Some pretty awesome news

Just in case you missed it on social media over the weekend…

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We mean every word of that canvas. Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow! We are so incredibly grateful for this answered prayer! There have been so many happy tears and so much rejoicing over the past couple of months!

So to answer the most commonly asked questions:

We’re 13 weeks pregnant and our due date is August 1st. However due to medical concerns it’s very possible Baby Vendetti might be coming earlier in July.

Yes, I have been sick. So sick. But I’ve been so blissfully happy about this precious baby that I can’t be upset about being sick. I’m starting to feel better now and am hoping that as I enter the second trimester I will start to feel awesome soon!

Yes, we’ve had an ultrasound and heard the heartbeat. In fact, we’ve had weekly ultrasounds for the past six weeks. 😉 The medical concerns we face aren’t ideal, but it has meant close monitoring of this little one which has been so wonderful!

While we are “at risk” for many things… this pregnancy has been textbook perfection so far. Baby Vendetti has shown perfect growth every week with ideal heartbeats. So many hundreds of little things that can go wrong, haven’t. Baby is growing and healthy. Praise God!

If you are the praying sort, we would so appreciate your prayers for a healthy pregnancy and a safe delivery! We are so excited to meet this precious child! Thanks for rejoicing with us, friends!

Love Rach

Photography Favorites: Couples

Last year I shared my favorite photos from 2015 and it was so well received that I decided to do so again this year! To keep from being overwhelming, I’m breaking the photos up into categories so today I’m sharing my favorite couple photos from 2016!

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couples-photography-10Ah, such a sweet tenderness to photographing couples. I just love it! You can see my favorite couple photos from 2015 here and of course you can find lots more of my work on my Rach Vendetti Photography facebook page.

Love Rach

Learning to be healthy (and losing 18 pounds along the way)

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Most of my adult life I’ve weighed about the same amount (give or take a few pounds) until a couple of years ago when I started a new medication that messed with my hormones. I gained 10 pounds in a very short period of time. And as I changed medications and tried different things, I found myself continuing to slooowly gain weight even thought my diet and exercise habits weren’t changing. Until the point that I just couldn’t handle it anymore. In December of 2015 I was officially up 18 pounds from my previous “normal” weight. My clothes didn’t fit and I felt sluggish. I realized that if I didn’t take control of this, I would only continue to slowly gain more weight and not feel healthy.

To be clear: I was always in a healthy weight bracket, but that doesn’t always mean that I FELT healthy. I think there is a misconception that if someone is in the right BMI weight bracket, that they are healthy. For me, I have not found that not to be necessarily true.

So in December of 2015 I decided to make some serious changes.

Fitbit & Commitment to the Gym

First of all, I got a Fitbit for Christmas 2015. A tangible way to track my exercise. I committed to myself that I would go to the gym every weekday for at least an hour and that I would shoot to still get close to 10,000 steps on the weekend if possible. And so I did it. I allowed no excuses to get in the way. The gym was a priority.

My Fitness Pal & Honesty

I also started using My Fitness Pal in December of 2015 and made myself be 100% honest with it. So that meant that there were lots of days at first that I went over my allotted number of calories. But now I could SEE the proof. Those bites of something here and there really added up. I learned to measure out my food and my portions so I could be honest with myself about how much I was actually eating.

My Fitness Pal & the Fitbit app connect on my smartphone so as I worked out, I got extra calories to eat which was fun. I also would get a weekly report from Fitbit telling me exactly how many calories I had eaten over the past week, how many calories I had burned in the past week, and what my deficit was. It’s just a big math problem, you guys. Calories in, calories out. That’s weight loss.

Quality of Food

Weight loss may be calories in, calories out. But there are some calories that are far more helpful to us than others. I started really gearing my diet toward high protein foods to help keep me full longer. I also started taking my carb-distributed diet more seriously which  meant smaller meals and lots of snacks. And I started eating TONS more veggies and fruits.

Snacks

I mentioned this before, but I started snacking all throughout the day. Last year I shared with you guys some of my favorite snacks so feel free to check that post out here.

Meals & Portion Control

For the most part we have always eaten healthy foods at home, but I have not always been good about portion control. So one of the biggest things I had to learn was what ONE serving of food truly looked like. And if I chose to eat two servings, that was okay – I just needed to be honest with my calorie tracker and put it in there. This helped me realize how often I eat seconds just out of habit and not truly out of hunger. And knowing that I will be eating a snack again two hours after eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, made it easier to stick to one portion of food. For a list of our favorite healthy dinners, see this post.

Water

I have always been bad about drinking enough water. So I decided that if I was taking my health seriously (not just trying to lose weight, but trying to FEEL healthy again), that I needed to learn to hydrate myself. So in January of 2016 I bought a cute water bottle, brought it with me EVERYWHERE, and started tracking the amount of water I drank on my Fitbit app. Once I was in a good habit of drinking water all throughout the day I stopped tracking the exact amount and just made sure I was refilling the bottle at least twice a day. This made a HUGE difference in how I felt. Hydration is awesome. 🙂

Yoga

In August of 2016 I decided to incorporate yoga into my routine. I wrote about my experiences with yoga here for those of you curious. I found that it continued to tone my muscles and has helped with my incredible inflexibility. 😉

My Goal & Timeline

My initial goal was to lose 7 pounds. I didn’t think it was possible to be at my previous weight while on these medications, but I wanted to at least fit into my clothes. I hit that goal within 2 months. I continued to do what I had been doing and found that without working any harder, I was still losing weight. By the end of April of 2016, I had lost 17 pounds. At this point I was a little concerned about losing too much weight so I upped my calories to keep up with the work out routine that I had discovered I loved so much. I considered cutting back on gym time, but I realized that I loved how STRONG and FIT I felt. I was toned and just my overall health felt GREAT so I didn’t want to give up my gym time if I didn’t need to. I still lost one more pound over summer just from being so active, but I have stayed steady at 18 pounds lost since then.

How I Feel

Last summer I told Christopher that I have never felt so healthy in my entire life. I was even smaller weight-wise in college (by another 5-10 pounds depending on what part of college we’re talking about), but I never felt as healthy as I do now. Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and spending time at the gym strengthening your body does wonders for your health. It wasn’t just about losing weight (though I did want to lose at least enough to fit into my clothes again), but about feeling better again. And friends, 2016 was the year I really kicked off awesome habits.

Also, I felt like a champ being able to lose weight while working against medication that was messing with my hormones. There were times that my calories-in-vs-calories-out equation showed that I should be losing more weight than was actually showing up on the scale and I think that was probably the medication I was working against. But with dedication and hard work, I still lost that weight and took control of my over all health.

Before & After Photos

There are no before-and-after photos in this post because I don’t believe that I looked bad 18 pounds heavier than I am now. Of course if you are curious, this is a blog… it’s super easy to find photos of me from December 2015. But it’s not about how much better I look, but about how much better I feel. About how much healthier I feel. About how my body is hydrated, nourished, fit, and toned.

Disclaimer

Many people say that this sort of hitting-it-hard approach of adding several new things to your life all at once is not sustainable. For me and my personality, it worked and has continued for a year now. I know other people may need a slower approach of adding one new healthy habit (starting a gym routine, starting a healthy diet, starting to drink water, etc) per month or even per quarter. For me, it worked well to just do a total overhaul all at once. So if you need to take it slower, that’s not a bad thing. I think that’s actually what many people recommend.

Closing Thoughts

I really struggled with whether or not to share this post here because I don’t talk about weight loss in general. I don’t like the way that our culture pushes this idea of weight loss and being skinny all of the time. It breaks my heart hearing young girls talking about dieting and wanting to lose weight. But at the same time, I want to show that it can be done in a healthy and safe way focusing on BEING HEALTHY and not necessarily just losing weight. It takes hard work, commitment, and honesty with yourself, but it can be done. I’m proof. 🙂

Love Rach

 

18 Favorite Go-To Healthy Recipes

A couple of years ago we found out that I need to control the number of carbohydrates I eat at a time. To be clear, it’s not a carb-restricted diet, it’s a carb-distributed diet. Meaning that I can still eat carbohydrates, I just need to limit how many I eat at a time. Which for the girl who loves giant piles of spaghetti and could put away a pizza by herself… this was difficult news. But in the long run it has actually been awesome for me. Once I started eating the way my body needs (carb-distributed, higher protein, and every 2-3 hours!) with good quality calories, I noticed a HUGE difference in how I felt overall. So today I want to share my favorite go-to healthy recipes that I’ve loved over the past couple of years.

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SALADS:

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A Healthier Taco Salad

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Greek Salad

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Cobb Salad

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Kielbasa & Cabbage Skillet (not really a salad, but I didn’t have another category for this to go in, ha!)

SANDWICH:

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Prosciutto & Rocket Sandwiches (I’m generally not a big sandwich person, but I LOVE this one we discovered while in Italy!)

SOUPS:

Chicken Enchilada Soup (3)

Chicken Enchilada Soup

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Chili (can also be used for Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes)

veggie soup

Vegetable Soup

taco soup

Taco Soup

minestrone soup

Minestrone Soup

CHICKEN:

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Cayenne Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

chicken broccoli bake

Chicken Broccoli Bake

chicken stir fry

Chicken Stirfry

SWEET POTATOES:

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Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

SEAFOOD:

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Shrimp Fajitas

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Baked Salmon

Tell me, what are some of your favorite go-to healthy meals?

Love Rach

Greek Salad

I am way behind on sharing this post. I meant to share it soon after we got back from Europe last fall and yet somehow it kept slipping away from me. So here we are today, months later, talking about one of the best things we discovered in Greece… the Greek Salad!

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Greek Salad is such a simple thing. I’m not sure why we over complicate food sometimes. Both times I’ve traveled to Europe I have been amazed at how simple some of their most delicious dishes are (like pizza in Italy!). The Greek Salad is definitely one of those. So today I want to share with you guys this simple dish.

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Greek Salad

Ingredients:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cucumber, thinly sliced cut into halves
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 very small red onion, thinly sliced
Greek pitted Kalamata olives
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
8 oz creamy Greek feta cheese
1/2  tsp oregano
1 tbsp capers

Directions:

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, green bell pepper, onion, and olives. Add a pinch of salt and then pour on olive oil & red wine vinegar. Give it all a good stir to combine.

2. Serve vegetable mixture on individual plates and top with feta, oregano, and capers. This recipe serves 2 dinner portions or 4 side portions.

NOTE: we only ever received our Greek salads in Greece with a BLOCK of feta cheese on top. Never crumbled. You did the crumbling yourself. Since being home we have made it with a block or slice of feta every single time except this week when I needed to photograph the dish and naturally our grocery store was out of block feta, ha! So I may come back and update this photo later. It honestly tastes the same whichever way you make it, but the more authentic way to serve it is definitely with a block of feta on top of the salad instead of crumbles.

I love this dish because it’s simple, quick to make, and delicious. It’s also easy to adapt to different tastes. I’ve made it before and left out the onion for people who don’t like that sharp taste. Or this week I left the feta off mine. It’s easily adaptable and always delicious! 🙂

Have you had Greek Salad before? Do you make it at home?
Love Rach

Gilmore Girls Revival

Disclaimer: if you don’t care about Gilmore Girls and/or didn’t watch the revival then this post will mean nothing to you. However, if you watched it then I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Disclaimer #2: I realize this is sooo last month to even be talking about still, but I was behind the times so I’m just now getting around to sharing, ha!

Remember in early October when I went to the coffee shop that was doing Luke’s for a Day? Well to get myself in the Gilmore Girl spirit, I started watching the first couple of episodes of season one that week. But then I kept watching. And kept watching. And suddenly realized that I was only on season 5 by the time Thanksgiving week rolled around. At that point I was invested in finishing the whole original series before watching the revival. Luckily I managed to not hear any spoilers for a couple of weeks after the revival came on Netflix until I finally caught up.

But then I watched it. And my oh my did I have some thoughts. Amanda (The Lady Okie) wrote a blog post about her thoughts on the revival that I had book marked to come back to after I finally watched the show. So I did. And it turned out that as I responded to her post, my “comment” was nearly as long as her blog post, ha! So clearly I have LOTS of thoughts on all of this. We are going to go bulletin point style in an attempt to keep this as “short” as possible.

– The Exes (Christopher, Jason, Jess, & Dean)  were fun to see again! I don’t know why, but I kept being surprised when a “new” old person would show up on screen. I was glad that Dean had found happiness in life! Though I did find Christopher’s role a little sad. I would have loved to see him happy. And Jess… oh Jess. I was sad that he was still hung up on a girl from a decade before. It would have been fine if they had ended up together at the end of the show, but since they didn’t, it just left a loose string that was kind of sad to see.

Kirk was as strange and delightful as always.

– I nearly fell out of my seat when Mr. Kim actually showed up on screen. I have always wondered about him. And really, I still wonder about him. Where was he supposed to be the whole time Lane was growing up? And why is he in Stars Hollow now? So cool to actually see him, though! And I loved seeing Mrs. Kim being her same self! 🙂

April surprised me. She was such a bright kid and clearly is still on the smart side academically, but what’s with being so weird? She was kind of a unique and quirky character in the original. But now she’s just strange? The drug comments surprised me.

Paris was exactly as I expected. Her job suited her perfectly though I wouldn’t have predicted it for her. She made me laugh a lot. Though, I was sad about her relationship with Doyle. And sad for her when she made the comment about her kids liking the nanny better than her since she grew up with Nanny being more of a parent to her than her own parents. I would have loved to see her learn from her parents’ mistakes and be a more involved parent with her own kids. But this is the part of me that hopes for a Happily Ever After for every character.

– And then Lane. I wanted more for her. Maybe it’s just that there wasn’t enough time to devote to her character, but I wanted to see more of her life and know more about her kids. She had such a presence in the original series so it was strange to me to see her just as a supportive character to Rory. Her only real presence in the revival was just to be Rory’s friend when she was in town. And I wanted more for her band too. Either that they found semi-success somewhere or that it was just a fun memory from the past. It was almost sad to see all the 30-year-olds (plus Gil) still having band practice without any real change.

– I was bummed that Sookie wasn’t in it more. Especially not being at the wedding. It felt off that Michel would be there and Sookie wouldn’t. But then I guess in the revival, Michel was been around for the past two years while Sookie has been gone. I’m assuming the real life actor’s schedule made it difficult for her to be in more of the show, but that was definitely a bummer. I always loved her character in the original so I had hoped to see more of her in the revival.

Michel was perfect. Of course. As if I could expect anything else.

Emily was also perfection. Grief is such a terrible thing and there are good days and bad days and crazy days. And personally, I think she did a great job portraying a lot of that. I liked that not everything was magically fixed between her and Lorelai, but also that they were working on their relationship. When Lorelai called with the story about Richard in the mall, I cried. Absolutely cried. I love the development they did with Emily’s character. She might have been my favorite in the revival.

– I wish Luke & Lorelai had already been married. Or at least that they explained why they weren’t married. I find it weird that we ended the original series with them both wanting to marry each other… and yet somehow all these years later they still haven’t gotten married. But I did love the wedding scenes at the end so I didn’t mind that I got to witness their wedding. That was definitely sweet. And Luke’s passionate speech in the kitchen… love. So precious. 🙂 However, Lorelai’s “Wild Thing”… not a fan. It seemed really rude and unkind to just leave Luke without a decent explanation and just disappear. I was glad she got clarity and we got at least one happy ending from the show, but I didn’t love that her character did that. It feels like something a 20-something-year-old would do while they are trying to find themselves. Not a woman in her late 40’s. But who knows, I haven’t been 40 yet so maybe I’ll get it more when I’m that age. Either way, I think she should have communicated more with Luke before she just up and left.

– Oh Rory. This was most disappointing to me of all. Her goody-two-shoes self has always been very relatable to me because that was totally me as a teenager. I was absolutely shocked and appalled in the original series when she seemingly lost her mind and had an affair with Dean. But she eventually realized how terrible that was and stopped. So other than a few misguided moments here and there, she generally was a pretty decent person. And leaned more on the good-girl side of things… until this revival. What on Earth?! Who is this girl? What caused her to turn into this person who has a long term affair with an engaged man? Why is she cheating on her boyfriend and treating him like a non person? Why does she have so little direction in her life? I mean, I know we ended the original series with her saying that she loved that her future was so wide open, but that was 10 years ago. How has she not found a place to live or a steady job by this point? I did love that she ended up writing Gilmore Girls as a book, but I still would have expected her to have her life more together at 32.

Rory & Jess vs Rory & Logan. Before seeing the show I was very torn about who I wanted her to be with. Jess always seemed to get her and they had so much in common. I loved that about them together. However, I didn’t like how Jess treated her in the original series. So I kept thinking “maybe if he’s grown up and matured, I would happily see them together.” Well, we didn’t get a lot of detail about Jess’s life currently, but he seems a lot more together than 10 years ago so I think I would have been perfectly happy had she ended up with him. I honestly would have been equally happy if she had ended up with Logan. I know a lot of people don’t like him and there are things about him that I didn’t love from the original series, but I liked that he and Rory were so compatible and that he nearly always treated her well (Vegas weekend being the exception) and that he was always faithful to her. As season 7 ended, I wanted her to say yes to his proposal. So I would’ve been happy to see them engaged in this revival. But nooooo… instead we have this Rory I don’t even recognize. And a Logan that I’m disappointed in (I would have hoped that his constant faithfulness to Rory in the original series would translate into him being a faithful partner to whomever he is with). *sigh* So much disappointment all around. It’s not that you need a man in order to be happy and complete in life, but so much of the show centers around these relationships so I wanted to know who her person would be. And I wanted her to not be such a completely different person with so little direction and such shaky morals. Her character was by far the most disappointing part of the revival for me.

The Last Four Words. Horrible. So horrible. I hate cliff hangers. I need closure. Who’s kid is it? Random Wookie Guy? Logan’s? Probably not her boyfriend’s since she hardly saw him ever. Just weird.

Overall, it sounds like I was disappointed and disliked the whole revival. And really that’s not true. I loved so much of it. I loved being back in Star’s Hollow. I loved that the Dragonfly Inn was so successful. I loved seeing Luke & Lorelai happy together. I loved seeing the mother-daughter relationships between Rory & Lorelai and Lorelai & Emily again. I loved all the flashbacks to Richard. I loved the familiarity of so much of it. I think my biggest issues overall were I expected Happily Ever Afters for everyone and that just didn’t happen. I get that real life doesn’t work that way, but this is TV, not real life.

Okay, whew, I think I’m done now. 😉 I’m sure most of you don’t care this much about the show (and really I probably wouldn’t have either if I hadn’t JUST watched the entire 7 seasons of the original series right before watching it) and even if you did… it’s been like a month and a half so you are probably over it by now, haha! But I just finally got around to sharing all my thoughts so I figured I would post anyway.

So tell me, if you watched it, what did you think of the revival? 

Love Rach

Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Hello friends! 2017 has arrived and with it I have another healthy recipe for you. I love sweet potatoes and I love comfort food so when I saw this combination on Pinterest I knew I needed to try it. It has been a winner every single time I’ve made it. So delicious! Thank you, The Real Food RDs, for creating this winner!

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Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 oz tomato paste
1 egg white
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Begin to brown ground beef in a large skillet on medium heat. Once beef is partially browned, add chopped carrots, onions, peppers and minced garlic. Cook on medium heat until carrots are soft (about 10 minutes). You may begin making the topping while the meat filling cooks. Once the carrots are soft, stir in tomato paste, egg white, seasonings salt and pepper.

3. For the topping: steam sweet potatoes until fork tender. Then add all of the topping ingredients to blender and process until smooth.

4. Transfer the meat filling to a casserole dish (9 x 9 inch dish will work) and top the meat filling with the Sweet Potato Mash. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

Have you subbed sweet potatoes for regular potatoes in a recipe?
Love Rach