celebrating ten years


commemorating the aluminum anniversary with an aluminum champagne bucket, a fancy-schmany new buffet to house our china and to display said bucket, AND grand plans for paris! i can’t wait to stamp those passports with FRANCE, as a couple. and i am hoping that by the time we go in the spring, i will be able to travel with my new US passport. big things, people. this trip has been in our minds and dreams for the past few years. if you know us at all, you know that this is our trip. strolling the streets of the city and savoring wine country too. and maybe even a jaunt to nice. this is the perfect way to celebrate TEN YEARS. à bientôt, la france!


oh my goodness. ten years of marriage. it has been the most rewarding and challenging and uplifting and tough and revealing and incredible years of my life. the honeymoon period. the newlywed bliss. the firsts. the moves. the career changes. the personal revelations. the hair styles. the highs and lows. the ebb and flow. death. life. trials and woes. tears of pain and happiness. date nights. travels. adventures. the new roles. the daily joys. we have been though so much already. and God uses it all for His glory and our good. there have been times that felt like magic, pure bliss. and there have been seasons of brokenness and hurt and pressure and turmoil. there have been easy times and difficult times. times when we have been at our very ugliest and times when we have been at our very best. and just when we think e’ve got it figured out or under control, life shifts. and we are learning new lessons and on our knees with new prayers.

praise God for the beauty of marriage. what a remarkable thing. and i pray that God uses our union to sharpen each other and encourage those around us. i don’t know what the next ten years (and ten plus ten plus ten plus ten, et cetera) hold but i pray that no matter what, we continue to grow closer to God and to each other. that we pursue Him first and let everything else flow from that. i pray that we love sacrificially and immensely. that we strive to put each other’s needs before our own. and that we can continue to find the magic in the mundane. that we laugh heartily and often. that we experience growing pains together and allow change to make us stronger. i hope that we always look for the good stuff. the simple pleasures. the exquisite moments of grace. that’s the stuff. and there’s always something for which to be grateful. God is good. always.

okay, okay, i will resist the urge to continue to gush and wax romantic. instead, i will share a bunch of pictures from an evening spent at our oasis – the site where we said I DO a decade ago and where we return for pretty much every major celebration, royal palms. collective sigh…



















oh, and don’t you love our FANTASTIC matching hawaiian ensembles? those are our super cool souvenirs that we snagged on our honeymoon in kauai. we looked like quite the pair… but i must say that it was fun to “dress up” and act like goofballs. here’s to many more decades of shenanigans together.

and speaking of shenanigans, i did some snapchatting on our anniversary and posted the full story here, for those of you who aren’t on snap and missed the behind the scenes action. enjoy!


oh, snap!


we are having a bunch of “behind the scenes” fun over on snapchat. if you are playing in that sandbox, i would love to be buds. and if you haven’t taken the plunge, you totally should. it’s a little less curated and a whole lot more le quotidien, if you will. you can add me by username (madameswanky) or just screenshot that image up top and add a friend by snapcode. super cool and super easy.

don’t expect anything too inventive or outlandish or consistent. when i do snap, it’s mostly cute captures of the little ones and food and occasional #randomrachel moments. i am no pro (seriously, though…there are some amazing snapchat artists and creative folks using the platform with such panache!) but it is a fun place to play and i am all for some of that. aaaand i would love to hear any recommendations for “must follow” accounts. it’s fun to see the crazy things that people come up with… and you know that anyone who shows a lot of tasty food will make my list.

but for anyone that is like, “um, no thanks…no snap for moi” then i thought i would share just a few of my favorite recent snaps. snapchat 101: the platform lets you take images or quick videos and either share them directly with friends or you can share them with all the people who follow you and build out more of a story. you can add filters (or, funny faces as elinor calls it) and captions and emojis. you can color and create your own wording and art. like i said, it’s pretty much about fun and play.

so, enjoy! and happy friday! xo.

throwback thursday







in honor of #throwbackthursday (or #tbt), i thought it would be fun to pair a few recent snaps with some links to posts from around this time, in years past. oldies but goodies. i started blogging here in late 2011 so there is nothing to be found from april of that year but we can start strong in 2012 right around the time we announced that we were expecting our little peanut!

it is pretty fun to walk down memory lane. reminiscing and being reminded of all that God has done in just the past five years. some of this seems like yesterday. some of it seems so close and familiar and fresh and still relevant. and some of it seems like a lifetime ago. some of it seems exactly the same. and some of it looks like different people entirely. time is funny like that.

this quick exercise of traveling back through the blog was such a meaningful activity for me. sometimes, the simplest of things can mean the most.

this humble blog has become such an important part of our life. it isn’t just about sharing stories or hosting giveaways (although, those are a blast and stay tuned for another one soon, wink wink) or having a creative outlet. it is a chronicle of our life. the messy and lovely. the ups and downs. the tough stuff and fun stuff. those magical mundane moments. the milestones. this is my digital record of our date nights, our precious moments, our epiphanies, our challenges, our ends and our beginnings. and yes, our outfits and meals too.

i think it is such a good practice to write things down, type things out, snap a picture, capture moments and emotions and thoughts and feelings. journal. jot. something that can jog your memory and connect the dots of life. it is so easy to forget from where you have come – what has happened – the ways in which God has worked. i never want to forget His goodness or overlook the ways that He has guided and shaped my life.

psalm 103:1-5 / bless the LORD, o my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

so, here are a few blasts from the past. feel free to click around a bit and look for any gems you might have missed. ahem, ben’s macarons and my random theological musings. but mostly, i hope that going back in time in our life encourages you to do the same for yourself. look back through albums. read your prayer journals. scroll deep into your facebook or instagram feed. laugh at yourself. marvel at the growth and changes. be inspired to revisit neglected positive habits. set goals. try something new. focus on the shifts and pivot points and seemingly insignificant details that served a greater purpose. and be grateful for what you had and what you have.

planting seeds with elinor at this time last year (2015)

a saturday sante from 2014

a family outing for hotdogs and vinyl (2013)

the first dear peanut letter (2012)

art + flowers + food + sunshine


saturday afternoon was spent at the GORGEOUS berridge nursery in phoenix for their 18th annual art in the garden show. this year, my mother-in-law was one of the featured artists so attendance was a no brainer.

fortunately, it was a lovely afternoon. around here, you never know what you are going to get in the way of weather. it could be a total scorcher or a hail storm. april in arizona is strange like that. but saturday was perfect. i got my morning miles in and then we had some breakfast together before attending a birthday party at the park for one of elinor’s friends. the morning was cloudy and cool. there was a delicate breeze. and even though it started to warm up come noon, it was still well within the range of acceptable temperatures for outdoor activities (in case you care: i happen to think that anywhere in the 60-85 degree range is optimal if you are looking for an enjoyable time in the great outdoors. anything cooler can leave you chilled and anything hotter is a tad too sweaty. and of course, sun and clouds and general ambiance factor into this, but there isn’t time to hash that out…).

so, with the sun playing peekaboo from behind wispy clouds and the temps hovering at about 78, we made our way to the nursery for some art and flowers and food and fun.






the sun was definitely out come 2pm but the clouds would give us the occasional reprieve AND the nursery had a lovely canopy protecting the plants so that made it a few degrees cooler and took the edge off. and aaaaahhhhh, the breeze. that was so nice. ben and elinor and i ended up with some pink on our foreheads and noses and shoulders… but not too much. just a little springtime kiss of color (which ridley avoided? hmmm…maybe he will have an awesome darker complexion). the sun does that to me once a year before i get my arizona act together and apply sunscreen liberally before extended time outdoors. and i just received a new beautycounter spf from my friend lauren so i have ZERO excuses now.

we strolled about the grounds. elinor took off her shoes and found a spot on a bench by mom-mom’s display so that she could dangle her feet and drink the remains of my coffee (which was pretty much 99% melted ice and 1% coffee, at that point). ridley was passed around until he landed on my lap and then, on the ground so he could walk around and flirt with the people passing by. he just wants to go-go-go when we are out and about.






i admired the botanicals and resisted the urge to buy more plants because, well, i am not the best with those. but we did hit up a few of the local foodie booths for some goods because i definitely know what i am doing there. we went home with two loaves of noble bread and a bottle of iconic cocktail co. tonic. after a bit more browsing and sampling and strolling and sitting and chatting, we packed up to take the crew home for belated (and much-deserved) afternoon naps.



what a great time. and the late afternoon and evening was spent resting, watching burn notice (warm weather guilty pleasure netflix), enjoying some AC, applying coconut oil and aloe and lavender to our pink spots, and nibbling bread. we listened to music and sipped rosé and played and colored and giggled and let the day slip slowly into night. gosh, it felt good.

joyride + life’s joys


snapped that picture above as elinor was mid-sentence. and in case you were wondering, she was saying: let’s get this show on-a-road, guys! while being forced to wait FOREVER in the parking lot outside of the restaurant while we were getting ridley out of the car. she’s too much, this sassy gal of ours. 

so, to celebrate ben doing a whiz-bang job at work (plus, hello…hump day!) we decided to hop in the car and enjoy an evening out. it was a weird day for weather. the clouds made me want to be curled up by the fire with some sipping chocolate HOWEVER it was 98 degrees! confusing for sure. we made our menu choice based on the heat index and not the overcast skies. and when it is hot, our dinner of choice is pretty much always mexican food. joyride time.

aaaaand here’s a smattering of snaps with some corresponding snippets for ya. enjoy!


their bright yellow chairs always make me smile. and all the surrounding gray tones make for a fabulous contrast. that’s some strong beach house decor inspiration, right there.


oh, chips and salsa. we kept having to remind elinor to slow down but we aren’t exactly the best models for that behavior. we’re working on pacing ourselves but WHAT IS IT ABOUT CHIPS AND SALSA? gets me every single time. we also ordered the skillet queso because that stuff is incredible. a spoonful of that inside a warm flour tortilla? game over.


the retro/mod vibe is such fun. and i definitely dig those light fixtures. i appreciate when people can do quirky decorating well. i have friends that know how to collect and curate and mix-and-match unexpected items to create such a funky feel in their home. mid century and flea market finds and super modern lines. i am a sucker for all of that…but it is SO NOT ME. that aesthetic doesn’t suit us. i am often drawn to it when i see it elsewhere but every time i attempt to bring something like that into the house, it just doesn’t work. and that’s okay with me. it’s like when i try to wear pieces of clothing that don’t fit my personal style. it doesn’t look right. and i don’t feel right. i will admire a bold-print dress or vintage item or free-flowing-hippie shirt on someone else who can totally rock it but i know better than to bring it into my closet. it would stick out like a sore thumb and end up in the goodwill pile. ahhhh…wisdom comes with age. living and learning. knowing who you are and being happy that way. not feeling the need to jump on every bandwagon or adopt every trend. saves you time and money and headache, that’s for sure. gosh, such life lessons at the taco house, last night…

okay, back to the good stuff. major bunny-trail-rabbit-hole there.


these tacos. i love the way they are presented. and i looooove that they are overflowing with flavor and toppings and juices. that’s some good stuff. for some reason, i wanted to order all the beef ones. not a chicken taco or veggie taco to be found! and that was a fantastic choice, if i do say so myself. each one was marinated and assembled perfectly. love the spice with a sour bite and a bit of crunch. i think the carne asada was my favorite. there’s something about those crispy beef edges…and the slaw and the salsa. tasty tasty.


obligatory architecture + sky shot. i love the geometry and rigidity of the lines juxtaposed with the fluffy clouds. steel blue and baby blue. harsh and soft.


and as i have said before, i am a sucker for succulents. i love a potted collection of these babies. and when you pair them with an oversized spiky guy? le swoon. i will have you know that i have kept our portulacaria afra alive for over six months now. that’s pretty solid for me. here’s to seeing it survive the summer… fingers crossed.


i will close with my boys. they are the very best ones. i am so blessed and honored to be married to such a devoted, diligent, helpful, funny, and solid man. to walk through this life together. the ups and downs. in sickness and in health. for better or for worse. ’til death, hubs. he does his best, consistently and constantly. he gives his all for his employer, clients, partners, and team. and then he comes home and gives his all for his family. he uses his gifts and talents well. he serves his church family and the arts community. he is a tremendous life partner. he is a doting father. he is a renaissance man. he gets the job done. and he does it superbly. and he does it all, Soli Deo Gloria.

and as for that little man…i pray that we can bring him up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. that he will look to his earthly father as an example. that he will seek counsel from the wonderful men in his life. that he will increase in knowledge and wisdom. that he will listen to the experiences and lessons of others. that he will maintain an adventurous and confident spirit. that he will be humble. and most of all, that he will love Jesus deeply and strive to please his Heavenly Father in all things.

Coram Deo.

spring is in the air… putting a spring in my step… (you get the picture)


family strolls at dusk


give me all the granola


(almost) spring cleaning for the crystal


a vibrant bowl of nourishment


a fresh chop to let those curls spring to life


of purple mountain majesties


sequins + destroyed denim = a winning combo


channeling my inner blanche devereaux with oversized sunnies and my grandmother’s scarf (on my way to quilting class, no less) #thegoldengirls


sunday morning lounging


this week’s edition of ben’s bread