{TRI}ed and true

I am SO PROUD.

The Husband, who loves sports and games and golf, but is not terribly fond of pointless running (umm… remind me why we have to get sweaty if no one is even keeping score?!), successfully completed his first mini-Tri last weekend!

After an already great weekend, the two of us, along with our friends Destrey and Sheri (remember them from this adventure?), competed in a fun, low-key tri hosted at a local University. It consisted of a 250 yd. swim, followed by corn-hole, a 4 mi. bike ride, an egg race and a two mi. run. It was a blast, and the perfect way to attempt to get the Husband hooked on racing ; )

It was a small group, but we did well (Destrey got second place!). The Husband tore it up in the pool, and I only barely got an edge on him during the run. We’ve been swimming two days a week for about a month, and it’s been amazing to see his progress. He was brave just to jump in and try with such short notice (we only decided to do the race a few days before) and I think I might even be able to convince him to do another in the spring. It would be easier to persuade him if the required attire didn’t include obnoxious amounts of spandex…but I’m not complainin’ :)

Haha…awkward.

Anyway… to reward ourselves for a superior performance, even in nippy October weather, we enjoyed a post-race lunch at Wilson’s Sandwich Shop. It is a depression-era landmark, famous for its “Mity Nice Hamburgs” and “frosted malts”. Founded in 1936 by Stub Wilson, the meat for the burgers is ground fresh daily, and it beats any other fast-food hands down for quality and price.

You can’t go wrong with a hamburg, fries and a malt, but they also have awesome homemade pie, hot dogs, chicken, chili and spicy black bean veggie burgers (my choice for lunch – yum!). At Wilson’s, however, you CAN go wrong with how you order. It is an art form, and if you do it wrong you’ll get a glare and maybe even a tongue-lashing. Reminiscent of the “soup nazi“, these unwritten rules are part of this restaurant’s charm. It also makes it easy to spot newbies (like us!) who can’t seem to get it quite right…

Watch this video to learn more about Wilson’s! (And if you visit me, I might take you there… or try to get you addicted to racing. Maybe both).

Perfect end to a great weekend.

More adventures await!

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Spaghetti Squash {your new best friend}

I love great food, and I love eating a lot of it.

While I have developed a more delicate appreciation for new dishes and fancy preparation, at any time I could still eat an ice cream sundae as big as your head. And like it.

I have never been told I eat “like a bird”, and I’ve never been one of those people who just take one dessert at a potluck. I’m pretty convinced that I could eat the Husband under the table at every meal if I wanted to. But, that wouldn’t be very lady like, and eating massive quantities of ice cream isn’t good for my girlish figure…or my mood when I wake up on Monday and my pants don’t zip.

Been there, done that. Not pretty.

I am perfectly fine handling my portion control most of the time, but there are some days (maybe when it has been a little chilly in your office all day long, and puddles have eaten the bottom of your pants so you feel soggy, and when you had a lame-o lunch that you packed in a rush this morning) that you want to just feel all warm and fuzzy and full. Like, a loaf of bread and butter and a huge bowl of pasta full. BUT, you also know that you can’t do that every cold night October – March without dire consequences…

So, what’s a healthy hearty eater to do? Two words: Spaghetti. Squash.You might be a little familiar with this lovely veggie, but I think WAY too many people are in the dark regarding its delicious potential. I think it might just be one of the best kept secrets at the super market… You might be skeptical, but don’t hate until you try it. Trust me. It’s worth it.

Picture a HUGE bowl of spaghetti goodness with marinara, your favorite veggies, a little cheese sprinkled on top and a slice of toasty bread. All for a fraction of the calories and carbs of your usual go-to pasta! This dream can become a reality tonight.

Directions

Serves 2-3

{You can find spaghetti squash at most regular grocery stores – If the Kroger in my little Ohio town has it, I bet yours does also!}

  • Pre-heat oven to 400
  • Carefully cut squash in half length-wise (this is tough – take your time and watch those digits!)
  • Scoop out the seeds
  • Lay face-down on a baking sheet lined with foil (makes clean-up a breeze!)
  • Poke holes in the skin (like a baked potato)
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife slides easily through the skin (time varies depending on size and ripeness of the squash)
  • Use a fork to scoop and scrape out the insides of the squash – It will come out in strands just like spaghetti!

At this point, you can season with olive oil or butter and a little salt and pepper and call it a day (or a great side dish). BUT, if you want the true pasta effect, take a few more steps…

Chop your favorite vegetables, even toss in the meat of your choice, and add marinara for a well-rounded healthy meal (that you can each a bunch of with zero pasta-fuled-guilt-trips).

I used mushrooms, broccoli, red pepper, onion and spinach, and added about a 1/4 lb of browned ground turkey. This dish is also GREAT with these turkey meatballs (just keep a batch of them in the freezer and pop them in the oven whenever you want!).

So, grab a squash, a bowl, the nearest green things and a jar of sauce, and get ready for a healthy, hearty meal that will leave your belly full, and your skinny jeans in your repertoire ; )

Enjoy!

Honey Mustard {for your Honey}

The kid to the left doesn’t look like he likes to eat salad. In fact, that kid didn’t like to eat salad until he married me…

No, no… it was ten years later. Geesh.

Anyway, this kid’s favorite salad is my own spin on a classic Honey Mustard Chicken Salad. It’s got all the good stuff: Homemade dressing, grilled chicken, pecans & dried cranberries. So delicious, and so good for you (shhhh…don’t say that too loud).

The secret ingredient: Greek yogurt.

So, make this for your man, or yourself tonight. I figured I can’t be the only one  desperately clinging to the last weak vestige of summer…and maybe you’re craving salad for dinner, too.

Honey Mustard Chicken Salad

Serves 4

The Dressing:

  • 1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt (Yummy protein! Fage is the best.)
  • 2 T Course Ground Mustard (Not that yellow ballpark stuff. I like Grey Poupon -Mostly because I like saying “Poupon” in a British accent).
  • 1 T Honey (My parents have bees, so I was lucky enough to score some of their delicious home-harvested honey)

The Salad:

  • 3-4 Chicken breasts
  • 6 Cups, or a “several handfuls” of Spinach and Baby Greens (Because that’s what I know you’ll do anyway.)
  • Enough Dried Cranberries, Pecans, Red Onion, Tomato, Cucumbers, Parmesan and Feta to make it look pretty and taste good. (I trust you to eyeball it – Add any of your favorite veggies!)

How-to:

    • Mix all dressing ingredients, cover, and set in the fridge. (I really like the bite of the mustard, so you may want to add extra honey if that’s not your thing. Just try a taste, and adjust as needed. The dressing will be thick, not runny.)
    • Grill the chicken  until done (or broil, bake, use leftovers), slice and cover to keep warm.
    • Mix the salad ingredients, top with chicken.
    • Serve in a pretty bowl with the dressing on the side. (Dressing may need to be stirred up after being removed from the fridge.)
    • Enjoy!

This dressing is what makes the salad, and is also big hit on sandwiches, and as a dip, too! Kind of like what you get in at McD’s for your nuggets…but way, way better. You might want to make a double batch…

We {Rocked}

We spent the weekend camping and rock climbing in Red River Gorge Kentucky with our good friends Valerie and Destrey (you’ll remember them from another recent adventure) and their adorable little girl, Carlie.

Carlie and Andrew discovered they’re practically the same person. They hate having sticky fingers, ask “is this healthy?” with a little sneer every time you hand them a snack, like Disney movies, can fall asleep anywhere in two seconds flat and get antsy on long car rides. We got along great ; )

The sights and the culture and the food was amazing. We were four hours away from home, but it felt like we were on another planet! I tried to keep up with the lingo (pumpy, trad, smearing, multi-pitch…) and fit in. But, I think my level of hygiene, lack of hiking sandals and the fact that I was wearing a bra gave me away pretty quickly. Though I did order chickpeas on my pizza. I feel that counts for something.

I climbed dozens of feet in the air, hiked over crazy terrain, gripped rough, wild rock with my bare hands, and my worst injury was from walking into the picnic table after dark. That. smarts. And ruining my nails.

The climbing itself was pretty intimidating, but felt so good once you’re at the top.  Valerie & Destrey were wonderful instructors, but when you’ve got both feet off of the ground and your palms are sweaty and you realize you’ve really got to reach for that next hold, it’s quite the adrenaline rush! I didn’t succeed every time, but I was super proud of how well the Husband and I hung in there.

He doesn’t even LIKE heights, but loves me enough to do it anyway ; )

While were were down there, we ate at Rosie’s – a little diner with dollar bills stapled to the ceiling – and Muigel’s. Rosie’s was fun and quirky, but Muigel’s was a whole new experience. It’s part pizza shop, part gear store and part campground/hangout for climbers from all over the world.

{Rosie’s dollar bills, campfire food and Muigel’s}

The list of toppings for their pizza’s, salads and sandwiches was endless: It took me FOREVER to choose, but I ended up with chickpeas, artichokes, sweet potatoes, onion, mushrooms, spinach and green pepper. Delish!

Apparently ordering an “Ale 8” is also mandatory at every stop. I don’t even want to think about how many were consumed over the weekend….but they’re good. And you can only get them here!

This was Carlie’s first climbing trip too. She was a natural! She was totally fearless climbing up rocks that made me nervous. She got a new chalk bag and shoes while we were there, and made her awesome parents so proud. We also spent lots of time making pies out of leaves, pistachio shells, cheddar bunnies we accidentally dropped on the ground, and dirt, and “baking” them in holes in the rocks ; )

While the Husband and I might not be cut out to be hard-core climbers, I think we’ll definitely take another trip. We were sore in places we didn’t know existed, but the workout felt so natural it wasn’t chore. It was a memorable adventure with great friends – Sometimes you’ve just gotta try something new(and maybe a little dangerous).

Healthy {Happy} Husbands

What you tell someone to do they reject, what you help them discover they own.

I asked the Husband to contribute to this post, and he ran with it. Who knew all those things I hop on my soapbox about really sunk in? He’s got some great insights on what makes a Healthy {Happy} Husband (because who wants to sleep next to a force-fed salad-eating grouch? That’s even worse than the beer & cheese gut).

So listen up ladies, and enjoy!

The Husband’s Insight:

To a guy, presentation is everything, and rules are nothing. A list of rules about what-foods-not-to-touch-with-a-ten-foot-pole, don’t change who we are, they just make us want to throw things. That’s why many wife-enforced “diets” fail. But, if you learn how to effectively present new diet and lifestyle changes to your stud, it can make all the difference.

So, don’t make rules…make changes – slowly but surely- to who you and your family are. Like the quote above, your job is to help him discover healthy eating for himself.

Developing healthy eating habits is all about discovering that eating foods that are great for your body isn’t actually that bad…

{Notice the two appalled little girls in the corner? I think they see their future married lives flashing before their eyes…}

Alrighty, Ladies:

  • Don’t mess with “the favorites”. (ie: Cheesy potatoes/gravy/sausage/nachos/entire pizzas/tacos – All of which make men look forward to coming home to pound* a good meal) …just slowly reduce how often you serve the favorites. (*Note from Rachael: “Pounding” a meal refers to eating a lot, and eating it quickly….Thought this might help everyone who is not up on their Husband-lingo.)
  • Don’t get mad and don’t make eating an argument. Sometimes, a man just needs to eat a sleeve of Oreos.
  • Don’t surprise a man with something he might not like. Instead, present it beforehand as an adventure that you’re trying, and let him know why you think he’ll like it. (it’s a lot like that cheesy chicken dish you love! or, remember that dish we had on our honeymoon?). Help a man discover goodness.
  • Don’t overhaul entire food options. Start slow by mixing in healthy sides and  snacks to your usual menu (Like hummus! Used to hate the idea of it, but now I love it with pita chips, on sandwiches, you name it). Hummus is the new mayonnaise. Believe it!
  • Get to know the healthy stuff that he likes, and keep making it  – but not all the time. Remember, start slow and no “rules”. You’ve got time! Also, you can often find healthier versions of his favorites. Hello, organic fruit snacks.
  • Slowly start buying less and less of the unhealthy snacks and foods. If you’re hungry and you see grapes and nacho cheese,  a guy is gunna choose nacho cheese and eat it till it is no more. But, if you’ve got good stuff stashed everywhere, a man is gunna pick something healthy on his own.
  • Suggest and prepare the healthy options for him, and make it look attractive. The bottom line is that most men will eat what you put in his face. So, cut up and share an apple for a movie snack before he goes for his usual bowl of ice cream.
  • Don’t ask a man what he wants for dinner every night. Because if you do, he will pick “pizza or tacos” like I do. Make a plan and suggest some options. This is not to say you should never ask, because sometimes a guy really is craving something and it will make him happy if you fix it for him. But, most of the time, the fact that we don’t have to worry about it makes us happy… and you can slip in healthy stuff.

When you decide to make a change you have to become the kind of person that doesn’t enjoy the feeling of a food comma. It’s not easy. If it was, fast food chains would fail, diet companies would fade, and wives and girlfriends and daughters wouldn’t be reading this blog post! But, if you lovingly pursue a fun, healthy new lifestyle together, you’ll be more than happy with the results… in your relationship and on the scale.

{A few of “the favorites”. So special when you get to share them…}

I hope you learned a little from the Husband, and even found a few tips you can apply at home. Is there anything that help YOU keep your Man or your family happy and healthy?

Watch for more posts with some of the Husband’s healthy favorites!

{Vintage} Wisdom

Meet Ora Bliss Adams.

Ora is my great-grandmother, and she just turned 96 this week. Always (and still) a bright, strong, fashionable lady; a long chat with her can change your life… So, in her honor,  I’ve decided to pass on a little of her wisdom…

You don’t have it today like we did back then… and I’m sorry.

About “Grandma Bailey”

Ora was born in a small town in rural Ohio in 1915. She was the youngest of seven children, and her mother passed away when she was just 20 months old. Her kind, loving father and her oldest sister, Wilma, raised her and her siblings.

They studied hard, worked hard, baked, cooked, plowed, slaughtered, milked, churned, laughed, grieved, danced, survived and learned a lot about life on their self-sufficient farm…

Grandma graduated from high school, and married Joe Washington Bailey when she was 18 years old. Their first car was his brand new 1930 Ford Sport Roadster….red and black with a rumble seat. She says it was quite the sight…

She and my grandfather also led busy, involved, generous, hard working lives. They farmed for many years,  had two children: Viora Sue and Steve. “Sue” is my grandmother – my mom’s mother…

Grandma still lives on their 114 acre farm, today.

I can still see the horses, the people, the farms…

Living a long, happy life

There are many themes that run through Grandma’s life, but I would say that hard work, health and fashion tended to stand out. I think she’d agree that the lists below contributed to her seeing her 96th birthday.

Her thoughts about life are precious to me, and luckily, she has an almost photographic memory… Here are just a few for you to take to heart:

Ora’s Fashion Tips

(Circa 1940-60, but still applicable today)

{Sue’s wedding, 1958 – What a dress, what a color.}

1. An A-line dress is possibly the most flattering cut there is. No matter what your waist or hips are like, it can look nice on everyone. (I totally agree!)

2. NEVER wear pleats. They make you look fat. (Proud to say I made the husband throw out all of his pleated pants right after we got married… now this is great advice).

3. Buy versatile pieces – Mix and match your jackets, skirts and slacks. (But, slacks are mostly worn for bowling and farm work…. She’s a member of the national “600 Bowlers Club”, by the way.)

4. DON’T buy cheap shoes. It just isn’t worth it. She’s 96 and has no foot problems and can walk wherever she pleases. She said it is all about quality. (“Tweedies” were her favorite brand. This ad is from a 1956 “Woman’s Home Companion” magazine she gave me. Grandma said that they were $80 a pair in the 1940’s – Whew! Told the Husband about this tip right away…)

Ora’s Health Tips

(On the farm, or in your back yard…try a few)


We ate food that we grew, harvested and butchered…we baked our own bread, had three orchards and 13 swarms of bees…  Dad would always take apples and honey to the neighbors.

1. Eat like a farmer. Grandma ate local food when it was in season. They canned what they didn’t eat immediately, baked, used a root cellar, and never went hungry – even during The Depression and WWII. (You might not be able to eat only what you can grow, but try to stay local, eat what is ripe, and experiment with recipes that call for whole, nutrient rich foods.)

2. Sweets are a treat. It was a big deal to get sweets and penny candies, not a habit. Keep it a special event to share with others. (Even though you don’t have to trudge three miles through mud-covered roads to get your candy bars any more, act like you do…)

3. Walk, run, ride, move. Make it a natural part of your routine. Grandma said they walked everywhere, and didn’t even think about it. She claims it has made all the difference in her health and mobility today… They also rode horses, planted seeds, sweated and milked cows twice a day – Now that’s an arm workout!. (Three miles to church on Sunday, and countless miles there and back to school, to the neighbors, and around the farm.)

4. Dance. In the winter, Grandma’s family held square dances to entertain and keep moving even in bad weather. They rolled up the carpet, found someone to play the violin or banjo, and friends, family and neighbors danced the night away. (While you might not square dance this winter to keep holiday pounds off, try Zumba or a new workout to mix things up.)

{The picture above to the left is of my great-great grandparents. They were married in 1895. The picture above and to the right is of Ora with her dog – She put waves in her hair by standing over a teakettle.}

We worked hard…we led a good life.

I have said that I love stories, and Grandma’s stories are some of the best. I am proud of her and my family, and am thankful to know more about who we are, and where we have been… I challenge you to take the time to find out some of your own stories. You might be surprised at what you find.

{The picture above is one of my favorites. Love the collar and stripes. My Grandma and uncle are pictured with her… See how the fashion sense was passed down?}

{Grandma’s home – A place where joy and memories reside}