Here is our Christmas red and white themed dinning room.
All I did for the candy canes, is tape them onto bamboo skewers. Worked great!
The craft Chloe picked was these paper tree made from cup-cake liners.
Here is our Christmas red and white themed dinning room.
All I did for the candy canes, is tape them onto bamboo skewers. Worked great!
The craft Chloe picked was these paper tree made from cup-cake liners.
I have had numerous request for our Christmas menu (probably because it is different every year). So here is this years menu's!
A potatoes bar with both white and sweet potatoes. Assorted topping; bacon, cheese, guacamole, linquica sausage, pesto, grilled veggies, olives, etc.
A big salad.
Dessert assorted fruitcakes, cookies and candies we have made or been given.
A traditional German breakfast of assorted meats, sausages, cheese, bread/butter, hard boiled eggs and fruit.
First course lemon marinated shrimp in avocado halves
Bacon spinach salad
Brandy mincemeat pie
Grain-free banana bread with mascarpone
Nutella Mousse except I am NOT using nutella (too much sugar and bad stuff in it). I am using Jasons hazelnut chocolate butter
The other project I picked for our Red & White theme was this straw wreath. I was inspired by my friend Jennifer at Tatertots and Jello. I just cut a circle from a pizza box I had and glued the straws on. It took almost 100 paper straws. I found the best deal on ebay. Pretty simple, but did take a bit of playing with. Add a bow and I am very happy how it turned out.
Also I have had several people ask me about a picture in the last post. It is a cross stitch my mother made. Actually she has made all three of us one. She is extremely talented. Here is a close up of them!!
Well I am happy to introduce this years Christmas theme, Red and White. Since last years theme was not your usual Christmas colors, we thought this year it should be more traditional.
This was a fun theme because it opened up so many ideas. And we had plenty of red and white to choose from. Like wrapping white pillows with ribbon and vintage belt buckles. A sweet friend gave me a Clarice, so I had to use her.
Just to give you an idea of how we plan our themes. The girls and I pin ideas throughout the year, based on our theme. Then in the fall each of us picks at lest one idea we really want to do. Some years, such as the up-coming year, we will need to make a few things early in the year because we do not own much of the theme (yes I have next year picked out ;-) )
The back of the cabinet was a nice blank space, so we covered it with wrapping paper. The craft Auberne` picked was a garland made of fabric candies. We just cut rectangles out of fabric, fill with a ball of filling, glued the center/back and tied off each end. They were easy and fun to make. I picked making this giant star from ribbon as my craft. It took a while to figure out (a few extra holes in the wall!!) but I love it and it really help fill up the wall space! More to come.
I had fun with my baking pantry this year. With the fridge moved, it opens up the whole room.
I thought it would be fun to almost have an island in the room decked out for Christmas.
It is a bit of a hassle to move around, but I am thrilled with the results. Next post I will share our Christmas theme!
In trying to use what I have this year, I made my own gift tags. I love my 3" scalloped punch. I use this ALL the time (& w/ a craft store coupon, they are not expansive). In the past I have used scrapbook paper, which works great.
But the other day I was breaking down a candy box for recycling and noticed it was in perfect shape. The inside of the box was white. So I cut the edges off, so I would have nice large piece and sure enough, the puncher worked great on the cardboard. What a lovely (& free) way to make gift tags. I am now checking out all my boxes before I break them down for recycling!!
Good day. I have decided to go back a rewrite some of my old recipes (I wrote this recipe 8 yrs ago). I made Martini Steak for my hubby and he still loves it. I even made it for his friends at elk camp and it was a big hit. This recipe is especially good for tougher cuts of steaks. Since I tend to buy meat in bulk, I will make up several of these and store them in the freezer. That morning, I just pull out a baggie and let the steaks defrost. Then all ready to go and grill!
¼ cup liquid from green olive jar
¼ cup gin
⅛ cup Vermouth
1 tsp ground pepper
2 crush garlic heads
Wedge of blue cheese (or Gorgonzola)
Sliced green olives
Add the first five ingredient, the marinade, in a zip-lock freezer baggie. Mix well and add steak. Marinate steaks in fridge for 4-8 hours or in freezer.
Drain off marinade and grill steaks as you like. Serve steaks with sliced olives and crumble cheese on top. Enjoy!
Good day, do you remember my autumn reading corner? Well there use to be a big hutch there and I moved the it to the middle of my living room.
It does cut the room in half a bit, but my living room is veryyyy long, with three distinct areas. So the hutch gives each space a cozy feeling. Luckily those huge windows really add light to the room.
Good day, I wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful support I have been getting for Wishes Are Like ...
I shared this on Wren Bay's facebook page (which I think everyone can read, even if you do not do FB. I post coupons and extra info there) I tought I would share with all of you, the intro and first 2 chapter. Just to give you a taste of Wishes. Also in my shop, there is a pre-view with these chapters too. I broken down the chapters into 3, to make reading easier. Enjoy xox
I have several family members and friends who cannot eat gluten and are doing low-carb, so I like to have a few recipes tucked away for them. Honestly, even though my family is not gluten sensitive, I make these cookies for us because they are so insanely good. Enjoy!
Snowball Cookies, Grain-Free and Vegan
Makes a baker’s dozen
1 ¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
½ tsp arrow root powder (doing low-carb like me, I use psyllium husk powder instead)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sugar, I use coconut sugar
½ cup melted virgin coconut oil
1-2 TBL mild tasting olive oil
Pre-heat oven 325◦F
Melt coconut oil and set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone pad.
In a mixer bowl add all ingredients except the oils and powdered sugar. Mix together, then with the paddle on slow setting, slowly add the coconut oil. Next slowly add olive oil. You should be able to gently squeeze dough into a ball. If not, slow add a bit more oil until you can. You really cannot roll this dough, but you can gently squeeze it into a ball. It does not have to be a perfect shaped ball!
Bake 15-20 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges.. Let cookies cool on baking sheet 5 minutes and then shift some powdered sugar over them. Do not move cookies, because they will brake. But when they are completely cooled then you can store them in an airtight container or enjoy!.
Gluten/grain free baked items tend to be crumbly, so leave them on the cookie sheet (this is why you want the parchment paper) until they have fully cooled.
When you serve them if they are not powdery enough, you can sift some more sugar over the cookies.
You can make them smaller for more of a bite size, but I would not make them bigger.
These cookies store well for a few days, if you put them in an airtight container.
Wishes are like …
Fragile bits of thread, twisted and knotted and woven into a thing of wonder.
A worker’s heart and dreams go into this small bit of lace.
She painstakingly works each spool, over, around and through until a pattern appears.
Our life is the same.
Fine threads of dreams and wishes we carefully weave and twist until …
the pattern of our life appears.
Good day! After 5 years I am please to announce my second cooking novel Wishes Are Like ... the sequel to Wren Bay is published. Writing Wishes was like a long labor, but I found out I actually love to write. With Wren, I just sat down to write a two page story about a doll and out came a novel. Wishes is so much more. I wanted to write a much more compelling story, as well as reflecting what a cooking/crafting blog represents. I feel I have done that with Wishes Are Like ..
In the first novel/cookbook Wren was adjusting to a new life, as a married person, in a new place, Bay Farm.. Now four years later Wren is dealing with what she wants her future to hold, and that is being a mother but her wish is not coming true. Have you ever been in a place where you know what you want? Your gut can picture your future, but it is not happening. Even more so, there is nothing you can do to make it happen but wait. Waiting for most of us is a very difficult place to be, I know it is for me. Like Wren, I want to make things happen, now. To get in there and push, control, and just plain use my will, to make them happen. But there are times in our lives where we have to die to our wishes and just let things happen.
This is the heart of Wishes Are Like ... The importance of having wishes but holding them gently. Wren has a wish to be a mother, Devlin has a wish to be what Wren needs, Aida has a wish to be strong and make a hard choice, Luc has the wish to trust again, Sophia has the wish to be able to let someone into her life and Thayer cannot acknowledge his wish. Not all wishes come true, but it is important to wish no matter what because without wishes, one's life would be very small and sad.
Wishes has 29 chapter, 4 parts, as well as 42 original recipes. Storybook Woods is about taking the simple things of life and making celebrations out of them. Wish Are Like ... reflects this and will inspire you in your own life!
A review of Wishes Are Like ....
"Clarice Fox-Hughes’ latest novel, “Wishes Are Like…’, will delight readers of “Wren Bay: The Story The Making a Home”. Wren and Devlin have matured and so has Fox-Hughes’ ability to weave a story that entrances the reader from the first page to the last! Familiar characters reappear in the novel, Madam Mimi, Aunt Sophia, Lily, and Mary, but new characters introduce fresh themes to the novel as well, enriching the novel with their own stories and challenges.
Long anticipated, “Wish Are Like…” promises to leave the reader eager for the next chapter in Wren and Devlin Bay’s lives." Matty Holder
Wishes Are Like... is available in my shop
Happy October 1st. Fall is in full swing and I am loving it. When I set up my autumn reading corner but the wall felt a little bare. So I scoured around my house and came up with this wonder print from an antique book I owned. By the way the book was falling apart, I wold never tear up an antique book. The printed needed a frame.
A girlfriend had found me this holder for a chafing dish and thought it would be a great prop for photos. I thought it would make a great frame (and I can still use it for photos). David just put two screws, one in each corner, in the wall and I can hang the frame on the wall. It was free, easy to do and a great up-cyling project. I love it. So next time you see one of the holders for a chafing dish with no insert, here is a DIY idea!
Well I am done writing, Wishes Are Like ... is getting a finally tweaking. Hopefully it will be ready in 2 weeks. So I have been puttering and set up a fall reading corner. I moved my china cabinet to the middle of the room (I will share soon) and set up this corner. I love it. I have lived in this house over 13 years. Moving furniture around makes it feel like a whole new space.
This is Tasha Tudor Corner. Lovelies from my Tasha friends!
I wanted a new pillow for my free chair but did not want to spend any money. So I flipped the pillow to the back side, added a doily and some ribbon. Just pinned it to the back with a big safety pin. A easy, cheap redo!
Good day, well I am pleased to share I am just about done with my new novel/cookbook. The title is Wishes Are Like ... a squeal to Wren Bay. I will share more soon but I have finished all the recipes and wanted to share (because I am too excited). There are 42 recipes. Some well know from the blog but 35 new one. I have to say I did not create one recipe my family is not begging for me to make again but the Marmalade Gingerbread (which uses a whole cup of marmalade) was a favorite. Also the Meringues Filled w/ Whipped White Chocolate Cream, was a favorite too. Here is an alphabetical list, to tempt you xox
I have been requested to write a "Things I Love" post. I will be honest, my life has been very small these last 6 months. I have been working on Wren 24/7, which I have to say, it should be published by the end of the month. So, this is more of a "things I would love to do" list, full of autumn themed ideas. I hope it inspires you!
For my family, I want to make this version of pizza
Since pizza is on my NOT healthy to eat list, I will make this for me!
I want to make a cozy reading corner in my living room. Wish I had this tartan chair for it!
Would these make sweet Christmas gifts?
I HAVE to make this for myself
I think this would be perfect for apple night/day
What is on your love to do autumn list?
So I have been doing this super low-carb thing a good 18 months and over all it is not too hard. I have lazy days where I do not want to deal with it, but still it is not hard. I have found ways to make, or curb, or substitute the foods I love. At first, any food I could not eat, I missed simple because I could not eat it but over time I made it work or just did not want it more. Having said that, there is one food that is my nemesis, bread! Oh, and bread that had been deep friend, a double whammy. I have tried making grain free versions and they are good (actually love them) but they're not the same. Unquestionably not the same!
I have found out over time, when it comes to bread, I have NO self-control. Luckily my food snobbery helps me a bit. It has to be good, fresh, just made bread. Wonder bread is no temptation to me, thank goodness. Normally I would say, "just have a bit, a treat, like once a week". This is what I do with other foods I love but are not healthy for me. I have a bit, savor it and wait a couple of weeks. Bread though goes into a whole `nother category. When I eat bread, I think about it for days, weeks. It calls my name in dreams like my first love. I have come to realized I have no boundaries where bread is concerned. So having a bit of bread is not going to work. Now the idea of never have bread, or a croissant, or a funnel cake ... okay, sorry, I got off track. Well it is just too tragic to think about but I am not sure I can have bread even once a month.
We all have that something we love, crave and no matter how much we talk to ourselves, pin quotes and write goals, it owns us! I do not think feeling guilty or bad, does any good. It is just a truth, not shame or a label. Besides being truthful is what sets us free. I think the best chance I have at controlling my bread cravings, instead of them controlling me, is being honest with myself. I really do not know yet what I am going to do about bread. Wish I had the answer, I do not. I know that I do not like that I scarfed down a third of the rosemary Parmesan boulé the other night. I do not want to be that girl. So I guess my first step is to be honest. I need bread-anonymous! Is there a food undermining your health? Something you just cannot get control over? Be honest with yourself but do not feel guilty either. Just own it. One day at a time, we will fight the good fight!
Here is a note I posted on FB about my health and weight lost. Thought I would share it with you!!
"Well I weighed myself :-O
As I have said in the past, when I started this almost a year and 1/2 ago, I do not weigh myself. I do not want to be defined by a number, nor do I want to focus on losing weight. Yes, I need and want to loss weight but even more so, I want to be healthy and I think by focusing on a number is counterproductive for me. Having said that, I know I weighed around 240 lb, give or take. So I finally weighed myself at my dad's and I am proud to say I weigh 203lb. I have lost about 40lb, give or take ;-) Which is wonderful, and not really important, all at the same time.
I want to share for a couple of reason, first to encourage others. I do not know about you but it really inspires me when I see others meet their goals. Second I wanted to say, low carb and HIGH fat is working for me. Not that you are me. You need to play with what works for you but I tend get a lot of pull back from others who feel that eating fat is bad. Yes, you have to eat the right kind of fat: coconut oil, avocados, grass fed meat and dairy, etc. But I make sure I get a good dose of fat every day. As a matter of fact I am lowering my protein intake (including nuts. I eat them but less now), and upping my fat. I mostly eat veggies with healthy fat. If I eat something like a boneless, skinless chicken breast I make sure I eat a big pat of grass fed butter or half an avocado on the side.
For me it is eating very low on the carb scale, cutting out most sugar and exercising is what has worked. I will also say I think it is 50/50 on diet and exercise. When I do not do one or the other, I get the same results: bloating, stomach aches, munchies and I'm sleepy. So if you are skeptical about eat fat or just like to hear how others are doing, I hope I have encouraged you. It is not easy, I am not going to lie but there is a sweetness knowing I have lost 40lb. And that I am getting stronger. Thank you for letting me share xox"
So in-keeping of my love of butter, grass-feed butter that is ;-) I though I would share a simple way to bling up those veggies or plain piece of fish or chicken breast. Brown your butter. It is so simple and easy, and it adds a lot of flavors. It is one of my go to tricks for dinner. The other night we had salad and rockfish filets. I just panned fried them in brown butter, instead of plain butter and it added so much more flavor. I could tell you how to make it but I think it is nice to see, so here is a great video on how to brown your butter.
Now I will give you another TIP. In the video he pours the butter over his cooked veggies but you can cook your veggies or meat in the butter. Here is what you do, have some oil in-hand, olive or avocado, or whatever you like. When the butter is browned, foaming and smells nutty pour a splash of oil in the butter. This helps the butter from burning. Then you add the meat or veggies. Just make sure you are using something that cooks fast and is thin. If the butter is cooked too long, then will still burn eve with the oil. That is it, a yummy way to get healthy fat into your diet!
Also thank you for the congratulations on my 9 year bloggiversary, I am so grateful for all the friends I have made over the 9 years. The winner is Dianntha, congratulation xox
Well I am just behind on everything. One month slide by before I knew it and Storybook Woods had an anniversary in April. I have been blogging for 9 years! Wow! I marvel at what blogging has become. I do not think any of us pictured this but what a blessing it has been.
I have been busy locked away in my library writing. I am just finishing the ending of Wren 2 (I am still working on the title). During the week, the girls do the cooking. Chloe got her drivers license! Yeah! It is wonderful to just say " can you go pick up such and such?" This is freeing me up to write. Also I have made a pinterest pin-board for Storybook Woods recipes. I will be adding more. I am planning on rewriting some of my old recipes when I am done with Wren.
In honor of nine years of blogging, I am having a give-away. The current issue of Bella Grace, which features Annetta Bosakova. Annetta's work is always stunning and just makes me happy. You will also get a chocolate bar. So tell me whose work you love and why you love it. Also your favorite kind of chocolate and I will pick a winner. Well I am off to my library to write. Have a scrumptious month and good luck on winning xox
Believe it or not, I have a second Wren novel 3/4 written. A much bigger story 80,000 words so far, minus recipes. I have tried to finish it but cannot get to it. So the only way I am going to get this book finished is the way I wrote the first Wren. That means locking myself in my library and immersing myself until this novel is done. I am going to only be posting here once a month and instagram once a week. Hopefully it will only take 2-3 months to finish the bulk of it. So if you need me and I do not get back to you, be patient with me. I will soon xox
Since my diet is at lest 60% vegetables, I am also looking for interesting ways to bling them up. Then I came across coconut bacon! Wow what an interesting concept. Basically you take unsweetened large flaked coconut (I buy 5# bags through my co-op), mix it with oil and spices, then cook it in the oven. You end up with a crunchy, savory treat that taste similar to bacon. It really does!
I like this idea for several reason, it is inexpensive, it is healthy, it is a way to enjoy bacon flavors when I do not have pastured pork and it taste so dang good. I find myself just munch on it but I created a salad. The coconut bacon is also wonderful on morning eggs with avocado! I encourage you to give it a try and here is a link to several version of the bacon!
Raspberry Coconut-Bacon Salad
I am not putting amounts because you can make a tiny salad or huge. I toss the spinach, cucumber, radish and avocado with the vinaigrette. Then garnish the top with raspberries and coconut-bacon.
1 TBL Dijon mustard
1 TBL raw apple cider vinegar
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp honey
oil to taste, 1/4-1/3 cup or so. I like avocado oil for this.
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all together, taste and adjust to your liking.
I have to say this is truly my favorite treat/candy. A top and bottom layer of dark chocolate sandwiched in between with a thick orange/vanilla scented almond dough. I came across this recipe for Cookie Dough Bark (Aimee blog is one of my favorites) and thought it could easily be made grain-free. It could actually be made gluten free as I think most any flour would work. I added the orange flavor but it could be left out. As long as you do not eat the whole pan, which is easy to do ;-) this candy is quite carb friendly and healthy. A fat bomb! I keep small squares in the freeze as a yummy treat!
PS. Don't you love this carved wood frame I picked up in Oregon? I am not sure what I am going to do with it yet but it is a $4.00 bargain!
Orange Chocolate Cookie Dough Bark, grain-free
Makes about 27, 1' squares
1 ½ cup fine almond flour
¼ cup coconut sugar (that is less than ½ tsp per square)
a generous pinch of sea salt
4 drops of Flori Di Sicilla or orange extract or juice
5 TBL butter, cut into small cubes or coconut oil
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or chips, I use 80% (If you use semi-sweet or milk leave out the 1 tsp. coconut oil)
1 tsp. coconut oil
Set aside 9"x4" loaf pan, silicone works best. In a food processor add flour, sugar and salt. Mix together with a few pulses. Add butter and flori. With pulse, mix until it starts to come together as a ball. Do NOT over mix the dough. You want a soft play dough. It comes together in about 30 seconds or so. Get a piece of parchment or wax paper bigger than your pan. Lay dough out on parchment in a log the length of your pan. Using the extra paper (so you do not touch the dough with your fingers) and push down on dough until you have a piece that fits inside the pan. It does not have to be perfect. Just try to make is the size of the pan. Then take the dough wrapped in the parchment set it in the freezer. Make sure it is on a flat surface. Then continue with the chocolate coating.
You can melt the chocolate and 1 tsp. coconut oil in the microwave, start with 60 seconds and then check every 20 second or a bain marie. After chocolate is melted spread a little less than half over the bottom of the pan. Then pull out your almond filling, unwrap and set onto of chocolate. If you have a large gaps, gently push dough to fill in but as I said earlier, it does not have to be perfect. Lastly pour the rest of the melted chocolate over the dough and spread as evenly as possible. Set pan uncovered back in freezer, on a flat service for 2 hours. After the candy has firmed up, pull it out of the pan and cut it into squares. If it seems to firm to cut, set the whole thing in the fridge for 1/2 hour and then cuts. You can store the candy in a tight fitted container in the fridge. Or if you want to to last longer than a week, I would store it the freezer!
A calm life! It is something I have had to work hard for (my youth was not calm). I like calm, it is a happy place!
David needed to run to Portland, so we decided to make it a little last minute date. It was the best discition we ever made. We stayed over-night at Edgefield and what an amazing place! They have a brewery, winery and distillery (I even found a whiskey I liked) all on-site. So my home-brew hubby was very happy. With several pubs and restaurants, live music, a pool and theater, one never even needs to leave the place. It was a sunny day!! We stayed it the Stevie Wonder room (the rooms are inexpensive but you have to use a bathroom down the hall. It was not that bad). Stevie Wonder had performed at Edgefield in 2007 and then were quotes from him on the wall. I have seem him perform in person as a girl, so I was thrilled to stay in this room. Honestly I thought I took way more pictures than I did. But we are going to make this a yearly treat, so I will have more pictures down the road. Here is a peak at what we saw!
I do this every year. I make a loaf of soda bread for Saint Paddy’s day, love it and scold myself for not making it more often. I mean their is easy to make, keeps well unbaked in the freezer and is delish. I am determined to keep mini loaves in the freezer. I tried a grain-free version and even my family loved it, so I thought I would share with you. It is a bit different then the other GF recipes floating around. I know there is a long list of tips but please read through them. Fist off, I feel like if a cook can explain their recipe to you, if they understand it, then one can trust the recipe more. Second, if you are new to grain free baking some of the tips might help you!
Soda Bread, grain-free
Makes 4 individual soda breads or 12 small biscuits
2 cups almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. sweetener, I use coconut sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
4 TBL. cold butter, cut into small cubes
⅟₈ cup dried currents
Zest of one large lemon peel or 5 drops of food grade lemon oil, I use Young Living
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
Put all dry ingredients in a food processor (or can be done by hand with a bowl). Pulse all dry ingredients together. Add cubed butter and pulse butter until it is pea size. Rule on the size of the butter being too big, you can fix those big pieces in the next step.
Dump flour/butter mixture in a large bowl. Feel around for pieces of butter that feels bigger than a pea. Smear them into the flour with your fingers. Add currents and toss, so they do not stick together.
In a separate small bowl whisk together buttermilk, egg and lemon zest or oil and add to flour.
Cover a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Divide dough into four balls. Using wet hands shape each ball into a flatten disk and cut a cross into the dough.
You need your butter to harden before baking, so I pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for ½ hour while the oven pre-heats. You can completely freeze these (I keep bags of them in the freezer) and you can bake them off frozen.
Pre-heat oven 300◦F Bake 20-30 minutes. If they are fully frozen, they make take a few minutes longer. Plus depending on how your oven runs. Just start checking them about 20 hour minutes. Let cool before eating.
1. The reason why these are not all almond flour is by adding a bit of coconut flour, it gives these a more stable biscuit. They do not crumble quite as much, which is a problem with grain-free baking.
2. Also the xanthan gum give a bread feel to the biscuit and gives more of a texture of regular soda bread. But a little gum goes a long way, so do not think if some is good, more is great.
3. Feel free to leave out the sweetener, I just personally like it that way.
4. Flavors, I like lemon peel and currants is what I like but you could add any spice or dried fruit you like. They are also good plain! Also I do not know why by the lemon flavor seems to get lost, so do use more zest than you normally would.
5. Do not have buttermilk on hand? Soured whole milk is what I use.
6. This comes together as wet dough, using wet hands to scoop up a 1/4 of the dough and shape the loaves work best.
7. Remember that coconut flour absorbs 3 times it weight. So in a minute or two the dough will firm up a bit.
8. It is important to keep the loves not too big and bake on a lower temp. They are basically ground almonds and nuts can burn. By keeping them smaller, they will bake quicker.
9. Do not move them off the cookie sheet until they have cooled. Like I mentioned before, grain-free baked items tend to be crumbly. Letting them cool before moving them helps.
Beside cooking, my other passion in life since I was a little girl is fashion/beauty. Really this was a first love. When I was a little girl I would sketch outfits, designed my wedding dress and bought my first wedding mag at 10. I would sit for hours as a teen playing with make up. I have worked as a make up artist, gave classes on homemade facial and how use make a bunch of outfits out of only a few pieces. But then babies came along and instead of focusing on me, I had fun dressing these adorable girls. It is funny how life circles around. My girls are women now and dress themselves :-P When you are young it is all about you, then you have babies and it is all about them. Then it comes back to you. Well really a combination of them and you, as it should be. The best of both worlds!
Also turning 50 my beauty needs have changed. What worked before, does not now. Plus have you been to pinterest or youtube? There are so many fun tutorials, new products, a better way to do things. So I have been playing. Something worked, some did not. I am fine tuning my beauty routine. I am also taking the time out each day to really take care of my skin and do my make up. I use to be the first one ready, now my family waits for me! Here are some products and ideas that I am really loving right now. What is your favorite beauty tip or product?
Henna, gray hair, ugg. I started off going to a hair dresser to get my hair dyed but could not afford it over time. Then I started dying at home but I did not like it (& it set my allergies off). So I decided to try henna and I have to say I love it. First off henna heals your hair. So over time, I am getting glossier, smoother hair. I find the color is subtle and looks more natural. The down side is washing the stuff out. Look up some tutorials on the subject first. I was not prepared for how it dries and you have to scrub and scrub to get the stuff out of your hair. Do not henna on the same day you have something important happening. It really takes a day before you feel like you do not have little brown flecks coming off your scalp. But after that you will have soft, healthy, gorgeous hair. I should say I am about 50% grey. I do not know how the henna would work if you had a lot more grey but read up on it. Lastly it is a really frugal choice. I spend $8.00 and can do 4/5 root touch ups with one jar. This is the henna I use.
Marula oil. I wrote about this oil in my things I love post.
Foundation brush. This is my favorite new tool, well ... new to me. A foundation brush. I watched video where they took a lemon and put foundation on it. They did it with their finger, a sponge and a foundation brush. The brush gave the best coverage. And it is soo true. With aging skin, I find it is best to do light layers of foundation. The brush gives such control. I can put it heavier in spots where I need it and feather it out where I do not. Plus it waste less make-up. I put my makeup on a little mirror and then use the brush. It picks it all up. I got an ELF foundation brush at Target for $1.00, so we are not talking about a lot of money.
Eye make up remover. Coconut oil makes a great remover.
Eye cream. For eye cream I use Young Living oil, 1 drop of frankincense oil, 1 drop of lavender oil and 3 drops of marula oil that I mix up each day. I put the drops in the palm of my hand. Just be VERYYY careful to not get any in your eye. It has really helped with fine lines, puffiness and blueness.
DIY make up setting spray. I make my own and added a bit of lavender oil. I like how it kind of melts the make-up all together and makes it look more natural.
Covering grey roots, Lastly I LOVE WOW root coverage. Because lets face it, if you have grey hair at all, roots are an issue. This is a powder. Think high pigment eyeshadow. It is easy to put on, stays a few days. I like it too because it is not a flat color, so it matches my hair and highlights better. I would also say I have had it for a month and have barely used any, so I think it will last a while. I got mine on ebay. Check out the video's on how the product works.
Why do we always look to others for happiness? When in truth nobody is more invested in their happiness, than themselves!
I mentioned on FB I was making drunken beans for dinner and someone asked what that was. I realized I had not written a recipe for it, which is stupid because I make these a lot! This recipe is another case of me trying to create a bean dish my hubby would like. He HATES beans. I figured if I worked some pork fat in there, that would help ;-) The twist, so to speak, is to boil the beer down to a thick/bacony sauce. It is an easy step and takes those beans to another level. David loves these and I find the more her eats them, the more he is open to eating beans. Since beans are so healthy, full of fiber and cheap, I am thrilled!
Makes 4 cups
4 cups (or two 15 oz cans) cooked pinto beans
3 slices of raw bacon, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. oil, I like raw coconut
½ large onion, chopped in small pieces
1 cup beer, I use whatever my homebrew hubby has on-hand but rich ale is good.
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 TBL. salt
Heat a soup pot on high. Add oil and bacon. When bacon starts to release it’s fat (about a minute or two) add onions and turn heat down to med/high. Cook until bacon is crisp and onion have caramelized. If it starts to burn turn heat down more. Then add beer and garlic. You want to cook the beer down until it has thicken BUT before it evaporates. Add beans, pepper and salt. Simmer 10 minutes on low. If the beans seem too dry (not enough sauce) add a small bit of water. Although these beans do not have a lot of sauce. You can enjoy them as is or refry them!
Well David and I did a crazy thing. We put our 33 cubic foot refrigerator in our living room. I know, what?? We have this odd corner of our living room, that you cannot see unless you go around the corner and nobody ever does. It is right next to the pantry. The fridge was taking up half the pantry and making the room dark. So we thought what the heck, lets give it a try. Yes I have to walk through 2 rooms to get to the fridge. It is not the most convent place but we are trying it. If it does not work, we can just move it again. It certainly opens up my baking pantry. Now the room bright and sunny. Gosh, I am lucky to be indulgent and have a whole room dedicated to baking! Here are some glimpse of what is happening (please ignore the old, gross linoleum. NO, we still have not ripped it up yet and there is hard wood under there too). I am still tweaking the room but sometimes you just have to think out of the box and put your refrigerator in your living room ;-)
I was lucky to be gifted with two antique meat grinders. We will see if I have to muscles to actually use them. My favorite part is the handles. Maybe I can upcycle them!
It is nice to have this table. It does not take up much room but can be opened when I need to work. the lace curtains hiding my vitamix, mini food processor, vacuum sealer and grain grinder.
Grain and flour storage!!
I call this my typography corner. I want the pantry to feel a bit like an old pharmacy!
My Russian mixer-cover. It says cake. And you can see I use bottles a lot. Storage, lets in light and is free. Love reuse!!
Spring fever is hitting. I am loving anything ;pink right now. The power of pink!!
I realize I have not done a Things I Love post in a long time, so here we go. If there is anything you have been loving lately, please share!
I started using marula oil on my skin and hair. I am LOVING it. My hair is thick and shinny, lines on my face are softening. It is extremely high in antioxidants, vitamin C and E. I buy it here and is reasonably priced. Also Bittersweet Soap makes an amazing Marula face and body cream image above from
What can I say about this honey, except that I am beyond addict. I am not even that big of a honey fan but this stuff ... well think of a floral honey that has been caramelized. That is the best way I can explain the taste. Unlike anything I have had before. My favorite way to eat it, besides off the spoon? Drizzled over fresh pineapple or plain cheesecake. Heaven!
Some movies I have been loving but I will say these are for adults. There is no sex scene (one does have a scene in a strip bar but you do not see anything). Like I said not family movies.Also all on netflix instant watch My fav is Barefoot. Also Not Another Happy Ending and Elsa & Fred
Wren and Devlin's new song is I Fall For You from Lorne Balfe from the movie Not Another Happy Ending move. I just cannot stop listing to this song!!!
I love the whole idea of making my own strawberry milk (and I am not talking milkshake). As someone who drinks raw milk, now I can have strawberry milk!!
Rose tags, to print These are just so dang pretty and that is enough!!
Boy I love this quote and how I want to live. I really think people forget the power of empathy!
This was such a huge family fav I had to share it. A fun way to switch up that cornbeef. Amounts are general, all depending on what you like. You can leave off the cabbage slaw but I really like that cold crunch with the rich pizza. I served with extra horseradish and sauerkraut on the side. All you need it some Dark Chocolate Stout 60 second mousse and you have a perfect Friday night meal!
Luck of the Irish Pizza
1 pizza crust, can be gluten or grain free too
1 TBL Dijon mustard
2 tsp horseradish
1 TBL oil, I like avocado oil
Thinly sliced cornbeef, a generous cup or so
Grated cheese, a mix of swiss and gruyere is lovely
Pre-heat oven 400◦F and roll out your pizza crust. Mix together mustard, horseradish and oil. Adjust amounts to your liking and brush the entire top of the crust with the mustard mixture. Sprinkle some sauerkraut over the pizza, Top with cornbeef and then cheese over the meat. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. While the pizza is baking, make slaw and serve with cooked pizza.
3 cups finely sliced cabbage
2 green onions, sliced
½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 TBL. oil, like olive or avocado
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 garlic clove, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix dressing together, taste and adjust to your liking. Add cabbage and green onion to dressings. Toss and serve with pizza. I like to pile it on top of mine.
Do you know that feeling "if I trust you, will you hurt me"? I was burnt bad a long time ago and have trouble letting others into my heart. But I am trying to be brave and risk being hurt. I do not want to miss out having someone add to my life!!
"Saying no leads to confidence and confidence opens up the world and that is a liberator!"
Gosh it has been a year since I started dealing with my blood sugar/pre-diabetic stuff. A year ago I was feeling overwhelmed, depressed, panicked, sick (even though I pretended I wasn't) and thought it might be the end of me writing about food. I was having HUGE sugar/carb withdrawals, wondering what I could eat and having a pity-party. But boy what a difference a year can make!
But the biggest thing I have now is confidence. I am confident that I can do whatever needs to be done. I can get healthy. I am getting healthy. I feel clearer, lighter and stronger. It is a nice feeling. I mostly spent this past year reading, listening and learning about our health, blood sugar, how to eat, etc. and I think what I learned the most is we are all different. Sorry, wish there was some magic one way pill for all of us but there is not. However I do think there is a few things that are true for all of us.
The reason why you need to look first at your sleep and stress is it can mess with your hormones and metabolism. If they is not working right, then you will struggle to get healthy and loose weight. Your body needs to get "back in-line" so to speak to work efficiently. I really did not lose much weight the first 6 months but after that it just sort of started coming off. I think that is because my body was/is healing. Healing takes time. Repair takes time. So remember to look at your sleep/stress, drink more water, eat a lot more veggies and move but do not feel like you have to kill yourself everyday in high energy exercise. Build up slow, do something for a while and then take it up a small notch. I think these are rules we all can live by and can make a huge difference in our lives.
I get a lot of notes asking what program I use?. I do not use a program. My mom has type 2 diabetes and has been able to control it through diet, so I followed her example and then tweaked it for myself. Also I get lots of notes telling me "I love my carbs! I cannot have a meal without bread or potatoes or cereal". I love carbs too and there are some really healthy ones. You do not have to cut out carbs but I do. For me it is simple. I eat high carbs, it turns into sugar in my system, raises my blood sugar too high and my body cannot handle it. I cannot argue with this fact. But I will say this, it sounds like some of you are having some problem and do not feel healthy. I think most of us know in our gut what we need to do and change. I did, I just did not want to do it because lets face it, it is not fun.
But this is what I have learned this past year. There is something stronger than "having fun and my cravings". That is confidence! It takes work to say no to things we love but are bad for us. Just like I have written about in the past that frugality is not a killjoy but a liberator, well the same rule applies to discipline. Saying no leads to confidence and confidence opens up the world and that is a liberator. When you believe you have it in you to do what you need to do, you suddenly own your life. Croissants do not own me now. They are an amazing part of my life (I had one for Valentines day, it was heaven) but I choose when and where to indulge. I guess what I am trying to say is at first you feel like so many things/foods are being taken away from you. You feel helpless and angry, well I did. It takes time to see that yes, you may be loosing something but you are gaining so much more. Something, that as time goes on is much more satisfying. I do not know what this up coming year holds. All I do know is I am sure I will learn even more about my myself, I can say no and will try to grow a bit everyday. I will continue to bloom where I am planted!
A girlfriend was cleaning out her basement and thought I might like this chair. It has great lines and I thought it would be interesting for photos. It is falling apart thought and cannot be sat on. I took it and then thought of ways it could still be used.
Actually Chloe is on the one who came up with the idea of using it as a side table. We needed one and the chair just fit. To make it more stable for cups of tea or a glass of wine, we simply pulled out a pretty metal tray. It works beautifully and it was free. Maybe you have a pretty old chair you can upcycle into a side table?
This is another message that took me a long time to understand and reason why you must love yourself no matter what others say or think!!
I am a HUGE fan of slice n' bake cookies kept in the freezer. They are easy to put together, freeze well and whenever you need a treat or visitors are stopping by, you can just slice off a few and bake them off frozen as needed. It is hard to find grain-free baked treats that are both yummy and not time consuming. I found these amazing grain-free Rosemary Shortbread cookies that have become my go to cookie. I played with the recipe and came up with my contribution, chocolate/coffee version. You cannot go wrong with these! Especially when my picky eater even loved them, then I knew I had a hit!
Café Cookies, grain free
Make about 2 dozen
1 ¾ cup almond flour
¼ cup coco powder
1-2 tsp. instant coffee, depending on the coffee and how strong you like it
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 TBL. sugar (I used coconut) *see note about amounts
1 tsp. salt
Put all ingredients except the butter in a food processor and with the pulse button mix together. Cut butter into small cubes and added to dry mixture. Pulse to start mixing the butter and flour together. Then mix until the dough rolls into a ball. If after a minute if the dough does not come together, sprinkle a bit of water. The dough should be like a soft play dough. On a piece of parchment or wax paper, shape dough into a long log. Wrap and set in fridge for an hour or the freeze.
Pre-heat oven 300◦F Slice cold dough into ¼ inch slices. Set cookies on parchment paper. Bake 12-15 minutes. Let cookies cool on the cookies sheet. They will crumble if you try to move them warm. Then enjoy!!
Note about sugar. These cookies are slightly bitter and not sweet. I need to consume as little sugar as possible, so this the amount of sweetener I use. Depending in how bitter your instant coffee is you can change the amount to suite your liking. Also the sugar amount could be upped all the way to a 1/3 cup. You could also use regular sugar if you like. I use coconut because it is so low on the glycemic level. Play with the amounts of coffee/sugar and enjoy!!
This salad was inspired by one we had on New Years eve. It was a beet salad my husband loved. Now I have known David 29 years and have never seen him eat a beet, let alone like it. I adore beets, so I am thrilled. I came home, played around and came up with this salad. I have to say even though I love raw fennel, roasting it has become my new go to. Roasting fennel, like roasting most veggies, brings it sweetness out and softness the strong flavors. If you like fennel I would suggest you try roasting it and see what you think. I keep some on hand to throw in dishes. It is so much easier to just roast a big pan of something and then have it to use!
Tips on changing your beet hater!
Roasted Fennel & Beet Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette
to roast fennel pre-heat over 400˚F
Take whole fennel and cut in thin slices from top to bottom. Set slices on parchment paper. Lightly oil both sides and sprinkle salt on-top. Roast 45-60 minutes. I like them tender but still a bit al dente, firm. But cook to your liking. When fennel is cool, cut into small pieces. I store fennel in a covered bowl in the fridge, to use as wanted.
Juice 1/2 small orange
1 TBL Dijon mustard
1 TBL raw apple cider vinegar
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp honey
oil to taste, 1/4-1/3 cup or so. I like avocado oil for this.
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all together, taste and adjust to your liking. Amounts of beets and fennel is up to what you like, what you have on-hand and how many people you are serving.
Like I mentioned in my tips above. I like to marinate the beets in the vinaigrette a few days before serving them, so I do the fennel separately. Then add the roasted fennel to the beets and vinaigrette just before serving!
I have been thinking about some chats I have had with friends recently. All were congratulating me on sticking with my diet changes and asked how I avoid food temptations. Like how have I not eaten pasta in 8 months or how do I avoid popcorn at the movies theater and so forth? Well there are a lot of reasons but it mostly came down to two things. First, I do not want to be sick anymore. Second, I like food too much. See, in case you do not already know this about me ;-) I am a food snob. Do not get me wrong, I LOVE food but I love good food, real food, well made food. Some old popcorn with oil and powdered butter does not tempt me. Well honestly, it temps me when I walk in the movie theater but I know when I get it in my mouth I will not be happy.
That is it! When I have a treat, I want it to be worth it. I want to savor it. When I am running around and am tempted to just pick up anything to eat, I stop and think. "Do I really want this to be my treat?" Because I only get a few a week. If it was more than that, it would not be a treat but a lifestyle. And if I am going to have a food lifestyle it is not going to be on cheetos, grocery store doughnuts and coke! No it will be salads freshly picked from the garden, perfect pastured bacon and artisan cheeses. Well those foods take time and thought.
When you have time and thought, you can really think about what you want to eat and what you should eat. It gives you time to decide how much you want those doughnuts. For me the question is also, how good are those doughnuts? I will love them? Are they worth ruining the 3 miles I walked? How much will they set me back? Nine times out of ten the answer time ends up being no and that keeps me on track. It also frees me up to really enjoy my splurges. Which by the way you will never hear me say cheat. This is another post I will write soon but I do not talk bad about food anymore. Well real food, I do not talk bad about real food. So I do not cheat, I spurge and when I do, I do it with a full heart. I stop, enjoy every morsel and feel no guilt.
Do you struggle with saying no to food that makes you sick? Are you feeling pulled all over the place like a small child by foods that is unhealthy for you? Do you not know how to say no? Well first you need to unhook yourself from those foods. Which I will not lie, it is not easy. I suggest not eating them for 4 week. Yes a month! You need to curb your cravings. You need time to heal your gut. (By the way did you know that 80 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system? Keep getting sick? It might have to do with what you eat and how it affects your gut.) I also found when I stopped eating certain foods I did not want them anymore. Take pasta for example, I did not eat it for 8 months and when I did it tasted weird to me. I do not miss it.
Mostly what I wanted to say in this long post is to pull out your food snob. When you are tempted, when you body is screaming for something you should not eat, when you feel lazy, stop and think. Ask yourself if it is really worth it? Do I want to sabotage my goals, my health for that? Now the answer to that ding-dong might be yes but then SAVOR it. Plan for it, make it your treat, not a last-minute-give-in. Love what you eat. Love it unabashedly. I have a saying (ask all my friends) “What if I die and this is my last meal?” Do I want to have died after eating a micky d’s burger? Heck no! I love food too much to eat that. More importantly I love myself too much!
Ohhh this was a hard message for me to learn in my youth. I wanted to be a friend to everyone and ended up being a doormat to a lot. It was hard to learn to say no. I ended up looking like a ... well you know what. But I realized I did not have to sacrifice myself for others. Also if someone wanted me to sacrifice who I was, then they really were not a friend in the first place!
PS there is times on ones life where you are called to give above and beyond yourself but that is a specific situation. Not a full time thing.
A look back at my favorite post each month!
January Gifts made by my girls
Febuary Paper frame
March Gatherings Spring
May Raw Taco Salad
June I have graduated
August Bloom, Chocolate
September Roasted Pear Sauce Cake
October Autumn Instagram
November Thankful Spoon
December Churchmouse Yarn Christmas
Happy New Year!
I have several goals this year. 1.My hubby. We have been very busy the last few years and have not had much time for eachother. That will change this year (we are hiking together). 2.To finish the next Wren novel. 3.Of course my health. To continue to make slow but deliberate steps towards health, including accepting my faults. They make me who I am! What is your goal?