Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Project 365 Week 21

This week's set is one of my favorites so far.  I'm excited that the weather is beautiful because I love taking pictures outside!

One of our desserts on our date night.  It was cornmeal bread pudding with caramel popcorn ice cream.  Yum!  The picture isn't great b/c we were in a super nice restaurant and I tried to take it as fast as possible!!

My two little guys looking at each other.  Love this one!

Miss Nola dancing on the beach.  She loves that water!!

A beautiful summer flower

The Folly Beach Pier at dusk

Thankful for my sweet husband and all the many other men, women and families who fight for our freedom!

My  Little Guy

Linking up today with....Darcy and Leigh.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Just a glimpse...

We have had company for the last week and it has been wonderful spending time with family!  Peter and I realized while talking that we just don't take enough time off.  Every once in a while it is nice to have a weekend when you just play!!  No grocery shopping, no chores....just fun family time.  We are definitely making that a priority as we get ready to move.

Here is just a glimpse into our wonderful week....the pictures certainly don't do it justice but we managed to capture some special moments!

Our date night at Circa 1886....amazing!!

Grandpa & Memaw with Stafford

Stafford in the swing for the first time....he loved it!

The Marcums at the park

Miss Nola in the ocean

Little Guy getting sleepy

I love this little man!!

Stafford sporting his new fedora

Stafford loves Mama's necklaces


Sisters & Cousins

So sweet!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Giveaway Winner

Happy Friday!!  I hope you are all having a wonderful day and have wonderful plans for this holiday weekend!  I'll be hosting my sister and her family and I'm so excited!!

I know you've all been dying to know if you won the beautiful Pearls of Grace Jewelry  So without further ado.... congratulations to

Simply Mom said...

I just blogged about your giveaway..then shared again with facebook.

Please contact Pearls of Grace to pick your prize!  Didn't win?  Don't worry!  Lesley is offering all Storybook Reality readers a coupon for 15% off your purchase!!  I know one thing you'll be doing this weekend.....shopping!!

Thanks to everyone who played.  I have a few additional giveaways planned for the upcoming months so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemade Chips

I worked at a fine dining (ha ha) establishment, otherwise known as Applebees, for 6 years.  It helped me pay for college and graduate school and I definitely learned a lot about myself and serving others.  You encounter all sorts of people and sometimes you just have to put on your happy face even when you have a bad day.

One of my favorite things to do at work was being the Expo.  If you haven't worked in a restaurant before this term is probably foreign.  Basically this person stands on the opposite side of the cook line, facing the cooks, and pulls the tickets together once they are ready.  It was my job to put a piece of garlic bread on each salad at 11 o'clock and the dressing at 6 o'clock.  Soup was served on a small round with a napkin and spoon.  All steaks got bread and a steak knife.  All salads got bread and a dressing, unless it was a low-fat version and then I skipped the bread.  You get the picture.  Basically you have to have every item on the menu memorized so you can match up dressings and sides and garnishes.

We garnished all of our plates with kale.  Until yesterday I had no idea that people actually consumed kale.  I thought it just made the plate look pretty and tasted very bitter.  We got our CSA box this week and the weekly green was kale.  I wasn't sure what to do with it so of course I went straight to the Internet, my cookbook of choice these days and found this yumminess.  Kale chips.  For a house that is moving towards more healthy eating this is the perfect treat!!

Kale Chips

extra virgin olive oil

Wash your kale and chop into "chip" size pieces.  Make sure you dry it well.  Heat your oven to 350.  Lightly coat kale with olive oil.  I sprayed my raw kale with a Misto (it is a spray bottle for olive oil) to keep it lighter.  Lightly salt.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until chips start to look brown on the tips.  Make sure you don't cook them too long though because they will burn.

How easy is that?  I swear they taste just like potato chips but they are SO super good for you!  Kale is wonderful for you and baking it this way makes it easy to get your greens!

Linking up with MizHelen

**Don't forget!!  Today is the last way to enter the giveaway for Pearls of Grace jewelry!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Learned....May Edition

This month I learned....

.....that the perfect  photo isn't always perfect......

.....that the sun is out when you don't want it to be.....

.....and sometimes the wind blows too much at your perfect location....

.....that my baby doesn't have to have on the "cutest" outfit he owns to be cute....

.....that capturing the moment means more than capturing it perfectly.....

.....that I have the greatest husband and son I could ever have dreamed of! (Ok, ok I already knew that one, but I had to throw it in!!)

I love this picture because it represents the pure joy that Peter & Stafford experience while they are together.  Bliss!

I rarely make the blog in pictures because I am always posting the ones I take!  Had to share this sweet shot of my Little Guy!  I did do the settings though!!

Linking up with Courtney!!

Project 365 Week 20 & Giveaway!!

A little mid-week randomness going on here.  I have my Week 20 Project 365 pictures included as well as a bunch of giveaways to tell you about!

We have a little explorer in our house.  He just continues to be into everything!!  His favorite thing right now is to stand at Bear's kennel and bang on the top of it!  Poor Bear!!

Someone also discovered the toilet paper roll this week!  I love the joy that he is getting from simply unrolling a roll of toilet paper!  We should all experience such joy in the small things.

Enjoying a downtown walk with Daddy....

and Mama.  (I didn't snap this picture but I did set the settings so I am including it for this weeks project 365)

Beautiful flowers

I was proud of this shot because the water looks like it is running together.

More pretty flowers in downtown.

On to the free stuff!!!  Here are some fun giveaways to check out this week...

Pearls of Grace Jewelry from Me

Amazon Giftcard from Mama Marchand

Blog Makeover from Burlap & Blue

30 Days of Simply SLR from Ramblings & Photos

I want to win them all!!

*Linking up with Darcy & Leigh

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Meal That Started It All

We all know I'm a self-proclaimed foodie.  I'm not sure what actually makes a person an official foodie.  But I love food and I love to cook.  And I love to help others love food and love to cook!  So by my definition I am definitely a foodie!

A couple of years ago I had a few hours to kill in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma.  Ok, more than a few hours.  I had a couple of weeks of very free time while my wonderful husband did some training for his job.  Our favorite little Midwestern town doesn't offer much in the way of entertainment and it was the middle of winter so I couldn't work on my tan.  For some reason I started watching the Food Network and I came across a chef by the name of Giada.  She was peppy, beautiful and made food that I just wanted to reach through the screen to eat!

You military folk know that kind of accommodations are available for people who are at temporary assignments.  We had a fridge, microwave and 2 small burners.  It's kind of hard to think of creative meals when you don't have a lot of cooking utensils or an oven.  But wait, Giada to the rescue!!  On this particular episode she made a vegetarian pasta that didn't require an oven.  So I braved to cold and made a trip to the commissary so I could fix a sumptuous feast for my man!

Not only did this meal start our love affair with all things Giada, I really credit it with starting my interest in food in general.  I've always liked food.  But something clicked after I started making this dish and I began to get more creative and started trying new and more interesting recipes and foods in general.  All because of a bowl of pasta!

"Giada Pasta" has become a staple in our house and I bet it will in yours too!!  It's one of those "don't need a list of ingredients or a recipe" type meals.  You should always have a couple of meals like that just in case you are in a bind!  This is healthy and it looks beautiful on the plate.

Giada Pasta

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 minced garlic cloves
1 container cherry or grape tomatoes halved
1 small bag of pre-washed spinach
1/2 lb. spiral pasta
1/3 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan and then add garlic.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and saute until they start to break down.  Saute your spinach.  Cook your pasta and slowly add it to the saute pan once the spinach has wilted.  Mix well.  Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl and stir in your cheese.  Make sure you use pecorino Romano, it really makes a difference!

It sounds simple and it is!!  But it really is fabulous!!  The colors are beautiful and you'll be surprised at the depth of flavour with so few ingredients!

I hope you love this pasta dish as much as we do!!

Don't forget to enter my Blogiversary Giveaway this week!!  You know jewelry comes a close second to food in my heart!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday's Miscellany

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

1. My parents are here this week.  They came to celebrate Stafford's dedication yesterday and to visit one last time before The Move.  (I feel like I need to refer to The Move this way because it is looming and coming WAY too fast!)  I came back from the gym this morning and my Mom had done 2 loads and laundry AND they are keeping him while we have a date night tonight.  My Dad is now painting our stairwell and helping me with some projects.  Why are we moving even farther away from wonderful grandparents???

2.  This table is getting ready to be my first DIY project.  My dear friends the Porters gave us this table and for some reason I just really like it.  What I don't really like is the weird edge on the top of it.  Last night my Dad and I realized we could unscrew this piece and get rid of it!  So we did!  I still need to sand the top of this thing but I am going to sand it and then paint it with chalkboard paint!!  It's the perfect height for the little guy and I think it will be great fun to play with!!  I be sure to show you the after  pictures

3. Last week I made a vow to get healthier.  I also said I was going to start couponing.  I wish I could find a coupon for more time.  There is just no way to do all the things I want to do.  So for now the couponing is on hold and the exercising is at the top of the list.  I went Tuesday, joined the gym and signed up for a personal trainer.  I went to the gym 4 times last week (5 if you count today's ridiculous session with the trainer after which I almost lost my breakfast) and I am really excited!!  I'll keep you updated on my progress.

4. We have a stairmaster in the house.  Stafford has mastered the stairs.  Well, going up the stairs.  We're working to teach him to go down but watching the amount of joy on his little face when he conquers those stairs just melts my heart.  I guess him getting to the top of the stairs makes him feel like I felt when I finished my race.

5. I've mentioned these fabulous people before but you really must check out the work at James Riley Images.  They did a short photoshoot for us last weekend and as always the pictures are fabulous!!  If you are looking for someone to do pictures for you here in Charleston look no further!!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway this week...celebrating my first year of blogging!!!

Have a fabulous week! I'll leave you with a picture of the little munchkin.....I just can NOT get enough of the Little Guy!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Happy Blogiversary Giveaway!!

Today marks my one year blogiversary!! This also marks my retirement from my previous career and my entry into stay-at-home-hood. It has been a fun journey and I have enjoyed learning more about myself and meeting new people through this creative and fun adventure!

Here are some of the highlights from the past year….and what a year it has been!!
Power of the Belly
Don’t Forget
At First Glance
The Winner
What a Mess

You can’t have an anniversary without presents! So…..I’m hosting my first GIVEAWAY!!!!
We all know about my obsession with jewelry. I love jewelry. And I also love promoting home businesses!! Pearls of Grace was started by one of my former students at the College of Charleston. She’s a successful med student and lucky for us makes jewelry in her spare time! Her jewelry is delicate, sparkly and whimsical. Here are some of my favorites
Silver Swarovski Pearl Cluster Dangle Earrings, Perfect Bridal or Bridesmaid Earrings  Swarovski Pearl Hair Pins, Bridal hair, wedding day, bridesmaidsFreshwater Pearl and Cascading Matte Silver Orchid Necklace, Bridal, Elegant,Silver Pearl and Grey Flower Necklace

Perfect for all those summer weddings…or your own!

Seriously, I like and want every single thing in her shop. Why wasn’t she making jewelry when I needed to buy it for all of my bridesmaids a couple of years ago!?

To help me celebrate 1 year of blogging fun Pearls of Grace is offering the lucky winner a choice between these two beautiful items from her shop:
Freshwater Pearl and  Matte Silver Orchid Necklace,


You CHOOSE the Color, Fuchsia and Silver Loop Dangle Earrings Simple Fun Bright Pink Spring Easter
So here is how to enter…

1. Follow Storybook Reality using Google Friend Connect and leave me a comment telling me that you have done so! If you are already a follower just tell me that!  You must do this to enter any other way.

2. Visit Lesley’s Etsy page http://www.etsy.com/people/pearlsofgrace2010 and tell me what your favorite piece is! While you are there make sure to add the item to your "favorites" on Etsy while you are there!!

3. “Like” Pearls of Grace on Facebook

4. “Like” Storybook Reality on Facebook

5. Blog, Facebook or Tweet about this giveaway. Please include Storybook Reality and Pearls of Grace in your note and if you blog leave me a link so I can visit your blog too!

Don’t forget to leave a separate comment for everytime your enter!  There are 7 ways to enter!!

The giveaway will be open until Thursday, May 26th at 11 p.m. PST. I’ll announce the winner on Friday morning!!

I can't wait to see what the next year of blogging will bring!!  We're celebrating  by going to the Farmer's Market.  Ok, we aren't REALLY celebrating my blogiversary, we just really love the Farmer's Market!  Have a wonderful Saturday!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Home Cooking

We've been overwhelmed (in a good way) with the bounty of produce we're receiving from our CSA this year.  I have been so please by the variety and amount of food we get each week.  I really look forward to getting the box and opening it like a present on Christmas morning!  So far we've had mustard greens, collards, lettuce, peas, pattypan squash, zucchini, yellow squash, turnips, radishes, beans, potatoes, onions, broccoli, cabbage, and strawberries.  So for all you CSAers out there who might be a little stumped with some of your ingredients here are a few recipes we've enjoyed over the last few weeks.

I often use the Food Network to find recipes.  You can search by meal, by chef or by ingredient.  They are also labeled easy, medium or hard and tell how long they take to prep and cook.  Both my mustard green and collard recipes both come from the food network.

Mustard Greens

Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 large bunch mustard greens
2 to 3 T. red wine vinegar

To prep the mustard greens take out the stems and then wash.  Leave the greens wet.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and put on medium-high heat. As usual I didn't follow the recipe exactly so I added 3 minced garlic cloves.  The recipe calls for you to put in 3 garlic cloves that are crushed, saute them until they are brown and then remove.  I like garlic so I just put in 3 minced cloves, browned them and then left them in the pan.
Add the mustard greens and season with salt, to taste. Cover and cook the greens until they are soft and wilted. Stir in the vinegar. Taste them and see if you like them.  If you think you want more vinegar or salt then go ahead and add it!  I almost always put in more vinegar than a recipe calls for because I love it!!

The tricky thing about this recipe is keeping enough moisture in the pan so the greens cook but don't burn.  I still haven't totally figured it out and so I had a few little crisp pieces in my pan both times.  Also, too much olive oil makes them soggy and too oily so be careful about that as well.  These are yummy!!!

If you are like me you didn't even know what collard greens were until you got a CSA box.  Or you still don't know!  Here is my dear husband modeling the collard.

Collard Greens
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound collard greens, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper

To prep the collards you have to take the stem out.  I cut a skinny "V" down the center of the leaf and then I chop the remaining portion. 

Heat your oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions for about 2 minutes, until slightly softened, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic.  Cook another minute. Add your collard greens and cook another minute. The collards are going to look HUGE in the pan.  You'll be shocked at how small a serving you actually get out of the massive bunch you put in.  I usually turn the stuff on the bottom of the pan and fold so that it mixes well. Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring the pot to a simmer. Cook until greens are tender, about 40 minutes. Taste them at this point and see if you like them based on firmness.  Some people like them to be very soft, other like a little more bite.  It's all personal preference!  Add tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I served mine with KY Hot Browns and Blue Cheese Coleslaw (recipes to come)!  It was fantastic!!  The collards are good for you and this recipe is great because it is vegetarian.  I hope you enjoy these green recipes as much as we have!

*Linking up with MizHelen

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What A Mess

My child is a mess.  The good kind though.  The kind of mess that you just look at with a twinkle in your eye and shake your head.  I can hear him crawling through the kitchen as I type heading for Bear's bowls.  Be right back.  Seriously, just cleaned up a large puddle of water and rescued a few stray green beans from the Little Guy's chubby paws!

I find this kid everywhere!  And it happened all of the sudden!  Here is a little bit of what the wild man has been up to....

(There are also my project 365 pictures for week 19)

This one is normal enough....just hanging out with Daddy after a swim....

Stafford loves this huge ceramic bowl.  He pulls it off the shelf about 65 times a day.

Hmm...what's this?  The top to a trash can (gross!!)?  I think I'll bang on it.  (And then Mommy will wash my hands about 65 times!!)

Hi!  I'm in a box!

Bet you can't find me!! 

I LOVE watering the plants!!  And Mommy loves this cheesy grin despite the awful coloring in the photo.

Catch me if you can!!

I know it looks like he has the same outfit on in 1/2 of these pictures but he has these cute onesies that have animals embroidered on them and that is what we wear on our "at home" days.  I can't wait to see where I find this little guy next!!

Linking up with Leigh & Darcy


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