Ever Wonder What People Really Think About Your Blog?

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. Just something I found really helpful that I thought you guys might like too! :)

A couple of months ago, Candace over at Lovely Little Rants wrote a blog post on growing your blog. It’s been a couple of years since I made an effort to grow my blog because I’ve gotten rather cozy with those of you who have been loyal readers for so long. But I was really intrigued by her fourth tip on growing your blog. She mentioned this thing called Peek User Testing. Have you guys heard of this?

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You go to the Peek User Testing website, insert the URL for the site you want feedback on and send it off. I’ve done it twice and both times I got my feedback video back within a few hours. The first time I did it, it was a guy who reviewed my blog. And he thought my name was “Rock” and that I was a man. He liked the blog at first until he read my bio just long enough to see when I said that I’m not really Italian and then he said some unkind things about this “*bleep* guy named Rock who’s not really Italian” Yikes. If he had continued reading he would have discovered that I’m Rach, female, and married into the whole Italian thing. BUT! It taught me that I needed to be more clear in my bio. So I adjusted it. And I added a bio on my home page as well. I kind of forgot about Peek there for a minute until I was cleaning out my inbox this week and decided to try Peek again to see if my adjustments had helped.

Turns out they did! I got a very helpful and constructive review this time. If you’re curious what a review looks like, you can see mine here. From this review I am reminded that the early recipes I put on this blog were often mixed in with several recipes instead of just single recipe posts. Definitely something to update! Also, if the lady who reviewed my blog is reading this – Thank you SO much for kind words! I was so nervous to see what the feedback would be so I can’t tell you how much I appreciated your encouragement!

Would you try Peek User Testing?
Love Rach

Caprese Grilled Cheese

I love caprese. Fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, and basil from the garden  (or from the grocery store this time of year). I love it as an appetizer, I love it as pizza toppings, and I even love it in a panini. And that, my friends, is what I want to talk to you about today.

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If you like the flavors of caprese and you like a good grilled cheese sandwich… you will love this combination.

It’s simple enough. Pick a good bread (I like Ciabatta for paninis), brush it with olive oil, and add the mozzarella, thinly sliced tomatoes, and basil then close the sandwich and grill on the panini press. Easy peasy.

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This shot was taken just before I closed the panini press. Look at all those delicious layers. The other panini belonged to a friend. She isn’t a tomato kind of person so she created a ham & cheese panini instead. Definitely another solid choice. But if I have the option, I’m going caprese every time. :)

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Deeeelightful!

What are your favorite panini fillings?
Love Rach

As it turns out, we are continually drawn to teens (in a non creepy way)

Hello friends! This peppy message is coming to you from sunny and beautiful Memphis! :) We had a weekend of gorgeous weather and it is continuing on today. And this girl loves her some sunshine. So it has been a pretty fabulous weekend. Add on top of the weather that I spent Saturday at the MidSouth Girls’ Conference with the teens I mentor and BOOM! Even better.

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Wait, what’s this? Rach, you’re volunteering with teens again? I thought you graduated your girls out and were re-evaluating and looking at other volunteer options. Oh yes, I was. And we have gotten involved with a couple of different organizations doing different things (more on our other volunteer work in another post). But somehow teenagers still just seem to suck us in. Ha! Christopher and I are working with a different group now and it has been much easier to balance building relationships with them AND still taking time for just us. Instead of the 3-4 nights a week that we were spending with teens before, it’s only one night a week with occasional special circumstances (like this past weekend). Plus we’re still the new people so the kids still think we’re awesome (for now). ;)

In other news, we also spent time with our dear friends JAMES and Heather this weekend. I specify this because James reads my blog and was complaining yesterday that I don’t feature him on it often enough.

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Christopher and James being adorable together. #bros

James, I hope you feel acknowledged now. ;)

Do any of your friends tease you about not being featured on your blog often enough? 

Have you ever found yourself being drawn to the same type of volunteer opportunities over and over even when you thought you were totally done with it?

Love Rach

Photography Favorites: Families

The past two weeks I’ve shared some of my favorite photos from 2015 of seniors and kiddos. If you’ve missed those posts and are wondering why I’m sharing photos on the blog today, here’s a little explanation:

I share favorite shots from most photography sessions on my Rach Vendetti Photography page on Facebook. Every now and then I’ll have a client who requests their photos to be kept private, but for the most part – my favorite photos are featured on the Facebook page. Lately several of you have asked if I would share more of my photography here on the blog. Since it would completely take over the blog if I shared every session, I’ve decided to pick my favorites to share with you guys over the next few weeks. Today I’m sharing a couple of my favorite family shots from this past year.

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This guy is actually a musician in Australia! They were in Memphis this past summer visiting his wife’s family and they wanted family photos while they were here. This whole session was a lot of fun! I love how his little girl looks up at him while he plays and sings to her! :)

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No children were harmed in the making of this photo. Dad had a good grip on the one-year-old from behind. ;) {my heart did skip a beat when he first suggested putting both kids in the tree, but once I realized how he planned to keep them secure, I thought it was an awesome idea}

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Love Rach

That one time I forgot to tell you about the cookies

It was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago after I posted my Christmas recap that I failed to show you guys Christopher’s fabulous cookie artwork. He reads my blog (everyone say “Hi Christopher!”) and has never once said that I left out an important detail to a post. So clearly this one is a big deal. I would hate for you guys to miss out on the incredible talent of my dear Mr. Vendetti so I’m making this right today!

cookiesChristopher with our niece and nephew working away on decorating their cookies!

cookie collageLook at his snowman! The “carrot” nose is even sticking straight out. He’s so creative. He also made the elf on the plate. The more basic cookies are my doing, haha!

On a more serious note… my husband really is incredibly talented. Not only can he make adorable looking cookies, but he also custom builds so much stuff around our house. In fact, as a Christmas gift from him to my sisters this year, he built two sets of reindeer for them.

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Are those not adorable? He built a set for me a couple of years ago and my sisters have admired them every time they see them. So he decided that he wanted to build them each a set. Which is just precious to me. I love that he has that brother/sister relationship with my sisters. :)

Our current project is our kitchen and it is looking pretty incredible. We got held up with counter tops (long story that I’ll explain when I show the before & afters), but we are making progress again! Hopefully it will all be finished soon so I can share it with you guys (and so I will have counter top space again, ha!).

When you decorate cookies, do you get super creative or stick to the basics? 

Do you build things? Or do you have someone who has built things for you?

Love Rach

A dusting of snow

We don’t get a lot of snow here in Memphis. Every year we get a dusting or two of snow and then usually in February or early March (or sometimes both) we have an ice storm that comes and sometimes includes a bit of snow on top of the ice. It snows all around us (north & south) several times during the winter, but because of our position on the river, we tend to not get snow. So when we do, it’s a cause for celebration.

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Especially for my sweet husband who grew up in Illinois where he had snow all winter long. Snow is one of his absolute favorite things so every time we get even a dusting, he is like a kid again. :)

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I love how magical snow makes everything. I’m not a cold-weather person in general. But if it has to be cold, then there should definitely be snow. Most definitely. :)

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Last year we took photos on a day when we got snowed in and they turned out to be some of my favorite photos we took of us last year. So on Saturday morning we went to a park and took these shots. Which I absolutely love, love, love.

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The snow is gone today. Most of it melted Saturday afternoon and what was left melted yesterday. But it was magical while it was here. I look forward to our next snow fall! :)

Does it snow much where you live?

Love Rach

Photography Favorites: Kiddos

Sweet friends, thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post. We are continuing to do well and are so thankful for the way we have been surrounded with love and support. :)

If you missed last week’s post on favorite senior photos from 2015, here’s a little bit about why I’m sharing photos on the blog right now:

I share favorite shots from most photography sessions on my Rach Vendetti Photography page on Facebook. Every now and then I’ll have a client who requests their photos to be kept private, but for the most part – my favorite photos are featured on the Facebook page. Lately several of you have asked if I would share more of my photography here on the blog. Since it would completely take over the blog if I shared every session, I’ve decided to pick my favorites to share with you guys over the next few weeks. Today I’m sharing a couple of my favorite shots of kiddos from this past year.

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Aren’t those just precious? And just to keep it real…

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Yup, we totally have moments like this too. This was SUCH a cold and windy day and it was the only day that worked for the family so the poor kiddos were pretty pitiful at first. Thankfully the sun peaked out just a bit and we still managed to get really sweet shots this day. But this photo made me laugh so much that I sent it to the family anyway. And wouldn’t you know, it actually made their Christmas card! ;)

Also, did you see that first shot up there of the little girl with the tiara? She’s actually wearing her mom’s wedding dress. That was one of my favorite sessions last year. Every single shot turned out so precious. If you want to see more of that session, you can see them here. :)

Love Rach