade Waffle Cone from Kilwins, located in Rehoboth, DE. 

Xoxo Rachel 

Sunsets & Writing

Writing is like a sunset. It is beautiful, awe-inspiring, and fleeting. At one moment I’ll be flooded with magnificent words and tremendous thoughts, but in another moment, my mind will go dark, and my story will set.

I realize that writing is an outlet for me. I write often. In fact, practically every other night I am up, furiously typing away on my computer keyboard, about something. Most souls have not seen the majority of my work, only the tip of the iceberg. And what a segue but Earnest Hemingway once said, “write hard and clear about what hurts.” It’s not that I am up late at night logging all of my mundane life experiences, it is simply because “paper is more patient than people” as Anne Frank notes.

As the epitome of an extrovert, and an extremely charismatic person, it is difficult for people to see the quieter side of me. In a social setting, I am rambunctious, talkative, and enthusiastic. I thrive on meeting new people and I enjoy a lively social setting. I am a business major, hence I have a go-getter attitude. I don’t back down from confrontation, in fact, I enjoy it. Moreover, I like being direct with people (unfortunately sometimes causing unintentional emotional chaos for the other parties involved, due to my blunt way of speaking).

Non-coincidentally, most people know me as this eccentric, full-of-life, person who does not have a problem expressing the truth, and adding a witty comment at an unexpected time. Very few people know my quiet, deeply nurturing, and emotional side. With that being said, writing lets me express myself. It brings me stability. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword, for me.

Similarly, this blog has given me stability. Though I may go on a hiatus or two, I always come back to it. I find I am able to reach my blog readers on some level. I am able to communicate with clarity and non-judgement.

My goal is to inspire others, and make them think unconventionally. My hope is that when a person reads my writing they take away something. I always look forward to, and hope for comments. But sometimes I do not receive this. And that is okay. Not everything needs to be commented on. What I publish on this blog is similar to a sunset; it just needs to be seen before it sets.



xoxo Rachel

Ode to a Squirrel

This morning, while leaving our neighborhood, a squirrel was hit. Burned into my mind is the horrific image of the nameless squirrel twisting in pain. Shaking. Seizing. Kicking its little legs. It was probably squealing at an indeciperable pitch, but I could not hear the shreks because the windows were closed. There was another squirrel, on the sidewalk, about to run out toward the road in a fretful, adrenaline rushed panic, but stopped short because we were driving by. I looked in my rearview mirror, mere seconds after we passed the scene of the accident. Again, I see the squirrel writhing in pain. Then I notice the other squirrel pan into view, rushing out like a WWII medic. It knew his only job was to comfort the dying squirrel in its last moments. There was no hope for the squirrel lying on the road. Death was upon him. It would not be long before his restless limbs would soon go limp. But the sadness was real! As the melodrama unfolded before my eyes, I closed off any emotion so that I could continue to drive. In an attempt to free myself from such a horrific blur of events, I stared out into the distance, gazing melancholically at the rising sun, which was spreading its warm rays over the horizon. I blamed myself for not hitting the nameless squirrel again, simply to end his pain faster. But there was no turning back. It was too late. And for that, I am distraught.

Hot Tea

When I was younger, I would host tea parties with my younger brothers quite frequently. I fancied the idea of a proper English tea time, so I replicated it on a smaller scale. Our tea parties would be complete with tea sandwiches, small cookies, various teas, delicate china – the works!

Now, I do not have the elaborate tea parties I used to host with my younger brothers. I do, nonetheless, drink tea often. I find tea is an experience. In fact, one of my favorite tea brands, ‘Yogi Tea’ puts positive little messages on each tea bag paper. I think it has become almost ritualistic, on my behalf, because each time I open the tea I look for the message.

The messages they print are different per each bag; hence, with each cup of tea I drink, I have the opportunity to read a message and let it mentally “sink in.” I like knowing that by the end of my tea, I will feel mentally renewed.

xoxo Rachel



Kitty Cat

I remember the day I met Emma. It was October 8th 2012. She was sleeping in one of those “playpens” they put cats in at the local pet store. Her left paw was covering her eye and her tail was curled up around her body, tucking her in.

When she awoke from her little cat nap, we took her into a special room and “let her loose.” She scurried around happily. We asked her if she wanted to go home with us, and she responded by excitedly rushing up to the door to leave.

From that day forward, Emma was a member of the family. I remember coming home mid-day and seeing her little face peering out nervously from behind the corner of the wall because she didn’t know who was “intruding.”

Even now, she is still a little scaredy cat, but she is friendly nonetheless. It is always amusing to watch how she interacts with guests. The moment the doorbell rings, she is there to greet whomever walks through the door. Subsequently, when the guest takes off his or her shoes, she uses it as an opportunity to try to shove herself inside.

I remember when she was smaller and my neighbor came over for a visit. He took off his shoes and the second he left them unattended Emma was right there trying to climb inside. No one has quite understood her obsession with shoes, but I don’t blame her because I like shoes too.

She is the sweetest little kitty and I love her dearly. Without her, my life would be far less thrilling. After all, who would leave me little play mice as a present? Who would knock my little hand carved birdie off my desk? Who would steal my jewelry and try to drop it in the trash? Oh and most of all, who would I thank for chewing up so many Apple product charging cords? […]

Emma and I share a special bond. Sometimes I feel like we are just two little kitty cats, while other times I am assured she believes she is a human! I will admit, she is quite spoiled, but she deserves it because she is so precious.

xoxo Rachel

Photo on 2-18-13 at 12.47 PM








Eggs in Purgatory

I was introduced to the concept of eggs in a chunky chopped tomato “sauce” from the gorgeous and witty Miss Nigella Lawson. The recipe is simple, and delicious. She calls it “Eggs in Purgatory,” so I’ll stick with the name. All you do is heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan then add fresh minced garlic and cook until it is fragrant. Open a can of diced tomatoes (drain off the extra liquid) and add to the garlic. Give it a quick stir and then crack a few eggs into the “sauce.” Season with spices you like. Add some cheese (parmesan is especially good in this). Toast some bread and… voila! You’re ready to go. That’s it. Eggs to dip with delicious bread. A slightly cheesy tomato sauce. It doesn’t feel like Purgatory to me…IMG_0063


A Trip to Philadelphia

A few weeks ago now, my dear friend Andrew and I made a trip to Philadelphia. Together, we explored a quaint neighborhood and wandered down many unique streets. We browsed antique shops, book stores, and tea houses. In the late afternoon we decided to stop in for lunch at a delightful place called Knock. He had a scrumptious flatbread, while I savored a tasty salad with grilled chicken. Not only were we impressed by the food, we were also very pleased with the service.

There was a cute looking dog I just had to immortalize in a photo because he or she stared up at me with the sweetest face. In that moment, I wanted to take him or her home as fast as I could!

I hope you enjoy the eccentrically painted yellow house, and the empty cobblestone street.








Sushi: A Simple Life Pleasure

Nutella. Books. Popcorn. Yoga: all some of my simple life pleasures I’ve mentioned here. Yet, some how I’ve omitted sushi (the mysterious, yet oddly addicting food from Japan)! In case you are blindly unaware, I have a thing for sushi.


There’s this little place downtown, in a good old-fashioned college town, where my friend and I walk, rain or shine (although it always seems like it’s about to rain) to get sushi. Each time, we get butterflies in our stomachs because the dimly lit interior makes it appear they are closed. To our relief, they are always open. The place is casual, and the sushi is spectacular.


Together, we sit and discuss a wide variety of topics with exuberance and assiduity. With our mouths too full to speak, conversation pauses momentarily. In that moment, we gaze out the window that is conveniently located beside “our” table. Things seem to move in slow motion. The hustle and bustle of people and vehicles seems to idle for a few seconds. In these spaces between seconds, I realize it’s not just sushi which is a simple life pleasure of mine, but it is the time I spend sharing it with my friend.

xoxo Rachel

Farm Fresh Eggs

I visited a friend’s farm the other day. It’s funny because I am more thrilled over getting farm fresh eggs than probably most girls around. A day spent at someone’s farm is more exciting to me than buying a new dress (and anyone who knows me knows I looooove buying new dresses).

After “egg hunting,” we returned inside and washed off the eggs. Next, we packaged them into recycled egg cartons. On my way out the door, I was handed a few dozen eggs as a parting gift. What a serendipitous day!






xoxo Rachel


Squarebar is a gluten, dairy, and soy free organic protein bar sweetened with low glycemic coconut nectar available in three flavors: Cocoa Almond, Cocoa Crunch, and Cocoa Coconut.

Squarebar is packed with 11-12 grams of protein, which makes it a great go-to snack! The best part (in my opinion) is that each bar is totally covered in chocolate!


Squarebar began in the San Francisco kitchen of husband and wife Sarah & Andrew Gordon. After battling asthma most all her life, Sarah discovered that eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, and processed sugars freed her from medication. It’s been more than five years since her last attack, and she no longer keeps an inhaler in the house.”


Squarebar launched March 2012 at Natural Products Expo West and is now nationally distributed… growth built on our belief that Ingredients Matter Most . [Squarebar] sources only the most nutrient-dense organic and non-gmo foods, and work directly with farmers to ensure an ethical path from crop to bar.”


Review: These bars are addicting! I am a huge chocolate lover, so these are perfect for when I want [need] chocolate! The Cocoa Crunch is my favorite variety because it is chocolate to the max, all the way through. Cocoa Coconut reminds me a super healthy version of an Almond Joy Bar. The coconut flavor is not too overwhelming. Cocoa Almond is a great nut and chocolate combination. I liked how there were not huge chunks of almond. These bars also didn’t have a “protein-bar” taste. Upon my first bite, I was hesitant if there was going to be a funky aftertaste, but there was not!

IMG_8885.JPGThank you to Squarebar for sending me a sample! And as a special treat to all my lovely readers, Sarah created an exclusive discount code! Please enter the code “cottagehouse” at the end of checkout for 20% OFF +FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING!!

xoxo Rachel

Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies. Please. The name is enough to make my taste buds tingle. Dark chocolate and salt are probably two of my [many] baking addictions. They work together. The salt brings out the deep richness of the chocolate, and the chocolate…well it’s chocolate!


As the name suggests, these Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies remind me more of a truffle than a cookie. (That’s perfectly alright with me). IMG_9120.JPG

I find that when I’m busy making treats that I forget to snap many photos. My apologies. But as you tell by the batter, it is SUPER thick. The cookies turn out moist and gooey on the inside (sort of like a molten lava cake…but not that extreme), and a bit crisp on the outside (that’s why they have that gorgeous crinkle look to them). IMG_7032.JPGBittersweet chocolate is key. Don’t skimp on chocolate. (That should already be a rule without saying). Regardless, if you aren’t ready for a mouthful of deep, dark, salted, truffle, cookie monster, goodness then…you probably should have stopped reading this post ages ago! If you’re daring enough for the recipe, you can find it here.

xoxo Rachel