Central BBQ

We have some incredible BBQ in the city of Memphis. And I can’t tell you how many locals I know love Central. So much so that I’ve always felt like I’m supposed to like it if I’m really a Memphian. But here’s the thing… it’s good and all, but it’s not Corky’s. Or Showboat. Or Three Little Pigs. When most all the BBQ in your city is good, you end up having to choose between many good options. And for me, Central just isn’t the top of my list. But again, it’s a huge favorite with many of my friends.

central bbqWe went to the downtown location this past weekend. It’s across from the Lorraine Motel which is where Dr. Martin Luther King, JR was assassinated almost exactly 46 years ago (April 4, 1968). Today it is the National Civil Rights Museum. You can see the hotel sign on the right side of this photo.

chips central bbqThey have these homemade chips that Christopher really liked, but I definitely did not. They taste almost burnt to me, but Christopher loves all things crispy and smokey. So again, you can see how so many things come down to personal preference.

central bbqPulled pork sandwiches. The pork was a little dry (something I’ve noticed several times when I’ve been to Central) and their sauce just isn’t my favorite. Again, this doesn’t mean that it’s “bad”… it’s just that we have other BBQ places here in Memphis that I think are better.

central bbq sidesTheir coleslaw and beans were both pretty non descript. Tasty, but not overwhelmingly great. Again, not overwhelmingly bad either, haha!

central cupBut as a fun bonus, you get a cup to bring home with you :)

So the moral of this story… Central BBQ is good. But in my personal opinion, Memphis has even better BBQ to offer. :)

Central BBQ on Urbanspoon

Also, I just got my hands on the group photo from our Choose 901 event this past weekend.

group shot choose 901Can you spot me? If you look at the Washington Monument look-a-like in the background, Courtney is just to the left of it and I am beside her (in my aviators naturally).  {photo credit: George W.}

Love Rach


A Good Friend

Last week I shared a little about how grateful I am for my sweet friend Lyndal. And I wanted to clarify something. I love all my friends. Yeah, I have some friends who would be embarrassed if they had been with me that night. But that doesn’t make them bad friends who don’t “get me.” It means that they don’t like attention drawn toward them from people they don’t know. They are the more quiet and unassuming of my friends. And I try to be respectful of their desire to not have an entire restaurant staring at our table. ;)

So why be friends with people who I “can’t be myself” with? Well, I am myself with them. There is more to me than a girl who wants to let loose and dance in public. These more shy friends don’t bat an eyelash when I’m dancing around in private (because at this point, they are used to my flavor of weird, haha!). It really is only when we’re out in the big World together with strangers around. So to me a good friend isn’t just someone who I can be crazy with in public (though that certainly is an amazing perk of being friends with Lyndal).

To me a good friend is someone who loves me.
Who respects me.
Who listens to me.
Who offers counsel.
Who helps me pursue my dreams.
Who shares similar passions.
Who prays for me.
Who prays with me.
Who shares life with me.

And I have been blessed with many many of these women.

sistersLike my sisters. Who are stuck with me forever no matter what. :D

the girlsLike my best friends from college (us last year).

with CaseyLike my sweet Casey. Who I actually met via blogging. And she symbolizes so many of you ladies who I love, but haven’t had a chance to meet yet!  So many of you fit the criteria for “good friend” up there and I am thankful for you!

bestiesAnd like the amazing group of women I have been blessed to live life with here in Memphis.

So yeah, Lyndal is awesome. And she fits this criteria of a good friend. But I just wanted to be sure that I clarified how blessed I am to have friends of all different personalities. And how that’s awesome. :)

Love Rach


As you guys know, Christopher and I are Christians. Neither of us are Jewish by religion or race, but Christianity came out of Judaism. And in honor of that, we try to remember the long-ago deep roots of our faith. So every year we celebrate Passover.

tableThe Passover table

Passover is a time to pass on the story. Not only how God brought Israel out of Egypt, but also how Jesus came to be our perfect sacrifice. And a wonderful opportunity to pass the story on to our children. So many things are different about the night that we celebrate Passover that children always ask questions like: “why do we sit on the floor tonight?”, “why do we have to eat the bitter herbs?”, “why does everyone wear white?” etc. These questions give us ample opportunity to pass on the stories and traditions.

plateMatzah, horseradish sauce, parsley (to dip in salt water as bitter herbs), and charoset (apple and honey mixture).  This is the plate we begin with. Each part of it symbolizes part of the story we read (both from the Exodus from Egypt and of Jesus’ death & resurrection).

foodAnd then after the first two hours of story telling, it is time to FEAST! We always eat lamb, but the rest of the meal is based on what everyone decides to bring.

roasted garlic mashed potatoesI made creamy garlic mashed potatoes. You guys… these are unreasonably delicious. And I’m not the only that thinks so. I had several people rave about them to me so I think it’s a definite winner!

creamy garlic mashed potatoes{Click recipe card to see larger. Recipe adapted from Pillsbury.com}

passoverChatting during the meal part of the Passover

I am thankful for Jesus.
I am thankful that He came.
I am thankful that He took on my sin and died for me.
And I am thankful that He rose again!
Easter is coming, my friends! Resurrection Sunday! :)

Love Rach

Choose 901

There is an organization here in Memphis called Choose 901. Their mission is to help you fall in love with the city of Memphis. (901 is our area code). As you guys know, Christopher and I volunteer with a group of teens and this past weekend Choose 901 hosted our JR highers. And as you also know, we love Memphis. So we were pretty pumped about the weekend!

memphis jonesFriday night our weekend kicked off with a performance/history lesson by Memphis Jones. You guys, I could’ve listened to him talk all night. He knows so much about music history and Memphis history and how those two intertwine so perfectly. He is passionate about his love for Memphis and just listening to him talk made me fall even more in love with Memphis. It’s amazing how much Memphis has influenced music world-wide (and not just because of Elvis)!

 And to give you guys an idea of what he sounded like… here he is singing “Burning Love” by Elvis. At 29 seconds when he looks over at where I’m filming and you see him chuckle as he’s singing… that’s because he caught a glimpse of Lyndal and I sitting side by side singing and dancing back to him. ;)

The next morning we split up into teams and went around Memphis taking photos of places that make us love our city. Christopher and I got paired with three 6th grade boys and let me tell you, spending the day with them was oh-so-different than being with 11th & 12th grade girls (the age of the girls I mentor). But it was a lot of fun! The boys were sweet and thought that we were SO cool. This is why I love 6th & 7th grade kids. They think we’re the bomb dot com. ;)

christopher jack grady graysonGrady, Christopher, Grayson, and Jack standing on the ledge in Downtown Memphis (don’t worry, this particular ledge was only 5 feet off the ground – we were on top of a parking garage, haha!).

 And as a bonus for you… here are the boys (and Christopher) singing and dancing to “Happy” by Pharrell. Everywhere we drove we had the music blasting and lots of car dancing. I loved that these kids were having so much fun! :)

mississippi queen bwNext we went on a prayer walk around downtown Memphis. I snagged this picture of the Queen of the Mississippi Riverboat as we walked by. Did you know you can take cruises down the Mississippi river? You definitely can. I loved how this one turned out in black and white. It looks like such a classic shot with the bridge in the background and everything.

me avery audrey courtneyAnd then it was lunch time! We went to Central BBQ (which I will blog about later this week). This shot was taken just outside the restaurant. Audrey, Avery, and Courtney are some of my favorite 8th graders. They are SO sweet. And they also still think I’m cool. ;)

rick trotterAfter lunch Rick Trotter aka The Voice of the Grizzlies (our NBA team here in Memphis) spoke to us about his love for this city. And naturally we asked that he use his announcer voice at least once which resulted in:

Okay so that was as poorly mashed up video of two separate moments, but I wanted you guys to hear him AND see our kids cheering, haha! But anyway, Rick was pretty cool.

rachtopher choose901True story: I love living life in Memphis with this man. We choose 901. :)

Love Rach

BBQ Chicken Salad

I like salad. But if it is going to be my whole meal, it needs to have a lot to it. Lots of flavors and goodness. So when I saw this BBQ Chicken Salad from Iowa Girl Eats, I knew I needed to try it out! She grilled her chicken and corn and you better believe I will be breaking out the grill later this summer and making this recipe over and over again. But here’s the indoor-stove-top version of this recipe. :)

bbq chicken salad

BBQ chicken salad{Click recipe card to see larger. Original recipe here.}

I forgot to add “red onion” to the ingredient list. This is because I don’t like raw red onions. That photo up there is of Christopher’s salad, not mine. I thought that I might like it. So I tried a bite of one. Apparently I definitely still do not like raw onion. ;) But if you do like it, be sure to add it! Christopher loved the raw onion on his!

Happy Friday, friends!
Love Rach

Sometimes I let my guard drop and it’s okay

Christopher and I often travel on the weekends, but lately we’ve been home more. Which means that we’ve kind of fallen into a wonderful weekend pattern. It starts with homemade pizza and a movie on Friday night (though we’ve always done that). And then Saturday we sleep in!! Until like 7, haha! And then we usually run errands, do house projects, and spend time outside with Oreo. And Saturday nights have become the night we hang out with  Brodie and Lyndal. We became fast friends with them when they moved to Memphis last summer and we hang out at least once or twice a week anyway, but this past weekend really solidified in my mind why I love them so much.

us with brodie and lyndalThe four of us together from Savannah’s wedding last November

This past Saturday we were eating downtown at Kooky Canuck’s (a favorite of ours – I’ve blogged about it before!) and “Happy” by Pharrell came on the juke box. Both Lyndal and I start tapping our toes and bopping our heads to the beat. We laughed as a little girl at the table next to us, got up and actually started dancing in the middle of the restaurant. We notice a guy across the way is head-bopping too. Next thing I know, Lyndal and I are full out seat-dancing (you know, where you stay seated, but everything else is still moving, haha!). You guys, we are in the middle of a restaurant and we are dancing and singing (It’s a noisy place, though so we weren’t being disruptive – this isn’t a place for a quiet date). No alcohol involved here. This is just us being us. Then another song came on that we loved. And another. I can’t tell you how long we danced and sang. The best part was that our husbands both smiled and laughed and let us sing to them. No shame. No embarrassment.

rach and lyndalA shot of me and Lyndal from the Girls’ Retreat looking mighty fine in our comfy clothes. ;)

I have these total-drop-my-guard moments and often I feel like I need to mask it. Be polite. Don’t be weird. Don’t draw attention to yourself. But I love that when I let that slip around Brodie and Lyndal they not only don’t judge, but join right in. This is a huge reason I love Christopher. He has never been embarrassed to be around me even when I don’t think before I act/speak sometimes. So that same love just overflows right to Brodie and Lyndal too. :) Don’t get me wrong, though. I am thankful for all my friends! Each ones brings out good in me and I love them for that. But after this weekend I now realize one more reason why I love Brodie & Lyndal so much. :) It was a great, let-loose kinda weekend! :)

Love Rach


Front Yard Make Over

We bought our house four years ago and every year we have worked more and more on our little place to make it more a home. :) This past weekend we decided to work in the front yard! There used to be a tree in the front yard that we cut down (it was dead and limbs kept falling – one nearly hit a friend of ours walking up our drive once). Anyway, there has been a stump hanging out in our front yard for two years. We finally got it removed this weekend! Aaaand half our front yard is in dense shade so we haven’t had grass growing there which makes a big dirt patch or a giant mud slide when it rains. So we decided to lay some sod!

front yardSo this is what our house looked like this weekend before we started. Notice the stump in the yard (it sort of blends in with the top of our mailbox in this picture, but it’s enormous). And also note that half our yard is dirt, haha! You can see the overhanging branches at the very top of this photo. It keeps our house in plenty of shade so our electric bills are low, but it also kills off most grass, ha!

mudslideA better shot of the part of our yard that is all dirt, haha! Because of the grading of our yard, this becomes a major mudslide when it rains.

sodSo we borrowed a friend’s truck and went to pick up some zoysia sod (it can tolerate shady spots!). You better believe that we loaded, unloaded, and laid all of that sod by ourselves! We got a whole pallet of it which is like 6 of these stacks. :)

laying sodLaying the sod! I only have photos of Christopher laying sod, but don’t be fooled. I was out there with him all day too! My hands are covered in blisters still from all the raking and sod laying. We love working on our little home together. :) Also, you can see the stump in this picture. It doesn’t look massive because I’m so far away from it, but trust me, it is!

front yard afterAaand this is what our house looks like this morning! Sod has been laid, the stump is gone (those are wood chips where it used to be – the grass will grow back up around it). The line where the sod ends on the left is where water drains down when it rains so we plan to lay rock there to help with drainage.

Once the grass really takes root and begins to spread (and we have rocks laid along the side), I’ll take another photo to share! I know it looks kind of strange right now, but trust me, it is going to look amazing in a couple of months! :) For now, I am going to keep babying my poor blistered hands and remember to wear better gloves next time, haha!
Love Rach