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If you would like a signed bookplate, just send me a self-addressed envelope. Also please tell me who you would like me to sign the book plate to. Thank you

Storybook Woods

P O Box 288

Keyport, WA

98345-0288

Wren Bay reviews

Bernideens Tea Time

Tarnished and Tattered              Rosie's Ramblings

Sis Boom                                        Nanas House

Fox Tales                                        Frugal Luxuries

Homespun Living                        The Pleasures of Homemaking

Lazy Bee Farm                             Coffee, Tea, Books & Me

Lavender and Pearls                  Gracious Hospitality

The Blessed Hearth                    Life of the Unemployed

Life in Every Breath                    Cherished Hearts at Home

 Gumbo Lily                                  Sweet Felicity

Changed By Love                      Creekside Cottage


Whipped Feta Salad

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    I eat a LOT of salads, at lest one a day. So I am always looking for ways to bling it up. I made David this Whipped Feta Salad for Father's day and it was a big hit. Now I am making whipped feta all the time. It is easy to make, keeps a good week in a air tight container and great with veggies. Check it out!

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Whipped Feta Salad

whipped feta

Greens tossed in a vinaigrette

cherry tomatoes, avocado and pistachio nuts to garnish

 

Simply spread some whipped feta on your plate, dress your greens and add garnishes. Very simple to make.  

 

Whipped Feta

1 cup (8oz) feta cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup (3oz) whipped cream cheese, at room temperature, see notes

 

In a food processor crumble feta into tiny piece. Add cream cheese. Run processor until smooth and fluffy. Takes about 3-4 minutes. Store in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps about a week refrigerated.

 

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup oil, I like a good olive oil

3 TBL Balsamic Vinaigrette 

1 TBL honey (optional)

1 garlic clove, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Taste and adjust to your liking

 

Notes

  1. Instead of cream cheese you can also use, sour cream or mascrapone.
  2. My Strawberry Infused Balsamic is wonderful in this salad!
  3. Great as a crudites with raw veggies.

Library Finished

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     Ha! Well after living here what ... 15 years, we finally finished a room. Our library is done and I am loving it!

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     My in-laws were selling their fake fireplace and I have been coveting it for years, so we snapped it up. I will be honest, the pretties on the mantle will go. A biggg flat-screen TV will be on the mantel instead, but I had to make it pretty for the photos ;-)

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     We purchased two leather chairs (my first barko-leather furniture. my husband is over the moon). I know everything looks really orange in these photos, but it doesn't in real life. Much more like earl grey tea with milk in it. Well, except my desk which is a dark tangerine color.

Libary Collage

     It is small but I was able to come up with a whiskey/port bar. Every library needs one of those right?

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    There is even room for elkzilla, as I like to call him. My husbands pride and joy. The things you do to make your man happy. There is a LOT crammed in this room, but I tried to create some space too and it all seems to work. Very cozy on a winter day.

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    My favorite thing in the room, is my little desk. It is on old table left by the last owners, shoved in the corner of basement, deemed junk. I adore this table, peeling paint and all. The acrylic chair works great without add more weight to the room. I have a beautiful view of my roses as I write this. So books for me, flat screen for him. This room is prefect for both of us. Thank you for letting me share. One room down, six more to go!


Review of Breville Smart Oven Air

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    We purchased a Breville Smart Oven Air and told my FB'ers I would write a review. Thought I would post it here. First let me say, I was looking for a second oven but putting in a wall oven meant a good $1000 and taking out half my cabinet.  So $400, seemed a good deal compared to the price of a second wall oven. I was interested in this oven because it is the biggest counter oven I could get. I have plenty of counter space, so I want to get the most out of it as possible.

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    This oven has 13 preset functions: Toast, Bagel, Bake, Roast, Broil, Pizza, Cookies, Proof, Air-Fry, Dehydrate, Reheat, Warm and Slow Cook. It comes with 2 oven racks, 13" nonstick pizza pan, 2 heavy-duty oven racks, broil rack, enamel baking pan and air-fry/dehydrate basket. I was a bit nervous this would be a wasted purchase, but I had two ovens before and know how nice it is to have two. I have to say I am beyond thrilled with this oven. Actually I have only used my other oven once since I bought the Breville a month ago. This oven is veryyy accurate and efficient. For example if I roast tomatoes in my oven it would take 1 hour, in the Breville set on super convection, it takes 25 minutes. The airfry setting really works well for roasting veggies. The slow cooker works beautifully. Really I do not have one complaint. As you can see in the photo below. I am cooking potatoes, garlic and tomatoes all at once. I do not know if this would work for a large family, but really for the 4 of us it has been fine for most things.

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    So I think it is a value, I paid $400 and am thrilled with my purchase. This is my review of the Breville Smart Oven Air. By the way I was not paid for this review, just to let you know ;-) Also do you love the little shelf David made to hold my spice jars. Painting the walls with chalk paint and adding the shelf, really finishes the space off don't you think!


No-Mac, Cheese and Cauliflower

  No-Mac  Cheese and Cauliflower Storybook Woods

    This recipe all came about because I miss mac and cheese. I wanted a low carb version and tried several recipes, but honestly they were too much work, relied on a roux (I do not eat flour) and I was not happy with the results. In mac and cheese your cooking a pasta that absorbs the sauce, cauliflower does not absorb, so you need a different type of sauce. I learned a long time ago just thickened cream makes a simple sauce. Add some cheese, bake until thick and bubble and it is quite good, and easy :-)

    I have made at least 5 different versions of this with cook /frozen/riced/not and this is the version my family liked best. The second recipe is the one I like the best, because it is easier. I did not have to prepare and par-cook the cauliflower. They are both good though. The only kind of cauliflower I would not use is frozen florets. We all agreed it was too mushy. I do not know why the frozen riced cauliflower is not mushy, but it is not. Par-cooking the cauliflower florets gave a perfect textured with the finished dish. I like to serve this with a steak and salad on our weekends. If you hate cauliflower, make the second version, you will never know there is cauliflower in there, if you use strong flavored cheddar.

No-Mac  Cheese and Cauliflower 1 Storybook Woods

No-Mac, Cheese and Cauliflower

makes a 5x10" pan

 

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

3 cups cauliflower, small flowerts, par-cooked *see my notes below

1 tsp. dried granulated garlic

½ tsp ground pepper

½ sea salt

Pre-heat oven 350°F

In a sauce pan mix all ingredients, except the cauliflower. On low heat stir cream/cheese until cheese is melted. You do NOT want to boil this, just melt the cheese. Pull sauce off heat and stir in cauliflower. Grease a 5x10" pan and pour cauliflower in prepared pan. Cover pan with heavy lid or foil. Bake 50 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crispy brown around the edges.4

 

Quicker version No-Mac, Cheese and Cauliflower

makes a 5x10" pan

 

I cup heavy cream

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

3 cups frozen, riced cauliflower

1 tsp. dried granulated garlic

½ tsp ground pepper

½ sea salt

Pre-heat oven 350°F

In a sauce pan mix all ingredients, except the cauliflower. On low heat stir cream/cheese until cheese is melted. You do NOT want to boil this, just melt the cheese. Pull sauce off heat and stir in cauliflower. Because the cauliflower is frozen the sauce with glop together, but do not worry it will bake fine. Grease a 5x20" pan and spread cauliflower in prepared pan. Cover pan with heavy lid or foil. Bake 50 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crispy brown around the edges.

 

*Notes

1. Par-cooking cauliflower. Cut your fresh cauliflower into small florets, about the size of your thumb nail. In a small pan on your stove or in a microwave set on high, boil cauliflower about 3-4 minutes. Until it starts to become transparent in color but still firm. Run cauliflower under cold water and set aside. This can be done earlier in the day too. Just refrigerate until you make you no-mac, cheese and cauliflower.

2. If you want to keep it really fast and quick, make the second version but cook the sauce and riced cauliflower on the stove for about 5 minutes, until the frozen cauliflower is cooked. Then enjoy. I make this for my dinner on nights, when I am cooking something for my family I cannot eat. With a salad it is lovely. Not as lovely as the baked, crunchy version but still good.

3. Lastly, this dish is only as good as the cheese you use. Use a strong cheddar with lots of flavor!

 


Bloom-Making The Hard Choices

 

 

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     I get asked a lot what tricks I use to keep my weight off. A big one is stopping and really thinking about what I want to eat. How to have treats without going whole hog. I tend to have my treats on the weekend, so I so that cuts of a lot of the week. I will also try to plan it out. If I know I am going to have a really carby meal on Saturday let's say, I try to make sure I eat really good the day before and after to make-up for it. But I also look at what is being served, what I would really like and try to make it as healthy as I can, while still enjoying what I want. I will give you two examples.

    Example 1, last weekend we had hot dogs topped with bacon, guacamole and monterey jack cheese (which is a fab combo by the way). I served nacho chips in the side because my family loves them. I looked at that meal and thought what was the problems with it? First there is the hot dog buns, second the chips and third no veggies (I don't consider avocado's veggies  ;-). The buns were cheap ones and I did not want them, but the chips were calling to me. So this is what I did. I used a romaine lettuce leaf for a bun (do it all the time, I am fine with it) and took a FEW (& I mean like 4 chips each hot dog) and crushed them on the top. Added some raw veggies on the side and the dish ended up not being too bad. Also I did not feel cheated.

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     Example 2, hubby's birthday last month. He loves biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast. I have discovered how to make the gravy without flour and it is delish. Now I could have made mine with a gain-free biscuits but I did not have any on-hand. I decided I did not want a plain biscuit to be my treat, because I wanted the rosemary bread I was baking later to me my treat. So I just had gravy over eggs and thoroughly enjoyed my homemade bread later.

    So see? Stop, think about what you love? What can you give up? Try to pick just one indulgence and not go hog crazy with it. This has served me well and I hope it makes sense to you!! 

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Bloom. 3 Years Later

 

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    Celebrating my three year anniversary of not being pre-diabetic anymore and major lifestyle change. 3 years, wow!! I know some of you are having the same issues as me, so I thought I would share. In the past three years I have lost at least 54 pounds. The even better news is I am keeping it off! My number one goal has always been to maintain what I have lost. And to be able to maintain that weight loss, well ... that feels like the biggest success to me.

    My second goal was to drop under 200 and stay there. I can say I have been able to maintain that goal for 7 months now. I am not sure what my next goal is, but honestly I am just happy with what I have obtained so far. I still eat a very low-carb version of Paleo. I still struggle with eating enough veggies. My goal is to make 70% of my daily diet low-carb veggies. I do it, but still have lazy days. I exercise once a week for 1 ½ hours (hard) and "try" to work out another day for 40 minutes, but I do not beat myself up if it does not happen.

Bloom three year Storybook Woods

Really I have only made 2 changes this past year.

1. I use to walk 3 miles. Now I work on strength training and build muscle, plus walking. When you lose so much weight you end up with lotsss of sagging skin. It's kind of scary :-O Plus I am not sure I had any muscles in my body to begin with ;-) I could barely workout with 2 ½ # weights for 3 minutes, 2 years ago. So building muscles and working on my core strength has been my focus and boy can I see a difference. I have slimmed my arms and stomach, been focusing on my gluts lately and am in a size 12 jeans (I was an 20 before). I still have a longggg ways to go. But it is amazing to be able to focus on a part of your body and know with hard work you can make changes.

 

2. I drink vinegar water and kombucha every day. I drink water all day and always add a TBL of raw apple cider vinegar to my water. I started off with less but got use to the taste and now can add more. Also now I drink glass of kombucha everyday too. Both really help regulate my blood sugar, help with my digestion and gut health. Gut health is everything. If you have not read Brain Maker I highly recommend it. Everyone should read it. Last Christmas I gained weight, this Christmas I did not gain any weight. I think the kombucha is helping my body to heal and therefore I am staying in my zone better, even though I did not work out and ate treats.

  Journey3

    So adding weight training and drinking kombucha is really the only changes I have made this year. If you are interested in reading about what I have been doing, read my Bloom series. Really I am just doing what I have been doing the past three years and it works for me. I have had people argue with me that eat fat is unhealthy and low-carb is a fad. All I can say after three years, my body would disagree with you. I listen to my body, it very clearly tells me what it needs and what is does not. So I would encourage you to do the same. Listen to your body, do what works for you and be positive. This is a lifestyle change, that means you will be spending the rest of your life taking care of yourself. That is a journey and journeys never end!

 

PS. The top photo I took at Bittersweet Apothecary in Liberty Missouri. A charming shop full off goodies!!

 

 


Copper Christmas Joy Bottle

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     Happy New Year! I hope it was a great ending. I know it was for me. Last year was a hard one, personally. I was stretched and challenged a LOT! In the end, it is all is good. A lot of change but change is good, right? ;-)  This is the first time I am really feeling that empty nest stuff. I did not think it would get to me so much, but I am finding my ways, slowly. A new chapter of my life.

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    I did want to share one last project from my Copper Christmas. As you know every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I make a small gift for each of my guests. Since I drink large amounts of Clear Mind Brew Dr Kombucha I decided to save the bottles. So all year I have been collecting bottles and corks from the sherry I cook with. Just add some copper paint and a simple word. Joy! We all need joy. I am happy with how these turned out and hopefully everyone can use an extra bottle for storage. 

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  The other thing I did was use copper pennies. After I choose copper for my theme, I looked around at what I had that was copper. Pennies! And I have lots of them. I simply cleaned them in a vinegar/salt mixture. I could have done a ton of stuff with them, but I simply lined a tray. I usually use rock salt (such a cheap and pretty item), but the pennies worked great!

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     A few more glimpes of my home. I am interested in seeing what 2017 will hold. I am not sure what will be coming, but I feel good about it all. I hope this is a year filled with joy for you xox

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Merry Christmas 2016

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my family to yours

I love this photos because I hardly see my girls anymore (they work so much). I love that we can still be silly and giggle. I will be back after the New Year and share a bit more of my Copper theme. I hope this is a blessed week for you xox


Copper Christmas Wreath

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    Well the one coppery thing I did do was a wreath. This was fun and pretty easy to do. Hubby welded the elbows on each corner. I cleaned up the copper with a mixture of 1 cup plain white vinegar and 1 TBL salt. Worked well.

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    My bow  is ribbon I have had for a good 30 years. The beautiful buckle in the center is from one of my favorites stores in Poulsbo, Red Plantation. It is perfect addition. This wreath is simple and open, but I like that. Air in decorating in needed, if that makes sense? 

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Copper Christmas Menu

Copper Christmas Menu Storybook Woods

   

    Good day, here is our Christmas menu. Christmas Eve potato bar was such a big hit last year, I am doing it again! I am sorry I do not have links to recipes to link. Either they are mine (and I need to write one) or I am not cooking it. Like the ice cream will be brought by my sister from Molly Moon in Seattle. I am hoping my Bacon, Chocolate Pecan pie is a hit. I will let you know. What are you making that your excited by?


Copper Christmas Champagne Bar

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  Two years ago we did a whiskey bar and last year we did a cocoa bar, so this year we thought a champagne bar would be perfect with our theme.

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    Plus these copper champagne glass, I got last year, were the whole reason I did a Copper Christmas!

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    We made champagne cocktails. You take a sugar cube and add a few drops of bitters onto your cube. Place sugar in your glass and fill with champagne. I used Scrappy's Bitters in both chocolate and lavender flavor. They were a big hit at my Christmas party.

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    I also had some raw sugar, that looked so pretty with the copper. Copper tinsel and copper wire lights filled in the small details. This bar turned so elegant. 

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Frangelico Hazelnut Fudge, sugar and dairy free

Frangelico Hazelnut Fudge sugar and dairy free, Storybook Woods

 I gave a shout out on FB/Instagram I was cutting up a batch of sugar-free Frangelico Hazelnut Fudge and several people requested a recipe so here you go ;-) 

 

Frangelico Hazelnut Fudge, sugar free, gain/paleo friendly

3 cups chopped dark chocolate, I use 70% chocolate

¾ cup coconut cream/milk or raw milk or regular whole milk

pinch of sea salt

4 TBL grass-fed butter or coconut oil

¼ cup Frangelico

½ cup  toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped. I like big pieces in my fudge

 

Put chocolate, milk, salt and butter in a small sauce pan and heat over low temp until all is melted. You do NOT want to boil, just melt. When chocolate is melted, pull pan off heat. Stir in Frangelico and hazelnuts. Pour fudge in a loaf pan. I like to use a silicone pan for this, because later I can easily pull the pan away from the fudge. Refrigerate your pan overnight. Then unmold the fudge and cut into small squares. Store fudge in fridge between parchment paper in a airtight container until ready to serve. This is a soft fudge, but firm enough to hold and enjoy.


Copper Christmas-Mirrors

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    Next I am sharing from my Copper Christmas, my wall of mirrors. I had teased on FB/Instagram I was running around my house collecting all my mirrors. 

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    I was really flummoxed how to fill this wall space. I change it out each season. Spring/floras, fall/homey works of art. I needed something I have a lot of and mirrors I do. I was luck this house came with 3 antique mirrors and the large center one belonged to my Grandmother Claire (who I was named after but never met). 


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    The mirrors have a reflexive feel and go with my theme. It also reflexes the lights from the tree and when the tree is gone, reflections of the water. 

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I added a few glitter do-da's and wha-la! Wall of mirrors! 

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Copper Christmas

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    Okay, my theme this year is a Copper Christmas!! BUT, I confess that I do not own a lot of copper things and cannot afford to just go buy a bunch a stuff (plus that is no fun). So I had to DIY and stretch my thinking a bit. I own a lot of silver, gold, mercury glass and hoped this would make the copper shine. So in a way you could call this more of a metallic Christmas, but in the end I think it came out very pretty. I am quite happy.

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   Today I am sharing my china cabinet. We took the back off and use this cabinet as a divider between the living and dinning space. This is a large, longggg room with 3 distinct spaces. The divide really helps with creating cozy space, like one would want in the winter, without closing off the room.

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    I needed to put something in the cabinet and can be admired from all sides. My white village and lots of pale, glittered trees worked well.

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    I purchased 2 white buildings and copper glittered the roof of one and painted the trim with copper metallic paint on the other. I also made little copper wire wreaths for each house.

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    I also made some more glue gun icicles but added copper glitter to them. They are so easy to make. I have to say at night, this cabinet just glows. I am thrilled with the results!

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Christmas Pantry 2016

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    Here is some glimpses of my kitchen and pantry. I used gray, red and white in my kitchen. As it picked up the colors of the tote holding greens on my kitchen door. 

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    I always do these kinds of garlands. Just layers of ribbons I have on-hand, in the colors I am using. So simple. Our vintage Santa collection from Davids family. 

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    For my pantry I decided to go with a French feel. I used my glittered Eiffel towers, pops of color and black/white to ground it all!

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