Category Archives: Q&A

20 Questions

So my friend, Amy, told me that I should do this 20 Questions thing that has been going around. I love surveys. So much. But I feel like my answers are always the same so I haven’t posted one here on the blog in years. Side note: do you guys remember all those email forward surveys that used to go around back in the late 90’s early 2000’s? I thought some of my answers to those things were so clever. I loved filling out all 100 of those questions and then forwarding it to every single person I knew. Because clearly all of those people cared to know my favorite color and what type of socks I was wearing. 😉 It sounds crazy now, but it was just what everyone did at the time. Or at least what everyone I knew did.

But I digress.

On to the survey!

20 Questions 

1. Favorite food
Oh gracious. Of course we start with this question. If I had to only pick one. Just one. Then it would still be a tie between two. Ha! I’d have to pick pizza and spaghetti. But seriously, I love all Italian food. And Tex-Mex food. And good ol’ southern cooking. There is nothing like the comfort of my grandmother’s recipe for chicken ‘n dumplin’s at the end of a hard day. It’s like a big bear hug from the inside. Really it might just be faster if I tell you what foods I don’t like: fermented anything, super spicy food, celery, and most nuts (but I love nut butter! I just don’t like crunchy nuts). There you have it. I like pretty much everything else, ha!

2. Flip Flops or High Heels
Yes, please. Both. Wearing flip flops means I’m at the pool or the beach. And that’s a huge winner. And high heels most likely means I’m headed out for a hot date with my handsome man. So both are winners for me. Day-to-day, I wear strappy sandals all summer and boots all winter.

3. Favorite place to shop for yourself
Thrift Stores, Plato’s Closet, and Target

4. Standard coffee order
Grande decaf skinny mocha with coconut milk. My fav!

5. Road trip must have snack
We almost always head out of town on Fridays after work so we stop by Chick Fil A for dinner as we hit the road. Halfway through the trip we always find a Starbucks for a pick-me-up. And then in between we snack on beef jerky, granola bars, and whatever fruit I brought along. Not that we travel a lot or anything… 😉

6. DIY or Hire it out
DIY. By the way, we are in the middle of adding to our kitchen counters and I can’t wait to share it all with you! Christopher built these amazing cabinets and we spent all of last weekend sanding and staining them. They look awesome!

7. Top 5 TV shows
Oh my gracious, there have been so many great ones over the years. But if I had to narrow it down to only 5 then I’d have to pick the shows that I watch reruns of more than any others. So that would be: Friends, Gilmore Girls, Modern Family, Perfect Couples, and Big Bang Theory.

8. Favorite Book
If I have trouble picking five TV shows, there’s no way I can pick one favorite book. But I can tell you that the books I have read and reread the most. Definitely the Bible (especially Psalms, Isaiah, and the first four books of the NT. I love stories about how revolutionary Jesus was during His time on Earth). I blogged about my favorite YA fiction books here. Yup, I read like a teenager. Love that stuff. 😉 And I love, love, love Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. If you haven’t read it – do. It’ll make you cry. In a good way. That and her Mark of the Lion trilogy stand as four of my favorite books of all time ever.

9. Favorite form of exercise
Laughter. That totally counts as an ab work out, right? 😉 I also love family walks or hikes. Being active out in nature is my favorite!

10. How tall are you

11. Do you try something new at a restaurant or stick to favorites
Always favorites. Always. Christopher finds this the funniest thing. Every restaurant I go to, I already know what I’m going to order before I walk in. Because I know what foods I love. So that’s what I order. Christopher, however, believes in trying new things. So he rarely orders the same thing twice. Which means I always get to sample whatever is on his plate. Definitely a win-win for me. 😀

12. One make up item you can’t live without
I’ll be honest, I don’t wear make up very often. Maybe once a week or so. Very rarely in the summer when I have a tan. I have noticed, as I’ve aged, that my skin is more sensitive than it used to be. So last winter I experienced a little bit of dry skin and redness on my face for the first time. So I found myself grateful for a good foundation that could help even out my skin. I’m sure this winter I’ll be grateful for it again so I suppose I’d have to say that!

13. What’s on your nightstand
A sparkly vase filled with fun date night ideas for us to pull out at random, a Tervis filled with water, a tiny tiffany blue bowl that holds my wedding rings, my Bible, and journal.

14. What’s one thing that motherhood has taught you
That when my human children arrive, I can’t spoil them like I do my fur-child. I adore that mutt, but if he were a human and acted as petulantly as he does, no one would think it was cute. As it is, when he “talks back” to us with his whining/moaning voice, we find it kind of hilarious. Hopefully we’ll do a better job with the human version of kids when that day comes.

15. Music that reminds you of high school
N’Sync, BSB, Westlife, and 98 Degrees. All of which were really big before my “high school” time, but I was living in China at the time and those groups were HUGE there in the early 2000’s.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world besides your current city, where would you live
The beach. Oh yes, the beach. Or maybe Rome. I fell in love with Rome.

17. Tell us something we might not know
You might not know that we are currently in the planning stages for another big trip (think Europe) for next year! 😀

18. Website you read/browse besides blogs
Probably Instagram the most. I still check Facebook almost every day just to do a quick scroll through to catch up with my friends who don’t use Insta. And I go on total Pinterest kicks. I won’t use it for weeks or even months and then all the sudden I am obsessed with it again (usually when I’m looking for something in particular).

19. Morning person or night owl
My stay-up-all-night college self would be so embarrassed to hear this, but I’m a total morning person now. I wake up with the sun every morning and am crashing in bed between 10 and 11 every night. #oldpeopleprobz

20. What’s your best feature
I love that I empathize so easily with people. It’s hard on days when I hurt with them, but I love the days when we get to rejoice together.

Do we have anything in common? Or are we opposites? It’s okay, I’ll still be your friend!

Love Rach


I like to play!

Blond Duck: I’m curious–what’s your workout routine?

Let me begin by saying that I don’t need to lose weight, maintain weight lost, or gain weight and I’m not training for anything (a race or sport, etc). So what I have to write about fitness has nothing to do with any of those things. So in my case, I work toward fitness because I want to care for this body I’ve been given. I want to be healthy and strong.

I haven’t always thought the way I do now. Just a year ago I was still spending an hour at the gym 3 days a week (mostly treadmill and weight lifting) on top of doing 2 fitness videos at home every day and walking 2 nights a week. But after we bought the house, we had to renovate it before we could move in which meant that it consumed every waking moment so I had no more gym time. But I realized that 8 hours spent painting in the 90 degree weather was WAY more of a workout than I was getting at the gym. That’s when it hit me: When I was a kid, I didn’t go to the gym to be fit, my life just included more activity.

So while I can’t walk everywhere, I can park far away at the grocery store and spend an extra minute walking. I can walk more briskly to pump up the heart rate. I can take the stairs instead of the elevator. I can put a little more OOMPH into kneading dough for homemade bread. And more than anything, I can PLAY!

You guys, I believe in playing for fitness. Hula hooping, hopscotch, skipping, jump rope, volley ball and on and on. And you better believe that when I clean, the music is on and I’m dancing.

Playing basketball with my sister (yes, we are in jeans. I don’t have any shots from the times when I play in shorts/teeshirt)


Volunteering at the Humane Shelter is a SERIOUS work out! Between chasing puppies around and walking 100lb dogs, it sure keeps you busy!

Playing in a softball league with Christopher’s coworkers. Yes, we were the “paper tigers” haha!

Taking walks with Little Girl (and chasing her around… oh my goodness, she is QUICK!)

Climbing trees!


Now, with all that said, I do like for my tummy to be flat and my arms to be toned. So if I feel like whatever play I’ve done that day hasn’t exercised my abs or arms then I’m likely to do my sit ups, plank, triceps strengthener and wall push ups. BUT all of that takes a total of maybe 10 minutes so we aren’t talking about a hardcore work out here. I want to ENJOY every moment of fitness, not suffer through it. I know, I know, I’m like the poster-child for things you shouldn’t say regarding working out, haha! But playing is just so much fun! 🙂

What better place to play than a PLAYGROUND?! 🙂

Pushing Kenzie on a swing at the playground!

Also, if I have a goal to work toward then I find a way to work out specific to my goal. For example, last year Christopher and I decided to run our first 5k. I hadn’t run since freshman year of college, haha! So it took some readjusting, but for a couple of months leading up to the race, I ran a couple of miles every other day. It was a fun experience and the important thing to us was that we FINISHED! 🙂

After our first 5k! Melissa is on the right and her mom, Penny is on the left.

In the cold months, I do actually work out a lot more  than the rest of the year. 2 reasons: 1. It’s cold so I eat lots of comfort foods which means it’s easy to pack on a few pounds. And 2. It’s so cold that I have fewer opportunities to play (unless it’s snowing). So right now, I’m still on my winter routine of rotating a couple of exercise DVDs (Jillian’s 30 Day Shred, Tank Top Arms, Bikini Belly, Boy Shorts Bottom, and Miracle Mile Walk) OR some treadmill with an arms/belly/legs routine. However, the more time I’ve been getting to spend outside, the more running around the backyard playing with Oreo there has been. So as the weather warms up, I expect to be playing more and working out less. 🙂

This is a shot of me with Oreo before we adopted him when he was still at the Humane Shelter. Lemme tell ya, playing with doggies is serious exercise!

Year round, I have the wonderful opportunity to have a ‘walking ministry’ of sorts. It used to be every Monday and Thursday but now it’s moved to only Mondays since the gym is closed on Thursdays. Basically, it’s just a couple of ladies (usually 3 or 4 sometimes up to 7) who get together and walk the track while we catch up on life. So again, not a ‘hardcore’ workout, but the important thing is that I’m always moving and having fun while I do it!

“Sword fighting” with Christmas decorations in a lobby. Oh yeah, we’re goofy, but at least we’re active! 🙂

My ultimate favorite workout is always dancing. I love it. I dance all the time. Seriously. And sing. All-the-time. Haha! I absolutely love love love it! I have TONS of photos of me dancing, here are a few:

Dancing with Mary (one of my old roomies/coworkers) when we used to work for the Benson House Management Team in college

Dancing with my lil sis the day before my wedding!

Dancing with Kenzie the day before my wedding

Okies, so this is ridiculously long. Here’s the summary: I like to play! 🙂

Oh, where is my hair brush?!

Please tell me that someone else knows the reference in this post title…

Today is the final Q&A question! However, if you ever have a question, still please feel free to ask. If I don’t answer you publicly, I will at least shoot you an email. 🙂

Mrs. Fish: What hair products do you use?

I actually switch up all the time. I find that if I use the same thing for too long, my hair seems to adjust to it and I don’t get the super great results I want. I’ve used (and loved) these shampoos/conditioners:

Fructis Sleek and Shine
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration
Aussie Moist
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette (this one doesn’t do much of anything the bottle promises, but it does smell amazing, haha!)
Organix Soft & Silky Vanilla Silk

My current favorite is Pantene Pro V Frizzy to Smooth for Medium-Thick hair.  And no matter what shampoo + conditioner combo I’m using, I always love my Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum. Just the tiniest dab goes such a long way in taming flyaways and making hair looks smooth and silky.

Here’s a little tip for ya – if you want your hair to have that pretty little shine, you can use a blast of cold water at the end of your shower. It closes off the cuticles and makes your hair more smooth which in return makes it more shiny. I’ve heard that a blast of cold air after blow drying has a similar effect, but I haven’t experimented with that since I don’t blow dry my hair unless I’m in a huge rush (I don’t think I’ve ever blown my hair dry more than 3 times in one year). Normally I just let it air dry to avoid any unnecessary heat damage.

Speaking of heat damage. I straighten my hair about twice a week and I nearly always try to use my V05 Extreme Heat Defense Spray to try to protect my hair as much as I can.

With straight hair (photo from last Sept)

I have naturally curly hair, but that means I also have naturally frizzy hair (if I do nothing to my hair at all after showering then I’m likely to look like Princess Mia before her transformation) so if I want to wear my hair curly then I rarely trust it without 1 of 2 things. Either I use mousse (no favorite here, I’m always switching around) or I use my Conair hot rollers which I LOVE! 🙂

Used mousse this day (yeah, this picture is old. It was taken in ’07 just before I cut my hair for locks of love)

I used the Conair rollers this day

To be honest, my hair is nearly always in a ponytail or braids, though. I play with it way too much when I leave it down, haha!

This shot is also from summer ’07 right after I cut all my hair off (see the second pic of me up there)

I’d share photos of my hair in a ponytail, but the majority of the shots I share on this blog have my hair in a ponytail, haha! So I’m sure most of you recognize that look already. 😉 Okies, I think that is about as long as I can talk about my hair, haha!

Again, if you  have any questions please feel free to ask! I’m happy to answer! 🙂

This Italian Villa

Susan: Where did you get the inspirations on how to remodel your home? When we first bought the house it wasn’t in livable condition so we had no choice but to repaint and renovate it. The garage was the only thing that we didn’t really have to do, but it was one of my requirements when we were looking at houses. Originally I had said I didn’t want this house because it didn’t have a garage, but when we realized that we could rip out a wall and build one ourselves… well, we took on the challenge. 😉 As for color schemes and such – we used Google Image search a lot, haha! Mostly we picked favorite color combinations and just slapped them on the wall. If we didn’t like it then we painted over it.

We actually documented the whole renovation process and made a series of eight 10 minute videos. I would share them here, but they are full of references to our last name and where we live. So instead I thought I’d put together a couple of clips from the videos and let you guys get a taste of what I’m talking about. It’s 3.5 minutes long. If you don’t have time to watch it all and want to enjoy a little mushy-gushyness, skip to 1:42 and watch from there. Or if you just want a real quick laugh, skip to 2:48 and enjoy laughing at us. 😉

For a couple of before and after shots, be sure to check out our Rome page. This year we are working on outdoor projects! So excited to start in just a couple of weeks! 🙂


Just call me the fairy godmother

Last night some of our friends asked Christopher and I to be godparents to their kiddos.

Christopher’s response: “So will they call me Uncle Christopher?”
Bethany: *laughs* “Sure, that’s fine”
Christopher: “No wait! I’ve changed my mind. I’m Italian so I think I should be The Godfather.”
Bethany: *laughs again* “Absolutely.”
Rach: “Well, if he’s The Godfather then I wanna be the Fairy Godmother.”
Bethany: *more laughter* “That’s so perfect for you. I love it.”

So, meet The Godfather and Fairy Godmother (bet you didn’t know those two went together, haha!):

Question of the day:

Stacie: What made you want to start blogging? I had a Xanga waaaay back in high school which I used mostly to keep in touch with my friends in the States while I lived in China. So I’ve always been used to sharing bits and pieces of my life. I didn’t keep up with it well in college, but after I graduated and got married I started a account as a way to share recipes with my mom and sisters. I switched to WordPress this past November because I ran out of storage on Webs (plus I hated all the ads). I love to share my life with family and friends who are far away, but also with the world as well. I have absolutely gotten hooked to blogging simply because I love love LOVE the feedback from all of you! I love the friendships I’ve formed and the support I’ve received so I’m definitely not going anywhere. 🙂

I’m curious, why did you guys start blogging?

My Sister’s Family Came to Visit! :D

We had such a great weekend with my sister’s family! Love love love them! 😀

(see, I told you guys we had nice furniture too! We just don’t let Oreo on the leather couches so most of our pictures are taken in the fireplace room)

I know my arm looks weird. I’m playing with Holly’s hair while she and Wesley use my lap as a pillow. 🙂

(see, this is the fireplace room with the couch Oreo is allowed on)

Kenzie and I with our half aprons! 😀

Makenzie didn’t want Uncle Christopher to leave for work this morning

Such beautiful faces 🙂

It was a great weekend. 🙂

Now I’ve got laundry to do!

Anyone do anything exciting this weekend?

Oh! And in honor of Makenzie, I’m going to answer Blond Duck‘s question: Ok, I have to ask, because I think I know the answer.  What’s your favorite Disney princess? Just like Kenzie – it’s Princess Belle! Maybe because she was both beautiful and smart. Maybe because she was strong willed like me. Maybe because she had such a gorgeous princess dress (the gold!!). Maybe because she wasn’t much of a damsel-in-distress. Maybe because that movie is so incredibly fabulous. And maybe just maybe, because she looks so much like me. 😉 Who’s your favorite Princess?

Numbers on the Scale

Carlee: How often do you weigh yourself?

I go through stages with weighing myself. Sometimes I do it as often as every day or at least every other day and other times I don’t look at the scale for weeks. Like, right now, I can’t remember the last time I weighed myself, but my clothes fit well so I’m not worried about it. I have kind of a scary number that I refuse to weigh more than so if I find that I’m getting close to it then I just make sure that I am being mindful in my eating. I don’t obsess over the numbers like I used to, though.

I will say this, though, “The numbers on the scale no longer define me.” End of story. 🙂

On a related note, I thought I would share my thoughts on calories and food. Please note, this is what works for me. I am not recommending this for anyone else. 🙂 When I’m not concerned about my weight (most of the Spring/Summer/Fall since I spend so much time being active outside) I really don’t worry about calories. I try to only eat 1 serving at meal times and to only eat when I’m hungry and that works. However, I never limit the number of raw fruits or veggies I can have. I don’t want to skimp on healthy stuff just because I’m concerned about the calories. So I just don’t worry about it. If I want a banana, I eat an banana. 🙂

During the winter, I’m too cold to spend a lot of time playing outside so I have to workout indoors (treadmill, workout dvds, etc) and I try to watch my calories a little better. Breakfast and lunch are normally 200-400 calories. The reason I eat so light during the day is quite simply because I want to have freedom to eat whatever I want at dinner. Dinner is our family time. Christopher, Tony and I all gather around the table and talk about our days and thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we get into politics or religion. It’s always good conversation. And we love to eat while we talk. So in general, I expect to consume 800-1000 calories at dinner and I’m okay with that. So the least possible number of calories I might eat is 1200 and the most is 1800. And you know what, that is the perfect range for me. 🙂

I know lots of people argue that you need to eat a huge breakfast and snack throughout the day, but I don’t believe in cookie-cutter food plans. I listen to my body. I feed it when it asks me to. And believe me, eating breakfast at all is a huge improvement from my college days when I skipped the meal entirely. I’m just not normally hungry in the morning. Okies, enough about this!

Since we’re talking about food… let’s LOOK at some food too!

Remember that scone recipe I promised? It’s up and ready for you to go and make! If you want to make the original recipe, you can find it here on Jessica’s page (it’s her friend’s sister’s recipe) or if you want to make the sugar free version you can find it at the link below. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Scones


3 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup Splenda
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 sugar free chocolate chips


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.

BLT Spaghetti
(thank you, Rachael Ray)


1 onion (original recipe called for leeks, but I don’t like ‘em), minced
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 slices center-cut bacon, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced or chopped
Salt and pepper
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 pound spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
A handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced or chopped


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta until al dente.

2. Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add bacon and crisp. Add onion and garlic, cook 2-3 minutes to soften. Season liberally with black pepper.

3. Add crushed tomatoes and Italian seasoning to pan. Bring up to a simmer and let thicken over low heat while you cook pasta. Stir in parsley.

4. Drain pasta and toss with sauce for a minute or so. Serve in shallow bowls with cheese and basil on top

Turkey Cheese Melt


3 tbsp reduced calorie mayonnaise
2 tsp ground chili powder
2 tsp onion powder
8 (1oz) slices lean turkey breast
4 (3/4oz) slices French bread, toasted
1 small avocado, peeled and cut into 8 slices
4 (1oz) slices Colby Jack cheese
Dash of ground red pepper


1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well

2. Place 2 slices turkey on each bread slice; spread half of mayo mixture over turkey. Top each with 2 slices avocado and remaining mayo mixture. Top each with 1 slice of cheese

3. Broil 5 1/2″ from heat (with electric oven door opened) 5 minutes or until cheese melts

4. Sprinkle with red pepper. Serve warm.

Have a super fabulous weekend! My sister and her family will be here tonight and I am SO excited! Expect to see pictures of some seriously beautiful faces soon! 🙂