Category Archives: Walkin’ in Memphis

The 1,000th Post {Giveaway}

Well, my friends, WordPress has let me know that this post is my one thousandth post on this blog. I actually started my very first blog on June 9th, 2003 over at Xanga. Nearly 13 years ago! Anyone remember Xanga? That was back in the days of MySpace and AOL chat. I’m officially dating myself now, ha! It has been nearly 13 years since I started blogging and it has been such a fun journey. I’ve had a couple of blogs over the years, but I started this one on WordPress back in 2010 with a post about poop (it was a rough day šŸ˜‰ ). And today this blog officially reaches 1,000 blog posts. So it’s clearly time to celebrate!

And how do we celebrate?? PRESENTS! šŸ™‚

You guys know I love Memphis. This city is all heart. Grit & grind. We have awesome food and so many people who are passionate about caring for each other. It’s a rough city in some ways, but it’s also an incredible place to live. It’s also a great place to come and visit, but I know many of you are far, far away. So today I’m offering one lucky winner a little taste of Memphis! šŸ™‚

memphis giveaway.jpg

All the goodies! None of this is a sponsored post – I purchased each of these items as a way to say “thank you” to you guys for sticking with me through one thousand blog posts and for encouraging me along the way! I just wish I had a little care package to send to each of you, but at least we can go with the luck of the draw on this! šŸ™‚

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So first up is the BBQ seasoning! Memphis is famous for her BBQ and while you have to come here to really enjoy the secrets of the perfectly smoked meat, you can have a taste of it at home by using these seasonings! šŸ™‚ I’ve blogged about how much I love both Corky’s BBQ Ribs and Rendezvous’ BBQ Nachos. If only 3 Little Pigs, home of my favorite pulled pork sandwich, had seasonings to sell. But you will just have to come visit Memphis for that particular joy! šŸ™‚

bartlett soap co.jpg

I’ve also shared with you guysĀ here on the blog how much I love Bartlett Soap Company and their products! I love that their productsĀ are plant based and all organic, not to mention absolutely luxurious! My favorite is the Good Morning Sunshine soap which is included in this giveaway. It smells so delightful and it is super moisturizing.

j brooks coffee.jpg

J. Brooks is Christopher’s favorite local coffee (not to mention several of our friends’ favorite as well). It is roasted right here in Memphis! We have a lot of overlap with this company including the fact that my old boss was a big financial part of the J. Brooks start up. Which meant that when they were just starting out, they would roast their coffee in the same building where I worked. Let me tell you, it smelled incredible! Randomly, Christopher also happens to play basketball with one of the owners of this company and they’ve become friends through that. So I know we sound biased, but it’s not just us! Lots of Memphians love this coffee! I chose the Gallant blend because it’s Christopher’s favorite. It’s stout, deep, with teasing shades of chocolate. Winner, eh? šŸ˜‰

ekata necklace.jpg

And finally, Ekata Designs is a company that offers employment, income, and training to refugees in Memphis. You can see more of their jewelry here on their website as well as read more about them and their mission on their about page. For this giveaway I picked out the Dreamer necklace (the chain is 24″ long for a visual)Ā because I thought it was so pretty! šŸ™‚

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment below letting me know which item you areĀ most excited to receive if you win! The giveaway will be open until midnight on April 24thĀ after which a winner will be randomly chosen and announced! šŸ™‚

Love Rach

That one time I was in graduate school

I graduated college with the intention of working with teenage girls. This led me to a graduate program in Memphis that offered me a 75% discount on tuition based on my grades (and let’s be honest – my family connectionsĀ probably helped since my grandmother worked in the library at this graduate school for 26Ā years and my mom worked there for 2). During my second semester in the spring of 2009, one of the professors talked me through the number of years I had between current day and when I would actually be practicing what I wanted to do. And I realized that 6 years was too many to wait. I wanted to be working with teensĀ now.

usUs taking our dailyĀ evening strollĀ around the grad school campus in 2008. We were so young!

But I was worried. Oh how I worried. I worried that I would disappoint my family by being a drop out (spoiler alert: they were super supportiveĀ and I had nothing to worry about). I’d never quit anything in my life and I hated the idea of quitting. Even though my grades were great and I was excelling in my classes, I felt like I was failing by not finishing out the program. But thankfully I had a supportive husband who walked me through the process. He encouraged me to not worry so much about finding “the perfect job” working with teens, but to instead start volunteering with teenagers. Who says you have to be paid to do what you’re passionate about? It was the best advice ever. After three semesters, I quit graduate school in 2009.

rach and abby in the libraryMy sister, Abby, visiting me at the library on campus where I worked in 2008 (the same library where my grandmother & mom worked!)

You might find it odd since I ended up dropping out, but I am so grateful that I went to graduate school for that year. When we graduated college we were looking at Florida, Colorado, and Tennessee as possible places to move. When I was offered that awesome scholarship,Ā our decision was made easily. We would go to Memphis for me to attend graduate school and then after I graduated, we’d move somewhere else. Well, what do you know, I quit after a year and already we had found a home here in Memphis. I don’t know that we’ll always stay here (our hearts are really pulled to both mission work and the beach), but I know that for the past nearly 8 years, Memphis has been home. And I’m so glad that graduate school brought us here. šŸ™‚

dinner with friends grad schoolDinnerĀ withĀ friends in the courtyard on campus in 2008

We also had a lot of fun while I was in grad school. We lived on campus which meant that we lived in close proximity to all our new friends. We were always together all the time which was just really wonderful. Oh, and I was on the Student Association Counsel because I’m totally that girl. Which meant that I was part of making a couple of promotional videos for our school. I know you want to see them. My favorite one is absolutely the Popcorn Day one. I’m wearing a purple shirt with a white scarf. You can see it here:

And if that isn’t enough for you, you can also see this videoĀ where my acting skillz are really put to use (near the end of the first minute). Why I’m sharing proof of my lack ofĀ acting talent with you guys, I really don’t know. Other than that they strike me as funny. So enjoy. šŸ˜‰

Recently I ran across those videos again and it had me thinking about how grateful I am that graduate school brought us to Memphis. And how grateful I am that I had the courage to quit after the first year even though I was so worried about what people would think and about what I would do with my life. Immediately after quitting graduate school in 2009, I began volunteering with a group of 7th grade girls. Those girls graduated high school last year and despite all my protesting that I’m too old for this, I find myself still mentoring teen girls (just a different group now). I am so very grateful for the way it all worked out. I volunteer for a couple of other organizations, nanny part time forĀ two of the best kids ever, and have a full time photography business. Life is so much better than I could have predicted.

rachtopher choose901

How did you end up in the city where you currently live?Ā 

Have you ever quit anything?

Do you use your college degreeĀ (either by work or volunteer work)?

Love Rach

Ah, sweet luxury

This past weekend my friend, Julia, and I were talking about how much we love local little places that sell soaps and beauty products. So I took her to my favorite spot calledĀ the Bartlett Soap Company which reminded me that I never filled you guys in on this place! Christopher and IĀ discovered it during our 30 Days together and I wrote a draft on my blog, but then never published it. After two months of using their products, my review is even more glowing now than it was when I originally wrote this. So enjoy!

Have you guys ever been to White Basin or Lush? They have wonderful soaps and bath bombs and lotions. I found a couple of bath bombs and bath salts at White Basin earlier this year while we were in Vegas. I wish I had written down the scents because they were wonderfulĀ and now I can’t order them online because I can’t remember which ones I liked, ha! But now I have an even better option!

bartlett soap company

During our 30 Days we were exploring around and discovered the Bartlett Soap Company. Oh my gracious, you guys. It’s awesome. The place is super cute, but better than that – their products are awesome. This is not a sponsored post. They have no idea I’m even writing this, but I just loved it all so much that I want to share!

soaps

I love the Bartlett Soap Company for several reasons. First of all, like Lush & White Basin they have all the awesome luxury products. And their scents are divine. Honestly, I liked them better than any of the ones I smelled at Lush or White Basin.

bath bombs

I love them because their products are plant based and all organic. And they are local. I am all about supporting local businesses. Especially when their products are just as good (or in this case,Ā better!) than the chains. And the prices are comparable to White Basin and Lush.

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And finally, IĀ loveĀ their products! I have never been a soap girl. I like how they are so cutesy and smell great, but I don’t like the way soaps feel on my skin. I much prefer to use a shower gel. Until now. Their soaps are divine. So moisturizing and delightful. Both Christopher and I really liked it (our favorite isĀ the Good Morning Sunshine soap). Better than our shower gels even. AndĀ their bath bombs areĀ fabulous. So luxurious. They have two different moisturizers in them so they can leave your tub a little slippery, but it’s worth it.

fall scentsFall scents!! (We have been using the Hot Buttered Rum one this month)

So, I say all that to say, if you are in the area – check out the Bartlett Soap Company. And if you’re not, feel free to order from them online. Trust me, friends, you want to. You really do.

Do you like to use soap or are you more of a shower gel person?Ā 

Have you tried using a bath bomb before?Ā 

Love Rach

Traveling back to 1576

We went to a Renaissance Faire last weekend. It was so cool! Well… “cool” as in “a neat experience”… not as in the weather. It was hoooot out. Especially without shade when we watched the joust. They stamped our hands so weĀ could come and go all day so we left midday to go hang out in the air conditioning of a nearby Starbucks. Because we’re wimps. And clearly would not have survived the olden days. šŸ˜‰

ren faire

But back to the Faire! You guys, it was so interesting! If you’ve ever been to a Medieval TimesĀ sort of thing, it’s very similar. Except that it’s all day long and you get to walk around and see all the different things. Story tellers, a court jester, musicians, a guy in the stocks who you could throw tomatoes at (he was so sassy and kept insulting the people throwing tomatoes at him – it was pretty hilarious), archery, sword fighting, dancing, lots of craftsman shops, etc. It was really neat to walk through! And the people watching was fabulous.

queen and knights

They had several people who were playing specific characters who walked about all during the day. Like Queen Elizabeth I and her guards. But there were also just lots of people attending the faire who came in costume. Some of the costumes were really impressive! There were faeries, pirates, and lots of people in Elizabethan era clothing. We didn’t dress up, but Christopher did say at one point that if he had gone to this as a teenager, he totally would’ve dressed up in a costume that he had (from aĀ MedievalĀ themed wedding he wasĀ in as a teen). And I’m pretty sure that if I went as a teenager I would’ve gone in at least a flower crown. Now we’re old and no fun. šŸ˜‰ Who knows, maybe we’ll go again next year and dress up as pirates! I’m pretty sure we still have pirate costumes from some college party we attended. šŸ™‚

the joust

The joust was our favorite part of the day. It was so cool to see! We’d been to Medieval Times before (we went in Orlando on our anniversary) so we’ve seen a joust, but it’s still so cool! Those horses are so well trained. And those poor knights in all those layers of clothes. Yikes! I was hot so I can’t imagine how hot they were! But you’d never know it from their performance. It was excellent! šŸ™‚

knightstale{source}

And of course we came home and watched A Knight’s Tale. Christopher suggested it on the way home and it was the perfect end to the day! IĀ lovedĀ that movie when I was in high school and I had forgotten just how funny it was. I’d also forgotten that I can quote the whole movie. Christopher kept laughing at me when I started quoting entire scenes without realizing it, but he absolutely lost it when I pulled out my bass voice and said “Yuuuuuah!” to quote along side Roland after one of Chaucer’s speeches. Apparently my “man voice” is hysterical.


(for reference in case you’re curious about which part I’m referring to)

Have you been to aĀ RenaissanceĀ Faire before?Ā 

Do you find yourself quoting along with favorite movies? I really doĀ contain myself when anyone other than Christopher or family are around because I know it really annoys some people. Thankfully my family and Christopher don’t mind it because they are often quoting along to their favorite parts, too. šŸ™‚
Love Rach

This is We

Last week we went to the National Civil Rights Museum here in Memphis. If you ever get the opportunity to go, you need to go. It’s incredibly moving. No surprise, I cried as we walked through it.Ā I cannot understand hate and divisiveness.Ā I never have.Ā But they weren’t just tears of sorrow over the suffering of a people from long ago, but also tears for the people who still face racism every day. And tears shed because I was soĀ moved by all the people who stood up and made a difference.

I love this city where I live, but I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t still racial tension here.Ā But there is a lot of good here as well. Last night we walked down Broad Ave in the arts district. And we saw the melting pot. People of different races and socio-economic statuses chatting together. Looking at art, listening to music, and sharing food. Art, music, and food seem to bring people together and I love that Memphis is so rich in these.

We aren’t all the same here in Memphis. There’s a collision of cultures and backgrounds represented here. To be 100% honest, ever since Bethany and her familyĀ moved away, my closest friends here in Memphis are all white. But I love thatĀ every weekĀ I get to chatĀ with peopleĀ who areĀ African-American, Asian,Ā Hispanic, and some sweet ladies from the middle East. And that’s just by going to the gym, church, dropping the kids off at school, and going to our favorite restaurants within a couple of miles of our house. I love living in a place that is so influenced by so many different people and cultures. Which is why I loved the art on Broad Ave last night.

this is we muralThis is me. This is you. This is we.
We are Memphis.

Have you been to a Civil Rights Museum?Ā 
Does your city have an arts district?Ā 

Love Rach

Visiting Graceland during Elvis Week

We’re only on day 3 of 30, but it has been AWESOME so far! I know I said on Monday that we were planning a low key night in, but halfway through the day we realized that it’s currently Elvis week and we’ve never been to Graceland for it before. So we had a quick dinner at home and then we were off to Graceland!

graceland{us at Graceland in 2006}

We’ve been to Graceland once before. It was before we moved to Memphis. This shot was taken in 2006 when we were still college students. We had come to Memphis for Christmas with my extended familyĀ and my mom snapped this shot of us outside the front gates of Graceland. Check out how young we look. And how classy we are in our sweats & hoodies aka traveling clothes. šŸ˜‰ Little did those youngsters know that in two short years we’d be married and living in Memphis!

us at graceland 2015

There we are this week in front of Graceland! This photo was taken by our newest friends from the UK. Flo and Linda. They live 90 minutes apart in England and yet they met here in Memphis. Flo has been to Graceland for Elvis week 8 times and Linda has been here for Elvis week 15 times. This is Linda’s first trip without her husband who just passed away this year, but she said that it as sad as it is to be here without him, it feels like coming home to family. We were blown away by the community of people we discovered who gather together every year in our city.

us graceland2

When Linda and Flo heard that we lived here in Memphis, they told us how jealous they are. It cost Linda and her family $10k this year to come here for this. They couldn’t believe that we live in Memphis and that this is only our second time to ever come to Graceland. We didn’t dare tell them that we’ve never even been inside (We’ll make it happen one of these days)! Plus, we’ve been to Graceland Too and that’s just as awesome. šŸ˜‰ You guys should’ve heard them in their adorable British accents, “Live ‘ere in Memphis and never comeĀ to Graceland?! Can you believe it?” They cracked us up! I’m pretty sure it’d be how I’d feel if I heard someone living in Rome had only gone to the Colosseum once. And never even bothered to pay to go in. Just sounds ludicrous.

elvis' grave

Linda and Flo were just the tip of the iceberg with people who make the trek to Memphis to honor Elvis during the week of the anniversary of his death. Tens of thousands come every year during this week alone (I heard on the news that it was 35,000 in 2013, I’m not sure how many this year). There were so many different languages being spoken. We saw a woman weeping at his grave and many others sitting around in reverent quiet. It’s humbling in a way to see people who have come from across the world to visit the place I call home. Elvis has had such an incredible impact on music and generations of people.

elvis is forever

It wasn’t the low key night we had originally planned, but it was way way better. We had such fun and really loved getting to meet Flo & Linda. A night well spent!Ā We had more of a low key night last night (grilling out and packing). And tonight there will be more adventures! šŸ™‚

Have you been to Graceland before?

Is there something your city that tourists flock to?

Love Rach

Preview Party!

Blogging has brought a lot of fun opportunities my way over the years (like that one time we were in a commercial). And honestly, I’ve turned down a lot of things I’ve been asked to do (including TV segments, a plethora of products to try and review, as well as many store grand openings). It’s not because there is anything wrong with doing those things, but I feel really strongly about only sharing things I’m legitimately interested in. So when a health food store contacted me and invited me to a preview party for their grand opening, I said “yes!” because that is right up my alley.

sprouts

I am SO excited that Sprouts has opened a location so close to me! There were a couple here in Memphis already, but Whole Foods is so much closer to me so I usually end up there for “health food” related things. But my gracious Whole Foods is expensive. So I’m happy to have Sprouts so close as another option! I can’t really speak to the prices at Sprouts because the ones I saw this weekend were grand opening specials (and they were awesome!). But from what I’ve heard, even when they aren’t “grand opening prices” they are still more affordable than places like Whole Foods or Fresh Market.

sprouts3A sign in the cafe

Sprouts is all about healthy living. They educate their staff at each location about nutrition. Specifically about probiotics, superfoods, multivitamins, and omega rich oils. Which means if you walk into Sprouts and have a question about any of these, you will find a store full of people who can answer questions.

with janet littlePosing with Janet Little against a wall of vitamins inside Sprouts

I got to meet Janet Little who is Sprouts’ director of nutrition. She’s a nutritionist and passionate about what she does and teaches. She shared with me a lot about Sprouts’ health-minded mission.

melissa'sMatt Bergholz & Jody Okamoto from Melissa’s Produce

One unique thing about Sprouts is that they sellĀ exotic fruits. Matt and Jody struck up a conversation with me when they saw me taking photos and next thing I knew they were having me sample all kinds of new things. I tried a sapote, lychee, and rambutan. And I came home with a kiwano horned melon and passion fruit.

exotic fruit

I love trying new things so this was a major selling point for me! Matt and Jody were both passionate about what they do for Melissa’s and taught me how to tell if the fruits are ripe and also how to cut and serve them which was a huge help. I’ve always been hesitant to buy exotic fruits because I’m not sure what to do with them once I get them home, ha! So I was grateful to them for that!

cookbooks

Mid way through my conversation with the guys from Melissa’s, Matt told Jody that I probably needed one of their cookbooks. So naturally Jody went and brought back three different ones from the display for me to take home. Ha! I loved it, though! Each of these cookbooks are fabulous! My favorite, though, is the one in the center. Check out the inside:

cookbook

It’s a book all about the 50 Best Plants on the Planet! The plants are listed alphabetically and there are a couple of pages devoted to the health benefits of each plant and then two or three recipes for each one. I.love.this.book. Seriously! It’s so educational and the photos are beautiful! I can’t wait to dig deeper into it!

My afternoon at Sprouts was fast paced and full of meeting people passionate about what they do. I really love to talk to people whose eyes light up when they talk about what they are involved in. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do this. If you are in Memphis, check out all the specials the new Sprouts is hosting this week during their grand opening! And if you aren’t in Memphis, check out your local Sprouts. šŸ™‚

Have you been to Sprouts?Ā 

Would you love that 50 Best Plants book as much as I do?

What’s your go to store for “health” foods?Ā 

Sprouts contacted me and asked me to be there for this preview day and they gave me a tour of the store as well as a goody bag. But they did not ask me to write this post. I’m sharing because I want to! šŸ™‚ All of these thoughts and opinions are my own.

Love Rach