Wednesday

The Perfect Biscuit

 
If you have ever visited my family home... or any Cape Breton home for that matter... chances are you were offered a hot cup of tea and a fresh biscuit the moment you entered the kitchen. Biscuits and tea are like, a thing around here. Growing up we always had a fresh batch on the counter and absolutely nothing could beat a fresh-from-the-oven biscuit with butter and molasses.

So, can I make them? You're damn right I can. It only took the better part of a year and a big chunk of change to master it but I finally did, thanks to the Kitchenaid Stand Mixer!

On my journey to making the perfect biscuit I learned a few things. Find a recipe that works for you and stick with it. Beware of professional biscuit makers, they all swear by their recipe and all recipes are different. Some use a light pan, some use dark, some use shortening while others use butter. They may recommend yogurt or milk, maybe sour milk or butter milk, milk mixed with vinegar or just straight water. Some call for sugar, no sugar, salt, no salt... The list goes on and on. I've even met ladies that will take their biscuit recipe to the grave! Can you believe that my Grandmother intentionally gave my Mom the wrong measurements so her biscuits would flop? That's no lie. Biscuits ladies and gentlemen, are kind of a big deal.
 
 I've decided to be generous and share the recipe that, for me, was a success time and time again. You're welcome.
 
*Tips*

1. Clean an old soup can and with your can opener remove both ends. This makes the perfect biscuit cutter with two open ends, which adds air to the biscuit and makes for easy cutting. Clean and keep your new biscuit cutter for future baking!
2. The less you handle the dough the better.
3. Biscuits freeze beautifully. Make a big batch and freeze half, they thaw quickly and are the perfect side to soups and chilli's.
4. Play with the recipe by adding dry ingredients to your dry mixture, and wet ingredients to your milk and egg. For example, sweet biscuits with slivered almonds, cranberries and a splash of almond extract or savory biscuits with cheddar cheese and chives!
 

The Perfect Biscuit

Preheat oven to 425, rack in middle.
 
In your mixer bowl use your whisk attachment to thoroughly combine all of the dry ingredients:
 
3 cups of all purpose flour
7 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
 
Now add 2/3 cup of shortening and on low-medium speed with the paddle attachment, mix until shortening is combined with flour mixture until it's very fine.
 
In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cup of milk and one egg.
 
Now using the hook attachment on medium to high speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture. Quickly, using a spatula to scrape the sides of bowl ensure the mixture combines well. The quicker the better!
 
With floured hands, roll ball of dough onto floured counter. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough out to an even 1.5 inch in thickness. With a floured biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place on cookie sheet. Recycle what is left and without handling too much, cut out more biscuits. Bake for 10-15 minutes watching for a raised biscuit with a golden brown top.

 
Enjoy!
Rachel Emmilee
XO



Tuesday

50 Healthy Habits Every Girl Should Have

Now that I've decided to take living healthier and happier more seriously, it seems everywhere I look I'm finding more things that inspire me. A friend recently sent me a text with the following attachment and it has motivated me to make more simple but positive changes in my life.
 
On top of the modifications I've already made to my diet, sleeping and exercise routine, I plan to make a better effort in other aspects of my life as well. There is always room for improvement! From this list, I'll do the following...
 Try Meatless Monday - Put my phone away when with friends and family - Keep better track of my bank statements and pay stubs - Avoid buying one-time-only clothing - Avoid tanning beds - Make SPF makeup application a morning ritual - Avoid Google when needing medical advice - Floss more often - Read labels on everything - Stop being so hard on myself.
 
Have a look at this list, where can you improve?
 




 

Monday

It will catch up to you...

... Has been a commonly used phrase in my house over the years. Always referring to me and the way I eat, my lack of ambition to exercise and the fact that I remained as skinny as a rake. When I'd hear this phrase, I'd roll my eyes like they were crazy and continue eating whatever it was that should have gone straight to my ass, but didn't...

Well, times sure have changed. Let's just say after a feast of comfort food, I can now feel every last bite travel to my ass and find housing in vacant fat cells. I'm guilty of unbuttoning my jeans so I can breathe after meals, and lately I've been drawn towards wearing comfortable clothes rather than flattering clothes. Looking in the mirror I can see I packed some extra junk in the trunk and despite this, I quickly (and happily) satisfy all cravings I get for salt or sugar. I feel tired. I feel uninspired. I feel stuck. My body isn't as forgiving as it once was; I am 22 lbs over what I was in my early twenties, so there's no denying my unhealthy habits have finally caught up to me... 

Aside from the number on the scale, I know my mood, energy and appearance has suffered the effects of unhealthy eating. I'm no longer the skinny chick who can eat whatever she wants and still be at the top of her game. I've reached a point where I know I must make changes if I want to eliminate self hate and prevent it from ever coming back. So, I faced some harsh realities and reevaluated my lifestyle to find where I can improve... The conclusion? I can improve everywhere. 






Goals include...
  • Feel energized, awake, healthy, beautiful and strong by fueling my body with healthy foods.
  • Sleep longer, deeper and more sound with less distractions.
  • Be fit during my (future) pregnancies and when I become a Mother. 
  • Read labels to know what I am eating isn't harmful to my body.
  • When I can, choose organic. 
  • Toss chemical loaded creams, rubs and products that promise to do only what health foods can do.
  • Set a good example and be an inspiration to other women.
  • Drink more water.
  • Never drink sugar loaded soft drinks.
  • Run the 5K Sole Sister Race.
  • Limit (not eliminate) comfort foods, coffee and other guilty pleasures.
To reach those goals...
 
  • I have watched two food documentaries I had been avoiding for fear of being disturbed. With a whole new understanding of the food industry and the scary, scary truths about what we eat, I cleaned out our fridge and pantry to start fresh. 
  • I modified our grocery list to include the healthiest options and we stocked up on fresh, nutritious foods that I feel really good about. 
  • I bookmarked several fitness Blogs that have endless resources, recipes and tips that will help me on my journey. I've spent hours skimming the archives and already tried several recipes and exercises that I've had success with.
  • I recently completed a FOODSAFE course that discussed preventative methods to avoid cross contamination, food intoxication and illness. I also learned the proper cooling, heating and storing temperatures for food and other red flags to watch for in the kitchen.
  • I made a promise to myself to avoid Soda at all costs.
  • I installed the Couch to 5K and Nike Training Club app on my phone.
  • I actually registered for the 5K Sole Sister Race... No turning back now!
Something feels different this time. I choose health, happiness and being in control of my body. I'm tired of complaining about my lack of ambition and I'm tired of feeling run down. I finally feel 100% committed to achieving my goals. 

Have you struggled with maintaining a healthy lifestyle? What keeps you goal focused?
 
Rachel Emmilee
XO



Saturday

Sniffles on Saturday



I'm spending this Saturday on the couch sipping a hot toddy. I'm hoping to sooth a sore throat, stuffed nose and an overall yucky feeling that has me moving at a sluggish pace and looking like death. After a hearty breakfast my husband left for afternoon band practice and I'm excited to have a few hours alone with my lazy puppy, no house work to do and nothing expected of me all day. I can relax with the computer, watch Finland beat USA in the Bronze Medal game, and lounge in my pajamas.

I could dwell on the fact that I've caught a cold and the weather is upsetting, because trust me I'm so over it, but I decided to look at the bright side of things to try to turn my mood around. Although I sound like quite the pissy pants lately, I assure you there are plenty of things that are making me happy...


Grinding my own coffee beans
My family
Renee's Greek Yogurt Herb & Feta Dip kicked up a notch by adding extra feta cheese
Stacey's Pita Chips or fresh veggies with said dip 
Chugging cold apple juice
Sleeping like a baby with an eye mask and ear plugs
My Kitchenaid Mixer
Being color-coded-organized with a day planner
The thought of a week long summer vacation with my whole family
Being registered for my first ever 5K run with my "Sole Sister"
My Samsung Tablet
Reading again, and currently reading Gone Girl
The thought of studying from home and being a student again
Watching the Winter Olympics
#misheardlyrics trending on Twitter
My Dad quit smoking


See, it ain't so bad. Happy Saturday!

Rachel Emmilee
XO







Thursday

Over it.




In my last post I embraced winter, the crisp air and the fluffy snow.  Today, I'm having none of that. I am over it. I am cold. I am pale. My skin is dry and itchy. I have no desire to do anything. 

I feel incredibly lazy. Even circuit training, my only excuse to get out an exercise has been put on hold due to weather. Having to cancel for the sixth Wednesday in a row because of snow covered roads and poor visibility is beyond depressing. I've resorted to dance parties in my underwear where I jump, kick, twerk and pump my hips to a Songza dance floor play list in my bedroom. I know my husband and my dog are judging me, but I need to move, I need to sweat. I'm going shack happy.

I have been watching so much television. So much that I think to myself... This can't be normal. I can't possibly be caught up on Girls, Nashville, The Bachelor, Mom, Suits, The Walking Dead, American Idol, Modern Family and a million other shows I'm too embarrassed to list.

Spring is 27 days away, but who's counting?

Wednesday

Winter Blues



It's February, we're buried in snow and there's more on the way. The roads are ice covered, temperatures are in the negatives and stores and pubs are closed for the season. This is right around the time when I start to feel a little guilt for completing yet another series on Netflix, when the voice inside my head starts begging me to be more productive, and when I can feel my muscles atrophy more and more each time I settle under a blanket.

Yesterday, I tried to kick the winter blues in the butt by going for a little walk on our dirt road. I do this now and then, but not nearly as often as I'd like for fear of running into something hungry.

Sometimes, in the rush of coming and going I forget to look around and appreciate our beautiful surroundings, so on this walk I did just that. All I could hear was the crunching of snow under my feet, the birds chirping like it was a summer day and the sound of my breath. I could see my breath too, it was very cold, but you'd never know it with how the sun was shining through the trees making the snow sparkle. The air was crisp and energizing and the silence was therapeutic, it was just what I needed to recharge and feel motivated.

How do shake the winter blues?

Rachel Emmilee
XO










Monday

Weekend Round Up: Family Fun, Blue Rodeo & A Super Bowl Sunday I'll Never Forget...


We were off to Halifax with Mom, Dad and Sister. We've only been looking forward to this night since November, so you can imagine we were super excited. Blue Rodeo was hitting the stage at 8pm! Everyone packed into our vehicle which made the four hour drive very entertaining... My sister and her frequent pee breaks, my Dad and his claustrophobia, my Mom's incessant need to blast the music to drown out conversation...

Once in the city, we ran a few errands before checking into the hotel, with the most important errand being a visit to the NSLC. In our room, we got comfortable with a  stiff shot of whisky and some tunes to get us in the mood for a night on the town! Our intent was to find a fun new place to have dinner prior to the concert, but time wouldn't allow, so we grabbed some apps and drinks at the hotel restaurant and bar and it hit the spot!

The concert was amazing. We bounced in our seats during the first set and made it to the stage for the second, dancing and singing and making awkward yet sexual eye contact with Jim Cuddy. For a moment I forgot there were thousands of people behind me and believed they were performing for me and only me. They never fail to blow me away, It was so much fun I'm sad it's over.

The night ended with the cab driver taking the guys to the Casino for some late night poker action, and us gals keeping to the hotel. There is nothing quite like the relief you feel when you remove your heels after a night of dancing, but 2am pizza comes pretty close.



Our headaches weren't so bad that we'd miss out on a delicious breakfast at Tempo on Barrington Street. Tempo Benny with a hot cup of Starbucks was a great start to the day. A Costco haul was on the agenda, as was a run into the Superstore to stock up on Super Bowl Sunday treats. I'll even admit to a drive-by Koolaid and Pretzel purchase from Cineplex for the ride home. It's a thing we do.

Finally home, we crawled in bed and watched The Prisoners. If you haven't seen this movie yet, I suggest you hurry up and get on that. It was so suspenseful, the hair on my arms stood up the whole time. A little warning, if you're a parent watching this movie, you just may go through your television with rage.


Ah yes, Super Bowl Sunday. I always look forward to this day. It was off to a good start as we had gotten up early, enjoyed our coffee and tidied up in preparation for G's hockey team to arrive. I made a large amount of homemade Mac N' Cheese, dips and other munchies and before we knew it there was six hand game of Poker happening in our dining room. It wasn't long after that we were entertaining twelve friends with two very loud televisions and a huge spread of food.

I finally sat down to enjoy the party with my friends and just as I refused a glass of wine on account of work tomorrow, I felt a sudden wave of heat. Then chills... Then a sudden pain in my stomach... I had to excuse myself from the party to go upstairs and... I'll let you guess what happens next... Eventually ending up under my duvet shaking like a leaf trying shake a chill. G delivered some water and a Gravol, and I quickly accepted that I was down for the count. Every twenty minutes was my pace for a whole two hours, so needless to say the party went on without me. It wasn't fun, but it sure made Super Bowl Sunday '14 unforgettable.

How was your weekend?

Rachel Emmilee
XO

Thursday

10 Things This Happy Couple Does Right



Recently I read an article that listed ten things a happy couple does right. Ten things a happy couple makes an effort to do, that an unhappy couple does not. Really, we could pick this list apart and question who decides what's right and what's wrong and, what makes a couple happy? Instead, I decided to take it for what it was. This list was specific to the writer, things that make their relationship work. Of course every couple would have their own list specific to them, their needs and their wants... So it got me thinking, what do we do that puts us in the happy couple category? What are some habits I've grown to love, or things I need to feel happy in my relationship? 



Ten Things This Happy Couple Does Right

 
1. Go To Bed At The Same Time.
Don't panic, the PVR will record whatever show you were waiting for. In our house, ready or not, we always go to bed at the same time. You may think this is silly but it's become a habit that I can't break. With a lot of his evenings spent outside the house at hockey or band practice, I get plenty of time to relax alone doing my thing. At night when we're home together is different story, I rarely choose Gossip Girl on Netflix over going to bed with him. Must I list the benefits of this practice? Didn't think so.


2. Saying Those Three Words.
... And then some. Adding love yah to the end of your phone call isn't going to cut it.  I'm talking eye contact, channel your inner Rod Stewart and take advantage of that moment when you catch yourself looking at him in awe. Have you told him lately that you love him? Does he take away all your sadness? Fill your life with gladness? Well let the sucker know.


3. Reminisce.
Often I'll rummage through my email archives reading love notes that are almost a decade old, or, look through old pictures and journals. We end up laughing about that time when and before you know it, we're halfway down memory lane. For me it's not looking back at how things used to be, it's about retracing our steps. In each journal entry or photo that I saved I see that our love grew stronger as time passed, leading up to now. Memories of every season of every year spent having fun, being adventurous and growing together are treasures that will always live in my hope chest and be easily accessible. So do it, reminisce often. Right now, go back to your first kiss and try to recall every detail. Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?


4. Take Pictures.
Capture the happy. Make memories. Need I say more?


5. Linger On The Little Things. 
Being handed a cup of coffee in the bathroom while I do my makeup... Always finding a fresh towel hanging on the hook outside the shower... Knowing he has his morning coffee with my father... Finding his bank card in the cup holder left on purpose to cover an expense. These little things make my heart flutter and remind me that I am a lucky gal. If you don't notice and show appreciation for these little things, they will stop. Duh.


6. Hold Hands.
You'll rarely catch us holding hands in public, but in the car on a road trip or side by side on the couch? Of course!  If your hands are idle at the movie theatre or in the kitchen while your waiting for water to boil, why not hold hands? 


7. Surprise Each Other
I've finally come to terms with the fact that I will never get one up on G, he always has something in the works and his surprises trump all. A trip south would be nice and a new car would certainly win some brownie points, but a good old bouquet of flowers, a surprise bubble bath or reservations for dinner out would do the trick. Either way there is nothing nicer than a secret plan to make your loved one smile, and it's a joy to be on either end of the surprise.


8. Your Problems are YOUR Problems.
My parents, sister and BFF do not need to know we had an argument the other day. Something ongoing and really troubling can certainly call for venting and feedback from your trusted friends, but putting him down for something silly is wrong. You may forgive him, but you've created an impression that will last with everyone else. Your friends and family's judgment creates negative energy which will wear on you and eventually hurt your relationship. 


9. Go To Your Corners
Knowing how to handle your partners mood is important. Have you read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus? Then you'll know what I mean when I say let him go into his cave. Let the rubber band stretch until it comes springing back. Rubber bands, like your guys, always spring back after taking the space they need - unless of course they snap, in which case you have a serious problem. This works for G and I because it is crucial that I too, take some time to cool off or else logic escapes me and I end up blowing things out of proportion. I would rather go to bed angry and wake up with a clear mind than try to hash things out in the heat of the moment.  Trust me. Space is good.


10. We Do Not Have To Be The Same, Like The Same, Do The Same.
I have to say, G and I don't have much in common. We don't share many of the same interests or personality traits but, it works for us. I love sharing things with him that are out of his realm of interest and he always surprises me with hidden skills and knowledge out of mine.  It's good to have things that keep you separate from one another. For me it's writing, reading and being creative and for him it's being socially active with sports and playing music. I have accepted that we are different in many ways. He is logical, I am emotional. He thinks with his head, fair with reason, while I think with my heart always being empathetic. He sets priorities, likes to be in control and needs to follow a routine while I am flexible, always going with the flow, tuning out detail without considering consequences. He hears the beat and learns the tune and I hear the story and learn the words. We balance each other out and believe it or not, we fit together perfectly.


Can you list ten things that help keep your love alive?


Rachel Emmilee
XO




Wednesday

I'm Back, Bitches

 
 
 
In the last few weeks, I signed in and out of Blogger without publishing a post more times than I can count. If I had a quarter for every time I did this, I probably wouldn't feel so guilty for booking a full head of foils this weekend.
 
One unfinished post was about the lack of Christmas spirit I had for almost all of December. Another shared how despite this lack of Christmas cheer I still had one of the nicest Holidays ever, and the most recent was a year in review. In my draft folder I also found a post written way back in November where I admit that after celebrating your first wedding anniversary, your when-he-asked-me-to-be-his-girlfriend anniversary doesn't matter much anymore. I found an unfinished list of winter goals, a list of things I am loving, and a rant about people on Facebook being so unbelievable annoying at times...
 
After a little break from the Blog, I'm back and wishing I didn't lose touch with you all. I have so much I want to talk about but don't know where to start. Like, how do I work my obsession with crispy onions into a post? Where is it appropriate to share that I have gone through an entire Costco sized bag of crispy onions, and feel that no salad, steak or burger is the same without them? Is this information critical to your well being? Of course it isn't, but this is my Blog and I'll share useless information if I want to.
 
So here it goes...
 

Monday

Baby Fever...

... When without thinking about it, you start taking better care of your body. Eating better, drinking more water and reading nutritional labels while grocery shopping.

... When you have been exercising regularly to maintain good energy and strength.

... When there's a little voice inside your head reminding you to take your folic acid every morning.

... When you buy decaffeinated tea and coffee because you really have to should cut back.

... When you start listening to your body when it says it's tired.

... When you paint the guest room grey because someday it will match with pink or blue.

And finally, when you feel butterflies in your stomach watching him interact with small children. When you see his incredible patience, and his ability to connect with children unlike anyone you've ever met. When he validates their feelings, making them feel equal. You see how they listen to him, how they learn from him and how they love him. When you feel a warmth in your heart seeing him pick them up, hold them, cuddle them or pick out a special gift that he just knows they will love.

That's when you know. You've got the fever.

So what?

Rachel Emmilee
XO