This is my story

Over the years that I’ve had this blog I’ve shared favorite recipes, travels, daily life, and stories. So many stories. And often I find myself talking about Jesus here. And the more I tell “my” stories, the more you hear about Jesus. I heard a song recently that really summed this up  beautifully.

If I told you my story, you would hear hope that wouldn’t let go

If I told you my story, you would hear love that never gave up

And if I told you my story, you would hear life, but it wasn’t mine…

If I should speak then let it be: of the grace that is greater than all my sin! Of when justice was served and where mercy wins! Of the kindness of Jesus Who draws me in. Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him!

This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.

-Big Daddy Weave

Yes, this. Exactly. I could have written the lyrics to this song. This is my story. It is full of hope and love and grace. When I tell “my” story, really I am telling you about Jesus.


^Listen to the song here^

My teen girls have all graduated high school and are headed to college next month. In a couple of weeks we will have our last sleepover together at my house and I am working on what exactly I want to share with them. Choosing parting words after 6 years is no easy task for me. But this song sums up so beautifully all the things I want to communicate to them. I hope that this is what they have seen in me all these years. That “my” stories and life point to Jesus.

Do you have a song you feel like you could have written because the lyrics ring so true for you? 

If you were sending a group of girls off to college, what would your final parting words or advice be? 

Love Rach

Eat Well

You guys know we love sushi. So when I heard that there was an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet called “Eat Well“, I knew we had to try it. I mean, who doesn’t want to eat well? Sign us up!

eat well

I wondered what made it “contemporary” until I walked in.

eat well

This, my friends, is what makes it “contemporary”. Stainless steel everything and meticulously clean. The chefs cooking behind the bar so you can easily see where your food is coming from and how it’s being prepared.

eat well

And the assortment of sushi! Oh my! Soooo many options! My favorites still stand with spicy tuna rolls & shrimp tempura rolls. And I love a good California roll to cleanse the palate every now and then. But I love being able to try all the new and different rolls that I’d always been afraid to order off the menu at other restaurants (because who wants to get 8 pieces of something that they might not like?).

eat well

I wish I had taken more and better photos of the rest of the food. The do have a sushi bar, but they have a regular Asian food bar as well. Their panko shrimp, dumplings, and noodles are my favorites! Oh so yummy! We’ve been here a couple of times since last October and I love it every single time! :)

eat well

If you like sushi or even just good Asian food and you like buffets… Eat Well is your place. We’ve had other favorites in the past, but this one blows them out of the water!

Eat Well Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

If you eat sushi, do you try new rolls from time to time or stick with what you know you like? I always order the same things which is why I love the idea of a sushi bar where I can sample without ruining a whole meal. :)

Love Rach

Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet {low carb dinner}

Since last October we have incorporated a lot of lower cholesterol meals into our routine to help lower Christopher’s cholesterol. It was going along quite swimmingly until about March when I finally made it to the doctor and got all my blood work done and found out that I had an insulin resistance {for those who know about IR and are concerned – they also tested for diabetes and I’m in the clear there for now}. So with an insulin resistance that means my body doesn’t know what to do with all the insulin it produces when I eat certain things… like carbs. You know, pasta. My fav. I can still eat carbs, but I have to eat them spread out through the day (so fewer giant bowls of pasta or cereal). So now cooking a meal for the two of us is kind of hysterical.

We joke that if we make something he can eat that it’s going to be full of carbs (like fish over rice or chicken and pasta) or if we make something I can eat then it’s going to be full of cholesterol (like the recipe I’m sharing with you today). So what ends up happening is that we just do a little of both. Sometimes our meals are ones that are great for both of us (like last night when we made our healthier taco salad recipe) and sometimes they are going to lean one direction or the other. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is definitely one that leans more toward my side of the spectrum.

kielbasa and caggage

Kielbasa & Cabbage Skillet

Ingredients:

2 lbs fully cooked polka kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 2″ pieces {I actually subbed in turkey kielbasa because it was a little lower in saturated fat & cholesterol, but I’m sure the real stuff would be awesome in this recipe too!}
1 tbsp olive oil
1 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in large nonstick saute pan over medium high heat. Add kielbasa and cook without stirring for 1 minute. Then stir occasionally for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

2. In the same pan with some of the rendered kielbasa fat, add the cabbage, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Mix in the vinegar and mustard; add the sausage back to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes to heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

4. Serve immediately

kielbasa and cabbageOriginal recipe found here at Very Culinary

So simple and so delicious! And yes, all the meat in this meal falls more on my spectrum of can-eat foods, but we choose turkey kielbasa because it had less cholesterol & saturated fat and it was easy for Christopher to eat more of the cabbage and less of the sausage. Don’t get me wrong, he still occasionally eats red meat, but it’s just not like before. And I still eat carbs (I’m about to have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast right now in fact), but I just eat fewer at a time. We’re trying to figure out this whole eating-for-your-specific-health-needs thing. Low carb & low cholesterol doesn’t have to mean no tasty food. :)

Do you have any suggestions for meal ideas that aren’t particularly high in cholesterol or carbohydrates? 

Have you had to change eating habits because of a health concern?
Love Rach

My weekend according to my phone…

I was scrolling through pics on my phone today to decide what to blog about so I finally just decided to share some of my favorite snapshots from the weekend. :)

babysitting

You guys know that I’m a nanny for two kiddos. But that’s only part time. The rest of my “8-5″ time is filled with whatever I want to fill it with. So that’s usually volunteer work, my photography business, house stuff, the gym, blogging, etc. This past Friday that free time included taking care of two sweet little boys who belong to some of our best friends. We had a great day together. :) I mean, just look at that adorable face!

rach and duchess copy

Friday night we went over to Stephen & Julia’s house (some of our friends here in Memphis) and their sweet dog, Duchess, decided I was the weak link when it came to who would give her table scraps. She was right too. ;) {for the record, I only gave her table food after her owners said it was okay}. She ended up in my lap more than once. Oreo was not pleased when I came home smelling like another dog, ha!

night stand collage

We spent Saturday doing house projects and maintenance. I did a lot of touch up painting around the house while Christopher cleaned out the garage. And I finally got around to painting our new night stand. This is the one we found for $2.19 at a thrift store! It had been spray painted silver previously, but it was streaky and didn’t go with our colors. So I sanded it and then painted it “dove white” and it is perfect in our bedroom! I loooove it!

mac and cheese

Saturday night we went to Mac’s Burgers with Brodie and Lyndal. Since we travel so much in the summer and Lyndal is a youth minister who is crazy busy in the summer, we haven’t been able to hang out with them as much as normal. So it was great to be able to reconnect for an evening. :) Mac’s has burgers and salads and all kinds of tasty looking food, but I was crazy excited about the idea of their macaroni bar. I got the “mac trio” so I could pick three different types. I got the loaded mac (my fav!), the Memphis mac (bbq), and cheese steak mac (philly cheese steak toppings). They were all tasty. Not the best macaroni and cheese I’ve had, but I understand why it has to be pretty basic since it has to go well with so many different toppings. It’s definitely a fun spot for something a little different.

Click to add a blog post for Mac's Burgers on Zomato

If you went to a mac & cheese bar, what toppings would you choose?

What did you do this weekend?

Love Rach

Happy birthday to our favorite mutt!

Last week we celebrated Oreo’s fifth year in our home! We brought him home on July 10th in 2010 just after we finished the major renovations in our new house.

oreo's bday

If you look at my Instagram, I am like that proud momma who can’t stop posting photos of her baby. Except my baby has four legs and is covered in fur. ;)

oreo and rach

Once upon a time Christopher and I claimed that we would never call ourselves “mom” and “dad” to a pet. And we would never put our pet in clothes. And we would love our pet, but certainly wouldn’t spoil it.

oreo and toph

Yeah, so we were wrong about all of those things. ;) Oreo is definitely our baby. He brings us so much joy. He’s picky about who he likes, but he’s fiercely loyal to those he does. He has no concept of personal space and thinks that he is a lap dog. He’s a great cuddler and sugar sweet to people he likes. He snores louder than any human I’ve ever heard, but it’s kind of endearing in its own way. Really just over all, he’s awesome. And we love him.

family pic

Happy five years, Oreo! We are so happy to have you in our family! :)
Love Rach

Oh, by the way, I have a blog…

This past weekend I found out some of our friends here in Memphis didn’t know I had a blog. I’ve never purposely kept the blog a secret, but I suppose it just doesn’t come up in frequent conversation. My blog is linked on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, but I quit sharing posts on Facebook years ago without any real reason. Which means that somehow a couple of our closest friends had no idea that I wrote in this little space. Well today that changes. I’m linking this post to my Facebook. So welcome new visitors! :)

Last year I wrote a whole post explaining why I blog so I won’t write it all out here again. If you’re curious about why I write so much in this space, check out that post! So if you’re new to the blog and wondering what all you’ve missed, here are some of my favorite posts.

Sharing My Heart:

Dayenu
Why The Little Drummer Boy Makes Me Cry
Breaking the Fast
Thankful For Hope

Glimpses Into Our Marriage:

Christopher
I love you more
Bella Roma {vow renewal}
A Love Letter
How well do you know me?

Favorite Trips:

A video for your Friday {Italy Trip!} 
Cruisin’ to the Bahamas
The Grandest Canyon I’ve Ever Seen
Cozumel, Mexico

Deep Thoughts:

Mixed Emotions this Father’s Day
Aunt Jane’s Words of Wisdom
Surrounded {learning life lessons}
Ancient Paths

Awkward & Embarrassing Stories:

An awkward moment as told by the cast of Friends
Who is that paranoid lady on the news?

Five Minutes of Fame:

Bricks in the Wall {Fix It & Finish It}
We are FAMOUS!
Little Known Fact About Me

Well there you have it, my friends. That should be more than enough reading to get you started! ;) If you are looking for my favorite recipes, I have lots of those on my Recipe Book page. And if you are in Memphis looking for good eats, check out my Memphis Eats page for our reviews on local places. Welcome to new readers! It’s good to have you here. :)

If you have a blog, do your friends & family know about it?
Love Rach

Meeting Rachel and her family!

In December of 2011 a sweet lady named Rachel stumbled across my blog. We had a lot in common besides our names. We both had blogs, both married into Italian families, both love Jesus, and both spent time living in China. Little did I know that her first comment on my blog was the beginning of a precious friendship that would last over the years. And just this past weekend, she and I finally officially got to meet in person in Nashville. :)

rach and rachel

Rachel said at the end of the night that our day together felt more like hanging out with an old friend than meeting someone for the first time. And I’d have to agree with that! :) We had such a fun time exploring Nashville together! And I was so glad I got a chance to meet her husband and son after reading about them for so long on her blog. We met at a splash pad where little Jake bravely ran through the fountains. And then we headed to an old bookstore.

the bookstore collage

BookManBookWoman was such a neat spot! They had so many beautiful leather bound copies of books. As well as a great selection of children’s books. I found one called Santa is Coming to Tennessee… I would’ve bought it too except that it had a name inscribed on the first page. So I think I’ll get another copy. But I’m so glad I found it!

the hermitageNext up we headed to tour The Hermitage! Jake enjoyed listening to the tour guide! ;) This was President Andrew Jackson’s home and it was beautiful. The back porch might have been my favorite spot. I could sit there all day. :) As beautiful as the home was, it was a sobering reminder of how many of these old plantation houses were created and maintained by the labor of slavery.

opryland

After the Hermitage we headed to Opryland Hotel. This place is so beautiful! The whole inside of the hotel is set up to look like resort inside a giant glass atrium (lush greenery, streams, and waterfalls included – all indoors!). We took a boat ride in one of the parts of the hotel (inside!) and got a tour. It’s really all so beautiful.

with jake

Jake was so good all day long! I couldn’t believe how happy and giggly he was all day. I so loved getting to see his sweet little personality. And Rachel’s husband, Justin, was so gracious about being the only guy (originally we were hoping Christopher could come, but he got stuck working this weekend). It’s entirely possible that Justin might have had to put up with a little bit of talk about the uterus, but other than that we kept the topics generally family friendly! ;)

I am so glad that Rachel and I finally got to meet in person! I’m already looking forward to the next time we get together! :)

Have you been to a plantation home? 

Have you visited Nashville before? Been to any of these same spots?

EDIT to add: Read Rachel’s account of our meet up here!

Love Rach