Friday

Hello, June!




I went for lunch all by myself yesterday. For the first time in twenty-nine years and three hundred and sixty days I chose to ignore the urge to invite a friend along and refrain from asking my husband if he had time to meet me. I took a table for one and sat far enough away from other folks that making conversation was not expected of me. It was nicer than I thought it would be. I didn't realize this was something I wanted to do before I turned thirty until I was there doing it - sitting alone in a restaurant, with confidence, by choice. I didn't have to eat slow and careful so not to be caught with a mouthful of food at the wrong time and there were no awkward silences to fill with small talk in between bites. I didn't even care that I had food in my teeth when the waitress came to check on me. 


I opened my day planner to welcome June, my favorite month. Almost every square was covered in ink; exclamation points, doodles of hearts and balloons and stickers to brighten up the page. I turn thirty, two of my best friends also turn thirty, and my sister-in-law and bestie turns twenty-nine. My niece turns ten, my new nephew is due to enter the world and my parents celebrate thirty-one years married. There's a heart drawn on the day Garett asked me to marry him and several hearts drawn on our wedding date that will mark five incredible years as husband and wife. This month also marks ten years out of college.


There will be no shortages of parties, dinner dates, or fun in the sun. There's even a staff BBQ and a weekend in Halifax penciled in. June gives me so many reasons to celebrate life and be happy. It will be the greatest kick off to summer 2017 and an even better start to my thirties...


Rachel Emmilee
XO

Thursday

Throwback Thursday...

 
 



... to Keith Urban live at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN. Playing one of my favorite songs just feet away. So close we could make eye contact. See that? I mean, no big deal.



XO

A Sweet Escape






"We are just going to Ottawa," I'd say with a shrug of my shoulders and a mildly impressed facial expression as if just going to Ottawa was nothing to get excited about.


In my defense, when someone asked me if we had travel plans this winter I knew what they were really asking. They were really asking if we were going south, and I really wanted to say yes to Jamaica or Mexico or Cuba. I love a seven day vacation on the sand drinking bottomless cocktails and smoking cigars with strangers - long story - but with him on a new diet that I feel would be nearly impossible to follow at a resort and me being insanely paranoid of mosquitoes, going south this year didn't make sense.


Instead we just went to Ottawa. We only saw the Montreal Canadiens beat the Ottawa Senators in a shootout and went to two incredible concerts. We had a car and an apartment to ourselves, did some outlet shopping and ate our way around the city. We attended Mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral because we just so happened to be in the right place at the right time while playing tourist early on Sunday morning, and we drove to Quebec to spend an entire day at Nordik Spa. We even spent an afternoon in bed watching Netflix because apparently we don't do that enough back at home.


We had an amazing time.


So I was wrong. Okay? I admit it. You don't have to escape winter to escape the winter blues. I sounded like a spoiled brat saying 'just' and shrugging my shoulders and making that face. We're lucky to be able to travel at all, and I'm not proud that I underestimated how much fun we could have in our very own country. The truth is, it's the simplest things that make me happy and as long as he is by my side, any escape is a sweet escape.



Rachel Emmilee
XO


C U R R E N T M O O D





It's the second of March and this is my very first post of 2017. No holiday wrap up, no list of personal goals, no resolutions set for the new year. What's up with that? I could say I haven't stopped long enough to write but that would be a lie. It's winter and I live in the sticks, and there have been plenty of storm days and power outages that could have been spent curled up with my computer. I've had all the time in the world to keep my blog up to date to be very honest, but life happens. Life happens and it's not always fun to talk about. So I will begin by taking another deep breath, because sometimes that's all a person can do, and then I'll bring you up to speed. But, not actually.
  

FEELING irritable and a tad bit antisocial. Wanting to avoid crowds, long conversations and people in general. The peace and quiet of my sewing room has been my happy place for the last few weeks.

READING nothing. Amy Schumer's book The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo has been on my nightstand since December 27th.


LISTENING TO old records. There is something very intimate and almost romantic about listening to old records, and I especially love that most record jackets come with the lyrics printed on the inside so you can get drunk and sappy and sing along no problem.


WATCHING way too many shows to list. Girls, This Is Us, Nashville and Portlandia which is hilarious by the way. New Girl, The Big Bang Theory, Kevin Can Wait, SNL and of course, The Bachelor. SPOILER ALERT! I really thought he would pick Corrine and I'm kind of disappointed that he didn't.

PLAYING Catchphrase with anyone who comes to visit and Scrabble with my husband who can't seem to beat me.


WORRIED ABOUT our sweet little dog. He's not a puppy anymore. In fact, he's almost nine years old. I've started to worry about his health and really panic at the thought of losing him.

WORKING ON moving out of one bedroom and into another which requires a lot of lifting, cleaning and reorganizing. The entire idea stresses me out so we're at a bit of a standstill but it has to be done, we need a main level guest room. Also working on dresses, skirts and tops for the spring and summer.


CONSIDERING buying an Endy mattress because it would be our only shot at getting a king size bed up our stairs. It's time we break up with our pillow-top queen mattress; it's ten years old, way too soft and surprisingly too small for the two of us and our dog.


CRUSHING ON young Justin Trudeau and Jason Momoa. Have you seen his Instagram? His smile, his style, his love for his wife and children and the earth... I mean, really?

EATING cheese, crackers, pickles and prosciutto like it's going out of style.


DRINKING too much coffee and not nearly enough water. Oh, and the coldest pop machine known to man happens to be in the staff room at work, so Friday is Pepsi day and I have no shame.

EXCITED FOR my hair appointment next weekend and a sweet escape with Garett in March to see a couple of concerts and take in some rest and relaxation.

EXCITED ABOUT my Babe Cave. I've been spending hours on end in that room sewing, designing dresses and skirts and watching tutorials online. It's glorious.


MISSING quality family time.


AVOIDING exercising every day, cleaning out our fridge and doing laundry.


STRUGGLING WITH sleeping through the night without waking several times to a thirsty and/or anxious dog, therefor I am also struggling to function like a normal human being in the mornings.


HATING Zika Virus. Garett and I took traveling south off the table this year because we feel the risk of contracting the virus is quite high and definitely not worth it. A little part of me dies inside each time someone tells me they are beach bound because there is no place I would rather be right now.

LOVING my new bed sheets, the big mouth SnapChat filter and my little fam.


XO


Friday

We Are Gluten Free


My cat, dog, husband and me!

See what I did there? Sorry, not sorry...

Okay. Real talk. We aren't following a gluten-free diet for 30 Days of Healthy Living bragging rights or because all the cool kids are doing it. Unfortunately my husband has no choice, and while I was hesitant to share that with the whole world via blog post, it's really not something we can keep to ourselves even if we tried. So, why not talk about it? The transition from a regular diet to a gluten-free diet can be very overwhelming and frustrating, so it's important to know that you're not alone and it's really not as scary and as bland as some make it seem. It takes time, but you learn. So, if you're a newly diagnosed Celiac or if you're living with someone who is, here are some things you may find as you search for your new normal. The best thing we've found so far? It's a piece of cake. A piece of delicious gluten-free cake.

You can't keep it a secret so get comfortable talking about it.
As much as you may hate being fussed over or given special treatment, your friends, family and the people serving you at restaurants need to know how important it is that you avoid eating gluten. You have an allergy. You have an autoimmune disease. What you don't know may kill you. They can't just pick the croutons off your salad. Don't be afraid to speak up and point out mistakes you see, and always stress the importance of avoiding cross contamination. It will help you and others in the long run.

Nobody wants to hear your shitty stories.
Pun intended. Guess what? Not everyone with Celiac Disease experiences cramps, urgency and explosive diarrhea when they eat gluten. Some people can't see or even feel the negative effects gluten has on their body, so let's not go there.


Some people just don't get it.



Ignoring comments like these can be a challenge. People! Our ancestors had allergies to gluten, too. They just didn't know it. They didn't know that with every bread crumb they ate they were destroying the lining of their stomachs leading to malabsorption of iron, protein, calcium and all the essential minerals and nutrients you need to be healthy. They didn't know that their possible gluten intolerance could be to blame for their Osteoarthritis, Anemia, Diabetes, liver dysfunction and more. It is certainly a disease on the rise but it's absolutely not popular, trendy, or anything new to the human race.

It's not a death sentence so don't feel bad.
Once I realized how easy it was to avoid gluten and I saw how quickly my husband began to look and feel better, I stopped feeling bad for him. There's no more upset over missing out on Thursday wing night specials or Mom's turkey stuffing. It could be much, much worse. Thankfully treatment is as simple as following a strict diet and maybe, just maybe having to take additional supplements.
You're already eating a lot of gluten free foods.
Once you become familiar with other names for gluten and where it's hiding you'll become comfortable shopping in all the aisles of your grocery store. You'll even find that some of the things you've been adding to your shopping cart for years are safe to continue buying. Smartfood Popcorn? Hells yes! Find comfort in knowing that what you throw out can easily be replaced with gluten free alternatives. We found some great sauces, breads, seasonings, condiments, pasta and flour blends that make all of our favorite dishes possible and surprisingly better than before. A post on GF Pantry Staples is soon to come!

Even YOU can change the way you eat.
If you're living with someone who has Celiac Disease you can buy two of everything and carefully watch that the wrong knife doesn't dip into the peanut butter, or you can scrap all the gluten contaminated items in your home and start fresh. With the exception of one small basket of snacks that only I would eat - gluten free or not - our pantry and fridge are fully stocked with gluten free foods therefor all of our meals can only be prepared that way. This is obviously not a diet I must follow but I choose to follow it at home to support my hubby. 
Gluten Free Beer is ACTUALLY really good.
As a beer drinker my husband was heartbroken to learn that he and Alexander Keith were never, ever, ever getting back together. It became very important that we found a gluten free beer he liked so we spent our life savings on a whole whack of gluten free beer and set up a tasting at home. The jury is still out on low PPM beer like Bud Light, Corona and Heineken. I won't be the one to tell you it's safe, but many Celiacs are confident that Bud Light has so little gluten that it is safe to consume. If anyone with experience would like to comment on this, I'd love the input.

From this lineup, "Leave Me Blue" by Good Robot Brewery came out on top. Check out Good Robot Brewery (Halifax, NS) here.
You'll learn new skills and become a better home cook.
Don't let anyone tell you that your days of eating comfort food are over. It took some experimenting, a little bit of trial and error, but there is absolutely nothing boring or tasteless coming out of our kitchen. We've had lots of fun trying out new ingredients and modifying our old favorite recipes - which I'll be soon be sharing on the blog, stay tuned!




This picture features GF Breton Herb & Garlic Crackers, President's Choice GF Bread Crumbs and Flour, Catelli GF Pasta, and homemade dipping sauces with GF ingredients.




GF "Big Mac" Salad with Epicure sauce and beef seasoning for kick.



Chocolate Chip Cookies made with President's Choice GF flour. (Recipe soon to come!)


You have to know where to go.
We're on the road a lot so I took it upon myself to search for restaurants that offer gluten free options in all of our nearby towns, on the highway and even in the cities we often visit. I downloaded and printed dozens, and I mean dozens of menus to keep in the car so when we're traveling we'll know exactly where to go to get our fix. No matter what we're craving this collection of menus has us covered and it's already come in handy several times.
* If you live in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or New Brunswick - check out this list of restaurants with gluten free options.


You need support from family and friends.
We can't imagine it's been easy for friends and family to listen to us dissect menu items or make waitresses squirm, especially when there was a time we'd eat anything and everything put in front of us. Still, they've been so great. They have been asking questions, researching and learning the ropes and some have even been buying gluten free alternatives to cook with. To all of our amazing friends and family, thanks for your patience and support.


Rachel Emmilee
XO

Wednesday

Falling Into Fall


I know, I sound like a broken record.


It's officially my favorite time of year and not just because it's sweater weather or because it's time for pumpkin spice everything - but because the rush of summer is over and it's time to fall back into a routine. And so what if my routine is coming home from work, cooking, eating and then watching three hours of television before going to bed?


Okay, maybe it's not all about good TV - even though I am such a sucker for it - it's just, this time of year is like the start of an extended period of 'Me Time' and who doesn't love 'Me Time'? Having time to play with, time to kill and time to spare is so refreshing after a busy summer. However, let me remind you, I live in a small little village that shuts down once the leaves fall so you have to be very creative with your time to stay sane. This is when I read more, get out more often to exercise, become more organized, spend more time in the kitchen and take on more projects around the house. This is also when I start planning our next vacation - looking forward to a getaway definitely makes the colder months more bearable.


Here are some other things that will get me by.


These weekly classes:
  • Zumba
  • Yoga

These weekend musts:
  • Sunday Farmer's Markets
  • Baking and meal planning.
  • Making pickles and applesauce.
  • Family dinner.
 
These new and returning TV shows:
  • Code Black
  • New Girl
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Mindy Project
  • Kevin Can Wait
  • SNL
  • The Bachelorette Canada (No shame!)

These Books I can't wait to read:



Sydney thinks she’s finally gotten her life together until she discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with who she’d thought was her best friend. After moving out, Sydney is taken in by her neighbor Ridge. He’s a musician, charismatic and sweet, and their chemistry is immediate. But Ridge has secrets of his own that will set Sydney on an even more dramatic emotional roller coaster. Maybe Someday makes you question everything — about friendship, trust, betrayal, and romance.—Sobiya U.


 
 
In Thirteen Reasons Why, characters start receiving tapes from their classmate, Hannah, two weeks after she’s committed suicide. The tapes reveal Hannah’s account of how each person contributed to her death, culminating with Clay Jensen, who was hopelessly in love with her. Waiting to discover how he might have pushed her over the edge will keep you up late, flipping fast through the pages.
—India A.
 


Set in the 1980s, it’s already a nostalgia-filled romp, but what I didn’t expect was how heartbreaking and adorable this romance is. You will cheer and root for Eleanor and Park, bite your nails when things get bad, and lose your mind with love for this adorable underrated story of love.
—Annabelle Burdsal
 
 
A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything. - Shauna Niequist

 
These Sewing Patterns:



(Check my @RachelEmmilee 'SEWING' Pinterest Board for links and original sources!) 
 
 
These recipes I can't wait to try:


 

 

 

 

 

(Check my @RachelEmmilee 'YUM' Pinterest Board for the links and original sources!)


 
 

 XO



Friday

Summer's Gone Away, Gone Away With Yesterday.





Over the past couple of weeks I've sat at my computer numerous times trying to put Summer 2016 into words. After many unsuccessful attempts to create collages of pictures that perfectly capture the fun we had, I realized it's nearly impossible to touch on it all. The beautiful weddings we've attended, our family reunion, the pool parties, the projects we started and the projects we finished and the road trips. I don't know where to begin. It was truly a great summer and quite possibly the first one I ever let go of feeling refreshed and fulfilled.

With so much going on and so many familiar faces vacationing on Route 19, it's easy to lose sight of the reality that is work Monday to Friday, responsibilities of being a homeowner and the importance of quality time with people you love. I should probably add budgeting to that list, as I tend to stop tracking my spending in the summer months. This summer, not so much. This summer I kicked FOMO to the curb and I loved every minute of my cozy visits with friends, my time spent at the sewing machine and soaking up the sun on the sand and by the pool. I even took pride in choosing a glass of wine and an episode of Big Brother over attending some of the best parties of the year. Laugh all you want. 

 
It's not officially over but I've certainly had my fill. Summer '16, that's a wrap.

 
XO

Monday

Summertime, And The Livin' Is Easy









I want to sew. I want to scrapbook the stack of pictures I have overflowing my memory box. I want to redecorate my craft room and build the perfect work station for my sewing machine and computer. I want to buy a new computer, come to think of it. I want to weed my garden, plant more flowers and mow my lawn so often that it never gets ugly. I want to add patches to my quilt and change the backing. I want to paint our wooden patio set and finally put our civic address on the sign I made for the bottom of our driveway. I want to finish the book I started three weeks ago, lay on the beach and float in my pool. I want to write. I want to purge all the clothes I no longer wear. I want to make Sangria and drink it all with my girlfriends. I want to paint our spare bedroom, go to the movie theatre with my husband and wake up early enough to go swimming before work. I also want a pedicure.  

Every summer I make a list of goals and although I'm a bit late sharing it, I assure you it's been a work in progress since the beginning of June. The list always consists of places I want to go, things I want to do and people I want to see to have the ideal summer. Last year it was all beer tents, gatherings and two day hangovers but this year the introvert in me is calling all the shots. As a true Gemini I can happily go both ways; I can follow the crowd and party like the best of them, but I love a quiet night in putting a second coat of paint on something or just being lazy.

I have friends that go so hard that I get tired just thinking about all they do in a day, which leads me to believe I'm probably one of few twenty-somethings that requires balance when it comes to having fun and taking time out. I rarely experiences FOMO because I actually like doing nothing. You've heard it all before, my days of running on barbecued hot dogs, carbonated drinks  and very little sleep are over - and I'm a better person for it.

So in the wake of the busiest time of year when everyone is home on vacation and Route 19 is buzzing, have the best time doing what makes you happy. Whether you're taking it all in or you'd just rather not.

XO

 

Together They Touched The Sky


 
"We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing."
Summer 2016, Day One.
 
 
  
 

Wednesday

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes





Last night I dreamt I was on a roller coaster with my sister who passed away. Only her, no one else. There was nothing scary about it but I was holding onto her for dear life and bracing her head with mine. In the dream my eyes were only open long enough to see her little knees knocking together and her hands holding the handle bar in front of us. I didn't see her face but I knew it was her as I held on, and for the entire ride I kept my eyes closed to take it all in. I could feel the rise and fall of the ride in my core.

To dream of being on a roller coaster with her tells me she is somewhere enjoying the things she couldn't enjoy when she was alive. Growing up she could never ride the roller coasters at amusement parks because her fragile little body couldn't withstand the quick turns and bumpy ride. I hated that. I hated that my little sister couldn't experience the thrills I could, and no matter how hard I tried to convince our parents that I would protect her, the only thrill she got was watching Dad and I scream from the gate below. 

When the ride was about to stop I looked down and noticed my Mom and Dad smiling and waving at us as she hollered, "Look Dad! Look!"

Even in my dream I recognized this as a first for all of us.

I woke up feeling happy. I cried of course, but I was surprisingly okay with the dream being over. I was fine with the reality that set in. I wanted to believe this was a sign that she is happy and free to do whatever she wants without limitations. Wherever she is.
  
Dream dictionaries have other suggestions. It could be that life is about to take me on a tumultuous ride with ups and downs and unexpected turns. It could be that I'm about to experience changes in relationships, in myself, or the way I feel about something or someone. All searches told me that whatever it is I am yet to experience will be my own - because the other seats on the ride were empty. A very comforting detail is that being on the ride with only one other person indicates that person being there for me along the way.

There were moments I felt nervous and scared in my dream, but the ride ended on a happy note which is how I'd hope any ride in life would end. I can't say I'm anxious to see what's in store, but with her in my seat I think it will be okay.

*

Friday

START / STOP / CONTINUE

My commitment to eating well, exercising and doing right for my body comes in waves and right now, the water is pretty calm. FULL DISCLOSURE: this one of those posts.
For the majority of the winter, knowing that I would be poolside sporting a VS swimsuit in March, I was dedicated to eating healthy, exercising often, getting lots of rest and drinking lots of water. I was killing it with loaded smoothies every morning, healthy snacks and well balanced meals, and I was saying NO to tempting treats and comfort food. I was even exercising on my living room floor in the evenings and busting out some lunges, wall sits, planks and squats at work. I felt amazing.
In early April, after returning from 25 degree weather where we consumed our fair share of burgers, pizza, truffle fries and beer - a lot of those healthy habits went out the window. I visited the staff pop machine a time or three, I've been squinting at a bright television well beyond midnight instead of getting my rest, and my lunch bag has been pretty light leaving home in the morning. I've packed on some pounds and a very bad attitude - it's time to shake it off. 
I'd be a fool to wonder why I've been so sluggish and unmotivated, when clearly my body is telling me it misses the special treatment it got for months leading up to our vacation. It dawned on me yesterday when I was counting down the days to our first wedding of the summer, that my commitment to "being healthy" is only in effect when there's a bathing suit or new dress in my future. I'm putting pressure on myself to look good for a certain day, instead of putting pressure on myself to feel good everyday.
Thankfully I can do both, and my plan to do it is very simple. I have exactly 30 days before our first wedding of the summer, and just under that before I turn another year older. I want to look and feel my best today and everyday, so here's a list of things I need to start, stop and continue to achieve it.

Who's with me?
START
  • Making sleep a priority.
  • Drinking more water.
  • Getting outside for exercise on my lunch breaks.
  • Mastering the Hoola Hoop. Seriously so fun and great for core strengthening, if you can do it!
  • Skipping. 
  • 30 Day Challenges. When you have a special event in exactly 30 days, how can you not?
STOP
  • Giving into the craving for the coldest Pepsi imaginable when I need a pick-me-up at work. Damn you, vending machine next door to my office!
  • Leaving the house without a fully packed lunch.
  • Letting fruit and vegetables go to waste in the refrigerator.
  • Watching TV late at night.

CONTINUE
  • Eating smart.
  • Drinking breakfast smoothies.
  • Core strengthening with POUND workouts at home and stability ball exercises in the office.
  • Taking the stairs.
  • Working around the yard.




Thanks 30 Day Fitness for these awesome challenges! For more, visit their website seen in each image.
  


Rachel Emmilee
XO

Thursday

There's No Place Like Home

 
 
 




As we waited for the shuttle to pick us up for the airport, my legs hung over our luggage in fatigue. To my right my husband let out a sigh of relief.

 "Well, it's time to get back to relaxation." 
 

I looked at him and could only muster up a very tired laugh. I couldn't wait.


The shuttle we were waiting for would begin our journey home.

Eight years ago I never would have imagined my life as it is today, even if I tried. Anxious to get away from people, traffic, fast food and noise? No way! I was a city girl and no dream job offer was going to change that. I mean, sure my heart was in Cape Breton but back then I was certain my future was not. I'll never forget the night G told me he was going to accept a job back home when I selfishly cried and told him to go without me, sure that we'd break up before I would ever take such a big step in the wrong direction. We had just bought a house in the city, I had a job I thought I loved and together we had a social life and a gym membership and places to go and people to see and BIG dreams. We had things to do on the weekends, we had restaurants we loved and nearby cafés that made seasonal lattes and the best scones you could imagine. There were bustling markets I loved to walk through on Saturday and places to go dressed up. I'd miss Hot Yoga... Or, at least knowing I could do Hot Yoga if I wanted to... Like that one time.


Which brings me to today - a big move, the purchase of our second home, and the loss of two very important family members later. Gone are those eight years and gone is my desire to ever again live on a paved road.
 

A lot of things have changed since the day I thought moving home would be the worst thing in the world. I have changed. I've learned that happiness isn't defined by what you have or where you live, it's how you choose to live. Everything I could ever want or need is here. A job I love, my family so close that I can stop and visit anytime I wish and a dirt road to run on that doesn't require a membership. The best part? The rabbits and squirrels don't judge my running clothes. At home, no one knows what time we arrived or how long we were gone - it's just us. It's not the bustling neighborhood with families polluting the streets, picket fences and bike lanes like we once lived in and certainly not the pricey condo with modern chic décor I once dreamed of - but it's much, much more. It's where the tea is always on, the art on the wall matches our souls more than our sofa, and where friends gather around our kitchen table to eat and drink and laugh and sing.  It's where in or out, there will always be work to do - the kind of hard work that makes your muscles sore and leaves you bursting with pride at the end of the day. It's where there will always be a smell of a home cooked meal in the air and a breeze coming through the window. It's where there is always a project on our coffee table, a stack of notes and pictures for the scrapbook or an opened book taking up a seat on the couch. Our home is where we cuddle up and shut the world out, where we be ourselves and do things that make us happy.

 
I never thought I would feel this way, but nothing brings me greater joy than turning left down the bumpy road to home after a trip away. Even if getting there after an amazing vacation means being faced with a pile of leftover scrap wood that needs to go to the dump, a few trees that fell, tire marks on the grass and the overwhelming realization that we have A LOT of work to do... 
 
 
...It will all get done, and we'll be so happy to do it.


Rachel Emmilee

XO



 

Friday

When One Door Closes




Packing up my sister's bedroom and leaving it behind was one of the hardest things we've ever done as a family, when my parents moved.


Not too many teenagers had their own smiling face printed on posters boards and banners but she did, and for years they took up space on her bedroom walls and served as daily reminders of the challenges she faced and the recognition she so rightfully deserved. Those posters were never supposed to come down, but they did. They got rolled up and held together with a rubber elastic and stuffed in a box next to a signed poster of Celtic Thunder. Loonette, Molly and the two dust bunnies from the hammock above her mirror also found room in the box, and with that we remembered how Dad pretended to believe they were real, wanting nothing more then to have them disappear forever.

All that was left of the four walls that protected her and her special things was her favorite shade of purple, nail holes and empty corner shelves where her Angels sat above her bed. Her brightly colored quilt was folded up, frilly curtains taken down, and one by one her teddy bears were taken off the bed where they slept beside her for 18 years. Her jewelry box still sat on the pink runner of her white dresser that was strung with feathered boas, medals, her pin collection and her dolls - but Mom, Erica and I proudly wore the jewellery that was once kept inside. I ran my fingers along the swirling grooves of her dresser drawers one last time before it would go to my niece.

Her floor to ceiling bookshelf stood at an angle in the corner of her room. This would be the hardest part. Her books. Hundreds and hundreds of books; her most prized possessions. Every book on that shelf was flipped through countless times by her long piano fingers. Every book was taken off the shelf and put back in alphabetical order and recorded in a scribbler for inventory. Just Like Dad by Mercer Mayer (2 copies), Trixie Belden Volume 1-39, and her favorite's Lizzie McGuire Volume 1-32. Every book on that shelf was signed out and returned when we played Library, doodled on and re-written over and over in her notepads. Every book bought from Chapters, where she and Dad browsed the shelves for hours at a time before sitting with their Starbucks in their happy place.
We believe that in her entire life, she never finished a single book she set out to read. We watched her read and re-read each and every one, but just as she was nearing the end she'd start again from the beginning. She'd move from Lizzie's Broken Hearts to Best Dressed to The Importance of Being Gordo all in one day, never getting to the last page. Perhaps, like with everything else she loved so much, she didn't want it to come to an end.

In Mom and Dad's new home Christine doesn't have a bedroom. Despite feeling her presence everywhere and truly believing she is with us wherever we go, their new home was missing that one special place where you could go to feel close to her. It was missing that place you could go to hold onto something she loved and remember her, the place you could go to close your eyes and for a second, pretend nothing has changed...

... Until now.

After work yesterday I stopped at my parent's new house where my very excited Father wanted to show me his latest project. Without even letting me remove my boots, he lead me upstairs to see yet another masterpiece in the making. I wasn't sure what to expect, seeing that his latest design was a SueBee sized staircase to the window sill, their spoiled dogs favorite perch. So with my eyes closed and a bit of hesitation, I held his hand as he guided me step by step to the landing where I opened my eyes to a bookshelf built into the wall. On the top shelf a book I haven't seen in six years, so perfectly titled Happily Ever After sat alone.


For Christine's books, he said. And from below my Mom asked if I could picture an area rug, comfy chairs and all of her books on the shelf. She asked if I could see how warm and inviting the space could be, and if I could see the little girls cuddled up reading books and enjoying them the way Christine did...

...Yes Mom, I can see it. I can feel it, too.


Rachel Emmilee
XO

Wednesday

Color the world happy






I have been a believer of the calming practice of coloring since before it was cool, so when I saw Adult Coloring Books on the shelves of every store I shopped in before Christmas - I had to get one. I know you're thinking you and everyone else, but if you're in it for more than just the hashtag it shouldn't be a here today gone tomorrow trend. Before these books even became a thing I kept a folder of prints and a jar of markers on my coffee table and every so often I'd grab a few markers and a page and drift off to Me Land. I'm also one of those weird ones that gets strangely excited opening a new box of markers and doodling on the first page of a brand new note book, so there's that.

There have been times I've taken to the couch with a coloring page, a cup of tea and a good show on TV and before I knew it a half hour had gone by, my tea was cold and I didn't catch even a minute of the show I was watching. I zoned out completely. I can't tell you what I thought about, just that it was the best kind of meditation, like I turned my brain off for a while - and who doesn't need a break like that from time to time?

If you're still not sold on the idea, here are some of my own tips to help turn your nay into a yay.

Look for a book with images you like. Not a Harry Potter fan? Then don't buy the Harry Potter coloring book for the sake of having something to color. Don't use an old book that your kid scribbled all over either, you want your very own. Chapters, Coles and other bookstores have beautiful books of Mandalas or images you'd be happy to add color to.

Keep your book where you can see it. As I said above, my coloring book sits right on my coffee table so when I'm needing a  little escape from adulting, it's right there. Even if all you have is ten minutes, it's ten minutes of healthy brain activity and much needed ME time.
Take your book to bed. If you can't see yourself having time to color during the day or you have little ones at home that would have a field day with an unsupervised jar of markers, I recommend keeping your book at your bedside where it's safe from destruction but still in plain sight. Coloring in bed is a great alternative to scrolling through your phone or watching TV if you're needing to wind down before dozing off.
Buy really good markers. For a brighter picture and less mess from sharpening pencils that have gone dull, go with markers.
Color with the kids. A lot of quality time spent with my nieces has been spent coloring with them. It doesn't involve looking at a screen, it encourages conversation and self expression, and there's a feeling of pride and accomplishment when you're all done.
Put your finished product on display. Working on a page that you can see framed in your home makes for a more enjoyable project. Need some new art? Pick colors that match your current décor, frame it and voila! It's very satisfying to tell your guests you were the master behind the funky artwork they're drawn to.


Happy Coloring!

Rachel XO 

Thursday

New Year, Same Me.

 

 
 
I didn't wake up this year with a list of personal goals like I have every other year. I woke up feeling content, happy, and ready for another great year.

 
In 2015 I focused a lot on myself, my marriage, and my home. I accepted things about myself that I once tried to change, I made time for the things I love, I treated myself to things I wanted and felt I deserved. I became comfortable saying NO. In fact, I said NO more often. NO to things that would deprive me of a good nights sleep, NO to things that would consume my entire weekend and leave me without time for myself, NO to going places with people who really didn't care if I was there or not. Instead, I focused on what I really wanted - what I really needed - how I really felt.


I started taking better care of myself last year and I've yet to stop. I found an exercise program that is fun and keeps me engaged, I began taking advantage of downtime at work to stretch when I needed to loosen up, and I would only take the stairs. I bought Tupperware, mason jars and a fancy lunch bag that I enjoy packing with healthy food, and a water bottle that sees a couple of refills a day. I attended Yoga classes with every intention to let go of things I can't change and relax. It gave me a reason to leave the house on my own to do something just for me - and that's something I really needed and want to continue. I stopped going to bed without washing my face. I'd cleanse it, exfoliate it, moisturize it and study it. I've accepted the parts of it that are changing ever so slowly from day to day and started taking action in preventing what I can with weekly face masks, night creams, cleansers and makeup appropriate for my skin type.

 
In 2015 I read books, soaked my feet, traveled, realized that my hangovers are never, ever worth it and had many wakeful, productive Saturdays because of it. I splurged on new bedding, un-followed the Kardashian's and almost every other celebrity I compared my life to, and I learned to let my phone die. I deleted Facebook, gained back all the precious time I wasted scrolling through pages and pages of useless garbage and with that, my husbands face became the last thing I'd look at before falling asleep and the first thing I'd reach for in the morning.
 
 
My 2016 resolution?


Keep doing what I'm doing.
 
 
Rachel XO