Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meal Planning + Eating Leftovers = Efficiency

I've been diligently meal planning for a month. It's not only helped me to be more organized and eat out less, but it's also allowed me to really evaluate the trends in our schedules and how to better plan for the nights where things don't happen the way we had intended.

This week, I scheduled a "leftovers" night in the middle of the week and an FFE night on Saturday to provide flexibility to our weekend. The reason I chose to make leftovers night in the middle of the week is because by Wednesday we have at least 3-days worth of that is perfectly yummy and completely edible. It frees up a mid-week night of cooking and also encourages us to eat what we already have and minimize waste. After all, by the end of the week no one wants to eat what we cooked 4-6 days ago!

I was excited to go into the refrigerator and literally pull out a ton of food. Food that is appetizing and already prepared! Here is a rundown of tonight's "leftover menu."

1 serving of Grilled Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes + Veggies
2.5 servings of Beef Enchiladas + Mexican Rice
1 grilled hamburger
1.5 servings of Fettuccine Alfredo
All the fixin's for a Turkey Sandwich

Above all, there is something to meet everyone's appetite and taste buds tonight and chances are very little to no food will go to waste this week. I just love it when I discover ways to improve efficiency! (and not just discover ways, actually implementing them is the true accomplishment) :D

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happy 28th Birthday, Ry!

happy birthday

I can't believe you're 28!!! Time flies when you're having fun. It'll be so much fun to celebrate your b-day at dinner tonight and see your reaction when you open your present. Sofia is so excited about your cake, b-day napkins, and the balloons she picked out just for you! (I think we're all excited about your killer oreo ice cream cake) Have a happy, WE LOVE YOU!!!

Stormy y Sofia

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cape Mears and the Octopus Tree

After spending time on the beach we went to Cape Mears only a mile away. There they have a gorgeous state park featuring the coolest tree in the world, the "Octopus Tree." This tree is more than 60 feet at its base. While you can't actually tell how old it is without counting the rings, some theorize that is has been there since the times of Christ. It has 8+ branches that stem from the base of the tree and is amazing to look at. We had a great time viewing it and talking to Sofia about why it's called the Octopus tree (while she ran around, of course).

This day was jam-packed with fun and relaxation. We can't wait for another beautiful weekend to go and explore!!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Our First Trip of the Year to the Oregon Coast

Last weekend, President's day weekend, we not only enjoyed a holiday where Ry didn't have to work but we also enjoyed the first bit of sunshine we've seen all winter! Of course, we chose to take advantage of the warmer weather and we took off for the beach! After a quick stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for some killer ice cream, we headed to oceanside to hunt for sea shells and run around. We had a blast and took some beautiful pictures.

Marinades are our friends

I had planned one week to have "Lime Marinated Broiled Salmon" for dinner. As many of you know, having tried that recipe, there is at least an hour of marinating time prior to broiling it, not to mention the time it takes to prepare the marinade.

We arrived home at 6:00 one night and I knew it would be forever until we ate if I made the salmon. Sure, I could just make something else on the menu for the week, but this preggo mama was totally pumped about the salmon! Being the "results-oriented" person I am, (you Arcadians out there know what that means--wink, wink) I looked out in the garage to find my saving grace: a bottle of Lawry's Brand, Havana Garlic and Lime marinade. (I promise, this isn't a "blog commercial!") The flavor was perfect and the closest I could get to the original recipe.

Anywho, I grabbed it and quickly marinated the salmon. I even only marinated it 30 minutes and the flavor still absorbed nicely. Moral of the story?

1) Always have some marinade on hand to make a super delish dinner fast;
2) Lawry's brand marinades are our friend--no matter what flavor you use; and finally,
3) go ahead and purchase 20 bottles of these bad boys when they go on sale for a BUCK at Albertson's, you'll definitely use 'em all!

p.s. We're actually grilling pork chops tonight and they've been marinating in the steak and chop flavor...yumm-o.

p.p.s. My favorite flavor of all is the Sesame Ginger one, it rocks my cooking world.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 2/25

This week's menu turned out multiple red-meat based entrees. I think it happened four a couple of reasons: I must be back on the red-meat iron and protein craving kick and well, there was a huge sale at Albertson's on top sirloin and ground beef! Next week's menu is sure to yield a couple of salmon nights as a result of the killer sale this week too!

Grilled Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes + Veggies
MON: Beef Enchiladas, Rice, Green Salad
TUE: Ry's B-day Dinner: Shrimp Alfredo w/Steamed Broccoli, Ceasar Salad + B-day Ice Cream Cake
WED: Left-overs
THU: Pot Roast, Carrots, Mashed Potatoes
FRI: Homemade Sloppy Joes, Steamed Green Beans, Orange Wedges
SAT: FFY-Fend for yourself night

Valentine's Day Fun

This year's Valentine's Day was so much fun. Not only does Sofia completely understand the concept of Valentine's Day now, she also attends preschool where she has 7 other friends in her class to celebrate with! We enjoyed making some "Banana Chocolate-Chip Valentines Bread" for Family Home Evening, made Valentine's for all of Sofia's friends, and finally, received an awesome Valentine's Day package from Nana and Grandpa.

Banana Chocolate-Chip Valentines Bread on Family Home Evening Night
This particular night we talked about the different feelings that everyone experiences: when we're happy, sad, mad, and scared. It was fun to use little faces as props and talk about why we experience these sentiments. One sweet quote from Sofia that night: "My friend Brooklyn was sad yesterday and didn't want to come to school." We talked about her friend, Brooklyn, and what she could do to help her feel better. Sofia answered, "I'll ask her to play and have fun with us!"

After we finished, we made some sweet banana-chocolate chip bread with a Valentine's flare. Sofia sprinkled valentine hearts all over the top and it came out cute and yummy! Here are some start to finish pics:

Ready for the oven

The Final Product

Valentine's Card Making
Sofia loves to make things and frankly so do I--even if I'm seemingly crafty-impaired, so we chose to make Valentine Cards for her friends this year instead of purchasing them at the store. It was so much fun! My mom was over that day and the three of us had a ball!

We are just at the tip of the iceberg with teaching Sofia to read and write. For each of the names of her friends and teacher plus her signature "Love, Sofia," I wrote the names with a pencil and she traced the letters--each and every one! I was so proud to watch her write, she is definitely ready to learn more!

Here are some of the cute Valentines that resulted from our evening. Fun, fun stuff.

Valentine's Package from Nana and Grandpa
On Valentine's eve, Sofia received the coolest package from Nana and Grandpa. It was filled with chocolate goodies galore, a Dora Valentine, and the best iced-heart-shaped sugar cookies from Grandma Great Staley! We all wanted to dive-in to the yumm-o treats, of course, and loved receiving the package. Thanks Nana, Grandpa, and Grandma Great!

"I got a package!"

"It is so cool!"

"Look, Mami, heart cookies, they're so cutie!" (and yummy too!)

"I love Dora!"

Good times.

"Princess Valentine, look, she has a pink ballerina dress
just like me!"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Office is coming back!

FINALLY!!! Beginning April 10th, we'll be in full swing again with Michael, Dwight, Jam, Kelly and Darrell, oh my gosh....I CAN'T WAIT! Good thing I did as Andy did on the "Women's Appreciation Day" aka the "Phyllis gets flashed" episode where he went to "check the web" while Dwight ran out to hunt down the perpetrator, and Jim called the "real police."

So for those of you who didn't already know, the evening of April 10th, only 7 weeks from today, is going to ROCK!!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Hair-Do

As so many of you know I have been sporting the "flip out" look or some variation thereof, since my mission. Yes, people, my mission--oh can we say, 8-9 years ago?!?!?! Yikes, I'm old. Oh well, that's not what this post is about...

Ever since we moved to Portland, I've (make that we've) had the hardest time finding a decent hairstylist. We had two in Utah during out 6-year stint there and they were phenomenal. Thanks, Jennifer and Shelly. wink wink. It's taken until 14 months after our arrival to find someone that we feel may just have the potential to measure up to our past hairstylists.

I took a risk and went for a new style that I thought would work and our new stylist, Blair, knocked it out of the ball park. YAY! So may I officially present, the new and improved Stormy, withOUT the flip!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The MOST AMAZING Apple Muffins

Holy Cow!!! I found an amazing recipe for Apple Muffins in "the muffin book" and of course, switched out and altered the amounts of five of the ingredients. They are unbelievably tasty! I just finished eating three and I couldn't wait to post about them! They are perfect in every way: flavor, texture, and fluffiness.

Refrigerator Apple Muffins
You can make the batter ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days!

3/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tbsp baking powder
apple pie spice (apple pie spice ingredients below)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cups quick-cooking multi-grain cereal (Cream of Wheat)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup whole ground flaxseed meal
2 cups, thinly sliced, chopped, peeled apples
3 egg whites or 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp canola oil
coarse sugar (turbinado) or granulated sugar

Apple Pie Spice

2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, apple pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Stir through the cream of wheat, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, and flaxseed meal. Add the apples; stir well.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the egg whites or eggs, milk, applesauce, and oil. Add all at once to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened (the mixture should be lumpy).

3. Place the muffin batter in an airtight container. Cover, seal, and label with the date by which it must be used. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently stir the batter (it will have risen during storage). Grease muffin pan or line muffin pan with paper baking cups, then spoon into muffin cups, filling them two-thirds full. Sprinkle each muffin top with some of the coarse or granulated sugar.

5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm, or transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Menu Plan Monday 2/18

SUN: Whole Wheat Penne Pasta with Meat Sauce, Warm French Bread-(BUMPED from last week)
MON: Grilled Chicken (on the BBQ!!!), Grilled Red Bell Peppers, Chicken-flavored Rice
TUE: BBQ Baked Chicken, Funeral Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans
WED: Homemade Sloppy Joes, Steamed Peas and Carrots
THU: Breakfast Night: Omelets, Hashbrowns, Orange Wedges
FRI: FFE-(Fend For Yourself) Night/Leftovers
SAT: Pork Carnitas Tacos, Mexican Rice, Mexican Abuelita Hot Chocolate-(BUMPED from last week)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

To My Valentine

The Top 10 things
about YOU!!!

#1 Your Hair: of course this has to be at the top of the list, it’s the very first compliment I gave you on our very first date and it’s still true!!!

#2 You’re my Bestest* Friend in the whole wide world: your love, loyalty, honesty, perspective, sense of humor, listening ear, and willingness to do anything to help me progress and be happy says it all.

#3 You’re a Rock Star at heart: your plethora of concert and Beatles t-shirts, 60 bazillion gigs of music, and the fact that you know every word to just about every song you’ve ever listened to makes you a Rock Star. Without you, I would have never attended any other concert besides Debbie Gibson!

#4 You’re a walking Spanish/English Dictionary and Editor: Captain Spanish, a nickname you received in the mission, still holds true today. I can ask you anything about either language and chances are, you have the answer. On my humble days, I admit that my own language skills are what they are today because of YOU.

#5 You’re an Awesome Dad: the way Sofia lights up every time she sees her Papi is priceless. I love the way you teach and read to her. I’m so grateful and lucky you’re the father of my children.

#6 You’re Tall, Dark, and Handsome: your good looks still make me melt! As I always tell you, your GQ style wardrobe always looks hot!

#7 Your ability to learn and perfect anything: one of the greatest life lessons you’ve taught me is that we can learn anything we put our heart and mind to. You’re an amazing example of the dedication and diligence greatness requires.

#8 You’re Apple Computers’ #1 Fan: between the weekly tutorials you like to give me on the latest apple product, or some sweet function on our iMac, Abby, you’re the biggest Apple fan I know. As a self-proclaimed Apple Missionary, you have converted many to Apple computers and have touched many lives through Apple’s innovative technologies.

#9 You love to hold my hand: I still remember the first time you held my hand on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I was in heaven in that moment and still am each time we walk hand in hand.

#10 You’re MY VALENTINE!!!!!! I’m the luckiest girl in the whole world. You were so worth waiting for and I couldn’t ask for more. I love you, Ryan, thanks for "being mine."

* I know, “Bestest” is not a real word. wink wink.

Killer Pizza Dough Recipe

Here it is the BEST recipe you'll ever find for pizza dough. I adopted this recipe from and added a couple of ingredients while at the same time, depending on my mood, I also change up the proportions of bread flour vs. wheat flour. There is a lot of flexibility on this one so feel free to add to it as well! (if you do, be sure to let me know how it came out--I love new ideas!)

Pizza Dough

Makes two to three hearty pizza crusts. This dough can also be used to make calzones or can be frozen for later use.

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 ½ cups of warm water (110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon of basil

1. In a glass or bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let sit until creamy; about 10 minutes.

An effective and quick way to help the yeast activate is to place it on the stove as the oven is preheating. It's sort of like giving the yeast a jump start. The added warmth of the stove top provides just the right boost to the activating yeast. I learned that little trick back in my 4-H days when I was about 9 years old!--good times. :D

2. Stir the olive oil, wheat flour, salt, garlic powder, basil, and 4 cups of bread flour into the yeast mixture.

3. Mix the remaining flour, ½ cup at time, stirring well after each addition.

4. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

5. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with olive oil. Cover with damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume; about 1 hour.

6. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two to three equal pieces and form into rounds. Cover the rounds and let them rest for about ten minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

8. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into the desired shape, cover it with your favorite toppings and bake at 425 degrees (220 degrees C) for about 20 minutes or until the crust and cheese are golden brown.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sydnei Nicole Staley

Parents take great pride in naming their children; it’s the second question most commonly asked only to “what are you having?” and it’s not any different for us. We’re thrilled to be having a baby girl—honestly, Sofía is very enthusiastic, since she can’t stop saying how she and her new bebé are going to play hide-and-seek—and nothing is more important to us than naming this little one. Thoughts that always cross the mind are the typical ones: do you name her after mami (for cryin’ out loud she carried her for nine months); do you name her after papi (he’s the one that had to watch mommy throw up a lot, you know); or do you name her after a beloved relative, such as Bertha (bless your heart grandma) or Looney (Ryan voted for that one, of course)? We do it all in the name of tradition, right? Well, actually, we spent a lot of time pondering over the name for our second child. And once we found out it was a girl, we knew in our hearts what her name would be.

Ryan and I always wanted to choose names for our children that would provide meaning to their lives in years to come, and promote an increased sense of self and special identity in this world.

Sydnei Olivia Michau


Ten years ago, one of the most important individuals came into my life: Sydnei Olivia Michau. She didn’t know then how she’d affect my life forever. My friendship with Sydnei was instant and quickly blossomed. Over the next ten years, Sydnei’s patience, love, support, and sense of humor proved to be paramount to my own life and success. She’s a life-long friend, which I firmly believe one rarely finds in this life.

We chose to name our second daughter after Sydnei because it will represent someone who is a bright light for many, faithful, full of love and strength, and generous. Thank you, Sydnei, for being an inspiration to us.

Stormy Nicole Staley

She who carried her for nine months wins: her middle name is Nicole after her mami. The nine-month thing really has nothing do with why Sydnei received the middle name “Nicole,” so we’ll clarify that right here. Nicole comes from Greek origin, and its meaning is "victorious people," and Ryan thought that was important, of course, as do I.

Nicole is sweet, determined, and ambitious. Those are characteristics that Ryan has always used to describe me. We chose the middle name, Nicole, for these very same qualities.

Sydnei Nicole Staley…

We can’t wait for you to join our family and watch you grow. We look forward to the day we hold you in our arms for the very first time.

Mami y Papi

Menu Plan Monday 2/11

Even though plans and schedules might change, and I have to bump a couple of nights to the following week, I've found the beauty of meal planning is that on those crazy nights there is always plenty of food on hand to make something yummy and quick. It limits how often we resort to eating out and we're still able to eat more healthy.

Last week, while eating lime-marinated salmon, Ryan paid me a compliment any cook would love, he said, "Why would we even want to eat out when we can eat food that tastes 100 times better at home?!?!" Of course, I beamed the rest of night.

SUN: Marinated Pork Chops, Roasted Red Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans-(BUMPED from last week)
MON: Teriyaki Chicken, White Rice, Stir-fry Veggies-(BUMPED from last week)
TUE: Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla's, Mexican Rice, Fruit Salad
WED: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Green Salad, Crispy Bread
THU: Pork Carnitas Tacos, Mexican Rice, and Mexican Hot Chocolate
FRI: Homemade Pizza and Green Salad
SAT: FFE-(Fend For Yourself) Night/Leftovers

* I have a killer recipe for pizza crust which I'll post later this week--I even have it in Spanish! (Thanks, Ry) It's a must try. --that rhymed. ;) Also, a little tip on marinade: homemade and store bought.

Monday, February 4, 2008


We were right!!!! Our second child, due June 24th, is a baby girl. We enjoyed over an hour long ultrasound today as we got to see all of her different baby parts and learn that she is growing right on target. The heart, the brain, the kidney's, and the lung's are all developing beautifully! She currently measures 8 inches long, just right at 20 weeks gestation. It was such a relief to me, especially because I've been having nightmares that there were problems. Now, my mind is at ease and we're SO EXCITED for our new baby girl. Sofia will get to have the "baby princess" she's been asking for and talking about non-stop! Thanks to everyone for the all of your kind thoughts and prayers. Please enjoy some of the very first pics of our little one.

p.s. A name has already been selected and will be announced very soon!

The proof that it's a girl. The ultrasound technician even double-checked and said, "no doubt, that's some girly material!"

Here is her profile; we were lucky to get this picture as she was moving around like crazy.

The very first body part we saw on the screen was the spine. Pretty sweet, huh?!?!

...and here are her cute baby feet. So precious.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 2/4

SUN: Potato Bar (Chili, Cheese, Broccoli), Veggie Tray--BUMPED from last week
MON: French Dip w/Au Jus, Salad, and Baked Curly Fries
TUE: Lime-Marinated Broiled Salmon, Rice Pilaf, Steamed Bell Peppers
WED: Pasta Bake, Crusty Bread, Green Peas
THU: Breakfast Night: Burritos, Hashbrowns, Fruit Salad
FRI: Marinated Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans
SAT: Teriyaki Chicken, White Rice, Stir-fry Veggies