A few of my favorite bloggers…

In the 11 years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve had a lot of casual friendships come and go online. And even a couple of ladies who I was really close to at one point that drifted away. Ladies who I’ve shared a year or two of emails back and forth, sharing prayer requests, and our lives. And then life gets busy, and the friend fades away slowly with promises to keep in touch that often don’t happen. I’ve never been upset at someone for doing this. I did it myself when I went to college. I understand that as your life changes, your priorities change. And often, blogging isn’t one of the things people hold on to.

So today, I want to honor a few of my long-term blog friends. Ladies who I have known and been friends with for at least 2 years or more. Ladies who have read and responded to the majority of my posts since they started reading. We have emailed and texted and Skyped and met face to face. We have prayed for each other, supported each other, and loved each other. In order of how long I’ve known them:

Nicole @ Just Live It – 4 years
Liz @ Tip Top Shape – nearly 4 years
Christina @ Hungry Meets Healthy – nearly 4 years
Allie @ Allie’s Life – 3.5 years
Tia @ Tialla’s Tellings – 3.5 years
Brittany @ Blissful Britt – 3 years
Hope @ With a Side of Hope – 3 years
Rachel @ The New Normal – 3 years
Amy @ A Desert Girl – nearly 3 years
Brittany @ Brittany A. Ray – nearly 3 years
Allison @ Nestful of Love – 2.5 years
Janna @ Perception is Everything – 2.5 years
Casey @ Heart of a Woman – 2 years
Christina @ Christina Does it All – 2 years
Jayda @ Avocado Grove – 2 years
Amy @ Taking Steps Home – 2 years
LynAn @ Encounter – 2 years
Elle @ Elle Sees – 2 years

I’ve also become close with several bloggers who haven’t quite met the 2 year mark (I’ve noticed that if I stay in touch with someone for at least two years, then we are more likely to remain friends even if they quit blogging). So next year, I plan to do this again and hopefully each of those ladies I’ve been friends with for this past year will be on next year’s list! :)

What’s funny to me is how many of these ladies are actually friends with each other too! When I see one of my blog friends commenting on another blog friend’s post, I’m always like “hey! I’m friends with her too!” and it just makes the world seem a little smaller. I feel like if we all sat down in a room together, we’d have the best time laughing and sharing stories. :) So check these ladies out, you might just find a new friend!
Love Rach

Why I Blog

I shared with you guys my history of blogging and why I began blogging, but now I want to share with you guys why I continue to blog today. :)

screenshot

I blog because I want to have a recorded history of our life. I love looking back through old posts on this blog and reliving small moments that I would have otherwise forgotten. I do keep a personal prayer journal, but I love that on the blog, it’s easy to put photos and videos alongside my words. I love to have so many of our life stories together in one place. And it helps to keep up with recipes and favorite restaurants and our travels. :)

rach and chris at white rock{the only photo I have of me having coffee with someone, haha! My little sister took this earlier this year in Dallas}

I blog to have a conversation.  It’s like going out for coffee with a friend. Just like when I meet up with a friend here in Memphis to hang out and I share with them about a great place I ate or a meal I cooked or about our vacation or my thoughts about random life things… I do that with you guys here. And what I love is that it’s a conversation… which means it’s two-way. Just like when I meet up with a friend in person and we both share what’s happening in our lives… the same thing happens through blogging. I share, you respond. And then you share, and I respond. It’s a conversation. That’s why the blogs I follow and comment on are the ones who have done the same for me. Not because it’s an “I’m following you, you follow me” sort of agreement, but because there is a relationship there. There are only two blogs I read regularly that don’t comment on mine: the Pioneer Woman’s and a local Memphis blog (to keep up with city happenings). Other than that, I read blogs because they belong to people who are as invested in me as I am in them. You know, my friends. :)

rach and casey2{me and Casey from earlier this year}

This ties into the last one, but I blog because of the support system I have found here. My friendships in the blog world aren’t limited to geography. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Memphis friends and am so thankful for them. But I am also so grateful for my blog friends. We are friends not because we live in the same city and it’s convenient, but because we have so much in common. Because we share passions, because we share our hearts with each other. I have made so many friends through blogging over the years as well as some true best friends. Friendships that happen outside just commenting on each other’s blogs. Friendships that moved to long emails, Skype/phone calls, texting, and even meeting in person. Friendships that include praying for each other and being a true support system.

I wish I could tell you all the details now, but this public blog is not currently the place for this story. But I have to say that I have recently been overwhelmed by the love and support I have received from my blog friends. I am beyond grateful for all of you guys. Those of you who I’ve known for years and those of you who I am just now getting to know! Blogging has been such a blessing in my life. This is why I blog. :)

Why do you blog?
Love Rach

My Blogging History

Recently I have been thinking a lot about blogging and the blessing it has been to my life. So this week I am going to share my thoughts on all of this. Beginning with… my very own personal history of blogging. :) 11 years ago I started my very first blog. I had a Xanga way back in high school (anyone else?? anyone? Christopher had one too!).

xanga{source}

I started it as a way to keep in touch with my friends while I was back in the States in the summers. I actually hardly updated it that first summer, but I enjoyed the little writing that I did so when I got back to China, I just continued the blog. I made some wonderful friends through the internet during that time back when the internet was still scary and the only people on it were stalkers. Okay, obviously that’s not true, but that was definitely the stereotype about “making friends online” at the time. But I met some amazing Christians during that time who really challenged my faith and my beliefs. And I am still friends with several of them today. :) So blogging and becoming friends with people I’ve never met has been pretty normal to me since I was a teenager. :)

teen rach on laptopMe in 2000 just after we had moved to Wuhan, China. I actually didn’t start my blog until 2003, but this is the only shot I have of me from those years on a computer so it seemed appropriate. {ps. hello awkward years 13 year old Rach}

When I graduated high school the next year and went off the college, I definitely wrote less, but I would still update every now and then. By the time I graduated college, there was this thing called Facebook and essentially I had begun microblogging there without realizing it. I shared my photos and stories there all just in shorter form. But then I got married and I needed a place to store my recipes.

rach cookin

I was a newly wed and cooking up a storm all the time. My mom and sisters and I were constantly emailing each other back and forth with recipes and our adjustments to them. I realized it would be easier if I just started a blog where I could keep the recipes publicly so we didn’t have to keep up with all the emails. So I started a blog over at webs.com. Had there been a Pinterest at the time, I probably never would have started it. So for probably the only time I will ever say this… I’m glad Pinterest didn’t exist yet at that point. ;) I shared recipes as I made them and I would write out random thoughts on Fridays. I would link the posts to my Facebook and that was all the community/readership I was looking for at the time.

buying a house

Then in 2010 we bought a foreclosure. And we spent the summer fixing it up and videoing our progress as we went. We shared the videos on Facebook and I realized how much I had missed sharing my life with people and hearing them respond. So that November, almost exactly 4 years ago, I started this blog. I still post recipes sometimes, but it isn’t the focus of this blog. It has sort of morphed into an “our life” sort of blog along the way. If we’re eating it, making it, traveling to it, experiencing it… I want to share it with you. And I’ll write more later this week why blogging has become so important to me. But for today, this is just the history of where I came from with blogging. :)

 comments

Early in this particular blog’s life, it kind of exploded. I easily had anywhere from 50-100 comments on each post. And I loved it. I loved feeling heard. That people were reading my thoughts and responding. And I read every blog of every person who commented on my blog. And I would leave comments back. But there were SO many blogs to keep up with that I found myself getting everyone’s stories mixed up. And I would speed read through posts just trying to keep up instead of letting relationships develop. I enjoyed all the comments and attention, but blogging for me wasn’t about building a big popular blog. {not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, I love me some Pioneer Woman!} For me, I wanted to share my life and then in turn get to know my readers. So I started picking and choosing favorite blogs. Ladies who I had a lot in common with. And I pursued those relationships. There was a time when I reguarly (attempted) to read well over 100 blogs. Today I keep up with 30 and most of them don’t update every day.

rach blogging

So yes, I have far fewer comments now. But I know the ladies who comment on my blog. I know about their passions and hobbies and families. I talk to Christopher about them in passing and he knows who I’m talking about. It is no more unusual for him to hear me talk about a blog friend than it is for him to hear me talk about a friend here in Memphis. You ladies are a part of my life. There aren’t just 100 bloggers who I struggle to keep their stories straight anymore, these are some of my best friends. :)

So tell me, what’s your history of blogging? Why did you start? Do you still blog for the same reason you started?
Love Rach

Long Boy Burgers

From the lack of recipes I’ve shared over the past couple of months, you guys probably think we’re starving over here, haha! In truth, we’ve been out of town the majority of the weekends since April and weekdays since then have been slammed too. On the rare occasion that we’re home at a meal time then it’s usually something simple like spaghetti or pizza or one of the chicken dishes I shared with you guys earlier this summer. Not a lot of new stuff being made around here. But fiiiiiiinally life is slowing down. Don’t get me wrong – we have had an amazing year full of awesome opportunities and I have loved all the busy-ness of our life this year. But I am also excited about being home more. And this week I have finally been cooking again. :)

long boy burgers

long boy burgersThis recipe originally from Cook’s Country magazine.

Sorry about the pitiful picture. Dinner was late last night. But it sure was tasty! :) I actually stretched the meat mixture to make 6 of these instead of 4 so we have leftovers for lunch today! I’m definitely looking forward to that. Yum! We will most definitely be making these again.

- Do you find yourself falling into easy cooking patterns when you’re busy?

- If you haven’t already given your opinion on which header is your favorite – go to my last post and let me know! Currently there is a tie between #1 & #3

Love Rach

I need your opinion!

The incredibly talented Ian Voigts (website) who created my watermark and logo for my photography business has just outdone himself again with new headers for my blog. The problem now is choosing which one to use first! So I need your opinion! Which is your most favorite?

Header no1

Header1

Header no3

Ian and Christopher were in the same social club (our college’s version of fraternities) in college and have been friends for a really long time. His wife is one of my best friends and they have two adorable little girls. :)

friends collageThis is us with them in Chicago a couple of years ago. :) Ian’s the one with the bright orange scarf.

If you need design work done – get in touch with Ian! He is incredibly talented and great to work with! Also he’s a great friend and pretty hilarious. I can’t recommend him highly enough. By the way, he didn’t ask me to say any of this – in fact he has no idea I’m writing this post, but I just love his work so much that I can’t help but promote him. :)

So tell me, which header is your most favorite?
Love Rach

 

Homecoming Royalty

Last weekend was homecoming for the majority of the girls I mentor (most of them attend the same school). I went to their homecoming activities on Friday afternoon & evening and I nearly lost it when all my girls came running into together holding hands. Like, seriously, I was all teary-eyed. And okay… a couple of tears slipped out. It’s just that my little babies are growing up! Aaanyway, moving on…

Two of the three seniors picked for homecoming court were my girls! Kelsi and Sara were both nominated and I can’t even tell you how much my heart filled with pride watching them walk across that football field in those long beautiful dresses. Sara was crowned homecoming queen, but both she and Kelsi were winners in my heart. :)

rach and kelsiMy sweet Kelsi!

rach and saraHomecoming queen!

kelsi and sara home comingThe official homecoming court selfie moment. ;)

You guys, I have watched these girls grow up since they were in 7th grade. I have been there for the major milestones and heartbreaks and college acceptance letters. It is so real to me that after this year, I will go from seeing these girls 2-3 times a week to maybe that many times a year. If I get this emotional about my teen girls growing up, I don’t even want to think about what I’m going to be like when it’s my own kids, ha! But seriously, I am so proud of Kelsi and Sara and all the others! I love my girls! :)

- Did your school go all out for Homecoming or was it pretty tame?
- Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets emotional about kids growing up who aren’t even mine. ;) 
- Any Homecoming royalty out there?
Love Rach

Rach’s Explanation of the 3 Seasons

There is Summer, Christmas, and Miserable Winter. But I am attempting to embrace the season of FALL in today’s video! Enjoy! :)

- Any favorite fall-scented candles I should know about?
- Will you still be my friend even though I only give Fall one month out of my year? ;) 
Love Rach