Lately

This week was my very last week with the kiddos that I started nannying five years ago. Initially a full time gig that changed to part time just as my photography business took off. And over the past year I’ve really only had Will in the summers when he is out of school and only had Mallory for about 10 hours a week. So hardly even part time. But enough that we’ve still been a big part of each other’s lives. It’s hard to believe that this time is coming to an end. But it couldn’t be timed more perfectly. Mallory will be starting Kindergarten in August just as I’ll be figuring out this new mom thing. You better believe that the kids’ mom and I were both pretty emotional over that incredible timing.

will and mal 5 years later

On the left was them in 2012 not long after I started nannying them. And on the right is them from earlier this week. My oh my do I love these kids!

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Me and Mallory in 2012 on the left and the two of us again just this past week on the right. I have loved this little girl since she was an itty bitty baby and now she’s obsessed with all the details of my own baby girl which I think is so sweet!

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They both love to poke my belly and say “Wake up, Baby!” to get her to start moving. It’s more than a little adorable. This week has been an extra sweet one as we’ve enjoyed our last days together. But now I need to stop talking about it before I turn into an emotional mess, haha! Thankfully they live less than five minutes from us and we are good friends with their parents so I’ll still get to see them! 🙂

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Christopher and I have been spending tons of quality time together lately. Our goal was to finish our “house/baby to-do” list by June so that we could spend the month of July just enjoying time together (unless of course Baby V had already arrived in which case we’d be glad we had things finished early). And that’s exactly how it has worked out. We’ve eaten at all our favorite restaurants, spent tons of time with friends, stayed out late, eaten frozen yogurt far too frequently (if there is such a thing as too much frozen yogurt), explored new coffee shops, enjoyed lots of pool days, and we’ve even eaten out at a couple of fancy spots that we normally avoid because they are on the pricy side. It has been a sweet end to the “just us” time we’ve had over our nearly 9 years of marriage. I’m so thankful for this time and we are so looking forward to the next chapter of life!

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My mornings are still marked by prenatal yoga and then followed by gym time. I definitely have to take it easier than I did pre-pregnancy, but I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to continue working out throughout this entire pregnancy. Those endorphins are great and I know it’s good for both me and Baby V. Plus I’ve been told that it helps with delivery and recovery so hopefully that’s true!

38 weeks with stuffed dog

As of today I am 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant. And on this coming Monday, at 38 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, we’ll go in to the hospital to begin the induction process. I get so emotional when I look back at this pregnancy and see every answered prayer. And there have been so many. Odds have been beat, miracles have happened. And we are so close to Monday. If you are the praying type, please join us in praying for continued safety for our daughter and that her delivery will go safely for both of us. Thank you!

Love Rach

Chocolate Chip Scones

A little over six years ago I found this recipe for Cinnamon Chip Scones on the How Sweet Eats blog. With a tiny swap (to dark chocolate chips), these are my favorite scones!

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Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar-in-the-raw
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cups cold butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. In large bowl combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until it forms coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently.

3. Divide in half and pat into 7 inch round circles. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges.

4. Bake at 425 for 13-15 minutes.

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I recently made a batch of these to pop in the freezer for after Baby arrives. I stored them in gallon size bags with wax paper separating them. They reheat from the freezer so well! Just pop however many you want in the oven while still frozen at 350 for 10-12 minutes and they are delightful!

Speaking of Baby’s arrival… we are SIX DAYS AWAY!! Less than a week. It is truly amazing to me (and my high risk OB, ha!) that she has stayed safe and sound right where she is all the way to this point. So thankful for so many answered prayers!

Love Rach

Christopher, this photographer’s BFF

I’m currently on maternity leave from photography, but I’ve been thinking recently about how thankful I’ve been to have Christopher as such a big part of my photography business. Since the beginning of this photography business, Christopher has come to every photo session that he can. Many sessions happen while he’s at work, but if he’s able, he likes to come along. And I love for him to be there. It’s nice to have the sweet encouragement, but even more than that – he is super handy to have around!

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First of all, I like to be able to check the lighting before my clients arrive. So having a person to model for me helps a TON! This shot was taken to test lighting just before a client arrived and it has turned into one of my favorites. I just love how cozy Christopher looks with his scarf and coat and beard. 🙂

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Kids love him! He is great at keeping kiddos occupied while they wait their turn for photos. In the photo above he was playing with the kids while I took couple photos of their parents. Christopher is quite the child wrangler. 😉

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He helps out with lighting! Usually by using reflectors to reflect soft light onto the clients, but in this case we had one giant shaft of sun coming down in the middle of the photo so he’s actually using the reflector to block the sun.

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He’s great at getting kids to laugh! You can see here that he has a toy in one hand and a burp cloth, paci, and ball in the other hand. Not only is he great at lugging around purses and diaper bags as we move from spot to spot, he’s also great at getting natural smiles from kiddos while I snap away. He usually stands right behind me while he does this so he has been known (on many occasions) to drop a toy on my head to elicit laughter from kiddos. Works every time. 😉

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And best of all… he has become my second shooter for weddings. All along the way, he has been interested in what I’ve learned so I’ve shared it with him as well. He may not have quite as much hands-on practice at photography as I have over the past few years, but he has a natural eye and the practical know-how to take beautiful photos. I absolutely love having him as my second shooter for events! 🙂

I am so thankful for the way he has supported me from the beginning and has helped out all along the way! I love my lenses and lighting equipment and Photoshop, but Christopher is the most invaluable asset to my business of all. He is definitely this photographer’s BFF. 🙂

Do you have a person or thing that helps make your job much easier?

Love Rach

Casablanca

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I haven’t done a restaurant review on here in a long time because I’ve shared pretty much all of my favorite Memphis eats at some point or another already. However, Casablanca is a place we’ve discovered this year and really enjoy.

Casablanca

Hummus with pita is a favorite of ours. Casablanca’s is good, but I wouldn’t say it’s better than the hummus at other places we’ve eaten here in Memphis.

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Christopher loves their Super Sandwich which is a pita stuffed with lamb, beef, and chicken not to mention all the other goodness you see above.

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And chicken kabobs will always be my favorite. They are seasoned so well here! The “veggies” it comes with on the side are really more just a couple of starchy potato and sweet potato chunks, but the delicious kabob makes up for it.

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In general Christopher and I agree on all our favorite places to eat here in Memphis, but we are definitely split when it comes to our favorite Middle Eastern / Mediterranean place. I still prefer Zam Zamz. I love a good chicken kabob and the one at Zam Zamz is so great. And less expensive than Casablanca’s. And we love the hummus at both places equally. However, Christopher prefers the rich flavors of the other dishes at Casablanca. Plus we can both agree that the decor at Casablanca’s is more fun.

If you are looking for a quick and affordable lunch, Zam Zamz is your place. If you want a slightly nicer place where you will sit down and be there for a bit (and pay a bit more), then check out Casablanca. Or better yet, try them both and let me know which you prefer! 🙂

Love Rach

A Healthier Cake-in-a-Mug

So this isn’t a healthy snack. Don’t read the title above incorrectly. It’s a healthier version of the traditional cake-in-a-mug recipe (you know, the one that includes oil and sugar). But this isn’t exactly like having a sliced apple for a snack. 😉 Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I want to share with you guys our favorite way to make cake-in-a-mug!

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A Healthier Cake-in-a-Mug

Ingredients:

4 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated Stevia
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 tbsp Egg Beaters (or 1/2 of a whisked egg)
4 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsp no sugar added applesauce
splash vanilla
3 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Add ingredients to mug and mix together. We have a tiny whisk that we use for this and it’s perfect for making sure everything is combined perfectly. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until middle of cake is set. Enjoy!

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Speaking of mugs… apparently I have an affinity for them. Which means we have a bunch of them. And I love them all. Want to see?

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Travel related mugs! All but one of these were gifts from friends and family over the years. The only one we actually bought was the blue one right in the middle which we found at a thrift store. It’s from the Cinque Terre which was one of our favorite places we’ve traveled. From Left to Right: Wuhan, China (where I spent my teen years), Tupelo (where we filmed a commercial), Rome, Cinque Terre, Prague, Czech Republic, and Disneyland Tokyo (where I visited as a teenager, but apparently have never blogged about).

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The mug on the far left was the first set of mugs that we ever owned as newly weds. We ended up giving a couple of them away over the years and as our random mug collection grew I realized that I didn’t feel strongly about having all matching mugs so we gave the rest away as well. The rest of these are a mix of gifts and ones I found on sale at Target and thrift stores.

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The three on the left were gifts, but the two on the right were Target discount finds. I just love them so much!

So yes, we have 18 mugs. For 2 people. And I’ve had to slow myself waaaay down on purchasing them over the years (even when they are the cutest ever and super cheap) since we’ve been given so many as gifts. But I have to tell you guys, we use them for everything! Sometimes I use them in place of anything I would put in a bowl (like soup, cereal, or oatmeal). Obviously we use them for cake-in-a-mug and of course we drink from them as well. So while we probably don’t need this many mugs, we certainly use them! 🙂

Do you find yourself drawn to cute mugs?

Have you ever had cake-in-a-mug?
Love Rach

Happy Adoption Day to our Mutt!

Seven years ago today we adopted this pup. He has been our only child for such a long time and sometime in the next couple of weeks his whole world is going to be rocked. But until then, we’re going to give him as much extra attention and love as we can. 🙂

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Oh sweet mutt, you have been such a big part of our lives these past seven years. Happy birthday/adoption day, Oreo!

Love Rach

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

A few years ago I shared a recipe on this blog for lemon poppyseed muffins. I’m not sure where I initially got this recipe, but I’ve been making it again lately and it is such a winner! So I wanted to share with with you guys. 🙂

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Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
2 tbsp lemon zest (2 large lemons)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Zest the lemons over a small bowl of sugar. Rub the sugar and zest together until the sugar is slightly moist and fragrant.

2. Add egg, melted butter, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add liquid ingredients to the dry slowly and stir just until moistened. Be careful not to over-stir. Fold in poppy seeds.

3. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Divide muffin batter evenly into 36 mini muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

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I made these recently for a group of friends and they were such a hit! I had forgotten  just how yummy they are and how amazing they smell as they bake!

Speaking of baking things… I will be baking today. Apparently the ridiculous number of freezer meals I have stocked up suddenly doesn’t feel like enough and I’m itching to bake and freeze some scones and waffles as well. And I’m planning to bake cookies for the nurses (to take in with us when I deliver) so I’ll pop those in the freezer until we head to the hospital. I’ve never actually frozen baked cookies before, but I’ve heard they thaw quickly at room temperature and are super delicious. So here’s to hoping!

Does anyone have experience with freezing baked cookies?

What was the last thing you baked?

Love Rach