Fix It And Finish It!

Back in May Christopher heard about this TV show called Fix It & Finish It that was coming to Memphis. They renovate entire rooms/spaces in ONE DAY just to give back to communities. We applied for it and then didn’t hear anything back and promptly forgot about it. Mid July we got a call one night letting us know that our application had been chosen as one they were really interested in. Over the next 6 weeks we went through round after round of meetings with design teams, builders, and producers. And every time we passed through to the next round. A week ago a film crew showed up to our house and filmed a “pre-interview” with us. They told us that they would either show up between 6am-8am on Thursday (yesterday) or that we’d get a call saying they weren’t coming. Well what do you know… yesterday right around 7am… there’s a knock on the door! And it was Antonio Sabato Jr.

us with antonio sabato jrWe weren’t sure what to expect from someone as famous as Antonio, but one of the first questions he asked me was about the cross around my neck. He was friendly and personable off camera as well as on. He cared about us. He got invested in our story and who we are. We talked so much about faith and our mutual love for Jesus. And it was just not at all what we would’ve expected coming from someone out of Hollywood. But as Antonio said, “I don’t work for Holly, I work for Jesus.”

antonio's pic of our kitchenAlso… no big deal or anything, but Antonio took a picture in our kitchen and tweeted it, Instagramed it, and put it on Facebook! Hundreds of people from around the world liked that photo on all those social media sites! It just blew me away!

fix it and finish it showed upAnd then the cavalry arrived… our entire cove filled up and all the way down our street! Thankfully our neighbors were all really excited for us and were really sweet about all of this taking over our neighborhood. We had lots of friends and neighbors come by and meet the crew and just see the fun!

film set upOur living room became film crew central. That’s Scott (or Scooter as Joe the camera guy calls him which means naturally Christopher started calling him that too) checking out the equipment.  We spent so much time getting to know the crew of the show that we actually began to feel like friends with them. They literally come from all over and they all had such cool stories!

camera equipmentLook! Our NAME is on camera equipment!!

christopher fix it and finish itSpeaking of our name on stuff… OUR NAME WAS ON ONE OF THESE!! How cool is that? We felt like little minor celebrities, haha!

fix it and finish it micThe fact that we were mic’d up all day definitely added to the minor celebrity feeling, haha! We kept forgetting that we had mics on and every now and then we’d whisper something to each other and one of the sound guys would either start laughing or roll their eyes at how cheesy we were. We kept forgetting that everything we said went right into their ears even if it was whispered. ;)

tv crewAnd of course… we spent a lot of time on camera as well. That definitely adds to the celebrity feeling, ha!

We can’t share any photos of the process or the room until after the episode airs which may be a couple of months, but you can definitely keep up with the show and what they’re doing by following them on Facebook or check out the Fix It and Finish It website with air dates! :)

Christopher and I are still so overwhelmed and just completely humbled by everything that has happened. We are most definitely not deserving of any of this, but we are so very grateful. I still can’t believe that yesterday actually happened, haha! Sam (the video guy) is coming back out in just a little bit this morning to film the “afters” of the room (so it will have the same morning light as the “befores” for the show). I’m excited to see him again. Last night was so sad as we hugged everyone goodbye for the last time. The Fix It & Finish It family were SUCH a blessing to us. And we are thankful. :)
Love Rach

Athens of the South

My cousin’s wedding was located just outside Nashville this past weekend so Christopher and I had a little bit of free time on Saturday afternoon to explore. Even though we’ve been there before, we really wanted to go back to the Parthenon because it is just SO cool! Someday we need to spend an entire weekend just site-seeing in Nashville. It’s such a neat city!

parthenon nashvilleNashville was a forerunner in education back in the mid-1850s and became known as the “Athens of the South”. The city is also built on a hill much like Athens. In 1897 a temporary Parthenon was put up here and in 1931 the one you see above was finished being built. It is a full size replica of the one in Athens. How cool is that?!

rach and christopher parthenonUs with the Parthenon! Also, if you notice that my hair looks shorter… that’s because it is. I wait forever between trims so I had to lose a little over an inch off the bottom. But at least it looks and feels so much healthier! But back to the Parthenon…

rach and christopher parthenonAaaand us on the other side of the Parthenon. It’s so huge and such a cool building! The lawn around is used as a public park. There were frisbee games, a soccer game, couples picnicking, and lots of people laying under trees with books. How cool to have a place like this as the focal point of your local park!

So while we were in Nashville we also went to Maggiano’s for lunch because it’s our favorite! And on Sunday morning we went to Chinese church with my family. It has been several years since I last worshiped in Chinese and I have missed it. I really wondered if I’d understand anything happening, but it seems as if my Mandarin isn’t as far gone as I thought. I mean, it’s been 10 years since I moved back to the States and I definitely haven’t kept up with it. So I’m rusty, but it’s still there hiding in the recesses of my mind. :)

qing qing tingWe sang some of my favorite songs and as I flipped through the songbook I came across Qing Qing Ting. It’s a song about listening quietly to the voice of the Lord. And I love it.

sunset over nashvilleDriving home Sunday evening we were got to witness this gorgeous sunset just outside Nashville. I loved the reminder of what an amazing Artist my God is. :)

sunset nashvilleI mean look at those colors! I just love the way the sky changes colors to begin and end the day. Beautiful. :)

We had a wonderful weekend in Nashville! We stayed with friends which meant we stayed up way too late on Saturday night catching up with them, but it was totally worth it. And we got to see the Parthenon and my cousin get married and spend one last day with my little sister before she moved to China. All in all, a pretty swell weekend. :)

Have you been to the Parthenon (either in Nashville or Athens)?
Do certain songs ever remind you of your growing up years? 
Love Rach

Wed The Red Heads

So yesterday I shared with you about my little sister moving to China… today I will share with you about my little cousin getting married. Again, keep in mind “little” does not necessarily mean that this person is smaller than me. Because regardless of my proud five feet and eight inches of height… I don’t come close to my towering cousins. But that’s beside the point. ;)

rach and max collageUs at Easter in 1994, us in 1991 just after he was born, and us in 2008 at my wedding. Could he be any cuter in that Easter shot? Suspenders and a bowtie before it was “trendy/hipster” to wear them. :)

max and laura get marriedMax and Laura getting married! It’s hard to tell with this poor quality, but they are both gorgeous red-heads! Laura’s hashtag since they got engaged has been #wedtheredheads which I think is pretty adorable. :)

It poured rain just before the ceremony, but held off for the most part long enough for them to say their “I do’s.” It drizzled here and there which is why I definitely left my DSLR in the car and used a phone for photos instead. It was a beautiful ceremony, though. I loved that they included the words “I choose you as my one and only” in their vows. :)

whole familyThe family minus my cousin Nick’s wife (Kelsey) who was off tending to bridesmaid duties when this spontaneous shot was taken. I just cannot believe that my little Maxie is old enough to be married (which is funny because he’s older now than I was when I got married, ha!).

family picsAnd then my sisters Holly (striped dress), Abby (white), and I with our dad, mom, and grandfather. Makenzie (Holly’s daughter) also made a couple of cameos. :) {missing my oldest sister and brother}

Hands down, my favorite part of the night was when the dancing began. Christopher took a video of just us girls dancing at one point, but don’t be fooled! We were all out there (including my 87 year old grandfather who was probably the best dancer of us all!). We laughed so much and it was fabulous. I will remember this night always. But for your viewing pleasure (and to prove that you don’t have to be a good dancer to have fun)… here’s myself, my sisters, my mom, my aunt, and my niece dancing in a circle while we each take turns dancing in the middle. :)

Ps. did you watch until the end to see my reaction to a song I like? I had no idea Christopher was videoing any of this so that’s apparently my totally normal reaction when a song I like comes on. Christopher said I do that pretty much every time (even in the car when a song I like comes on the radio), haha!

christopher and rachChristopher and I danced a couple of songs together, but nearly every one of them (even the slow romantic ones) were interrupted by our niece who decided she too needed to dance with us, haha! At one point, I stepped back and let her have her Uncle Kistopher all to herself and someone got this sweet shot of them:

christopher and kenzie danceThere are so many things that I love about my husband. I talk a lot about how much fun we have together and how much we laugh together. But something else I really love about him is his gentleness. Kids love him for it. And it melts my heart watching him dance not only just with Makenzie as you see in the photo above, but also with our nephew Wesley who was too shy to come out onto the dance floor. So Christopher went to him and danced with him on the sidelines so he too could feel included. #meltmyheart #suchagoodman #isitweirdtousehashtagsinablogpost? :P

-When you are at a wedding with dancing, are you likely to be out there in the midst of it or sitting back and taking it in?
-Do you have a favorite memory of a fun time with your family?
Love Rach

The day my sister moved to China

Today my little sister moves from Dallas, Texas to Wuhan, Hubei (in China). It shocks a lot of people when they first hear this, but for her this isn’t as major of a life change as you might think. I mean, yes, she is leaving the life she has built in Dallas. But she isn’t going to a new place. You see, Wuhan was once home for us. Back in August of 2000 my parents moved our family to Wuhan, China. My older siblings were all out of the house by then so it was just Abby and me. Four years later I graduated high school and moved back to the States and the following year after that, my parents and Abby moved back to the States as well. So Abby spent ages 10-15 living in China. So in so many ways, moving to Wuhan is going home for her.

rach and abby china collageAbby and I from 2000-2004 in China while we both lived there.

She will return to a life and culture and language and place that is dear to both our hearts. She’ll be teaching English in a university and I am so very excited for her. A huge adventure is beginning for her and it is about to be awesome!

rach and abby collageShots of us together since she was born in 1989. Yes, I dyed my hair blue once. Also, consider yourself lucky. Mid-1990 photos don’t come out of the vault often, but that shot of Abby and I on the trampoline was just too sweet not to share. :)

But she will always be my little sister. It doesn’t matter that she’s 3 inches taller than me and nearly 25 years old. It doesn’t matter that she has a college degree and has been a manager of a coffee shop for the past couple of years. It doesn’t matter that she is more widely traveled and more cultured than I am. It doesn’t matter that she speaks more languages than I do or has been an independent adult for several years now. Because she will always, always, always be my “little” sister.

Do you have any siblings that live far away?
Do you have a younger sibling/cousin who will always be “little” to you?
Love Rach


The romantic anniversary post

Just like every anniversary trip, Christopher and I took some time to renew our vows. It was a little less formal this year. We went out to the beach late at night on our anniversary and sat under the stars together. We snuggled and took time to tell each other how much we loved each other and why. And to remind each other that we will continue to choose each other every day forever. It was a pretty awesome moment. But no cameras this year since it was so dark. Definitely no majestic gorgeous moment like our vow renewal last year. Still beautiful in it’s own way, though. However, because we’re us – we naturally still took adorable photos on the beach together earlier that day! So here are some of my favorites!

rach and chris5

rach and chris4

rach and chris3

rach and chris2

I will never have enough words to describe how full my heart is. Christopher is a good man and I am so thankful that I get to live life with him. :) Happy six years, my love!

Love Rach

So. Much. Good. Food.

Christopher grew up going to Destin on vacation every summer and this past trip was our third time to go together so obviously we love it. While we were there we started talking about how cool it would be if we had a place that we took our kids back to every summer just because Christopher has so many great memories there. Destin is pretty high on that list right now, haha! Of course, while we’re both darker complected, there’s no guarantee what our kiddos will look like. Of our four parents, three of them are very fair skinned. So yeah, when I birth a blue-eyed, red-headed, fair skinned kid I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I guess coat them with sunscreen, put them in a wet suit and giant hat, and put them under an umbrella. ;) But I’m getting ahead of myself…

rach and christopher

Since we’ve been to Destin so often we have a pretty good idea of the best places to eat. This year instead of trying a bunch of new places we decided to stick with our favorites. :)

fisherman's wharf2Christopher grew up eating at Fisherman’s Wharf every summer and we’ve eaten here every time we’ve visited together as well. Their food is SO delicious! I love their mahi mahi and fish tacos and their loaded baked potatoes and their mac & cheese. It’s all so good! This is definitely our favorite spot for seafood in Destin!
Fisherman's Wharf on Urbanspoon

fat clemenza'sFat Clemenza’s is our favorite Italian spot in Destin. Their garlic knots are ah-mazing! And their bolognese is one of my favorites! I’d say it’s tied with Maggiano’s as my favorite bolognese I’ve eaten in the States which is saying a lot because you guys know how much I love bolognese! So yummy! And it’s so much food that I can take half of it back to the condo to eat later! Love having it twice this past weekend! :D Christopher tried the seafood pasta for the first time this time around and it was pretty good. But to us it wasn’t worth the price tag. Next time Christopher will just get the tried and true pizza (which I’ve blogged about before here).
Fat Clemenza's on Urbanspoon

fujiWe did stop at one new place. Mostly for lunches we just ate snacks on the beach, but one day I was really craving sushi so we drove to the closest spot to get some sushi to go. We were expecting just mediocre because we didn’t do any research on this place, but it was DELICIOUS! I even got some noodles and a little sweet & sour chicken which were also great. We will definitely be back to Fuji’s the next time we’re in Destin!
Fuji Sushi & Seafood Buffet on Urbanspoon

mcguires2We hit up McGuires twice while we were in Destin because we love it so much! We had Tyina as our server the first night and she was literally the nicest server we’ve ever had. Ever. She was just so genuinely kind and sweet. For those of you who have never been to McGuires, it’s such a fun spot. There is over a million dollars in dollar bills stapled to the walls and ceilings all over the restaurant. And the mens & women’s restrooms can be a little confusing if you don’t read carefully (look at the pics above). It’s such a fun spot, though!

mcguiresTheir bread is like a taste of heaven. I can’t even describe how good it is. And just completely covered in honey butter. You guys, so good. Their potato skins were to-die-for. Definitely the best ones I’ve ever had! They are like an entire meal in of themselves! Their nachos were ENORMOUS (this photo doesn’t do them justice). We barely even made it through half of them. I loved the nachos, but they weren’t Christopher’s favorite (he didn’t like the mess they made because they were piled so high). And their Senate Bean Soup is still just 18 cents because that’s what they first charged for it when the restaurant opened 1977. It’s super tasty. I would order every single one of these items again!

steaks from mcguiresBoth nights that we were there we split a steak. The first night we ordered their highest rated, priciest prime steak. And the second night we ordered the least expensive “choice” steak. Christopher enjoyed them both and to tell you the truth… I actually really liked the “choice” (aka “cheaper”) steak way more than the pricey one! I’m not sure what that says about my taste quality, haha! But really all their food is SO good!
McGuire's Irish Pub of Destin on Urbanspoon

rachChristopher snapped this shot of me watching the beginning of the sunset from our balcony one night before we headed to dinner. :) 

Did you grow up going to the same vacation spots?
Do you prefer to return to favorite restaurants to to try new places?
Love Rach

That one time we could have died…

As many of you know from Instagram and Facebook, Christopher and I had quite the wake up call on our last night in Destin. A little before 3:45am Christopher woke up to the smell of smoke. Thinking someone nearby must be cooking, he tried to shrug it off and go back to sleep. But then he kept thinking “what if it’s something serious?” so he got up to walk around the condo to see what was going on. Noticing that the condo seemed foggy, but still in a foggy state himself (again, remember that this is the middle of the night and he didn’t have his contacts in), he walks out to our balcony to see if he notices anything out there. Realizing that the smell is definitely in the condo and not coming from outside, he realizes that something serious is happening. However, the detector on the ceiling of the hallway isn’t going off. Unsure if it’s a fire detector or smoke detector, he continues to walk around the condo looking for the source of the smoke.

Meanwhile, I woke up to the smell of what I thought was someone smoking outside our door. I kept trying to go back to sleep, but the smell kept me awake. So finally I got up and walked out of the room to find Christopher at the other end of the condo with an equally confused look on his face. I flipped on a light switch and we both immediately see that the condo is full of smoke (like not just a little smokey, but more than I’ve ever see before). You could see through it, but it was really hazy. I say, “Is that smoke?” and Christopher who has been awake and processing longer than I have says, “Yes, definitely!” Since we see no flames, we called security first (again, we are still thinking that this smoke is coming from somewhere outside our condo even though we don’t smell it outside the condo) and walked into the hallway (so we could BREATHE – it was awful in that condo). Security came up and when he saw the condo full of smoke, he immediately called the fire department. 

fire truck

The fire chief said it smelled like an electrical fire {the theory is that there was an electrical fire, but it burned out before we woke up – we don’t like to think about what would have happened if we hadn’t woken up and kept breathing in that smoke}. After the condo aired out a bit, they allowed us back in to retrieve our belongings. They flipped off the breaker and evacuated us to another condo. By the time we were in the new condo it was nearly 5am. Since we were planning to wake up early to see the sunrise anyway, we decided to just stay up until it was time to walk out to the beach. We both had headaches, queasy tummies and I had a cough, but over all we were fine. No lasting damage. :)  


Watching the sun rise that morning was a special moment. It signified another day of life that we have together. Because truthfully, we are never promised tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong – we are Christians and we believe in heaven and I am unbelievably excited to see God face to face someday. But I think sometimes I just assume that I will live a full life and see all my grandchildren get married and have children of their own. But sometimes life doesn’t work out like that. It’s scary sometimes when you realize how much trust you put in the things of this world. We trust that if there is danger in the middle of the night, an alarm is going to go off to wake us up so we can get to safety. We trust that if there is a car wreck, the airbag will deploy. We trust seat belts and harnesses and fire alarms. But these things fail sometimes. Or we think they are present when in reality they aren’t. We put our trust in these things, but life happens. We are never promised tomorrow. God is truly the only One we can trust in the end. He is the only One Who will never fail us. 

jetty east

By the way, we stayed at Jetty East. It was our third time to stay here and the first time we’ve had any sort of negative experience (the rest of our weekend here was wonderful as was every time we’ve been here before). They apologized profusely and comped our entire stay. This incident will not keep us from staying there again. It really is a great spot (with a great stretch of beach!!) and we appreciate how they handled this situation in the aftermath. But I can tell you right now, we’ll be bringing our own smoke detector with us when we travel anywhere from now on. Not in a paranoid way, but just in a better-safe-than-sorry sort of way. ;) 

Have you ever had an experience similar to this? 
Any possible near-death experiences?
Love Rach