Tuesday

2015 Reading Challenge

Let's be real. The book with 500 pages will probably take me the entire year to finish, so chances are I will not tick all of these boxes by 2016. However, I do have every intention to try and with a long reading list and this awesome challenge to motivate me, I think I'll do just fine. Last Christmas my parents gave me a tablet and although I much prefer holding an actual book in my hand, it's made keeping up with good reads a lot easier. Here in the sticks, there isn't a library or decent bookstore for miles and miles!

 Are you on the fence about reading from a screen? I get it, but here are some perks that I personally love...

... Borrowing books instead of buying, although you can download or purchase to keep.
... Borrowing means you only have the book for a limited time which encourages slackers like me to finish it within a certain time frame.
... Having the option to listen to your book comes in handy when taking bubble baths, when you need to rest your eyes, or when you need to drown out noise in a crowd.
... Syncing to your vehicle Bluetooth means having your book read to you on long car rides. This is my favorite perk.

Is anyone else up for the challenge? I'm currently working on Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling and We Are Water by Wally Lamb. 




Get a head start on your New Year's resolution to read more books with our 2015 reading challenge!

Monday

This Year I've Got Some Big Plans

 
 
 
 

 
  • Entertain friends at our home more often, host dinner parties.
  • Put more time and energy into preparing meals, eat out less, waste less food.
  • Renovate both bathrooms.
  • Install new windows, doors and siding in the spring.
  • Get serious about playing the guitar.
  • Start a new journal.
  • Organize my craft supplies, complete the scrapbook I started years ago and start a new one with all that's piling up.
  • Play outside.
  • Drink more water.
  • Start a new weekend tradition. Pizza Fridays! (Can't take credit for that genius idea.)
  • Use my stand mixer more often.
  • Read more books, complete a reading challenge.
  • Start and complete a 30 day fitness challenge and get serious about exercising regularly.
  • Take advantage of the fitness equipment and shower facilities at my workplace. I mean, how easy can it be and why am I not in amazing shape by now?
  • Let my hair grow, master how to use a curling wand, find new ways to style my hair.
  • Present myself better, spend less time in yoga pants and leggings.
  • Stop cluttering our spare bedrooms with crap I should probably trash.
  • Visit friends and family more often.
  • Try Sushi.
  • Get new glasses.
  • Go on an adventure with friends.
  • Accomplish all the things I wanted to do last summer this summer.
  • See the Dentist.
  • Save money.
  • Treat myself more often.

Friday

Focus on the Good



Having spent New Years Eve under the covers asleep long before midnight, and having been isolated in the Out Patients Department receiving fluids through an IV for most of New Years Day, it's safe to say I didn't ring in 2015 in style... But that's okay.
 
After a beautiful Christmas with my parents, I got hit with a nasty bug that knocked me off my feet and right into my bed for a few days. Literally in bed for days, looking, sounding and feeling like death. During those few days, knowing there were many in the same boat as me if not worse, I tried my best to think positive. One of the many goals I've set for myself this year is to focus on the good, and although it was very difficult to see the good in said New Years Eve events, having no energy, a splitting headache, congested sinuses, a terrible cough and what felt like shards of glass lining my throat, I came up with this...
 
  • I have a warm house. I am safe here. This bed is not going anywhere.
  • Keith Urban concert from the comfort of my living room? Win.
  • Better yet, attending a Keith Urban concert this summer in PEI? Huge win.
  • Group texts are amazing. All of my caring friends in one conversation making each other laugh and helping each other from different parts of the Province is amazing. I don't even have to speak, just read and reply, and even from this germ-filled bed I am not missing anything.
  • I can finally binge watch Gossip Girl and not feel guilty about it. I've only ever watched bits and pieces of it now and then while tidying my room or getting ready to go out, so it's taken me a year and a half to get through Season 1. Well, I'm going to watch an entire Season today and an entire Season tomorrow and I'll finally know what's up and it will be awesome.
  • Speaking of awesome, Netflix is frigging AWESOME.
  • Thanks to this constant coughing and hacking I legit have abs of steel.
  • My husband is a gem. Between working hard on the kitchen downstairs and stopping every so often to come upstairs, check on me, bring me things to drink and snack on, he is really going above and beyond. He is taking care of everything and expecting nothing from me despite all we have to do, and he's encouraging lots of rest. On New Years Eve when I apologized for being so lame he looked at me and said, "It's not what you're doing that's important, it's who you're with." Like really? I am extremely lucky, and I want to kiss his face off and I don't care if I give him my germs...
  • ... But I can't kiss him. But when I can, oh it will be magical.
  • Our kitchen is finally in the end stages of its transformation and I could not be more excited.
  • All this down time has got me meal planning, recipe pinning and list making.
  • I'm convinced our dog is the stuffed animal I wished would come to life back when I was a little kid. He is the cutest, sweetest little thing and he adds so much joy to my life.
  • My family call me a lot. This is good, as it is proof they love me very much, just as I love them.

See that? I'm already carrying out one New Years Resolution like a boss. Try it, focus on the good.


XO

Tuesday

Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2013.
 
 
Boy, did I slack off this Christmas! With the monstrous renovations taking place at our house, we didn't do so much as hang a wreath let alone put up a Christmas tree. Now that's a first. See, things don't go as smoothly as they do on HGTV programs. We faced many road blocks and delays and had many days where we just didn't have time to work on the house, so our completion date has come and gone and still we're in a mess. It's okay. We don't have kids, we didn't have anything pressing us to be finished by Christmas and thankfully we have both of our family homes that offer that warm, inviting Christmas nostalgia that our home can't. We're actually having fun with it. Although it's been a bit overwhelming at times, it's extremely satisfying to see progress and know you did it all yourself. So what if it's taken longer than we anticipated? It's all good. We're extremely fortunate to be able to make these changes, and this business of living out of our bedroom hasn't been that bad. Wink wink.
 

So that's that. Our 2014 Christmas may appear pretty dull if you're judging by the amount of lights and decorations we've displayed, but I assure you it has been everything but. Our shopping is done and tonight I'll spend the evening with Mom wrapping gifts, sipping mulled cider and snacking on crackers and cheese, I've hugged all of my best friends, I've danced at Christmas parties and sported some festive red lipstick. Hubby and I have been singing Christmas carols in the car, we watched Love Actually and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation under the covers, and we're looking forward to a few days of eating, drinking and laughing with our favorite people. We may not have a tree or lights, but we have our health and a special kind of love. I am really happy, and life is good.
 

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!
 
 
XO
 

Wednesday

Mulligatawny Soup




I made this traditional Indian soup a few weeks ago and can't wait to make again. You may find the list of ingredients a bit odd, but somehow they work together wonderfully and make a very satisfying meal for cold and blustery night. There are many variations to this dish so if you have an idea, by all means put your own spin on it. Perhaps you wish to use coconut milk instead of cream, cut back on curry or serve it over a bed of white rice? Knock yourself out. It will get two thumbs up either way!


Mulligatawny Soup


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces.
1 medium/large onion chopped small.
3 cloves of garlic minced, or 1 Tsp of bottled garlic.
1/4 cup all purpose flour.
1 tbsp curry powder.
1 box of chicken broth.
2 cups of blend cream.
2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces.
1 tbsp brown sugar.
Black pepper, salt, butter and cayenne pepper for seasoning.
 


Green onion, sour cream and red pepper flakes for garnish.
 

On medium to high heat in a Dutch oven, cook salt and peppered chicken in two tablespoons of butter. Brown and set aside. Once done, add two more tablespoons to the pot and sauté onions and garlic, stirring well to prevent burning. At this point, sprinkle flour and curry over onions and remaining butter, use a whisk to create a paste. Now add the broth and stir well. It's time to add the cooked chicken, brown sugar, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Allow flavours combine - then add apples and cream. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
 

Garnish your bowl of soup with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of green onion, red pepper flakes for kick and some fresh naan bread.


- R

What The F*** Were We Thinking?



Our kitchen is where it all goes down. The most important room in our house. It's where we sit to drink our coffee and map out our day, and where we meet again later to talk about it. It's where we stop to re-group and where we drop our bags, our keys and our mail. It's where we skim through the weekly flyers and organize and pay our bills. On the kitchen floor is where I sit to talk on the phone and at our table is where G opens his laptop to do work, or where I bookmark the next recipe I'm going to try on Pinterest. It's often where I blog, where I think, plan and make lists. It's where I fold our clean laundry, and where I turn the music up and dance and sing at the top of my lungs when I'm alone.


Our kitchen is where we gather with friends. Like true Capers, we sit around the table all hours of the night pouring drinks, playing guitars, singing, laughing, joking and eating like kings. It's where we spend hours cleaning, washing the dishes that we ate from and rinsing the bottles that we drank from. Lastly and most importantly, it's where I am happiest cooking, baking and preparing meals for the ones I love.

 
For the last four weeks my kitchen has been a construction zone. Four weeks, in case you didn't hear me. We are halfway through an expansion and complete renovation and although I am so very excited for the finished product, I am feeling a bit lost. I miss my kitchen. Our cabinets are empty, some are gone and all are soon to be replaced, and our dishes and cookware are piled high in no order in our sitting room. My husband has even asked on a few occasions that I avoid our house so not to see the mess he's created with a sledgehammer, for example, a busted out wall with exposed electrical wires and insulation, dry wall dust everywhere, and tools and extension chords cluttering every empty space. 


My happy place is not so happy.

 
To me, halfway through a home project and deep into a mess is also known as the what the f*** were we thinking stage. I know it will pass, but anyone who has tackled home renovations will agree, the midway point is extremely overwhelming. On top of that, productivity is at a bit of a standstill. Our helpers are juggling a few jobs at a time and materials needed aren't easily accessible to us folks living in the sticks. With that, I've started asking myself what was wrong with the old kitchen? Those old wood cabinets, they didn't do anything wrong. They were cabinets I once loved. They were a subject of conversation, they were rustic and made the home feel like a cabin in the woods and so what if G and I were always butt to butt preparing meals together. I like being butt to butt. We'll never cook butt to butt again!

 
I know I'm getting a bit carried away and sounding a bit like a spoiled brat. Poor girl, she wanted a bigger kitchen and she's getting one. She wanted new cabinets and she's getting them. It just goes to show you, or I guess me, how much I depend on routine and how lost I am without it. I'm completely thrown off my game. Not being able to find my coffee maker, sit at my kitchen table or cook a proper meal for my husband has been affecting my mental status.
 
 

Ask me if I've started decorating. I dare you.
 

Monday

A Perfect Sunday & A Perfect Apple Crisp!




I'm sure y'all know by now that this right here, this is my favorite time of year. Why? Don't be silly, you know why. Sweater weather is the best weather for long walks and long drives, and my love for cooking, baking and being crafty is at its peak. The kettle is always on, the wood is in and the blankets are always messy on the couch because, well, we're always in them. Cozy and warm and lazy. Those are only a few of the many reasons why I love the fall.

On Sunday, we woke up early to scoot into the village for breakfast. We got our coffee fix for the day as we planned our afternoon and talked about some upcoming home projects, then went for a drive along the countryside. We took in the beautiful sights; the rolling hills of red, orange and yellow, the scattered hay bails as far as the eye can see and cows roaming in the pastures.

We stopped at the Farmer's Market and picked up lots of goodies for a week of happy eating. Corn on the cob, turnip, yellow string beans, squash and mustard pickles! Then back at home, we cuddled up to watch Nashville until I finally found the energy to make an Apple Crisp for a dinner with my parents. The day and the dessert was absolutely perfect.

Have a great week, everyone!


Apple Crisp

8-12 peeled, thinly sliced apples of your choice.
1/4 cup of sugar.
1 cup of brown sugar.
1 cup of flour.
1 cup of rolled oats.
1/2 cup of butter, softened.
E.D Smith Apple Pie Filling. (Optional)
Cinnamon.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, brown sugar, oats, soft butter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Mix all together until crumbly and set aside.

Butter a casserole dish, preferably something longer than it is deep, and layer the sliced apples. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of sugar and a dusting of cinnamon. Should you choose to add the pie filling, which I highly recommend you do, spread it evenly over your sliced apples. Lastly, create an even layer of the crumbly oat mixture on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until oats are browned and filling is bubbly!

Enjoy!

Friday

Sephora, thanks but no thanks.



The store was big and bright. There were people everywhere. The music was loud. Each product station promised the same light weight, long lasting coverage. I didn't know where to look or where to start, and in every direction I turned there was a mirror reminding me that I was a Sephora Virgin. Who is that poor pale girl? She looks lost. Oh, that's me. My head was spinning. If I hadn't had a consultation booked, I would have turned around ran for the hills.
 

I clearly explained the look I was going for. I wanted an easy to do, day to day look that could carry from morning to night and appear as natural as possible. Simple is best. Less is more. My concerns were, and always have been the darkness under my eyes and sun spots, which makes my skin tone uneven. I explained that my biggest challenge is finding a coverage that lasts so I can stop feeling the need to touch up throughout the day, and I asked for a subtle but a sexy eye with a light sun kissed glow. I stressed that I spend all of ten minutes in the mirror in the morning and I didn't want that to change.
 

My makeup artist took a good look at me then gathered a whopping nineteen products from around the store. Are you ready for this? She applied a hydration mask, an eye cream, a primer, a corrector, a foundation, a concealer, a finish, a bronzer, a blush, a contouring powder and highlighter. Then she applied a crease, lid, and corner shadow to my eyes, a liquid liner, a mascara and a shit ton of makeup to thicken and shape my brows. Finally, she applied a liner, a lipstick, a gloss, and then sprayed my face to set it in place.
 
You want a picture? Are you crazy? There was nothing natural, fresh or simple about my look. I was back at square one once again, feeling extremely overwhelmed and lost - only this time with drawn on eyebrows. Looking in the mirror at said eyebrows I didn't even recognize myself, wasn't makeup supposed to enhance your features, not create new ones? My friends couldn't even keep a straight face.


 I didn't have the heart to tell the consultant I wasn't happy, so I waited until she disappeared out of sight to pull someone else aside. Excuse me? I should probably buy groceries this year, so all these products have to go back. What makeup of the nineteen on my face and in this basket, is the biggest bang for my buck?


 
And that's how I left Sephora with one lonely item. Makeup For Ever HD Foundation.
 
 
 
All in all, despite my anxiousness to wash the mask off my face, I left the store feeling extremely satisfied. Although I didn't like my makeover, and didn't understand the need for all those products, I left with the realization that I didn't need any of it. The desire to have it all is gone, and for the first time in my life I felt confident that what I do at home in the mirror is enough. It wasn't the experience I was going for, but I'll take it. My bank account will surely thank me.



So, Sephora, thanks but no thanks.
 
 
***
 
 
Update: Makeup For Ever HD Foundation was the best $56 I have ever spent. Yep, $56 buckaroos. It's totally worth it, and will forever have a place in my baby wipe container. Yep, baby wipe container - the place my makeup calls home. If you ask me, it does the work of a primer, concealer and foundation all in one because I personally feel there's no need to wear anything else. It goes on light with great coverage and stays on from morning until night. I've never felt so comfortable wearing so little makeup, and feel it hides those little problem spots perfectly.

Thursday

A Makeup Confession - Help!

 
  

I have a confession.

 
An embarrassing truth about myself.
 
 
Are you ready?
 
 
I have never gone beyond the drugstore to purchase skin care products or makeup, ever in my whole entire life. There, I said it.
 
 
The makeup that fills the Huggies Baby Wipe container on my vanity consists of drugstore products, and drugstore products only.You heard me right. My concealers, blush, bronzer and mascara which cost me a whopping $10 or less is kept in a recycled baby wipe container. Can you say glamorous? I'm not saying these products are shit, it's just that within a few hours of wear, I feel the need to reapply and I think I can do better than that.


I am writing this post because it's time I spread my wings and fly away from Shoppers Drugmart. It's time I see what professional, promising products are out there, and it's time I spend a little more money on myself. I am worth it. I deserve it. 
 
 
Here's the deal. It's September and as much as I love this time of year, it means my beachy blonde hair has lost it's shine and my tan is fading by the minute. I once thought the answer to end-of-summer depressies was visiting my hair stylist for a new cut and color, but not long after the drastic makeover I realize I made a mistake. It's not my hair I need to change, it's my face! The new cut and color may have been nice for the first couple of weeks, but my skin is still dull and I look tired 100% of the time, even with makeup.
 
 
Without makeup? Let's not even go there.
 
 
"Are you feeling sick, hunny?" - Concerned husband.
 
"I'm fine, just not wearing any makeup." - Pissed off wife.


So before I'm out with the old and in with the new, I'd like to hear from you.
 
  
Where do you buy your makeup? What products do you consider splurge worthy? I booked a consultation and application with Sephora. Good choice? I honestly wouldn't know. I'm hoping to leave Sephora with a few basics that give me the look I want from the moment I apply it until the moment I wipe it off. I need a lesson on appropriate colors, the proper order in which to apply each product, and what brushes to use. I have a lot of ground to cover, I don't even know how to contour or create a smoky eye. Come to think of it, I can't tell you the last time I wore eye shadow.

Should I consider lightening my brows?  With my hair a natural medium blonde and my brows almost black, lightening my brows has always been tempting. Would it soften my face? Would my hair color appear more natural? I'm scared, and dying my hair a darker shade is not an option right now.


Do you follow any makeup tutorial blogs? Product reviews and application tutorials, link me to some of your favorites!


XO


Stay tuned for my Sephora experience and makeup haul. *Update! See post: "Sephora, thanks but no thanks."
 
 
 

Tuesday

Goodnight Moon



The head of our bed fits perfectly in the bay window of our ground level bedroom, and I'm lying on my belly looking out at the night. The windows on each side of me are open and the breeze is cool and refreshing on my face, reminding me that summer is almost over. I don't mind.
I close my eyes to inhale a deep breath of the fresh air and I feel as though I am outside, unprotected by these four walls. The hair on my arms stand with a chill as I feel a sense of vulnerability and fear, fear that maybe I am too close, too exposed. Only one large pane of glass and two window screens separate me from the wild animals that are lurking beyond the tree line and the dark mysterious woods.
Then suddenly my warmth returns with a sense of calm. I am safe here. I am safe with him.
To my right, my husband is sleeping, unaware of my current state of awe. His chest rises and falls, rises and falls, and I take a second to thank God for him.
The mattress supports our bodies as they sink deeper and deeper into relaxation preparing for a nights rest, and the covers are weightless but warm, softly shielding us from the cool September night.
There isn't a cloud in sight.
The sky is an odd, unfamiliar shade of blue. It's bright, despite the time, and the stars are sparkling like diamonds as far as the eye can see.
The light of the Harvest moon brightens the long dirt road below that would otherwise be dark and uninviting, but there are no cars to travel it anymore tonight. It's too late. I am the only one awake.
The trees are still as the breeze is so gentle it can't shake them.
The rolling hills in the distance are black like perfectly painted silhouettes on a blue canvas.
There isn't a noise to be heard, not a peep, not a squeak or a howl. It's like we're the only ones left on this earth, and I'm not at all afraid.
I am ready to close my eyes and dream...

Rachel Emmilee