Where you can purchase Wren Bay and Baking Book
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P O Box 288
Wren Bay reviews
Where you can purchase Wren Bay and Baking Book
New Posts Below
P O Box 288
Wren Bay reviews
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!