Monday, July 23, 2007

Sofia's very first Summer Camp!

Sofia just completed her very first week-long summer camp at her new Spanish immersion pre-school, Amiguitos. It was an absolute blast--she had so much fun and learned about animals and their varying habitats. The theme was "Vamos a explorar" ("We're going to explore") and each day they would learn about a new animal, have to search for the animal in the "bosque" ("forest") and then reunite the animal with their mom and in the appropriate habitat. They split up into teams while they searched and when they finished they sat in a circle and talked about the different animals. Each day she came home with a new little craft of the animal for that day. The entire camp was done in 100% Spanish. That's right, no spanglish, no English, just pure Spanish.

This fall Sofia will begin attending the Amiguitos two days a week. She's so excited and we are too. I'm going to spend time volunteering at the school while she is in her class. It'll be a great opportunity for her to grow, improve her Spanish verbal skills, and make some new friends. I can't wait to dedicate some time there and support her educational experience. We've always felt very strongly the importance of parent involvement in their children's education. This is the start of many school years to come. YAY!!!

Here are some of the awesome highlights from Sofia's week at Summer Camp:

Walking into school on her first day of summer camp.

Sofia is the second child from the right.

"Mami, watch me jump!"

Absolute cuteness one day after camp.

"I love this place!"

"OOOHHH, what did I find?"

Play time...

"Hi, Mami!"

"What does she have?"

"Making my birdie"

"Me and my friend, Luna." Sofia and Luna met at Music Together classes and have been friends ever since. They're only five days apart in age!


This is my favorite of the two girls. They look so grown up with their arms around each other!

"Watch me climb!"

"Me and my new friend, Abby."

Proud Papi on Sofia's last day of camp. Sofia sliding down the slide, "one more time, just one more time, Mami."

Auntie Darc comes to town!

Auntie Darci arrived for a fun-filled family weekend on Saturday, July 14, 2007. She picked up her three favorite nieces and took the girls to McDonald's to eat and play (mostly Sofia played while Careese and Allison followed her...thanks, guys!) and then a trip to the mall. Sofia LOVES the mall and her all time favorite store is of course, the Disney Store. MaMa sent the girls with some sweet moola and Sofia used hers to purchase a Sleeping Beauty doll. They had loads of fun and when Sofia arrived home she couldn't stop talking about their fun day. Thanks, Auntie Darc!

Who doesn't love the massive slide?!?!

Fun Stuff.


Thanks, Auntie Darc!

Oregon ZOO!

Allison, Sofia, and Careese

Sofia, Careese, Allison, and I enjoyed our first trip to the Zoo for the summer on Tuesday, July 10, 2007. We packed lunches, and walked around for 4 hours!!! Might I also add it was a 103 degrees outside. Yeah, it was beyond hot and well what can I say. We were all able to stay hydrated and by the end we all said the same thing....the HIPPOS exhibit was our FAVORITE! Ah, yeah! So enjoy these little goodies and the next time you're in Portland--or if you already live here--go to the Zoo. Ours ROCKS!

About mid-way through our trip we enjoyed a very relaxing 35 minutes trip on the train through Washington Park. It actually took us all the way to the Japanese rose garden's another killer attraction here in Portland but we were a little too tired to get off and walk down there. Definitely next time!

Auntie Storm and Careese
We seriously have the best nieces in the whole wide world!

Enjoying the scenery...

and even MORE...simply gorgeous!
Good times, good times!

My precious Sofia. I grabbed this little piece of bush during the ride and Sofia kept saying, "Oh thank you, Mami, it's beautiful!" I love when she says that!

Sofia spotted the zebra first, exclaiming, "Mami, mami, LOOK!...a zebra!"

What a beautiful peacock...just walkin' around.

The grand finale...check out that bum!

Awwww...aren't they so cute!?!?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It's the Luckiest Day of the Century...AND.... marks my 10-year anniversary of being traffic ticket free!!! Yes, folks that means the last time I received a traffic ticket, in my case a speeding ticket, was on July 7, 1997, in Baker City, Oregon. I was 19-years old and my BFF, Teresa Garcia and I were traveling back to Utah from a trip to Portland and Seattle when I was pulled over by a state trooper (driving a Camero!) on I-84. $284 later and 4 months of payments took care of that bad boy! I remember vowing to myself I'd never get a traffic ticket again--they were so expensive and yes, it wreaked havoc my car insurance premium.

10 years have passed and I have kept my promise. I find it quite ironic that the 10th anniversary is on the luckiest day of the century. I wonder what that means?!?! Okay, so I'm not a sign-seeker but come on....that's pretty dang cool!

Over the last 10 years I haven't been the most perfect driver; however, the older I get the more I err to the conservative in my driving. I also don't want to ever give up our kick-butt insurance premium! Ryan is well on his way to achieving the same milestone....he only has 4 years to go.

So, here's to 7-07-07 *and*
no traffic tickets in 10 years! Cheers!

p.s. As a special note to anyone traveling to and from Oregon via I-84...don't even dream of going 1 mph over the speed limit in the Baker City area...the entire town is a speed trap. My sister and a couple of friends have received speeding tickets in the same place! There's definitely a pattern here. wink wink.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays all year. I love to celebrate the Independence of the United States. Thanks to God we were blessed to achieve independence as a country and have prospered exponentially ever since. I am proud to be an American!

In addition to the killer memories of attending 4th of July pancake breakfasts and the flag ceremonies at church I have my own unique reasons for loving this holiday:

1-At age 16, I departed to Honduras on July 4, 1994, to work on a community sanitation public health project with the Amigos program. That was 13 years ago! The night I left, my whole family and our entire Young Women's group accompanied me to the airport to bid me farewell. It was a very sweet, exciting, and nerve-racking experience to know I was leaving the country for six weeks! It was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my entire life. Independence day took on a whole new meaning that night as I left the United States for the first time ever.

2-I returned home from serving my mission for the LDS church on July 4, 2000. Now that was 7 years ago! Independence day took on an even greater meaning that day as I returned home. I can remember stepping off the plane and seeing my family there. The first people I saw were my sister, Darci, and my dad. My mom was just behind them along my big brother, Wilson, and my sis-in-law, Maria, nephew, Joshua, nieces--Allison and Careese along with the Blackmer family of Portland, Oregon, and Elena Collette, an old friend and mission buddy.

3-One year ago on July 4, 2006, I saw my dad alive for the very last time. We spent the evening together for a family BBQ at my big brother, Wilson's house. I served my dad his dinner that night as he couldn't get up and down so easy. I remember we had a chocolate Costco cake for dessert. If any of you knew my dad really well you would know that chocolate cake was at the bottom of his preferred cake flavor list! He didn't care much for chocolate cake at all; however, he did have a taste for Devil's food cake. We had an entire debate that night over whether or not the cake was "chocolate or devil's food" It was fun to go back and forth with him and I can still hear his southern accent repeating the words, "devil's food" with me responding by saying "chocolate." His final words to me that night were "Bye, Storm, I love you." I'll never forget his voice and those words replay in my mind all the time. It makes me cry in an instant and also comforts me to recall those words and know I'll see him again one day. I love you daddy and I miss you so much.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Fresh Berry-Peach Cobbler

The following recipe is absolutely to die for and a perfect summer dessert. I made this recipe the same night the July edition of Cooking Light magazine arrived in my mail box. I'll post it exactly as published, however please note a few of my own changes and comments. They are identified by the asterisks noted below. Details about the changes follow the nutrition facts.


1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped peeled peaches*
(about 2 pounds)
2 cups fresh blueberries**
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chilled butter (cut into small pieces)
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar***

PREHEAT oven to 400º.

To prepare filling:

COMBINE first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
peaches, blueberries, and juice.
mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coted with cooking spray.
400º for 15 minutes.

To prepare topping:
LIGHTLY SPOON 1 1/3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
1 1/3 cups flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk.
butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
buttermilk; stir just until moist.

Remove dish from oven; drop dough onto peach mixture to form 8 rounds.**** Sprinkle dough evenly with turbinado sugar. Bake at 400
º for 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size 1/2 cup cobbler and 1 biscuit) Best served hot, a 'la mode.

Nutrition Facts:
CALORIES 259; FAT 4.9g (sat 2.9, mono 1.2, poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 3.9g; CARB 52.1g; FIBER 2.4g; CHOL 12mg; IRON 1.3mg; SODIUM 230mg; CALC 52mg.

Recipe by Mary Simpson Creel, MS, RD, Cooking Light projects editor. July 2007.

My Notes:

* Peaches: I was in a pinch for time so I did not peel the peaches. The peel did not adversely affect the cobbler and in my opinion, added to the overall texture of the cobbler.

** Blueberries: I didn't have any blueberries on hand and a separate trip to the store to purchase some was not in the cards. I did however, have on hand some fresh raspberries and strawberries. I used a cup of each and it turned out beautifully. Peaches, raspberries, and strawberries are a dynamic combination.

*** Turbinado sugar: For those of you who aren't familiar with turbinado sugar it's basically, steamed unrefined raw sugar. It can be found in the bakery section of the grocery store and is most often sold under the brand name: "Sugar in the raw." Turbinado sugar is similar in appearance to brown sugar but paler, and in general the two can be exchanged freely in recipes. This is exactly what I did by sprinkling brown sugar over the cobbler just before baking it.

****8 rounds of topping: I didn't separate the rounds and instead spread them over the cobbler until it was evenly distributed throughout. It's still easy to gauge the size of the 8 portions the recipe makes.

Cooking Light Magazine

Thanks to the Rubin family of Salt Lake City, Utah, I am the proud subscriber to Cooking Light magazine. This magazine is by far the best cooking magazine out there. Okay, so perhaps I'm not taking into consideration the other cooking magazines on the market, which I haven't yet read, BUT this magazine kicks butt! Every single recipe I have made from this magazine has turned out beautifully. Of course, being the cook that I am, I always change the recipes up a little or a lot and the dishes never fail to turn out perfectly. The recipes are a "light" version which means you can be confident they are as healthy as possible. Just because they're light doesn't mean you can eat it all at once which is why the nutrition facts for each recipe are always published alongside each recipe so you know just how much you can eat without overdoing it!

My Passion for Cooking

This section of our blog is inspired by one of the best compliments I've ever received. We were eating breakfast yesterday morning, and my dear husband, Ryan, says to me: "Stormy, I wish you couldn't cook so well, then I wouldn't have to eat everything." It was a very proud moment for me and in turn prompted an entire cooking and recipe section of our blog. I'm happy to share with you my passion for cooking and some of my favorite recipes!

for me is a way to dip into my creative side, relieve stress, spend time with Sofia, and put smiles on the faces of those I cook for--especially when they taste my food. My cooking training began way back when I was just a little girl. My mom would bake and cook dishes all the time and it never failed that she would allow me to stir batter or test taste the final product. During the summertime each Sunday afternoon we would walk down a block to an alley which was abundant in blackberry bushes. We would pick and pick and pick and then take them home to my mom where she would make the most unbelievably delicious blackberry cobbler.

As my sister and I got older, my mom enrolled us in the 4-H program. My mom teamed up with another mom named Jan, and started a 4-H cooking class for us and Jan's daughters. Each week we would pick out new recipes and they would teach us how to make them. We went on to learn recipes so well to enter the county fair competitions. We even entered cooking competitions where we had to make a full recipe in front of a panel of judges. They not only judged the final product but also our techniques and sanitary practices throughout the cooking demonstration. It was so much fun and one of my most fond memories of spending time with my little sister Darci, and my Mom. It became the big thing of the year. My paternal grandmother who could cook like you would not believe began scheduling her month-long annual visits around county fair time. Ma-maw would love to accompany us, give us advice, and sit in the audience to cheer us on as we participated.

So that is where my passion and training for cooking was born and it continues today. Now that I am home with Sofia, I have more and more time to cook healthy and yummy meals. Sofia often cooks with me and we have so much fun doing it. I'm proud to pass on this essential skill to my daughter Sofia and future children which, thankfully, my mom passed on to me. Thanks, mommy!

In this section of my blog under "Recipes," I'm going to post some of my favorite recipes and even new ones I find and fall in love with. You can be certain that if it's posted here--it's no doubt a delicious recipe to try.

Bon App