Category Archives: Uncategorized

Welcome Baby Girl

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Our little bit arrived safely on July 25th. As of her appointment yesterday she is 5lbs, 2oz and 18.75″ inches long. I have so much to say and share and process, but this week has been a time of adjusting and soaking in time with this little miracle of ours. I’ll be back soon with more to share. 🙂 Thank you all for your prayers!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

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Lately

Probably my favorite thing lately has been how Baby Girl’s nursery has come together. It is just absolutely my favorite room in our home. We still have a few more things to work on in there before it’s finished, but we’re nearly there. It is such a sweet little space. 🙂

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Speaking of baby things… Christopher’s co-workers had a baby shower for us this week. It was so sweet of them to do all of this for us! Christopher is obviously well loved at his office! I mean, no surprise there since he is awesome and all. But still, it was sweet seeing how excited his co-workers were for him to become a dad! 🙂

Espresso

Speaking of Christopher… he got an espresso maker and has been perfecting the art of his coffee making skills. Well, the art and science. It’s both for him. Figuring out the perfect grind for each different type of coffee bean, just how firmly to tamp it, and just how exactly to froth the milk are just a few of the things. I kind of love that he is such a coffee snob, though. It’s adorable.

High Valley

Speaking of things I love… we got to see High Valley in concert again! We first heard of High Valley when we saw them open at a Lonestar concert back in 2012. We fell in love with their music and became huge fans of their work. Then last year they came to Memphis again and not only did we get to hear them play at a small venue where we sat FRONT ROW, but we also got to meet them and chat a bit which was awesome! Then this year they returned to Memphis again and we got to chat with them after the concert and NO JOKE, they said they remembered us from last year because it was such a small venue. They asked us about our baby and shared with us about their own kids and it was just all awesome. I’m just choosing to believe that they don’t tell all their fans that they remember them, haha! It was an awesome night, though!

Oreo Yoga

Speaking of awesome… While I do my prenatal yoga, Oreo does his couch yoga. He cracks me up with the positions I find him in sometimes!

Happy Friday, friends!
Love Rach

 

Kitchen Project: We have a Bar & Bar Stools!

The bar stools are complete! Which means that after we put in shelves and decorate them, we will finally be done with this little kitchen make over!

bar & bar stools

Last year when we decided to re-do our kitchen, we knew we wanted to add a bar and bar stools to this side of the kitchen. We wanted it a little taller than average which meant we had trouble finding exactly what we wanted in a store. So Christopher built it. And again when it came to the bar stools, we had trouble finding ones that we just really loved. So they got added to Christopher’s build list. 😉 And as of this past weekend we finally stained, painted, and polyurethaned them.

bar stool

We went two-toned because we wanted to pull in the ebony from our appliances in the kitchen as well as the espresso from the bar, cabinets, and counter top. These bar stools are based on this pattern from Ana White (lots of things in our house are actually based on plans we found on her site!). Ours are a lot more modern looking than her vintage ones and they are taller as well (we wanted a tall bar and tall bar stools), but otherwise they are very similar! The bar itself is based on one I saw at a Starbucks and loved. So we took a few pictures on our cellphone and Christopher recreated it for me at home. He’s pretty awesome like that. 😉

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The view of the bar from the side as you first walk into our kitchen. I love that this table is by the window. There is SO much light that comes in and it is just such a happy place.

We used to have a table in our kitchen, but it took up SO much space. So we got rid of it and added more cabinets and counter top space where it had been. While we normally eat in the dining room, we wanted to have an option for eating in the kitchen as well. So Christopher built us a place for that. It’s the perfect breakfast spot. 🙂

Do you typically eat in the kitchen, dining room, living room or somewhere else? We normally eat in the kitchen or dining room, but on Friday nights we totally eat pizza on the couch in the living room while watching a movie. 🙂

Love Rach

Comfort Food: Chicken & Dumplings

This week I have been craving comfort food. So I decided to make one of my favorites. My grandmother’s Chicken and Dumplings recipe. Not only did she make this often when we visited, but my mom made it at home as well while I was growing up. So to me, it tastes like home feels.

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I learned so much about cooking from time in the kitchen with my grandmother. And to this day some of my favorite made-from-scratch recipes are recipes I learned from her and my mom. Including chicken & dumplings.

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I know a lot of people like the biscuit dropping method of dumplings, but I grew up on the shortening ones that you roll out. It’s a little more work, but so very worth it.

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Momma Billie’s Chicken & Dumplings

Ingredients:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
10 cups of water
1 tsp sage
½ tsp salt

3 cups flour
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water

4 chicken bouillon cubes
3 drops yellow food coloring

Directions:

1. Stew chicken in the water in a large pot. Season water with sage and salt while cooking.

2. While chicken is cooking, whisk together flour and salt. Using a dough blender, cut in shortening until evenly distributed into flour mixture. Add water, beginning with just 1/2 cup adding more as needed, and mix until it forms a dough (consistency of pie crust). Divide dough in half; refrigerate second half.

3. Roll dough out on a cutting board covered with a generous amount of flour. Cut dough into thin strips (about 1″). Place strips on a plate. Do the same with the refrigerated second half of dough.

4. Remove chicken from broth. Add chicken bouillon cubes to broth and a few drops of yellow food coloring for eye appeal and bring to boil. Drop dough one piece at a time into boiling broth. Press them down into broth if necessary. Reduce heat and simmer. Move dumplings around gently several times as they cook (about 25 minutes).

5. While dumplings are cooking, chop up or shred the chicken. When dumplings are done add chopped chicken back to pot and heat for a minute or two. Salt and pepper to taste.

We don’t make this very often because… well… flour and shortening are two of the main ingredients. Not exactly ideal for this health conscious family. 😉 But some days just call for comfort food. And in times like these, I’m grateful for recipes like this.

What is your favorite comfort food?

Love Rach

My Grandmother’s Blueberry Muffin Recipe

From the time that I was a little girl until I was a college student, whenever I visited my mom’s parents there were a few things I could always expect. Normal things like warm hugs, laughter, and love, of course. But other constants as well.

with MB and DK(with my grandparents when I was a teenager)

For example, I could always count on my grandfather to offer a hair cut or trim if I wanted one (he was a barber and the only one who cut my hair until just a couple of years ago).

I could always count on him to make as many eggs as I wanted prepared any way I’d like (this was my favorite as a kid and I often ate half a dozen eggs for breakfast at their house – jokes were made about my future cholesterol, but I’ll have you know it’s still perfect today 😉 ).

And I could always count on waking up in the morning to the aroma of freshly baked blueberry muffins. From the time I was a small child, that was the first thing that would greet me every morning as I woke up. The warm scent of blueberry muffins wafting back to the bedroom. Eagerly I would bound out of bed and run straight for the kitchen where, without fail, my grandmother would be pulling a fresh batch out of the oven.

with momma billie 1987.jpg(with my grandmother in December 1987 when I was 6 months old)

My grandmother lost her fight with cancer while I was in college. But only after beating the odds for 20 years. There are no words for how grateful I am to have had her in my life for those years. Today I am thinking of her and I wanted to share her blueberry muffin recipe with you guys. 🙂

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Momma Billie’s Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.

2. In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in dry ingredients until just moistened.

3. Fill 12 greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Every time I bake these and my house is filled with this sweet aroma, I am reminded of my grandmother. I might be a bit biased, but if you are looking for the best blueberry muffin recipe of your life, this is it. 🙂

Were there certain things you could always count on when visiting grandparents/aunts & uncles/etc growing up?

Love Rach

Recent Happenings

ada grace

We met our friends’ brand new baby girl this weekend. She’s just 2 days old in the photo above. Her name is Ada Grace and she is way adorable!

rock and worship roadshow

I went to the Rock & Worship Roadshow last week and loved every minute of it. When Michael Tait, lead singer of the Newsboys who used to be part of DC Talk, sang Jesus Freak, I confess that I may have freaked out a little. Read: A LOT. It’s amazing to me that after so many years I still know every single lyric to that song. The rest of the concert was amazing too. From Phil Wickam leading us in worship to Mandisa preaching her heart out to Jeremy Camp, Danny Gokey, Newsboys, and Audio Adrenaline rocking the stage… it was just awesome. Such an incredible night! 🙂

topher
Christopher was gone for a work trip last week. We really hate having to be apart or travel separately and unfortunately this month is full of that on top of it being busy season for him. Happy Valentine’s month, eh? Ha! It’s okay, though, March is coming! And we make the most of the time we do have right now! 🙂 We took some time on Valentine’s afternoon to just be home, stop everything else, and just be. After so little quality time together this month, it was exactly what we needed. 🙂

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Because we are so aware of how little time we are spending together (at least compared to normal for us), we try and go the extra mile in showing each other that we love and support the other. This is what’s currently written on our mirror courtesy of my husband. 🙂 I kind of love him. 🙂

Did you go out for Valentine’s or stay in or not celebrate at all?

Been to any good concerts or held any cute babies lately?
Love Rach

Happy (belated) Chinese New Year!

Yesterday was the Chinese New Year! Usually we go all out and prepare a feast (or I make awkward cooking vlogs like last year 😉 ), but this year I wanted to keep it simple. Instead of a feast, I just picked one thing. Chicken Stir Fry. One of my absolute favorites that we make at home all the time. I have to tell you guys – this isn’t really a Chinese recipe. It’s a very Americanized version of Chinese food. However, when we were living in China my mom made this all the time and it was one of my favorites. So I always think of it as “comfort food from China.”

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Look at that giant bowl of veggies all prepped and ready to go! You may be tempted to buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies for your stir fry and I won’t judge you if you do… but you will be missing out. When you use fresh veggies, they come out crisp and perfect every time! 🙂

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All cooked and ready to be served over your favorite starch (or just eaten as is). We eat this so frequently that we’re always changing up the starch. White rice, brown rice, pasta, and even shirataki noodles. My absolute favorite is to eat it over Ramen noodles (I just throw away the seasoning packet). I’m not sure what sort of wizardry they do to Ramen noodles, but they soak up sauces SO well which makes them a perfect base for chicken stir fry!

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Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients:

Starch of your choice (2 cups rice, 8 oz noodles, etc)
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 large sweet onion
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 orange or yellow bell pepper
1 large carrot, peeled
1 broccoli crown
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
Smoked paprika
Seasoned salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

1. Begin rice or pasta now. Cook per package directions and set aside when finished.

2. Julienne your onion, bell peppers, and carrot. You can leave them in long strips or slice them all in half to make them bite-size. We do both depending on our chopping mood that day. 🙂 Place veggies in bowl and set aside. Slice stalks off broccoli and discard stalk pieces. Add broccoli pieces to veggie bowl.

3. Begin heating 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a wok or large pan. Add garlic after a minute and watch it as it begins to sizzle. When it turns golden, add your veggies, give them a good stir and cover with a lid.

4. While your veggies cook, begin slicing the chicken into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with smoked paprika, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Check on your veggies periodically to give them a stir.

5. After 5-6 minutes of veggie cook time begin checking the done-ness of your veggies by pulling out a couple of random pieces to taste. When they seem close, remove the lid and allow the veggies to cook for another 1-2 minutes to crisp up. {The lid keeps the moisture in allowing the veggies to cook without needing copious amounts of oil, removing the lid once the veggies are nearly done cooking allows the moisture to evaporate and the veggies to crisp up!}

6. When veggies are done, pour them out of the wok into a serving bowl. Immediately add remaining olive oil to the pan and then the chicken. Allow to cook for 2 minutes on one side and then use a spatula to flip as many of the pieces as you can to cook for another 2 minutes on the other side. Using your spatula, break up a couple of pieces of chicken to check the inside. Top your veggies with the cooked chicken.

7. Serve immediately over the starch of your choice and with the sauce of your choice. See below for our favorite sauce choices!

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And because you can’t have stir fry without sauces (well, you can, but you shouldn’t), here are a few of our favorites to mix and match as the mood strikes us. We don’t put any sauces in as the food is cooking because we like to try different flavor combinations in our own bowl. Christopher nearly always adds more smoked paprika and then soy sauce and black vinegar. I nearly always go for Worcestershire sauce because that’s the way I ate it in China (random, right?). But no matter what direction we go, it’s always delicious!

rach & abby at the pagoda

I’ll leave you with this shot of me and my sister, Abby, outside a pagoda in 2001. For anyone who is newer to the blog and is wondering about the whole China connection, you can read more about it here. 🙂 Happy belated Chinese New Year, my friends!

Have you ever celebrated the Lunar/Chinese New Year?

What are your favorite veggies for stir fry?
Love Rach