Tuesday

Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2013.
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. And lastly and most importantly, it's where I am the happiest - cooking, baking and preparing meals for the ones I love.

 
For the last six weeks my kitchen has been a construction zone. Six 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; 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 currently 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. What was wrong with the old kitchen? I ask myself. 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 man has been affecting my mental status.
 
 

Ask me if I've started decorating for Christmas. 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!

Tuesday

Goodnight Moon




The head of our bed fits perfectly in the bay window 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 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 to what may be lurking beyond the treeline.
Only one large pane of glass and two window screens separate me from the wild animals that often keep us up at night with their howls.
Then suddenly my warmth returns with a sense of calm. I am safe here. I am safe with him.
To my right he is sleeping, completely unaware that I am beside him awake. 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 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 of night, 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 and look 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.


Friday


I never minded the end of summer. I have always looked forward to it, actually. Clearly it's not my favorite season. As a young girl when the days were getting shorter and the breeze was getting cooler, most people were taking advantage of those last few beach days while I was happily preparing myself for the start of a new school year. After a free flowing summer I welcomed structure, deadlines and routine. I loved the feeling of a fresh start, being in a new classroom with a new teacher, having new subjects to study and crisp, untouched notepads. Was there anything better than writing on the first page of a brand new notepad? I'd buy new school supplies and organize it all neatly in my backpack, I'd color code my day planner with new highlighters, and I would make a list of things to do differently to have a better year than the last. I'd even get a new hair cut.

I'm in my late twenties now and not much has changed. Although I'm not going back to school in September, I am still anxiously awaiting the end of August for the much needed change of pace. I already have my list of goals set, although many of them are from last years list that were never crossed off. I'm already searching for the perfect dark brown to dye my hair, and I'm pinning exercise routines that I'll enjoy doing because it's no longer blistering hot outside. I'm looking forward to conferences and workshops that will keep me motivated and more involved at work, and at the end of my week having plenty of time to relax so I can go back to work feeling rested. To spend a Saturday baking, to have energy to cook a proper meal, to sip a cup of tea under a blanket as a fire cracks in the stove... I am so excited.
Are you like me? Or do you wish summer could last forever?
Rachel Emmilee

Thursday




Around this time of year, many of our friends and family come from away to take in the beauty and excitement our little town has to offer. They are home for a limited time, so the pressure is on to see everyone and spend quality time with them. I dare say, the rush is on. Our community festival has come and gone and for seven straight days there was never a dull moment. But festival or not, this time of year is when our Tuesday nights are just as exciting as a Saturday, when Keith's Light are our main source of hydration and when there's no such thing as dinner for two. This is when our only time spent at home is when we're scrambling to prepare for company, scrambling to get out the door again, or falling into bed after a long night out.
 
It's all good, right? I can't complain, or at least I shouldn't. I love meeting my friends on the beach and having reasons to dress up and get out of the house. After all, it was a long cold winter here on Cape Breton and I can recall crying for days when the sun would shine and we'd have lots to do, and two or three episodes of Big Brother waiting for a rainy day.

Well, that time has finally come and I have to admit it's hard to keep up. Between juggling places to be and people to see, late nights and early mornings, I neglect some things that are really important. I neglect myself, I skimp on sleep, I choose wine over water and eat more junk food than real, wholesome food. I mean, if I eat another hamburger, hotdog or sausage I may turn into one. Too many times I've silenced the little voice inside my head that begged me to stay in, and I've gone out only to yawn in everyone's face and watch the clock for a good time to leave. I wake up tired with no energy to tackle the day or to put my best food forward at work, because yes, of course I still have to work. And finally, we come home to mow the lawn, pull weeds, water flowers and tidy the the deck furniture but fail to sit down and enjoy the view...
 
On Sunday, after a whirlwind of a week, we drew the curtains and blocked out the sun. We were worn out, sunburnt and dehydrated. We binged-watched Netflix in bed and took a break only to make homemade pancakes and go for a swim. I napped twice throughout the afternoon, and by 7:30pm I was out for the night. I realized at this rate, summer will be over and I'll be struggling to remember what we had done. How many meaningful conversations did I have without a thumping bass in the background? How many moments did I sink into my lawn chair and cherish my surroundings? How many books did I read? How often did I enjoy some alone time to write? So from now on, I have to slow down and re-evaluate what is important to me this summer. I  have a bucket list to tackle, and time is running out...

Rachel Emmilee
XO

Wednesday

"This media we call social is anything but, when we open our computers it's our doors we shut..."


 
This video was such an eye opener for me. I am so bad for clutching onto my phone for fear of missing a message or a notification. I scroll through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram more times a day than I can count. I have full conversations with friends through texts, when, with just a little effort I could be spending time with them and physically laughing out loud. I am always so anxious to share my pictures online rather than absorb the moment that I'm in. I put conversations on hold as I'm filtering, sharing and checking back for 'likes' as if it really matters that people know what I'm doing or where I am at. As if it really matters if they approve. My phone has found a place on my counter as I cook, near the table as we eat, and on my nightstand as I sleep.


I'm going to challenge myself to be less present in the social media world and more present in the real world. I have way too many books to read, too many places to be, too many things to see, and so many people in my life who deserve my undivided attention.
 
 
Yesterday I took a step in the right direction by putting my phone where I couldn't see or hear it as soon as I walked in the door. I was home with my husband and didn't need to be a part of the group texts or watch the snap chats that were blowing up my phone. I wasn't expecting it to be so extremely difficult to cut myself off from the friends who were trying to connect with me; for just those few hours between coming home from work and going to bed, I felt as though I was missing something. Maybe I'll just look at my phone real quick... I wonder what the girls are doing... What if something is wrong? This feeling only confirmed that I am way too dependant on that little device and I desperately need to get a grip, because surely, if there was anything wrong I wouldn't be informed by a snap chat.


I took it a step further today. I deleted the social media apps from my iPhone because I don't need to check Facebook, Twitter or Instagram a hundred times throughout my work day, while I'm driving in the car with G, or when I'm meeting friends to hang out. I even asked G to do the same so I couldn't so easily get my fix using his phone, and I have yet to reply to the thirty-seven text messages I received last night. Thirty-seven messages and get this, not one of them was urgent or pertinent to my well-being.


I can't deny that I truly love how social media is a window into my life and the lives of friends and family near and far. It's connected me with people I'd never connect with otherwise, and it allows me to keep family and friends in the know. I can't deny that I truly love the random text messages I get from my husband throughout the day or the fact that just a few texts amongst friends can plan a date in less than five minutes. And yes, I'll admit to getting a certain thrill out of sharing a photo of an impressive meal I've created... But there needs to be balance, everything in moderation, right?


Going forward, taking baby steps, I'll keep my apps installed on my tablet only. This is limiting me to only having access in the evenings when I'm home in my WiFi zone. Hopefully, even then I won't feel the need to check in so often. As for my Blog, being that it's never consumed my time or energy to the point of neglecting anyone else, and being that it's my escape from routine, a therapeutic outlet to express myself and a tool that's helped me grow as a person, I don't feel it's something I need to part with. However, like everything else, I will sign in when I'm not taking time away from something or someone important. I'll find a place to set my phone when I'm home to relax, and I'll find other ways to cure boredom when I'm sitting in a waiting room or trying to fall asleep. I'll keep my phone in my purse on outings, and although I will still snap a few pictures, the new me won't make sharing those photos an immediate priority.


Ultimately, I don't want to be a dumb person using a smart phone. I want to learn, explore and grow as a person from experience. I want to connect with people and be present, and I want the same for my future children. I don't want them to miss out on opportunities to meet new people, experience something new or witness something special. I don't want to read the fifty ways to achieve happiness when I can figure it out myself.

All I have to do is look up.
 
 
Rachel Emmilee
XO

Celebrating 2 Years Married With...




sunshine * a trip to the city * day drinking * quality time with friends * waterfront hot dogs * late night ice cream * an afternoon spent picnicking on citadel hill * strolling along spring garden road * chocolate covered coffee beans * poutine * bbq * a relaxing massage * a king sized bed * patio drinks * coffee and word puzzles in bed * our first swim in the ocean this summer * a day spent on the beach * lots of love





Summer 2014 - Bucket List


This past weekend while sipping cold Somersby Ciders and enjoying our view, I put together a summertime bucket list. I hope to tick each and every item off this list before the end of August, but if all I can manage to do is what you see in this picture, I'd be fine with that.
 
 
* Relax on the beach as often as possible. Pack a lunch, drink cold beers, listen to summer classics and soak up the sun.
 
* Eat and drink on a patio whenever there is an option to do so.
 
* Relax in a hammock.

* Try Sushi for the first time.
 
* Go camping with my girlfriends.
 
* Be a regular at our local Farmer's Market.
 
* Make my own iced coffee.
 
* Say yes to being outside, walking, exploring and relaxing with my feet up. On week days especially, I need to learn how to shake the tiredness I feel after work and remember that house work can wait...
 
* Go on a spontaneous road trip with G, no real plan of where we're going or what we're going to do, but time to do it.
 
* Play a game of soft ball.

* Take advantage of having a clothes line, get in the habit of hanging clothes out to dry.
 
* Watch the sun come up.
 
* Make a new friend.
 
* Spend an afternoon skipping and playing hopscotch with my niece, and teaching the kiddies fun games I used to play outside.
 
* Play a game of beach volleyball.
 
* Buy new sneakers and break them in.
 
* Spend the night in an open field, sleeping on the back of a truck with lots of pillows, blankets and citronella candles. Just me and G, a sky full of stars and our favorite playlist.
 
* Watch fireworks light up a night sky.

* Spend the day at Magic Cove (A local paradise)
 
* Hit up as many community festivals as possible.
 
* Stop at yard sales and flea markets.

* Plan a picnic.
 
* Skinny dip. You'd think this would be easy considering we own a pool, but believe it or not, I did not skinny dip once last year.
 
* Arrange a photo shoot with my hubby.
 
* Go hiking.

* Stand under a waterfall.
 

My List of Awesome

  • Looking through your basket of Tasimo discs for a coffee and just when you think you're all out, you flip a disc right side up and there it is. One last coffee.
  • When you eye an item in the grocery store you needed but forgot to put on your list.
  • Crawling into a perfectly made bed with sheets fresh from the dyer.
  • When your new Scentsy bars arrive in the mail.
  • When you open the dishwasher to empty it but someone got there first.
  • When you finish a book but enjoyed it so much that you flip back through the last few pages to make sure you didn't miss anything.
  • The day after you house clean when you can sit and relax and not feel overwhelmed with things that need to be done.
  • The few minutes in the morning when you can quietly admire the person sleeping next to you  before they wake up.
  • Being handed a cup of coffee just the way you like it, without even having to ask. 
  • ... Or being handed that cup of coffee before you can even get out of bed.
  • ... Or enjoying that cup of coffee in bed.
  • The feeling you get after you rearrange the furniture and décor in a room and like the new arrangement more than the old. 
  • Waking up knowing it's pay day.
  • When you get a notification from your eLibrary telling you the book you've been waiting to read is finally available for you to borrow.
  • The taste of a cold beer after you've worked hard outside.
  • ... Or the taste of a cold beer, period.
  • When you realize you have hours of your favorite TV shows recorded on your PVR. 
  • When your employer thanks you and tells you you're doing a good job.  

Friday

Married only two years and already having a problem in the bedroom...



In the early years of our relationship we always had a television in our bedroom. Together we either lived in a noisy city or a shared home, so the television not only drowned out unwanted noise, but more importantly (although I find it hard to understand) it helped G fall asleep. All of his life he had a television in his room and to this day he insists that listening to it distracts him from his busy mind and puts him to sleep. In those days, convinced there was no changing this weird lifelong habit of his, I learned to live with the noise and flashing lights in the wee hours of the night...

Then a couple of years ago I realized I needed to nip this issue in the bud. Not only was it beginning to drive me insane, but a television in the bedroom has proven to have negative affects on a marriage and I wanted no part of that. And so, I took matters into my own hands when we were given a fresh start in a new home by setting up our room without a television, making it as cozy and relaxing as possible. My hope was that a new space would mean new ways and believe it or not, it worked...

For an entire year our bedroom was a peaceful hideaway for sleeping, relaxing and of course the obvious. Like it should be, it was a quiet space where we were forced to pay attention to only each other and focus on rest. The sound of silence was beyond relaxing. The crickets, the thunder and rain, the howling animals in the distance... Who needs nature music when you live in the country? I finally got what I wanted and the surprising part of it all? G managed just fine. We could never, ever go back to the way things were...

Then one lazy Saturday morning, this idiot decided it would be fun to hook up the television for a one-day-only movie marathon in bed. Now fast forward a year... The damn television is still perched on top of our dresser and depriving me of a good night sleep! What was I thinking? I mean, who gives a recovering alcoholic a beer? He's right back to his old ways and I only have myself to blame!

In his defense it's not always on and it doesn't take away from the obvious... yet. But it sure does take away from my beauty sleep, and that's not going to fly with me much longer! It never fails that I'm waiting until he's snoring before I can turn everything off and finally relax. I feel I have tried everything. I have asked to have it removed from the room and I have preached that if he went without it before he can do it again. I've even threatened to remove it without warning, but knew that would only result in me dragging him off the couch every single night. I have tried ear plugs, and an eye mask and even a power off timer but nothing seems to work.

Help!
 
Can you offer any advice?
 

Crunchy Baked Chickpeas

Drain, rinse and pat dry canned chickpeas * Spread over a foil lined baking sheet * Drizzle and evenly coat with EVOO * Sprinkle with seasoning of your choice * Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes * Store in a re-sealable container or bag at room temperature for a few days * Enjoy!

(Experiment with a pinch of cayenne pepper and chilli powder for a spicy treat, or honey and cinnamon for a sweet treat.)

Chickpeas are packed with fibre and protein which will kick hunger in the butt, keep you feeling satisfied longer and help with weight loss. They also boost your energy because they're high in iron and they lower bad cholesterol levels. There are so many health benefits to eating chickpeas, so roast them to snack on, add them to salads and soups, and make them the star of a delicious party dip. Hummus doesn't have to be bland and boring, blend with roasted vegetables, garlic and spice, and enjoy the entire dish guilt free!

Rachel Emmilee
XO

Thursday

Progress Report: What am I doing to accomplish my goals?

 
New here? Check out this post where I admit my unhealthy habits have caught up to me. I set goals to become more active and made changes to my diet, sleeping patterns and attitude in general. I became tired of feeling tired, uninspired and out of shape so something had to be done. Being a healthier, happier person meant making changes and finally taking control.

So far in the exercise department...

  • We bought a treadmill and I've used it several times, once even reaching the 5K mark. I've also hit the dirt road a few times with G and a running group.
  • I've been busting into squats daily and sometimes several times a day to tone my thighs and bum. In just a couple of weeks I honestly see a big difference!
  • I complete upper body strengthening exercises a few times a week with 8-10lb weights targeting biceps, triceps, deltoids and traps.
  • Because my job is to encourage and provide rehabilitation exercises, I decided to complete the exercises as well. (No brainer, right?) 
  • I've become more conscious of my core and engage abdominal muscles more often.

So far in the healthy eating department...

  • I've been drinking upwards of two litres of water per day.
  • Eating a lot of green vegetables, grapefruits, eggs and loaded spinach salads.
  • I haven't been skipping breakfast and consume four servings of fruit and one serving of dairy in a morning smoothie.
  • We're cooking without added salt, salty seasonings or sauces.
  • Reading labels when shopping and going with the healthy alternative like lean, whole wheat, no added preservatives, antibiotics or hormones.
  • Snacking on nuts, raisins and high protein foods that combat hunger and are nutritious.
  • Choosing red wine over beer or sugary cocktails.
  • I completely removed pop and soft drinks from my diet.

So far in the attitude department...

  • I have convinced myself that I don't need a tanning bed to feel Spring and Summer ready, but I have treated myself to a hair appointment and scheduled a massage for some much needed self love.
  • I coat my body in moisturizer every single night to nourish my skin and combat dryness.
  • I have reviewed pay stubs and bill statements and contacted bill collectors to review the status of my accounts. Reorganizing my debt repayment plan made me feel in control and on the ball.
  • I'm napping when I feel tired and going to bed at a reasonable time and intern, I've been waking up earlier without an alarm clock.
  • I did a total clean of my kitchen re-organizing my cabinets and pantry. Having a perfectly organized and clean kitchen makes you want to spend more time in it preparing food.

In just a few weeks I've been feeling stronger, happier and more motivated. G and I have been working together to make healthy meals and we've been taking turns getting breakfast ready for each other in the mornings. I do struggle with coffee, wanting it twice and sometimes three times a day, and snacking is still a battle. I can't seem to shake cravings for sweets at tea time and chips and dip in the evenings. Still, I'm making huge progress...

... I'm not usually one to toot my own horn, but TOOT TOOT, bitches!
 
 
Rachel Emmilee
XO
 



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 one fresh from the oven with butter and molasses.

So the question is, can I make them? It only took the better part of a year and a big chunk of change to master it, but I did. In that process I learned that quick and easy is best way to go, and that once you find a recipe you like, stick to it. Beware of the old school biscuit makers who all swear by their recipe because your head will spin if you start asking for help. Some use a light pan, some use dark, some use shortening while others use butter. They may recommend using yogurt or milk, sour milk or butter milk, milk mixed with vinegar or just straight water. Some call for sugar, others say no sugar, some say salt and others say no salt... The list goes on and on.
 
 So like I said, I tried and tried and finally found a recipe that worked for me, and using the KitchenAid stand mixer I got it right. Being the generous gal that I am, I decided to share that recipe with you and you should consider yourselves lucky... Giving your biscuit recipe away to just anyone is unheard of where I come from...
 
*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.

 
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 changes 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, like they always say. From this list, I plan to 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!"

A commonly used phrase in my house growing up... Always referring to me and the way I ate, and how no matter how much I ate and how little I exercised, I remained as skinny as a rake. When I would hear, "It will catch up to you," 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. Lately, I'm guilty of unbuttoning my jeans so I can breathe after meals and I've been pushing my figure flattering clothes to the back of my closet. 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, as I am 22 lbs over what I was in my early twenties. 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 not gain. I've reached a point where I know I must make changes if I want to eliminate feelings of self hate and prevent it from ever coming back. So, I faced some harsh realities and re-evaluated 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 and 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

Friday & Saturday & Superbowl Sunday

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!

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 us and believed they were performing for me and only me. They never fail to blow me away. It was so much fun I'm actually 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 like to 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 friends 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. Obviously, every couple is different because what works for them may not work for you. 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 feel are important in maintaining a healthy, happy 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 them 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

 
 
 
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 stay tuned, lots of useless information coming your way.