Weekend Happenings

This past weekend was pretty laid back for us. On Saturday I did a super quick photo session for our neighbors’ kids first thing in the morning. We finished planting a couple of plants and doing a little landscaping.

growing stuff{Herbs on the front porch. Azaleas, Hydrangeas, and Hostas on the back porch. Flowers long the side of the kitchen window}

Then I laid around and edited photos while Christopher finished up a gorgeous bench he built for our front porch.

the bench{He found the iron piece on the side of the road a couple of years ago and finally put it to great use. Isn’t this bench GORGEOUS?!}

We ended the evening with a delicious grilled steak dinner and then snuggled on the couch while catching up on a few favorite TV shows.

rib eye steak{Pioneer Woman never leads us astray! Rib eye steak with whiskey cream sauce – so YUM!}

This past Sunday our pastor’s new book was released and as a joke a couple of people made a cardboard cutout of him. He was super embarrassed by it so naturally people lined up to take photos with it.

cardboard josh{Just chillin’ with Cardboard Josh}

Sunday afternoon Christopher and I sat on our new bench on the front porch and just enjoyed the gorgeous weather together. Sunday evening was Senior Night with my teen girls. I was so honored to stand on stage with my sweet girls. Next week they will be graduating! Crazy! We went out for a late night dinner afterward and then headed home.

my girls{love my girls!}

I realize this may not sound like the most “laid back” weekend, but there was a lot of downtime in between all the busy. The rest of this month is about to get all kinds of hectic so it was nice to be home and rest and finish up a few projects this weekend. :)

Love Rach

Surrounded {learning life lessons}

PSA: serious, wordy post ahead (this very well could be my longest post ever). If you are in the mood for rainbows and adorable fuzzy puppies please see this post instead. ;)

Clearly something has been going on with us lately. I’ve been all vague and weird about it. And as far as the world wide web is concerned, I plan to stay pretty vague about it. At least for now. If there comes a time when I’m ready to share so publicly, I will. But suffice it to say, I’ve had some medical stuff going on lately (don’t worry, I’m not dying – it’s nothing quite that drastic ;) ). And we’re holding up well emotionally. Just an occasionally emotional day here and there. This week was a more difficult week. And we knew it would be.

So we have been slowly opening up to some people we trust to ask for their prayers and support during this time. And you guys, we have been overwhelmed. Completely and totally surrounded and embraced with love. I’ve always been on the other side of loving and supporting people, it’s so strange for me to be right in the middle of the figurative group hug. But I am loving it. I know that a lot of people  have been hurt by church and Christians, but I promise you that there is so much good there too. People are flawed and will make mistakes, but when the church is working like she’s supposed to, it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m speaking to myself here. Well, to Christopher and myself. We hold things really close to the chest when something serious or important is going on in our lives. For the longest time I had no idea why we were so private about serious stuff. But this whole thing has given me some time for introspection. And I realized why we are like this.

A small part of it for me is that I fear coming across as dramatic. Or “woe is me”. I am naturally a really sensitive person so when I was younger especially I erred on the side of theatrics. I got told often to quit being so dramatic. But in truth, I really did feel that way. As an adult when I see kids/teens who are like that my inclination is to roll my eyes because it is kind of annoying (thank you everyone who put up with me). But I don’t. I gently nurture those souls because I know that someday when they get past the adolescent/teenage hormones, they will be some of the most empathetic people out there. But those feelings of “don’t be dramatic” are still pretty deeply ingrained in me. So I fear that if I open up about serious stuff it will come across as me being dramatic.

A small part of it for Christopher is that he is just in general a private person. He is more interested in hearing about other people than he is in sharing about himself. This is why most of his coworkers have no idea how talented he is at basketball or as a wood worker. In fact, you guys know more about Christopher from my blog than the people who work with him every day. He doesn’t mind people knowing those mundane things if they ask, but it also doesn’t occur to him just to share.

But the biggest thing was something that happened a long time ago to both of us. During my sophomore year of college we shared everything with our group of besties. It’s a long, messy story (with hurt feelings on both sides), but by the end of it, we had been ostracized by the group. And that group took the private things we had shared to them in our vulnerability and twisted and warped the information so there was just a nugget of truth to it, but a lot of ugly lie as well. And then they spread those things through the rest of our friends. We were hurt and devastated. Christopher was quick to wash his hands of the group, but I tried (for far too long) to fix those relationships. It was a painful life lesson, but a good one for us to learn. A lot of good came out of that situation. We learned a lot about friendship and what it looks like and who to trust with our hearts. The friends that we made after this happened became our BEST friends from college. The ones who we still keep in touch with and get together with. So again, lots of good came out of this situation.

To be totally honest, I rarely ever think about this anymore and it doesn’t sting anymore when I do think about it. In so many ways I’m grateful for the lessons I learned and the friends I made afterward that I don’t think I could be bitter about it even if I wanted to be. It was so long ago and I’m not in touch with that group anymore. So it doesn’t occur to me that what happened back then might be influencing us in a small way even still today.

Today Christopher and I have a lot of friends. A small group of besties and then lots of good friends. But we have SUCH a hard time opening up about personal stuff. I think that part of us that was burned once before had dug down deep inside us. And put a fear in us of opening up. Because when you trust someone, when you open up to them, you leave yourself vulnerable. And once upon a time, when we did that, some of the worst things were said about us throughout our group of “friends”.

So I guess along the way we started sharing less and less of ourselves with people until we were SURE. Sure that we were going to be able to close on the house we wanted, sure that the medical issue wasn’t as serious as the blood work indicated, sure that the dog we had adopted would be a good fit for us, sure that higher education was the right choice (remember that one time when almost no one knew that Christopher was in graduate school until just before he graduated? Prime example).

And there’s nothing wrong with this. But it does rob those who love you of the chance to really support you through difficult things. It’s not that we don’t share the difficult things ever. We always do. We just wait to share until after the difficult thing/decision has been resolved. We protect ourselves that way. But we also isolate ourselves in difficult times. I think this is part of why Christopher and I have such great communication. For most of our relationship we have been all the other has for support during difficult things. Which is awesome for our marriage. But again, we isolate ourselves from others. Isolate ourselves together, I guess.

I’ll  be honest with you, Christopher is still a little unsure about this whole opening up thing. He was the one who kept saying that we should open up to people about what’s going on right now (because he felt like I really needed the support), but he isn’t positive that we won’t still get burned down the road. Just a few minutes ago I was talking to him about how I was writing this post and getting his feedback on it. He really likes how people are coming to stand beside us in this and supporting us, but he also is still wary. Especially as we open up to more people. And you know what, he might be right. We might share too much with the wrong person and end up hurt because of it.

For me personally, I understand Christopher’s feelings because I’ve felt them before. But I also know that we have changed our criteria for friendships and the people who we are close with today are very different from the group we were close with those early years of college. I really do think that opening up to people we trust is going to be the right decision in the long run. :) And if I’m wrong, well, we survived it last time and it made us better, smarter people so it’s only more life lessons to learn. ;)

It’s super weird for me to write this blog post now instead of waiting 6 months or a year to prove that it was the right choice to open up. But then I wouldn’t exactly be authentic to the lesson I’m trying to learn, now would I? ;) For now at least, we have truly been surrounded and embraced by family and friends throughout all of this (well ever since we opened up to the first person). We are surprised, overwhelmed, and grateful. :)

If you made it this far, pat yourself on the back. You’re a rock star! :)

Do you open up and share personal things easily?

If you don’t mind sharing, tell me about a time when you shared too much with the wrong person. Or were hurt by someone after being vulnerable with them. I want to hear about the lessons you learned and how you deal with opening up to people now. Obviously this is a pretty personal question so feel free to email me instead of leaving it in the comments below. :)

Love Rach

On my heart today…

I love music. I love powerful lyrics and singing. And strangely enough, I’m not in one camp or the other when it comes to contemporary music vs. hymns. I love the new stuff that Christian artists are releasing (like when I shared “Shoulders”), but I also love some of the old hymns. They are so rich with meaning and theology and truth. And I love how talented people have made beautiful, artistic hand lettering designs of these songs and put them on Pinterest. So today, here are a couple of song lyrics that are on my heart.

i need thee{source}

great is Thy faithfulness{source}

in every season{source}

it is well{source}

What is inspiring you today?

Love Rach

The last study night

This past Thursday night I hosted the very last study night with my girls at my house. I’ve been mentoring these girls since they started 7th grade and we’ve had Thursday night dinner & study nights since they were in 9th grade. I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. A few more weeks and they are all graduating high school. A few months and they’ll all be off to college. Cue the tears!

my girls

We had a great last study night together! I stood there for a moment and just took it all in while they all sat around and laughed and talked. 5 different conversations going on at once and everyone so loud and happy. My house is going to sound so lonely on Thursdays now. But I’m SO excited for these girls to go off to college and start taking steps to adult life. I’m just refusing to think about how emotional I’ll be this summer when they all go off and leave me, haha! Definitely planning to enjoy the last few months we have together. :)

What piece of advice was given to you (or you wish had been given to you) just after graduating high school and before heading to college? I’m trying to pump all the last bits of my wisdom into these girls before they go. ;)

Love Rach

Remaking our favorite pizza from Vegas!

Remember when we went to Vegas and ate that delicious pizza and said that we would DEFINITELY be making it when we got back home? If not, here’s a shot of it:


And the description of this pizza (the il Mangino) from the Slice of Vegas menu: fresh pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and ricotta cheese topped with roasted red onions, prosciutto and arugula salad tossed in fresh lemon and olive oil, topped with Parmigiano Reggiano. Um, yum. Thanks to that very helpful information, making this at home was easy peasy!

prosciutto & rocket pizza

Ours looks a little different for two main reasons: 1. it’s a whole wheat crust so it’s not quite as puffy & 2. it’s a rectangle. Yeah, those were the only two differences we really noticed. Granted, it was a couple of weeks after we ate the original one in Vegas that we first tried it at home, but we both think it’s pretty spot on. I mean, it helps when they give you such a detailed description of the meal right in the menu. ;)


il Mangino Remake

-For our whole wheat crust we have been using this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction lately. But I also highly recommend our favorite crust which I’ve blogged about here.

-For the sauce we used our favorite sauce recipe which you can find here.

-Toppings were literally taken directly from their menu description. So for 1 pizza we used:

8 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved
3 oz prosciutto
1 small red onion, roasted (we used Martha Stewart’s method of roasting)
1 cup arugula a.k.a. rocket (if you remember our post from Italy)
1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

To Assemble:

Top pizza dough with pizza sauce and then sliced fresh mozzarella. Using a teaspoon scoop small amounts of ricotta cheese onto the pizza and place randomly. Top with prosciutto and roasted red onion. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano.

Then pop in the oven and bake for the amount of time called for on your crust recipe (15 minutes for ours). After it bakes, move pizza pan up to the top rack and put on broil for one minute.

While pizza bakes, squeeze lemon into bowl. Mix lemon juice with olive oil then add salt and pepper. Then add arugula to lemon mixture and toss.

When pizza comes out of the oven top with arugula salad and then serve.


You guys, so so good. We’ve made it three times since we got back to Vegas and it has been absolutely delicious every single time! :)

What are you favorite pizza toppings?
Love Rach

Happy Earth Day!

Five years ago today Christopher and I bought our first home. On Earth Day. So yes, we bought a piece of earth on Earth Day. It felt rather fitting. ;)


Us signing all the official documents on April 22, 2010. Looking back I can’t believe that we bought a house SO young (at 22 & 24). We hadn’t even been married two full years yet. Apartment living was awesome, but we hated throwing money away in rent and we really wanted a pet. And for us that meant a house. And the house we found was too good of a deal to pass up. Someone else’s unfortunate foreclosure meant that we got a steal of a deal.

front yard june 3

After we bought the house we decided to document the renovation process. So we filmed it and made little videos and posted them to Facebook for our adoring fans (aka our parents, haha!). All together the mini videos are about an hour long when watched back to back. A couple of years ago I pulled out a couple of clips and made a short 3 minute version. Which you can enjoy below:

My favorite moment from video is the clip beginning at 2:50. “The bird of burden…” we were so tired, ha! {for those who don’t know, in 2010 there was a big tax credit for first time home buyers to help give incentive to buy during the recession. We used that money to make all the necessary renovations in our new house so we were super excited when it arrived and we could pay back our savings account.}

Are you doing anything special for Earth Day today? I am thinking I should pick up some herbs from the nursery to plant! :)

Love Rach

The classiest wedding I’ve ever attended

First of all, I just have to say a huge thank you to all of you who have been such a sweet support to me lately. After the last post, I feel like the floodgates opened up. Emails, text messages, phone calls, and comments. Each one precious to me. Thank you guys for your concern and support. I don’t think many people would be surprised that our friends and family have reached out to us to love on us, but people who don’t understand blogging would surely be surprised by the number of people who I’ve never met in “real life” who are so invested in us. Like I shared in October, you guys and this community we share are such a big part of why I blog. So thank you, sweet friends. :) We finally have our heads wrapped around this a little more and we are in a good place now. Thanks for your prayers and support!


I am still unbelievably busy with photography stuff. Every time I think I’ll have a chance to catch my breath, I get another email requesting a session. But it’s such a good busy. I just miss blogging. So today I am attempting to at least do a quick recap of a wedding we went to this weekend. :)

us before the wedding

One of Christopher’s colleagues got married this weekend. And it was by far the classiest wedding we’ve ever been to. We’ve been to a LOT of weddings over the years, but none quite like this. The wedding itself was beautiful (her dress was GORGEOUS – so much beadwork – she looked like a princess!). But the reception, you guys. The reception. We were valet parked (I felt badly for the guy who got stuck parking our Ford with the herd of Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes Benz) and then we were ushered into a gorgeous foyer with a glittering champagne tower. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the beauty of it all, we found a quiet corner to take it all in. Christopher’s coworkers joined us and we chatted for a few minutes. Then someone walked up to us and offered us the classiest tray of hors d’oevre. I just couldn’t handle it. I looked at Christopher and mouthed “OH. MY. GRACIOUS.” haha! And this was just the beginning!

us at the wedding02

The whole evening was gorgeous. So classy and fun. The food was delicious and the band (Party Planet) was incredible! They passed out sunglasses as party favors which were pretty adorable. And I enjoyed getting to know Christopher’s colleagues a little better. I’m so glad we were invited! We had a blast! :)

Love Rach