Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Fave: Coaches vs. Cancer

Last weekend Dan and I had the opportunity to attend the Coaches versus Cancer gala event in Spokane. We have never been to an event like this and were both impressed and deeply moved by the presentations, and we nearly fell out of our seats laughing at the guest comedian, Jim Gaffigan.

Living in this area, I had heard about Coaches vs. Cancer, but honestly didn't know much about it. We'll, after last weekend, the charity certainly has a new friend in me. CvC is a nationwide organization that is made up of local chapters headed up by college basketball coaches. In this area, Gonzaga coach, Mark Few, has taken the helm and in the 11 years since he's been involved, millions of dollars have been raised for local cancer centers, Camp Goodtimes (a summer camp for kids dealing with cancer), the local Ronald McDonald House, as well as national cancer research organizations.

We only went to the last event of the CvC weekend, but there was also a charity golf tournament, a fancy dinner and a party on roof of a downtown hotel. At the evening gala we attended, there was a special fundraiser for the summer camp, a silent auction of fabulous items, and a live auction of luxury weekend getaways. Seeing all the money raised and all the generous people who truly have a desire to see the lives of cancer patients improved was touching and inspiring. It definitely made me want to work hard to make a lot of money to turn around and give it all away. 

Tickets to this event were a bit pricey - actually too pricey for Dan and I. But we won some, from the local sports talk radio show, Patchin, Lukens, and Osso. We are so grateful we got to attend this special event, and know we'll be back again sometime.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August Garden Update: The End is Near

The last week of August has been tough on the Lenssen Acres garden. We've gotten some frost - not super hard and cold, but definitely enough to stunt some growth.

See? It's not all that pretty anymore:

 And here are the tarps set out to tent the garden on especially cool nights. It kinda-sorta-maybe works.

The vines are quite sad, although there still is some nice looking yellow squash hanging on. We've been eating  a lot of yellow squash and it is delicious.

New this year, tomatillos! We had no idea what to expect, but they've done surprisingly well. I envision green chicken chili in my crock-pot in the not-too-distant future.

We've got plenty of green tomatoes, now if they'd just hurry up and get ripe, I'd make salsa and tomato sauce.

We've been able to eat quite a bit of corn, although I fear our corn days are numbered.

Oh, and don't mind the Child of the Corn making silly faces. She's fairly harmless, well, unless you look directly into her blue eyes, then you'll be hypnotized into doing her bidding.

So, how's your garden? Have you been bitten by the frost bug yet?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Fave: Animal Encounters

While visiting the Northwest Washington Fair, Lana definitely enjoyed the animals.

She got to feed a bottle calf.
(She later asked if we culd have a baby cow at our house.)

We also saw 8-hour old piglets.

Lana also thought the turkeys were pretty neat, untill this one got right in her face a gobbled loudly.
It only scared her, but she decided right then and there that she liked to eat turkeys, but did not ever want one as a pet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We {heart} the Northwest Washington Fair!

Even though Lynden is almost 400 miles away, we eagerly will drive across the state to take in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Northwest Washington Fair.
(Click on collage to enlarge pictures.)
These pictures tell it all. Lana loved every minute, and so did Lana's Mommy and Daddy.

We saw all the exhibits (the animals seemed to be everyone's faves, especially the draft and pony teams), ate too much food (moowiches are where it's at, take my word on this), spent too much money at the kiddie carnival (rides and games are expensive, but that's how it is), and had a great time.

Thanks Lynden! We can't wait to do it again!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Fave: Indoor Picncs

Because sometimes you just need to share a plastic lunch with your stuffed pals on the living room floor.

Yeah. We all have days like that.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Utah Adventure: The Wedding

I suppose since my cousin's wedding was the reason we traveled to Utah in the first place, I should probably write about it before I forget. Well, I might forget to write about it, but it was such a truly spectacular event, I know I'll never forget the experience of being there.

My cousin, Joel, married the sweet and lovely, Martha, at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. And it was phenomenal. I found out while I was there that the Grand America is Utah's only 5 star hotel, and I can say with the utmost certainty it was the nicest, poshest, most luxurious venue I've ever been to. 

The wedding itself was beautiful, as was the dinner and reception. Pictures, are of course, better than any descriptive words I could use. (Because I only took one picture the entire night, I had to take some off family members' facebook profiles.) 

Thanks, Joel and Martha! We had a wonderful time and wish you well as you begin your new life together!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Fave: Eating from the Backyard

(Yeah, I'm not a food blogger, but I do really like food.)
There are lots of great things I like about this time of year, but eating from the backyard has got to be one of my favorites. The delicious sirloin steak used to be a steer grazing in the pasture, the onions and potatoes in the caserole were dug out of the ground this week, and the green beans were picked this afternoon. Dan, Lana, and I raised this food. We grew it on our land. (And by WE, I really mean DAN. Lana and I may have helped, but it's Dan who does the majority of the work.)

If you know us at all, you already know that we are not trendy people. But for a few weeks in the summer, we are trendy eaters. Apparently, to the hipsters of the world, eating from your backyard is all the rage. And here we thought it was just a practical way to utilize our resources.

(Oh, and if you're local and need some garden produce, I can probably hook you up. We've also got some steers growing on the sweet grass in the pasture that are available for beef this fall. Leave a comment or send me an email if you're interested.)
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Olympic Games Flashback: 1992

With the Olympic Games in full swing (beach volleyball is on right now as I type) I thought it would be fun to share this article I'd written for Yahoo! last summer.

To a 12-year old girl and her 9-year old sister, the ladies of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team were the coolest girls on the planet. They were beautiful and petite, but also strong and brave. They could fly through the air, flip around bars, and remain graceful while falling off the balance beam. They were confident and poised and the darlings of the entire country. In short, these women were everything an awkward, too-tall 12-year old and a mouthy, too stocky 9-year old weren't, and we loved them for it. 

During the 1992 Summer Games, we scheduled our evenings around watching the gymnastics competition. Our father, a hardcore sports fan, chastised our adoration, telling us that gymnastics most certainly wasn't a real sport and that no athletic competition's winners should be based on the opinions of a panel of judges. But my sister and I didn't care. To us, the judges were Emperor Caesar incarnate, determining competitors' fates with the up and down of a thumb, or in this case, a mere tenth of a point.

My sister and I didn't just watch the competition in the evenings; we emulated it during the day. Digging through the garage, we found a long 2x4 piece of unused lumber and set it up in the backyard as our own balance beam. We performed our own version of the previous night's performances, although neither of us ever did master Betty Okino's triple pirouette. When rain forced our play indoors, our patient mother humored us by allowing us a taped-off end of the kitchen for our performances. We took turns playing the role of Shannon Miller as she won five medals and Dominique Dawes as she made the world fall in love with her during one of her lively floor routines. We were strong like Kim Zmeskal and adorable like Kerri Strug.

The 1992 Summer Games were nearly 20 years ago. Alas, neither my sister nor I became a world-class gymnast, but for two weeks that summer, we were unstoppable. Maybe when the 2012 Games roll around, my sister and I will round up a 2x4 or cordon off a section of the kitchen and let our daughters imagine they're unstoppable too.

Are you watching the Olympics? Do they bring back memories for you too?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Utah Adventure: Ogden Dinosaur Park

Another "edutainment" spot that came highly recommended was the Dinosaur Park. I wasn't sure what Lana would think of an entire exhibit dedicated solely to dinosaurs, because she's generally only shown a passing interest in these mammoth prehistoric creatures. I shouldn't have worried. Of course she loved it.
There is an inside exhibit area complete with life-sized skeletons as well as an outside portion with dino replicas and hidden trails. Along with our travel companions, Grams and cousin Cody, we slowly made our way around the park.
After learning all a three-year old can in one morning, playing in the dinosaur-themed playground was a perfect way to burn off some energy.
Besides, who wouldn't want to slide down the backside of a giant pterodactyl?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Utah Adventure: Ogden Treehouse Children's Museum

Since we were heading to Utah for my cousin's wedding anyway, we decided to stay for a few days and do some fun, tourist-y type activities. Ogden's Treehouse Children Museum was a perfect educational and entertaining destination for Lana, and also for the grownups.
There were 2+ levels of exhibits that kept this three-year old inspired and curious for hours. (Of course, I forgot my camera, so photos are pretty limited. Check out Treehouse's website for lots of photos of the center.) Favorites included the doll room, baby hospital, rodeo arena, one-room school house, and the music room, complete with various musical instruments for little ones' noise-making pleasure.
In the large pedestrian-friendly plaza outside the museum, colorfully decorated horses lined the walkways. We played "ooooo, let's find the horse" with Lana as my Grams told us about the square and all the new businesses in the area. Oh, we also had to stop for cupcakes. They were pretty amazing and awesome.
This was definitely a part of town I'd love to explore more. It's not just for kids, but it's very family-friendly, which was perfect for our little family!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Fave: Following in Her Footsteps

This past week we spent time in Utah visiting friends and family and attending a dear cousin's wedding. I'll get around to writing about all of that in good time, but for now, I give you this:
A sweet three-year-old, Lana Jean, completely and totally enamoured with her great-grandma, Carol Jean.

We did several fun, kid-centric activities on our trip, but if you ask Lana, her favorite was watering the flowers with Grammy.
It may have been Grammy's favorite too!