Category Archives: Bloggers

The Sweet Life

Family Photo5

“La Dolce Vita” is an Italian phrase meaning “The Sweet Life” that we picked up on our first visit to Italy. We’ve used it often to describe our life together over the years, but I have to tell you, life over the past six months has been even sweeter than ever. This little girl is such a joy! I don’t know if anyone will even see this post since it has been so long since I last wrote, but if you are reading this and you were one of the many people who prayed for us during this pregnancy, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. It still amazes me that we get to be her parents. ❤

Over the past few months I’ve had several people ask if I’m going to start writing in this space again. And the truth has been that I just didn’t know. As I’m sure most of you who follow me on social media have guessed, we are currently keeping our daughter’s online presence to a minimum. Which means that I’m not planning to write about her here. I could write about the same types of things I used to write about here: recipes or fitness or time with friends or travels or photography or DIYs or house updates all without mentioning her or sharing photos of her. But, my friends, that’s just not where my head is right now.

I’m still doing all of these things that I was doing before her arrival, but she is just so much a part of our lives now that I don’t want to blog without talking about her. Maybe at some point down the line I’ll be ready for that or we will decide to share more about her publicly. But for now I guess this is me officially saying a goodbye to this blog.

I may not be writing in this space, but I’m not completely gone! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. And of course if you have questions about recipes or travel or baby things or just want to chat, you can always email me ( I would love to hear from you! 🙂

I started this blog in 2010 and am so thankful for the connections I’ve made thanks to blogging. What a sweet and supportive group of bloggers I ran into in this corner of the internet. Thanks for being part of that and for reading along over the years! ❤

Love Rach



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?

rach in the office.jpg

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

So many wonderful things in one quick post!

So very much happened this weekend! It would take me a week to blog about it all so instead we’re going to hit the highlights. Ready and go!

christina and robby

Christopher and I got to spend Thursday evening with Christina from Christina Does It All and her husband, Robby. We ate some delicious Mexican food at our favorite spot (I just realized I’ve never blogged this place #bloggerfail… that post will be coming soon!). The evening also included a trip to a grocery store, a donut shop, and big hugs in a random parking lot. It was a good kind of night. Christina is exactly as she appears on her blog. Vivacious, funny, and friendly. I love when I meet a blogger and it feels more like hanging out with a friend than meeting a new person. She and I have been following each other’s blogs for over 3 years now so it was so great to finally get to meet her in person!

rach and heather

Friday and Saturday of this weekend I was in full wedding mode. Remember that one time I was a wedding coordinator way forever ago? Yeah, that happened again. It can be exhausting work, but there is nothing quite like the magic of watching it all come together so beautifully. I wore a pedometer on the wedding day to see how far I walked… it was 7 miles… in heels… yeah, the blisters are pretty intense. But it was all worth it to get to take the stress off the bride and allow her to enjoy her day. Next time I just need better shoes, ha!

rach photographer

Sunday afternoon was packed full with three back-to-back photo sessions. But that is nothing compared to the seven coming at me this weekend. I currently have 21 sessions booked for this month (not counting the 4-5 people who I will try to squeeze in when they call last minute for Christmas card photos like last year, ha!). Which is awesome. Because yay people like my work! But it definitely keeps me super busy. Thankfully I love what I do so while yes, it is busy, it’s an awesome sort of busy. 🙂

Have you ever worn the wrong shoes for a day when you’d be walking a lot?

Been to any weddings or met any other bloggers lately? 

If you are having professional photos taken this fall, have you scheduled your session yet?

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.


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

I like to eat buttery pasta

Remember when AIM was a big thing? Everyone had cool names on it that had nothing to do with their real names (Christopher’s was kiwisurferboy… how adorable is that?) . Well, I remember a girl who had the name iliketoeatbutterypasta. And I remember that it made me hungry every time I talked to her. And today I’m thinking fondly of her as I talk about how I really do like to eat buttery pasta. 😉

Last week Jayda shared a photo of a Pioneer Woman recipe that she had made and I was smitten. I knew I needed to make it immediately. So I did. And it was ah-mazing. But I mean, it’s butter and pasta and some fresh herbs… what’s not to love?

pioneer woman pasta

I had some basil growing on my front porch that just begged to be added to this dish and I can’t help myself from adding garlic to pretty much everything I cook. But other than those two modifications, this is pretty much just like the Pioneer Woman’s original recipe.

Buttery Lemon Herbed Pasta


4 oz pasta
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
handful of fresh basil & parsley, minced
squeeze of a lemon
salt & pepper to taste


1. Cook noodles according to package directions (I used tagliatelle pasta so it cooks for only a few minutes before it’s al dente). Drain and give your colander a good shake to remove excess water.

2. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and let it begin to sizzle. After 30 seconds-1 minute when it starts to turn golden (just before it turns brown), toss in your cooked pasta and allow it to pan fry for a couple of minutes.

3. Slice a lemon in half and give it a good squeeze over your pasta while it pan fries. Then toss in minced parsley & basil. Add salt & pepper to taste, then toss together. Serve while warm.

Worth making. Over and over again. It’s all ingredients I always have so it’s perfect for a quick lunch when I’m not sure what to make. As always, The Pioneer Woman doesn’t disappoint. 🙂

Did anyone have a fun AIM username? I had a couple of different ones. Usually speck or speckjoy (speck and joy were both nicknames) or dinghaile (my name in Chinese – it means “ocean of joy”).

Do you like buttery pasta?

Love Rach

Because I’m happy…

I am so that person who gets super excited for other people when good things happen in their lives. Do we all remember the video of me with my mouth wide open in glee when my mom received her KitchenAid mixer for mother’s day? If not, please see exhibit A. 😉 But really, anything that my friends and family are excited over, gets me excited too. Every success at work, every engagement, every wedding day, every baby announcement – brings such a smile to my face. And lately I’ve been seeing this with my friends in the blog world. So many sweet friends of mine in the blog world are celebrating pregnancies or new babies in their lives and I just love reading about their joy! But there are three things in particular that have stood out to me recently that I want to share with you guys.

Nicole, who blogs over at Just Live It, has been following her dream to be a piano teacher. Just recently she hosted her first recital and it brought tears (of joy!) to my eyes as I read about her emotions surrounding the day. I love to hear stories of people pursuing their dreams!

Amy, who blogs over at A Desert Girl, is probably going to be embarrassed that I’m sharing this, but recently she was in a commercial. And she is an impressive actress! I feel like there’s no way I could’ve kept such a straight, determined face for that!

Tia, who blogs over at Tialla’s Tellings, just released her second book! She graduated high school only two years ago! I am always so impressed when I see young people doing something super productive. It’s like when I watch the Olympics and I see a 15-year-old win the gold medal and I think about what I was busy doing at 15. It definitely wasn’t being in the Olympics, ha! Anyway, you can read all about Tia’s most recent book “Where Shadow’s Lie” right here!

I have such a hard time picking just a couple of things out to share because I want to share everyone’s stories! Each new birth, each surprise pregnancy (hello, finding out you are halfway through your pregnancy at your first doctor’s appointment), each beautifully worded blog post, all the big and small success… I want to share them all with you! But then this post would go on forever, ha! So instead I’ll leave you with these. 🙂 Happy Monday, friends!

Love Rach

A weekend in Louisiana

This past weekend we drove to Louisiana to visit some sweet friends of ours.

with casey

Casey and I have been friends for nearly 3 years now. We “met” through the blog world and quickly went from commenting on each other’s blogs to sharing our life stories. We first met in person in the summer of 2013 when she and her family passed through Memphis. Christopher and her husband, Alan, hit it off instantly. Since Casey and I were so close and Christopher got along so well with Alan, it just made sense for us to go visit them for a weekend last year. So we did. And had a wonderful time. So we decided it should be annual thing. Which brings us to current day… and the reason why we were in Louisiana this past weekend. 🙂

us with casey and alan

Casey has her hands full with two little girls now so she doesn’t write on her blog often these days, but I love that a friendship that began through the blog world has lasted. Despite the fact that she rarely blogs, Casey and I still talk often (2-3+ times a week). Usually through text, but email and phone calls as well. Casey is so good about picking up the phone to check in (and I’m so bad about initiating that – I’ve learned a lot from her!).

sisters collage

Briley is nearly two months old now and we were so excited to finally get to meet her. And seeing how much Landry has grown really blew me away! Time is flying by, but I’m so glad that we have these quick little weekends together to spend in person.

me with the girls

This weekend included a lot of good conversations and just some sweet fellowship together. Including the sweet fellowship of the boys making fun of Casey and me as we sat together drinking our homemade bone broth. Casey was the first one to really start educating me on gut health last year. I’ve learned a lot from her so it was only fitting that we should sit down together and chat over steaming mugs of bone broth. 😉 We had such a wonderful weekend together! Casey and Alan are such a blessing to us. And we love getting to watch their sweet babies grow up. 🙂

Have you gotten close to any of your blog friends? I have found myself so thankful to have such an amazing group of ladies I’ve met through blogging! 

Been to Louisiana recently? If so, how does the humidity compare to where you live? Memphis is humid because, well, it’s the south. But every place I’ve been in Louisiana (Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Monroe, and Alexandria) confirms for me that it is literally the most humid place I’ve been in my entire life {and I once spent a week in Houston, Texas in July!}. No wonder Casey and her friends all have such perfect glowy skin, it’s like they live in a sauna. 😉

Love Rach