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Hi, welcome to our blog! We are newlyweds living in Memphis, TN. We love life, adventure and of course each other. We're starting a blog to keep track of any and 'all things Jacques' so we can look back and cherish memories from our first year of marriage. We'll be sharing memories, I'm sure a lot of our dog Bella, favorite recipes, books, trips, spiritual thoughts, home projects, and anything we're enjoying in life at the moment! We hope you enjoy as well. Much love, Michael and Rachel Jacques

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My biggest blessing.

By far the biggest blessing God has given me (besides my salvation) is my husband, Michael. Words can't begin to describe the special relationship we have. He is truly the one that my heart longs for, the one that I love to laugh with, the one I need when I'm sad and the other half of my heart and soul. How beautiful and amazing is God's gift of marriage? The Lord has provided me with exactly who I needed. Someone who understands me like no one else. My rock and my best friend in the world.

I am so incredibly thankful that God gave me you, Michael. I hope you know how much I love you with everything I am.

Okay, in true Michael fashion I'll wrap up the mushy stuff and get to the fun stuff. Let me tell you, we take birthdays very seriously around here. And I have to admit, it is mostly my fault as I have always been a birthday diva... so naturally some of that has rubbed off on Michael in the past 6 birthdays we've spent together. Here's a little birthday timeline from age 22-26... 27 pictures to come!

Age 22 (look how young we look... and to add to our age I'm pretty sure that this picture, judging by the quality, was taken from a disposable camera!) We celebrated this birthday at Blue Monkey with his friends. My, how times have changed!

Age 23, I threw him a big birthday party at Cozumel's (former Mexican restaurant that is now shut down). We had the big party room and went downtown after. A really fun night!

Age 24, again we are aging ourselves... this is him and Chip's combined birthday at Reedmiester's, yes its the shady bar on Park and Highland. Not even sure if it is there anymore. This was the birthday that me and Amy almost killed Michael and Chip. And Betsy, if you are reading this, just remember I love you! lol

Age 25, by far my favorite and I'm sure he would say it's his favorite too. His Bar Golf Par-tee. We rented this party bus, behind us, and bar hopped in our golf attire. Such a fun night! Highly recommended. :)

Age 26, this was actually a low key birthday. I'm pretty sure we met friends up at Dan McGuiness. I must have been busy wedding planning and not party planning.

And to keep true to tradition, here is birthday diva # 2's fun-filled 27th birthday week!

Sunday, 2/24: To celebrate his birthday we started this past Sunday at my grandmothers with some of his favorite foods & gifts from my family.

Tuesday, 2/26: Today, his actual birthday, we ate Flood Cake for breakfast (after me and Bella worked hard in the kitchen the night before, see pictures below) and are going to his parents for dinner and presents tonight.

My big helper making daddy's cake.

We've had this up since February 1st! The birthday is finally here. :)

Me trying to get the birthday boy to smile and Bella's attention away from the cake. It didn't go quite as planned. :)

Wednesday, 2/27: Some of his friends are taking him to golf tomorrow & guys night at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Friday, 3/1: I'm throwing him a High School Flashback Birthday party with all of our friends! Think dress code as your favorite high school stereotype, old music, and more.

Saturday, 3/2: Dinner with my parents (we always go out to eat with just my immediate family... and he's part of that now!)

Let the fun begin. I told you, we are major birthday people! :)

Happy birthday Michael! I love you sweet husband and hope you have the best birthday yet!


Monday, February 18, 2013

First Valentine's Day as Mr. & Mrs.

I'm a few days behind, but better late than never.

We had the absolute BEST Valentine's Day. It was our 6th together and our 1st as a married couple and I really am being honest when I say they keep getting better.

Michael sent beautiful flowers to my work. He always sends me the prettiest flowers (this is something he learned from his nanny and his mom... the women in Holiday's Flowers knew his grandmother by name). I remember when we first started dating he sent me gorgeous flowers all the time. One of my favorite memories was coming home from class in college and they were on my front porch. Oh the days... :) (Tip: Ladies, make sure your man knows how much you like flowers and you'll never go a flowerless Valentine's Day again. Reminders never hurt either!)

Here are my beautiful flowers at work on Valentine's day

I did a little preparation myself and decided to get a little creative this year. I saw this on Pinterest and figured it was simple, fun and actually something we could both enjoy together. It's a DATE JAR! The idea is that you use the date jar throughout the year (or however long it lasts) when you want to go on different, fun date... let's face it dinner and a movie is great but it also gets old after a while.

Here are the supplies you need to make the date jar:

A jar (I got mine from Hobby Lobby for $3)
Popsicle sticks (Also from Hobby Lobby for maybe $5, can't quite remember. I got the ones that came multi-colored but if you want only certain colors you can get plain ones and paint them; I am all about simplicity though so the ones already colored were the only option for me):)
List of dates (I googled some and came up with a lot on my own)
Fun music (optional but it makes the whole crafting experience much more fun)

STEP 1: List of dates
The first thing to do is to get your date ideas together. Like I mentioned above I came up with a bunch and then googled unique date ideas and found some that I never would have thought about, ex: recreate your first date, volunteer at a food bank, etc. The key is to make sure you include a lot of dates with different price points. I used the following as my pricing guideline: Free, $ (think $20ish tops), $$ (more expensive... maybe $40-$50), $$$ (when you have extra money, things like trips, 5 course dinners, etc. I'd say $100+), and last but not least "husbands choice". :)

STEP 2: Color code sticks or use sticks that are already color-coded to write each date idea on them.

Pretty much self explanatory. The colors should signify the price of the date. That way, when you want to splurge you can pull an expensive date color but if you're looking for something low key to do you can pull that color. Here are some of my date ideas/sticks.

STEP 3: Put the dates in the jar, and you're done!
Probably the easiest crafting you've ever done, huh? That's how I roll.

Here is the final product with a few other goodies I got Mike:

By the way, this wine pictured "h" is to die for. Pricey, but totally worth it for special occasions. I searched Memphis high and low for it and finally found it at Buster's. Give it a try for your next special occasion. You won't be sorry!

Michael loved his gifts, the date jar, wine and his temperpedic house shoes from Brookstone (we are such an old married couple, but we love it). We ended the night with dinner at Ruth Chris (amazing, we've tried the best steak houses in Memphis including Folks Folly and Flemings and nothing beats Ruth Chris in our opinion). I got the petite filet with shrimp (delicious) and Mike got the bone-in filet. We split a side of asparagus and each had wedge salads and of course, cabernet. :)

It was such an easy, laid back night. We simply enjoyed each other's company and it was lovely. Nights like these make me love him so much more. I am so blessed to have Michael as my husband.

One of the best memories from our first Valentine's Day is the fact that he literally forgot to get me card. Poor thing has been so swamped renovating our investment house that he can't keep his head on straight. After dinner when I gave him my card to him, you should have seen his face. It was priceless. In the words of my husband, "I'm not going to even try to lie... I forgot" Haha. Was I mad? no. I thought it was great. Our first Valentine's Day as a married couple and he forgot my card. Cheers to married life!

BUT don't worry, my sweet man made it an unforgettable memory and typed me up the funniest, sweetest letter. Here's the headliner.

The rest I'll have to keep to myself. It was definitely a Valentine's Day for the books. Hope you all had a great one as well!

R & M

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jambalaya, traditions & the works. It's Fat Tuesday, y'all!

Happy Fat Tuesday to all!

Today at work we did a jambalaya cook-off. How much fun is that? I'm blessed to have such a great job.

Now, I was a bit nervous because I have never made jambalaya. However, I turned to two of my favorite ladies for some help: Ina Garten (most of you know her as "Barefoot Contessa") and Martha Stewart! The first one (Ina) is my absolute favorite. If you've never heard her story you should look into it. It's very interesting... with her starting her career at the White House managing budgets to becoming 'the Barefoot Contessa'. She is fabulous, but enough about her. :)

Here's the recipe (plus a few of Michael's sneaky spice additions that he told me about after the fact... He always does this when we cook. And usually it's for the better. I love having him in the kitchen with me.):

Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 pound sausage, such as kielbasa or Andouille, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons diced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon diced fresh thyme
1 can of crushed peel tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups long grain rice, rinsed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6-8 dashes Hot sauce (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 pound medium shrimp, deveined (20-24 count)

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Cut into 3/4-inch pieces; set aside. Add the kielbasa and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Remove the kielbasa to a bowl, and set aside. Add the butter, onion, celery and peppers to the same pot and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, cayenne, oregano, thyme, and tomatos and cook until all the vegetables and herbs are blended well (Michael also added some accent here). Add the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice, and add the chicken, sausage, salt, pepper and hot sauce (Michael also added garlic powder here). Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, add some olive oil to a skillet and saute the shrimp with Old Bay seasoning. Add 1/4 cup of the parsley, the lemon juice and the shrimp, and stir well. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and allow the jambalaya steam, for 15 minutes, before serving.

This was fantastic! I think I'll have to make it more than once a year on Fat Tuesday.

Original recipes: Barefoot Contessa's Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya, Martha Stewart's Quick Jambalaya

I was talking with my mom this morning about Fat Tuesday and the meaning behind it and neither of us could really remember, so I did a little research on the history behind it.

Fat Tuesday
Fat Tuesday is the traditional name for the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. (Also known as Mardi Gras, which is simply Fat Tuesday in French) It gets its name from the custom, in many Catholic countries, of marking the day with feasting before the fasting season of Lent begins. If you've ever been to Mardi Gras you know that the Fat Tuesdsay/Mardi Gras celebration ends abruptly at midnight... and this is why.

King Cakes
King Cakes(picture below)were traditionally served during Epiphany (12 days after Christmas; celebrates the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for the infant Jesus. In cultures that celebrate Carnival, Epiphany kicks off a series of parties leading up to Mardi Gras). This is a custom that began in France in the 12th century. According to legend, the cakes are made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus in order to confuse King Herod (who had plans to kill Christ). In earlier days a coin or bean was hidden inside the cake, and whoever found the item was said to have good luck in the coming year. In Louisiana, bakers now put a small baby, representing the Christ Child, in the cake. If you get the piece with the baby then you are supposed to provide the Kings Cake next year (assuming you celebrate with a group of people or are having a Kings Cake party).

Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras was founded in 1699, when a French explorer arrived at the Mississippi River, about 60 miles out side of present day New Orleans. He named the spot Point du Mardi Gras because he knew the holiday was being celebrated in his native country that day. Later on the French would begin to celebrate Mardi Gras with masked balls and parties. The colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green and gold each have meanings as well:

Purple: symbol of justice
Green: represents faith
Gold: signifies power

Fat Tuesday is a fun tradition. However, the meaning behind it is important to me as a Christian. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lent season. Our church, Christ United Methodist, has services at noon and at 6:15pm. We are planning on going to one to remember what really matters and to focus on Christ this Lent season leading up to Easter. I'm still considering what (if I will) give up anything for Lent. I was raised non-denominational and then Baptist so we never participated in this. As a new Methodist (Michael was rasied Methodist), I would like to participate. We're going to chat over some left over jambalaya tonight. More on that to come...

R & M

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meatball sliders, clydesdales, Beyonce and football. Super Bowl 2013.

Between the dream story line leading up to the game with the Baltimore Ravens, the black out, Beyonce and the Destiny's Child comeback, a couple of clever marketing ads and real-time ploys (props to Oreo), and some good food, I'd say this years Super Bowl was one for the books.

Michael and I love having people over. For the past couple of years now we have had a Super Bowl party for our friends. It's so much more fun watching with them! Preparing for the game, I wanted to keep things simple, yet tasty. On the menu was a Sausage/cheese plate, Rendezvous popcorn (if you haven't tried this you are missing out - get it from the Rendezvous downtown Memphis, TN), Jalapeno relish cream cheese dip, Rotel with ground sirloin (I have become a fan of ground sirloin vs ground beef... it gives any recipe much more flavor), Turkey tenderloin, and Meatball sliders accompanied with fabulous dishes that some of the girls brought as well.

One of my new favorite things were the Meatball Sliders. They were super easy and pretty tasty. The guys loved them. This is definitely a game day recipe you'll want to jot down.

Here's the recipe:

Meatball Sliders

24 frozen meatballs, thawed (I doubled and got 2 packs of frozen meatballs from Kroger)
2 cups marinara sauce
8 ounces sliced provolone or mozzarella
24 dinner rolls or 8 hot dog buns cut in thirds (I went the hot dog route and it was easy, cheap and good)

Optional bread topping (I didn't do this and they were still great!)
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9X13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Warm the meatballs in the marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. Separate the dinner rolls or hot dog buns and place one saucy meatball on the bottom roll. Top with mozzarella or provolone. Place the top roll on and push down slightly. Place meatball slider in the pan and continue to assemble the rest of the sliders.
Optional bread topping:
Microwave butter in a bowl in the microwave until melted. Add garlic powder and Italian seasonings and mix well. Brush tops of buns with melted butter mixture.
Toast in oven for 8-10 minutes or until toasted. I like mine a little more on the soft side...not so toasty.

Recipe from: The Girl Who Ate Everything (fabulous blog by the way)

Being in marketing, I'm kind of dorky when it comes to marketing/advertising related things so I obviously geek out over the Super Bowl ads. Usually we have a Super Bowl party so I don't really get to see all of them and have to go back and find them online. This year, as usual, I liked the Budweiser ad. Something about those Clydesdales gets me every time and this one was pretty sweet.

The ad starts out with a baby clydesdale and his owner on a farm. The man is working with the foal and then it shows him being loaded into a Budweiser truck. The man has a tough time without the little foal as it shows him near the empty stable.

Three years later the man sees that the Budweiser Clydesdales are coming to Chicago so he picks up and drives to Chicago. The parade goes on and the horses pass him in the crowd while he anxiously looks to see if the horse will recognize him. When he doesn't, the man returns to his truck to head back home. Then all of the sudden he sees something rounding the corner... it's the horse running to him.

They meet once again. Now, how sweet is that? Sweet beats humor every time in my book. :)

Click here to view Washington Post's "Tope 5 best Super Bowl Ads".

Another cool marketing ploy that took place was Oreo's last minute, real-time marketing decision to take advantage of the black out. They took to social media with this ad and it was an instant hit!

How cool is that? Like I said I tend to geek out over these types of things.

These ads definitely make me want to sit down with a budweiser and some oreos... Props to both companies!

Oh and do I hear a Destiny's Child Reunion tour in the works? Not sure that will happen but I did love their performance and Beyonce killed it as usual. Good for her proving to all of the critics that she doesn't have to have back-up or lip-sync.

Get it girl!

And last but not least, congrats to the Baltimore Ravens!

Now it's time to cleanse after all of the Super Bowl food. I see smoothies and clean eating in my future... at least for this week.

R & M

Friday, February 1, 2013

Little lady, big heart.

It's been a tough week in the Jacques household. On Wednesday, January 30th, Michael's grandmother (who we call nanny) went to be with the Lord. She was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer for a only a couple of weeks now but we know that she must have had it for much longer as she has been pretty sick since Thanksgiving 2012.

Although we knew that this was coming, we only had a couple of weeks to prepare ourselves for it. And how does one really prepare themselves for losing someone so special? Nanny is the foundation of our family. Together her and DD (Michael's grandfather) created a beautiful and loving family that I am so blessed to be a part of. Their story is one that you see in the movies... meeting on a blind date when they were very young, falling in love and getting married shortly after. DD built the family business, Reid Homes, from nothing and provided not only for his wife who never had to work a day in her life, but also for his children, Ronda (Michael's mom) and James. Not only that but created a legacy and career for Michael and Aaron and all of the grandchildren - Matthew, Chelsea, Jeb and Josh. Below is a sweet picture of nanny and DD on their wedding day. You can tell they are so in love and happy.

On Wednesday, when nanny went passed, the day was spent with family. They even got to move DD to the same room as nanny as they were both in Methodist Hospice. DD is still there. The romantic in me makes me wonder if nanny was waiting on her love until she passed. After all, they spent the day together (although neither one was fully aware) and she passed that afternoon. I'd like to believe that she was waiting on her man. Here's a picture of them on nanny's last day on this Earth.

What sweet, sweet pictures. I pray that Michael and I have a love that is as true and unconditional as theirs, until the very end.

We are all writing letters to nanny for her to be buried with since her illness was so brief and we felt like there were many things unsaid... although we know that she knew them all in her heart.

What I want to remember and share with you are a few things that I learned from nanny in the almost 6 years I knew her.

1. Live life to the absolute fullest. Nanny was full of energy, fun and a little fiery piece of her soul pierced through and made everyone around her smile.

2. Enjoy the simple things in life. Nanny was a homemaker. She wasn't particularly involved in any hobby, sport or organization. She invested her life in her family. She took pride in her family, cared for them, guided them and loved them. This is what she was best at.

3. Be here now. Nanny savored every moment with friends and family which is why we have such special memories with her. In today's world it is easy to get wrapped up in our busy schedules, work, and especially in technology. Take time to live in the present and really live life.

4. Cherish family. She had special memories and stories she'd share about each person. Like the time that she beat Mrs. ronda and Mr. Gary to the hospital when Mrs. Ronda was in labor with Michael or the time that Aaron's little heart broke when a dog got out and killed a poor little rabbit... as nanny would say, Aaron said, "Nanny, the dog got out and the rabbit got dead". It was these simple stories and affection she had that was so unique for every one of us that made us feel special.

5. Life is short. We can't take one day for granted. Nanny didn't plan on leaving us this soon. She would have loved to see Matthew and Chelsea get married this summer, Aaron to get married and me and Michael to have a grandchild so she could be a great grandmother. She always said that when we got Bella she was thinking, "I said a great grandCHILD, not a grandDOG." :) I love that. Don't worry, nanny... I think God will let you see it all.

In those 6 years that I spent time with nanny I got to see how such a little lady (after all, she was less than 5 feet tall and less than 100 pounds) had such a big heart and how that little lady shaped the life of her family and the man I married. We are so blessed to have loved and been loved by nanny. We will always cherish the memories we had with her and hope to make new ones that will make her proud.