Talking about the new job

I just realized that most of you guys have no idea what Christopher does for a living. Some of you might know that he’s an accountant, but other than that I don’t mention much about it. Well, technically he’s a financial reporter (which is hilarious because he hated reading/writing in college and now he reports the finances for companies so he does tons of that in his job).

topher

Since we got married, we have always lived only on his income. My income paid off our student loans and paid for our trip to Italy. Currently my income is going towards a “family car fund” (my current car which I adore is a bit tiny for the future family of 12 that Christopher wants). Anyway, I say that to say, he is the main income provider. So his income is pretty vital to our family. Now that our student loans are paid off, if I lost my job, we’d be fine living on his. However, if he lost his job, I’d have to quit my current job to find a higher paying one. Which would be fine, but our hope was that after our student loans were paid off – I’d be free to kind of do whatever I want job wise (hence the nanny job & budding photography business).

will and mal

It chaffs my feminist side just a little bit sometimes when people ask if I’m going to get a “real job” or start a career. For us, it’s more important to both be doing something we enjoy with hours that allow us to be with our family than for us to both necessarily have equally high paying careers (unless we did the same thing, in which case I will REALLY get on my soap box about equal pay and gender equality, haha!). But I know that in our world… we both do something we love and whether he is or I am the main financial supporter, we both are equals in the marriage. Okay okay… I’m getting off my soapbox now, haha!

christopher cornfield

I mentioned earlier this week that Christopher started a new job on Monday so I figured it was about time to fill you guys in on some of the details. The company he’s been at for the past 4 years is going through a merger and there isn’t a lot of certainty about who will still have a job after the merger goes through. We knew this in January when it was announced and ever since then Christopher has kept his ear out for other jobs. Interviewed here and there. But nothing just seemed to be exactly what he was looking for (until now – but I’m getting ahead of myself, haha!).

christopher

Even before this merger was announced, Christopher had been considering other jobs because his current one had begun to require so much overtime. In fact he was offered another job that paid more than he was making at the time, but the hours weren’t going to be any better. I know lots of people work well over a 40 hour week, but that’s not our world. We aren’t ones to pursue money or long work hours. Christopher always says “I work to live, I don’t live to work.” For us, life isn’t about making as much money as we can so we can store it all up or spend it. Life is about relationships. And family. And service. And loving others. And sharing Jesus. And if we’re busy with work all the time, those other things suffer.  So he began looking for a job that not only was something he was interested in, but also something with better hours for our family.

{SIDE NOTE: I understand some people don’t have this option because they are supporting bigger families or have a different income level – this is not a slight on other peoples’ choices – this is just for us in our world}

christopher2

But we also have bills to pay. And we like to travel. And eat. Those things cost money. So we sat down one day and figured out the minimum of what income our family needed (which was lower than what we were already bringing in). So Christopher was able to look at jobs that actually paid less than he has been being paid. We began praying in January for the right job to come along and through a series of random events (or in my opinion: a total God thing), he was offered a new position at a different company still doing something he enjoys with much better hours. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a step up in his career and that it just so happens to come with awesome insurance? Oh… and you know how we were prepared to take a pay cut? Yeah, kind of the opposite happened there. We were a bit overwhelmed with the pay bump that came with this new job.

christopher3

So far Christopher is loving the new job. He misses his friends from his old job, but they went to lunch together this week so hopefully they will stay in touch. He does really like his new boss, though. More than anything we are excited about the better hours for our little family. All in all, this is a big answer to prayer and we are so very grateful!

- Does your job require anything that you typically dislike (like Christopher’s old distaste for reading/writing)? 

- Do you have a job you like? What about your spouse (if you’re married)?

Love Rach

This would be a cute movie beginning…

I have a story for you guys full of coincidences and cuteness that could totally be the beginning of a movie. I got home from the girls’ retreat on Sunday around 2pm. I immediately fell asleep (this girl can’t handle late nights like she once could, ha!) on the couch with our mutt.

napping2Yup, I dug out my Lion King pillow case cover from when I was a kid to take with me on the retreat. And yup, my dog likes to burrow in wherever he can. And yup, from the number of photos my husband takes of me napping with our dog you’d think I take daily naps, but it’s really a rare occurrence (hence why he thinks it’s adorable and takes photos every time).

Christopher woke me up a couple of hours later because I had asked him not to let me sleep too long (usually when I nap during the day, I can’t sleep that night). He brought me dinner on the couch and turned on The Lego Movie (um, I still have “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!” stuck in my head, haha!). We normally are dinner-at-the-table kinda people because it fosters better conversation for us. But I could barely keep my head up because I was so tired still so my sweet husband made me comfy on the couch with dinner and a movie.

Then all the sudden I see this little tail bopping across our front porch. We have several stray cats in our neighborhood (one of our neighbors feeds them, but never gets any of them fixed so they just propagate) which is what I thought it might be for a split second. But then I knew. I just knew. That was definitely a dog. You guys, I am so that person that goes after every stray dog I see. Normally they run from me. I’ve only ever caught one other one. But when I walked outside on our front porch, this dog ran right up to me when I called.

bagel the beagle

She had a collar, but no tags. Her fur was well kept and she was a healthy weight. I could tell that she was definitely someone’s pet. And she was so-so-so sweet. She just loved all the attention and petting. I kept thinking about how I would feel if Oreo went missing. So we walked her around the neighborhood and knocked on doors. No one had ever even seen her before so no one knew who she belonged to. The next morning I took her to the vet to see if she had a microchip. Nada. I drove home with the intention of making “FOUND DOG” signs to post around the neighborhood, but as I pulled into our cove, there was a lady I’d never seen before pushing a double stroller. I smiled and waved and she did the same back. Then I pulled into our driveway and hopped out of the car with the sweet beagle behind me. The lady sees us and calls out: “Is that your dog?!” To which I respond, “No! Is it yours?!” And it was! CRAZY timing! She had been out walking through the neighborhood calling for the dog (who’s name is Bagel by the way – too cute, right? Bagel the Beagle). And she just happened to be walking by my driveway as we got out of the car. Oh, and I just happened to not park in the garage because Christopher had been wood working the day before and his table saw was still out. She wouldn’t have seen us if I had done that. It just just crazy timing!

bagel the beagleIgnore the terrible quality of photos. I took these quickly the first night we had her to post on our neighbor FB page and on Craigslist Lost Pets to see if anyone recognized her. She was a sweet girl!

The reason none of our neighbors recognized Bagel was because she belonged to a young family who have only been in the neighborhood for a week! Oh, and Bagel’s tags had fallen off when she escaped. Scary! Laurie (the lady who I met that day) and I hit it off immediately so later that night Christopher and I took cookies over to welcome them to the neighborhood. We intended to just drop them off, but they invited us in and next thing we knew it was after 9pm and our conversation was still going strong. We kind of cut it short at that point because it was so late (yes, we’re old – don’t judge, haha!) with promises to come back by soon. They are also Christians and really active in their church community and we have SO much in common with them. It was such an unbelievable blessing to get to know them. They are definitely Jesus people. You know the type. Where you see the passion in their eyes as they talk about Jesus. And they live just a few minutes walk away from us! (our back yard nearly butts up to theirs!).

You guys, our friendship beginning like this is totally something out of a movie! It makes me think of 101 Dalmatians where Pongo makes sure that Roger and Anita meet so that he can be around Perdita. Ah, sweet stories. :) For us it was just a bunch of coincidences that worked out perfectly! I’m so glad we were eating on the couch instead of at the table so I could see Bagel when she walked down our porch on Sunday. I’m so glad she came to me when I called. I’m so glad her owner was walking by our house just as we arrived home from the vet the next day. I’m so glad I could safely return her to her family. And I’m so very glad that we have some amazing new friends (who are neighbors!!). :)

Have you ever made a new friend in a movie-story-line way?

Do you find yourself drawn to pick up wandering animals? 


Now that I’ve brought it up again, is “Everything is Awesome” stuck in your head?
You’re welcome. ;)
Love Rach

Pioneer Woman’s Rib Eye Steak with Whiskey Cream Sauce

Three years ago I made a note to myself that I wanted to make The Pioneer Woman’s Rib Eye Steak with Whiskey Cream Sauce. It looked and sounded delightful. But in general when we cook at home we tend to pick healthier meals that don’t cost just a ton. And Rib-Eye Steaks don’t come cheap. ;) Well, the opportunity finally came earlier this week! Monday was Christopher’s first day at his new job and I felt like a steak and potato dinner was needed for celebration. :) So I pulled out this recipe and oh-my-gracious, I am glad I did! It is like a little taste of heaven.

whiskey

First you have to have whiskey. True story, I’ve never bought whiskey before. Ever. I’d never even tasted it. I honestly didn’t realize that you couldn’t get it at your grocery store. It took me a good minute before I realized that you have to go to an actual free standing liquor store. Ha! I walked into the liquor store and immediately someone walked up to me and asked if they could help me. Either I looked totally lost or they figured I was underage. ;)

I explained to him that I needed the smallest bottle of whiskey they had and they told me to just ask the clerk for a “two shot bottle” that they keep behind the desk at the front. Turns out, it was the perfect amount! I used exactly half of my two shot bottle for the recipe which is perfect because it gives me just enough to make it again! :D Oh, and Christopher and I both tried whiskey from the bottle for the first time… he took the smallest sip and I had like two drops in my mouth… and both of us made this horrible face at each other. And then grabbed our noses as they started to burn. It was terrible. I’m not sure how anyone drinks that stuff. But then I guess it’s like a lot of things – just an acquired taste. But I digress…

rib eye steak with whiskey cream sauce

pioneer woman's rib eye steak with whiskey cream sauceClick recipe card to see larger. Original recipe from the Pioneer Woman. Because she’s the bomb dot com. :D

You guys, it’s unreal how good this was. Like, there just are not words for how amazing it is. I actually fudged just a little and bought one rib eye steak and one sirloin steak. I just wanted to know if it would be just as good. The rib eye was better, but the sirloin was pretty amazing too! And rib eye isn’t something we’d buy often (I mean, $14/lb… my gracious!). But we will totally make this recipe again, but with a cheaper cut of meat! And if we have something exciting to celebrate again then we might go all out and get rib eye steak again! :) We plan to make this sauce again and put it over burgers this weekend. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! You guys, make it. Seriously. Do it. You won’t regret it!

Are there any recipes that you save for special occasions? 
Have you made any Pioneer Woman recipes? I love them all!
Love Rach

 

Be Free {Girls’ Retreat}

This past weekend was my last girls’ retreat with my teen girls. Oh my gracious, how are they seniors already?!

my girlsI know I keep writing about “oh my goodness, they are growing up so fast” every time I talk about my girls this year, but it’s just that I know this is my last year with them. And come May, they will be all be graduating on me. I’m so glad that we got to spend this weekend together. I love these sweet souls!

laura jean and rachLaura Jean was our speaker this weekend. It was the first time I had seen her since she was the youth intern for the kids I mentor two years ago. I loved getting to know her back then and it was SO good to catch with her! She and I share some of the same passions and our conversations were a definite answer to some of my recent prayers. I love moments like that when God speaks through His people. :)

be free collageThe theme of the weekend was “Be Free” so at one point the girls wrote down things that they need to be free from. Then we went outside and threw eggs filled with paint at the canvas they had written on. It ended up being a beautiful piece of art. :)

be free artAll the girls with the canvas!

the great steak knife rescueWe started heading to bed around 1am the first night we were there. I was getting ready for bed when one of my girls came running in the room telling me that Sara had gotten locked in the bathroom and couldn’t get out. I went to check out the situation and sure enough, when you twisted the door knob, the latch bolt wouldn’t retract like it’s supposed to. Sara is a little bit claustrophobic so time was of the essence. I needed a flat-head screwdriver, but knew there wouldn’t be one around. So instead I ran down to the kitchen and looked for a regular dinner knife. There was none to be found. So I grabbed the only thing that I thought might work – a super sharp steak knife. I nearly cut my finger off trying to rescue her, but after enough maneuvering of the latch bolt, I finally got it open! She was so relieved! Hence the photos you see above. :) Also, we joke a lot about that last photo because you can see the steak knife so clearly and taken out of context, it’s kind of a terrifying photo. ;) What’s even more funny is that one of the other girls didn’t hear about this happening and managed to lock herself in the same bathroom the next night. I rescued her the same way and felt pretty awesome about it. ;) #beast #macgyver

bee rock - be freeEarly on Saturday morning before the girls got up, myself and two of the other chaperones hiked up and down Bee Rock (at Camp Wyldewood which is where we were) to write out the words “BE FREE” in rocks where the girls could see it from the top of the mountain. This is a shot of it from the top! It turned out great! :)

bee rock singingThe girls singing praise songs at the top of Bee Rock.

Normally our girls’ retreats are held at a place in Alabama, but this year we went to Camp Wyldewood in Arkansas. I actually went to camp there for 6 years and was a counselor there for 2 years. It was SO good to be back. There will always be a special place in my heart for Wyldewood. :)

rach and girlsMe with some of the girls at the top of Bee Rock

girlsAll of us! :)

sunriseSunrise on the last morning. It was absolutely gorgeous. :)

I always love spending time with my girls, but this past weekend was the best girls’ retreat we’ve had. The location was a wonderful bonus, but really it was the conversations we had that made it so great. I love my girls and I love seeing the ladies that they are growing into. :)

- Have you ever had to rescue someone using unusual or unorthodox means?
- Have you been hiking recently? All the hiking this weekend reminded me just how much I love it and miss it!
- Did you grow up going to a camp or retreats? Did you have a favorite year?
Love Rach

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