Category Archives: Bloggers

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

A few of my favorite bloggers…

In the 11 years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve had a lot of casual friendships come and go online. And even a couple of ladies who I was really close to at one point that drifted away. Ladies who I’ve shared a year or two of emails back and forth, sharing prayer requests, and our lives. And then life gets busy, and the friend fades away slowly with promises to keep in touch that often don’t happen. I’ve never been upset at someone for doing this. I did it myself when I went to college. I understand that as your life changes, your priorities change. And often, blogging isn’t one of the things people hold on to.

So today, I want to honor a few of my long-term blog friends. Ladies who I have known and been friends with for at least 2 years or more. Ladies who have read and responded to the majority of my posts since they started reading. We have emailed and texted and Skyped and met face to face. We have prayed for each other, supported each other, and loved each other. In order of how long I’ve known them:

Nicole @ Just Live It – 4 years
Liz @ Tip Top Shape – nearly 4 years
Christina @ Hungry Meets Healthy – nearly 4 years
Allie @ Allie’s Life – 3.5 years
Tia @ Tialla’s Tellings – 3.5 years
Brittany @ Blissful Britt – 3 years
Hope @ With a Side of Hope – 3 years
Rachel @ The New Normal – 3 years
Amy @ A Desert Girl – nearly 3 years
Brittany @ Brittany A. Ray – nearly 3 years
Allison @ Nestful of Love – 2.5 years
Janna @ Perception is Everything – 2.5 years
Casey @ Heart of a Woman – 2 years
Christina @ Christina Does it All – 2 years
Jayda @ Avocado Grove – 2 years
Amy @ Taking Steps Home – 2 years
LynAn @ Encounter – 2 years
Elle @ Elle Sees – 2 years

I’ve also become close with several bloggers who haven’t quite met the 2 year mark (I’ve noticed that if I stay in touch with someone for at least two years, then we are more likely to remain friends even if they quit blogging). So next year, I plan to do this again and hopefully each of those ladies I’ve been friends with for this past year will be on next year’s list! 🙂

What’s funny to me is how many of these ladies are actually friends with each other too! When I see one of my blog friends commenting on another blog friend’s post, I’m always like “hey! I’m friends with her too!” and it just makes the world seem a little smaller. I feel like if we all sat down in a room together, we’d have the best time laughing and sharing stories. 🙂 So check these ladies out, you might just find a new friend!
Love Rach