We Are Gluten Free

My cat, dog, husband and me!

Okay, not my cat -  but I just had to run with it. Sorry, not sorry! Now for the disclaimer. 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 main man has no choice, and while I was hesitant to share that with the whole world it's really not something we can keep to ourselves if we tried.

You may argue that his diagnoses shouldn't affect me or that I have no right to comment. I mean, I'm only his wife - the person who intends to shop for him, cook for him and eat with him for the rest of his life. Why am I the one blogging about it? Eye roll.

Where was I? Ah, yes.

We are still very new to the game but so far I think we've got a good handle on it. I think we can give some solid advice and encouragement to anyone feeling discouraged or overwhelmed and really help prove that a gluten free lifestyle isn't as bad as some make it seem. Whether you're a newly diagnosed Celiac or 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 really not that bad!
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 or oversights, and 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 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 gluten intolerance was to blame for their Osteoarthritis, Anemia, Diabetes, liver dysfunction and more. Today, Health Care Professionals know what Celiac Disease looks like and it can be diagnosed and treated before causing any furthur damage to your body. So, naysayers, while it is certainly a disease on the rise it's absolutely not popular, trendy, or anything new to the human race. Rant over.

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 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 cart for years are safe to continue buying. Smartfood Popcorn? Hell 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 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. At restaurants the same applies; if ordering from the gluten free menu means he and I can continue to share meals and try new things together, that's what I will do. (If I am out with my friends, you ask? Give me all the bread.)
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 what did we do? 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!)
Tacos with Epicure Taco Seasoning and Old El Paso GF Shells.

A simple salad with homemade raspberry vinigrette and chicken seasoned with Epicure spice.
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



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!)




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.



Summertime, And The Livin' Is Easy

I want to sew. I want to scrapbook the stack of pictures I just sorted through in 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, it's been a work in progress since the summer began. 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 always go both ways; I can follow the crowd and have an awesome time, but I rarely find anything wrong with skipping out on a party to spend a night at home 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 makes me realize I'm probably the only twenty-something that requires balance when it comes to having fun and taking time out. I also realize I'm the only twenty-something that rarely experiences FOMO because I actually like doing nothing. You've heard it all before, my days of running on barbecued hot dogs, carbonated beverages 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.



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.


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 rises and falls in my core.

To dream of being on a roller coaster with her tells me she is free, happy and enjoying 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.



Start, Stop & Continue - To look and feel my best.

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?
  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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


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




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, 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 jewellery box still sat on the pink runner of her white dresser that was strung with feathered boas, medals, and 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 by her long 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 happiest state of mind.
It is believed 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 hint 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


Adult Coloring - Yay or Nay?


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 


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


Why You Should Cut Your Hair

Let's face it, deep down you've already decided to go for it - you just need one last push into that salon chair. Do I think you should cut your hair? Hell yes! Here's why...

1. You need a change. It's been months, maybe even years since you've changed your hairstyle and you want a sexy new look. Am I right? You've stalked 'Short Hair' Pinterest boards more than you ever did a boyfriends ex, with an extreme case of hair envy. Am I right? You've pinned cuts you love and sent screenshots of Julianne Hough to your friends looking for their approval, more than once...Am I right? Come on, you're as ready as you'll ever be! Just do it.

2. You've got a long face. If you have an oval shaped face, chances are you've looked in the mirror and thought your hair was dragging you down or drowning you out. Chances are you're right. Perhaps the first thing people notice about you is your long hair, and that's no fun. Find a cut that frames your face and draws attention to your eyes, lips, cheekbones or jawline.

3. You are sick and tired of washing, rinsing, brushing, drying and styling the matted mess that it's become. Take your wet brush and your leave in conditioner and shove it you know where. When your hair is thick, heavy and dyed a million times over, nothing makes these daily tasks easier. When you get to a place where your scalp can't take anymore trauma and your hair gets pulled up into a bun day after day, tangles and all, to save time and energy - it's gotta go.

4. The time it takes to actually do your hair is time you'd rather spend doing... anything else. We're talking a ten minute tangle brush out, ten minute air dry, thirty minute round brush blow out, five minute root tease, twenty minutes with a curling or straightening iron or, twenty minutes setting hot rollers. GIRLS, THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Cut your hair and spend all the extra time drinking all the wine.

5. You're tired of pulling hair out of your ass. Real talk. With long hair, how crucial are the last five minutes of a shower to make sure the hair that fell from your head isn't hiding anywhere? There's no such thing as a quick shower when you lose a hundred strands in one wash, and there's nothing more annoying than finding stray hairs where the sun doesn't shine.

6. Long hair is too expensive. When you have to use a palm full of shampoo and conditioner each time you wash, you're not getting away with one bottle a month. Cha-ching! Add up all the styling products and the climbing cost of your salon visits and tell me, do you feel good about the expense your long hair has become? Didn't think so.

7. Your old clothes, jewelery and accessories suddenly feel like new. You know those few tops you keep in the back of your closet? They suddenly fit better and look nicer with your new hair. It's like magic. You'll even find a new love for big earrings and scarves, and all this accessorizing will make you feel more polished everyday.

8. You'll want new makeup, and who doesn't want an excuse to buy new makeup? Your short cut will frame your face and draw so much attention to your facial features that you'll want to enhance what you can with some new makeup.

9. It's only HAIR and HAIR will grow back. As much as I hated when people reinforced this point, it's a pretty solid argument. If you're thinking about making the cut but you're afraid you'll regret it, chances are you'll find a way to style it to hold you over until it becomes more manageable. It will grow back, and at the very least, you gave it a shot. YOLO!

10. Long hair doesn't define your sexy. If you're worried that cutting your hair will take away your pretty, trust me, it's really not the hair you have to worry about. Hair or no hair - as long as you hold your head high and think strong, confident, and beautiful inside and out - you'll never stop turning heads.

Rachel Emmilee

August, at last.


Thoughts from last night...

After three weeks of what felt like a grease fuelled, dehydrated, sunburnt and sweaty, sleep deprived, hurry here and hurry there fog... I am lounging on my deck with a book, a cup of tea, my journal and of course my dog with ab-so-lutely nothing to do but relax. How's that for an opening line? Home alone, no plans, no pants, no problem. I can just write, admire the trees blowing in the breeze, feel the warmth of the sun on my face and snap a few videos to make my friends jealous.

It's so wonderful I could cry.

My poor husband. He sits behind a drum kit yet again tonight for the kajillionth time this summer, longing for 2am when he'll be tucked in bed beside me - at least I hope - where he can finally feel what I am feeling right now. Relaxation. The rush is over relaxation. 

It's the same every year. July is weddings, festivals, parades, beer tents and late nights. From one week to the next we're running all over the county to take it all in and see our friends and family who make this their one and only visit home all year. There is a lot of pressure to show up... But I'm only home for a few days! I never see you! You only live once... And while it's all a just a ball of fun, we are by no means on vacation for the entire month of July. For G, on top of his demanding days at the office, it means hauling equipment, setting up and tearing down gear from one night to the next, live shows with the band, getting in at 3am and waking up to a million texts to hurry up and go again. For me, it's squeezing it all in around eight hour work days while trying to maintain our makeshift B&B for guests that come and go. It wears on you! I can't pretend it's not getting harder every year to keep up, or that when it's all said and done I don't hit a brick wall. I'm not as young as I once was and my priorities are changing... I don't do well when I go days without eating a vegetable or nights without sleep, or weeks without me time...

... But alas, memories were made and it's truly lovely seeing old friends. I love catching up with everyone, laughing and dancing and crushing cold beers straight from a cooler of ice when it's five o'clock somewhere... and those 4am Greco subs really were delicious... at the time... But man, am I happy it's August!
How is your summer going?

Rachel Emmilee

*Image borrowed from*

Our Kitchen Makeover - Before & After

What I am about to say, I say with great certainty. If you and your spouse can get through a major home renovation project, you can get through just about anything. Okay... I guess that was a bit dramatic... But trust me, renovating is a good way to put your relationship to the test.

Back in early November my husband and I set out to create the kitchen of our dreams. I had pinned enough ideas to design ten kitchens combined, all the materials were purchased, the job was quoted and within our budget, and finally all the more important home projects were behind us. This took having to accept that insulating our basement and installing an energy efficient heating system was more important than new cabinets and more counter space - which wasn't particularly easy for me. Nevertheless, our kitchen needed some love too, and there was only one thing left to do. Do it.

The goal was bigger and brighter. The original kitchen had only one tight corner you could work in, and by you I mean one of you because it was much too small for two. It consisted of thirty year old hardwood floors that were scuffed and damaged by water among other spills, oak cabinets that didn't age well, warped laminate countertop with a dated wood design and finally, the most exaggerated Stucco ceiling you ever did see. The kitchen was so dark that even the brightest of paint and sunniest of days couldn't light it up, and it smelled like a musty old log cabin. 

Our project was more than just a face lift. Things got really, really messy and it took us an embarrassing five months to complete. You don't account for all the little road blocks and detours that arise when you set a completion date, or the dust that settles or the days you just can't muster up an ounce of energy or interest to screw in another drawer handle. It's a big commitment and if you're doing the majority of it yourselves, be prepared to quite literally sweat, shed tears and bleed throughout the process. There were many late nights spent assembling cabinets, cursing the mess we were in and cancelling our social life to get things done, but, it was all worth it in the end and we're still happily married.

Thanks to some wonderful handymen, guidance from friends, family and visitors who thought they were only coming over for a coffee, we got it all done right. We couldn't be more thankful. Here's how it all went down...
  • We busted out the dining room wall to expand the kitchen and brighten the space with an additional window. We never used our dining room, even when guests came over for dinner. Here in Cape Breton, you do most of your entertaining in the kitchen so eliminating the wasted space made sense. I've always been a lover of eat-in kitchens anyway.
  • Removed Stucco ceiling and installed drywall. Imagine dust covered, chalky, sharp,  four inch icicles hanging from your ceiling. Imagine the chore of having to clean or paint them. Let's just say, when this mess was finally removed from our home, there was a happy dance (or two).
  • Removed laminate flooring from old dining room area and installed new hardwood. We knew we couldn't combine the two spaces to make one with a dark laminate on one side and a worn down hardwood on the other, so we gave the flooring guys quite the task of refinishing our old floor to match newly installed hardwood. 
  • Installed new light fixtures, outlets and moved the range across the room. What seems like the easiest task of all happened to be the most stressful. I will never again support the idea of re-routing electrical wires. Always consult an electrician!
  • Assembled cabinets. Lifestyle Cabinets come in boxes and need to be assembled. The first one took us a solid three and a half hours to build, but once we got the hang of it we were banging them off in twenty minutes. They are good quality white cabinets that I highly recommend if you're wanting to save a buck and have the patience for the job.
  • Painted. Backsplash will come eventually but for now, a light shade of grey makes the kitchen warm and inviting.
  • Installed cabinets, door knobs, drawer handles, countertops and sinks. Black and white everything, just what I've always wanted. Black laminate counter, black knobs, a blank rinse sink and a black dish sink. 

See? Dark, tight and all wood everything.
Smooth drywall, a thing of beauty! A missing wall, not so much. It was amazing how busting out the wall and smoothing out the ceiling instantly brightened up the room.
This was at our halfway point, on the brink of a having major regret. We could no longer keep on top of the mess, Christmas was fast approaching and frozen pizzas were getting old real fast.  
Story of our lives for two months, spending our evenings assembling cabinets in our matching slippers. 
Finally seeing some progress!
Finally complete, and yes, we kept our red table. After traveling with us from apartment to apartment and house to house, this table holds a place in my heart. It's brought a lot of friends together and if it could talk, it would have many stories to tell. Not featured here is a window above the dish sink and two large bay windows on either side that make the kitchen bright and cozy.

The countertop has an Ora Edge which shows the flat face adding some bulk to the counter. It has a faint marble pattern throughout that adds some character and just so happens to match the light grey walls perfectly.

What's a dream kitchen without a coffee bar?

If you have any questions about paint colors, item numbers or brand names - don't hesitate to ask!

Thanks for reading!



Learn To Run Program

This happened.

Today, I had my alarm set for 5:45am and when it went off I was up and in my running clothes within minutes. I had a bag packed so I could shower at work and everything in place to leave the house by 6:15am. This is a big deal, you guys.
I met a group of runners who lead a program on the mornings of Monday, Wednesday and Friday to help beginners like me train for a Gathering Week 5K. Let it be known that anyone who has started and completed this program has stuck with running and credits it for their running success. It's now or never for me, really. I've been going to the gym, exercising at home, busting out squats on the regular - and even just last week I ran for forty-five minutes on the treadmill, ten and one. But, outside pounding the pavement and fighting the elements is a different story. Ten minutes of straight running outside is not happening, hence, the need to join a group to train properly.

With this program I will gradually build the strength and endurance to run long distances and maybe, just maybe I'll tick 'run a marathon' off my bucket list after all.

Day one, done!

Learn to Run Program

Week One
M-W-F  5 minute warm up walk. Run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes X 7. Cool down, 5 minute walk.
Week Two
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk. Run 2 minutes, walk 1.5 minutes X 6. Cool down, 5minute walk.
Week Three
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk.  Run 3 minutes, walk 1.5 minutes X 5. Cool down, 5 minute walk.
Week Four
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk. Run 4 minutes, walk 1.5 minutes X 5. Cool down, 5 minute walk.
Week Five
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk. Run 5 minutes, walk 1.5 minutes X 5. Cool down, 5 minute walk.
Week Six
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk. Run 6 minutes, walk 1.5 minutes X 4. Cool down, 5 minute walk.
Week Seven
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk. Run 7 minutes, walk 1  minute X 4. Cool down, 5 minute walk.
Week Eight
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk. Run 8 minutes, walk 1 minute X 4. Cool down, 5 minute walk.
Week Nine
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk. Run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute X 4. Cool down, 5 minute walk.
Week Ten
M-W-F 5 minute warm up walk. Run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute X 4-5. Cool down, 5 minute walk.