Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Christensen Reunion 2018: Day 1 and 2

Amara created this artwork of Lily using the bark from the tree in Grandma's backyard.
July 30, and 31st-

This reunion was a little different from the others because there was a lot of moving to be done.  Grandma and Grandpa Christensen AND Bev and Tron were busy getting their homes ready for the market and moving into their new place in Saratoga Springs.  What better time to do it than when you've got lots of able bodies and helping hands?  I couldn't have planned that better myself!  In fact, if and when we move from our house, I think we'll plan it around a reunion!

So, Day 1 was spent in moving things.  I'm not sure what others did for dinner that night, but we went to Pizza Pie Cafe in Orem to celebrate my nephew Devon's birthday.  Because the homes we normally stay at were largely in upheaval, we ended up staying with Laurel's family in Highland.  It was really nice.

Day 2:
We started the morning off with a temple trip!  Mostly everyone was there.  I think the last time we all got together in that temple was for mine and Steve's wedding, 15 years ago, and that group wouldn't have included the kids.  I love the temple, and I love families, and I'm glad we got to do this trip.

After the temple we met at the Christensen house for a yummy brunch.  

When afternoon rolled around, it was time to start the big cookoff.  I was put in charge of the cookoff and I planned a pretty intense (and fun) event. It was inspired by a couple cookoff game shows I like called Dining With the Dean and Cutthroat Kitchen, and I intermingled it with an ancestor twist.

We just had everyone break into evenish teams so I didn't have to assign people around.  Then I read the following rules:


Teams will be assigned an ancestor.  It is their job to find out about this person and come up with a
plan to represent their ancestor in a tasty dish to serve 10-15 people.  They must also plan an
entertaining presentation that also introduces their ancestor and the dish they will be serving.
The presentation should be 1-2 minutes, no more.

Each team has 100 points to begin.  The team with the most points at the end wins. Winning Team
Gets: Bragging rights and doesn’t have to help with cleanup.

There will be an auction for several challenges throughout the cookoff.  Use points to purchase
challenges to “gift” to other teams for completion.  If no one bids on a particular challenge, a
random team will automatically receive the challenge to complete.  

How to earn and lose points:
Stay within budget (-10 points for overspending, +10 for staying on budget)
Be on time (-1 point/ minute late +10 for on time)

Each person will use a grading card ranking the other competitors (can’t vote for self) on the
An entertaining introduction to the ancestor represented and the dish prepared (out of 10)
Taste of Food (out of 20)
Presentation of Dish (out of 10)

Time frame:
2:00 Cookoff Kickoff
2:15 Teams meet, plan, purchase, and prepare for event. (grab any cooking utensils, pots, etc,
you may need and bring them with you.
3:45 Teams setup their station at New House
4:00 Cook-off and Bidding Begins
4:45 Presentations and Eat
6:15 Leave to see Newsies

Whiteboard or points tracker
4 coolers for the 4 teams
Challenges- description and applicable items
Tables for workstations and eating afterwards
Chairs for everyone.

Let the Games Begin!

Meet Team Irven: Doralee, Sam, Lily (Sam's girlfriend), Matthew A., Bekah, Nate (Bekah's boyfriend), and James.

Meet Team Eva: Beverli, Eva, Grandpa Art, Steve A., Kimmi, Tim, Eva, and Melissa (Tim's girlfriend).

Meet Team Esther: Amara, Lily, Audrey, Ryan, Laurel, Tamsin, Hannah, and Jake (until he had to go to work)

Meet Team Clarence: Matt, Steve C., Elinn, Isaac, Emma, Margaret, Steve G.

After the teams conversed and did their shopping, they reported back to the "new house" in Saratoga Springs for the cookoff.  Everyone was on time, except one team that was a couple minutes late.  Everyone stayed within budget.

The place was pretty vacant of furniture, since it hadn't been moved into yet, but it was spacious enough to pull out some tables for cook stations and eating at.  We started the cookoff and everyone got to work, the place got NOISY!  The kitchen was pretty chaotic.

Every 5 minutes I began the bidding for challenges.  These were the challenges they could bid on and gift to other teams, if no one bid, a team was chosen at random to recieve it.:


  • Didn’t join the church until 77. Must make and wear a missionary nametag and give 77 handshakes.
  • Every time you touch a utensil say “Yeehaw! If it ain't a cake, it's a puddin!’”
  • Must make and wear belt buckle out of paper plates

  • He was a schoolteacher. Team must measure all ingredients used with a ruler and add their lengths together.
  • Used to say, “when I was a little girl.” The team has to have the boys wear cute hair clips
  • He went on mission without purse or script and would go to a house and say, “I'm so thirsty, I haven't had anything to eat all day and I have nowhere to sleep tonight.” Obtain an ingredient from neighbor. (We didn't have time to get to this challenge).

  • Took an unregistered RV on a trip with dying husbands - Team must have 2 players handcuffed
  • Was a great seamstress.  Team must "sew" each other together using yarn and spoon and stay that way through the competition.
  • Started planning out next Christmas's gifts the day after Christmas. The team must make a Christmas gift list for everyone in this room.


  • She was an excellent housekeeper, even waking up early to have the floors mopped before breakfast. The team must wash all the cooking supplies before and after they use them.
  • She did a lot of genealogy and temple work. Team must add a memory on Family Search. (We didn't have time for this challenge)
  • As a child growing up during the war, she would go collect coal from the side of the train tracks. Team must find the hidden pieces of "coal" (paper with coal written on it) throughout the house.

paper plate belt buckles

Team Esther getting their cookstation set up

Pulling roasted chicken meat from the bones

Is Steve C. peeling a potato using a knife?

This cute couple chops onions together!

Team Clarence working together to make beef stew

Team Irven measuring all their ingredients and adding them together.  Hilarious, if I do say so myself!

Can you see that Elinn and Matt were handcuffed?

Yum! Team Esther dipping chocolates! (and maybe a cotton ball or 2... hehe)

You can't really tell, but every cookflame was going strong trying to get everyone's food prepared.
 Because there was only one stove and one oven, we allotted each team one burner and we kept the oven at 375.
Team Clarence preparing their food.  Wonder what that big flat stone is for?

Team Eva had to write a Christmas list for everyone in the room! Scroll down to see their finished list.

Team Esther working away!

Look at that yummy steak and onions going into the oven!

Team Irven boys got to wear girly hair clips!

The finished Christmas list.

Melissa taking her turn shaking the cream to make homemade butter!

Grandpa Art took his turn shaking the cream to make butter, too.

Notice Team Esther had to get sewn together with yarn!  Don't they look wonderful working as a team?

Team Clarence got to shake hands 100 times, you know, like missionaries!

Steve G. frying up steak and onions

This is what the big living room looked like.
 The final dishes were complete within an hour and everything was wonderful!

Team Esther made yorkshire pudding with pulled chicken, gravy, peas, and corn.  And don't forget the dipped chocolates!  For their creative presentation, they all posed for a picture mimicking a picture of Grandma Esther Christensen who was wearing an 88 jersey with her hands doing peace signs in the air.  Then Tamsin went through and photoshopped jerseys on all of them and sent it off to be printed at Costco as a poster.  It's unbelieve that they did all that in the short amount of time allotted!

Team Eva baked homemade cornbread which they served with homemade butter and molasses (they couldn't find sorgham).  A delicious beef and bean stew was their main entree and a lovely arrangement of desert wildflowers were gathered into a bouquet, as well as a cactus.  Yes, they drove into the desert to pick a cactus just to complete the arrangement.

Team Clarence made a Beef Stew served with bread bowls and a sprinkle of kelp if you'd like.  There was also sliced steak and onions for those who are avoiding carbs.  For dessert, a tasty bread pudding made from leftover bread soaked in sweetened coconut milk poured over the top.  Take note that their presentation platter was a large flat stone symbolizing the many rocks Clarence cut through the years.

Just another look at the poster team Esther made.
 Each team had to give a short minute-long presentation of their person and their food.  Those presentations were the BEST! 

If you'd like to view the videos I took with my phone, they are in a shared album.  You cannot watch these without a smile coming to your face!

Grandpa enjoying his chocolate dipped cotton ball!

After the big cookoff event, we loaded up the cars and drove to the Hale Center Theater to watch Newsies.  I loved it!  The dancing was so good.  The production was top-notch!  Well done!  I just LOVE plays!

What a day!  So many fun family memories packed into one day!  We started the day in the temple doing work to connect our families together forever.  Then we remembered our ancestors and the legacies they've left as we prepared and ate dinner!  Then a play to enjoy together. I love everything about this day!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Oahu with Joe's Family

After a couple days with my Uncle Joe's family, we went to stay with my brother Joe's family.  He and his family took us on a hike, a steep paved trail that was FILLED with people all going up the mountainside to overlook the blue skies and ocean off the cliff face.  It was a good climb and Joe's kids kept up really well.  Some group of local teenage boys passed us on their way down.  They saw Steve and laughed at him for wearing such a big hat, long pants, and long sleeves.  They pointed and jeered with each other and called him "Bill Nye" and "Mayonnaise."  That was maybe a step up from being called "camarao"  (Portuguese for shrimp) on his mission in Brazil, just because it means that Steve's skin was white now and not sun-burnt red.  See? A step up! Steve's more covered up now and he's protecting against skin cancer, something I think is wise, but I guess it's not a very popular thing to do.

After our hike, we went to eat.  Joseph recommended this place as the best garlic chicken around.  It was yummy and did not disappoint.  I loved seeing all the menu options that we don't ever see in the restaurants where we live.  Take a look at Maizie's colorful plate: 

Then, it was off to another Hawaiian treat, Uncle Clay's shave ice.  This was something I wanted try since I was dissing how lame snow cones are and Missy told me Hawaiian shave ice is not some dumb snow cone.  She was right.  This shave ice is very fine and the flavoring doesn't just seep to the bottom, it soaks into the ice, so it's flavorful all the way through.  

When we headed to a beach, the road was closed to the original beach we wanted to go to, so we went to Waikiki.  It was crowded, but didn't stop the seal from taking a nap on the sand.

At Shirokira Market at Ala Moana, Joe and JJ took us to go eat Okonomiyaki.  It was absolutely delicious, but next time I will not go with the spicy because that was like lava!

Church had this awesome courtyard!  I guess because Hawaii has beautiful sunny weather all year, a courtyard makes sense.  It was beautiful.

We went to get a fun treat at Liliha Bakery.  

And more shave ice- this time at Waiola's.
I loved the hike Joe took us on to Manoa Falls, although, it was raining and slippery in that rainforest and we never made it to the falls.  But it really was the most scenic thing I experienced on the island.

Joe's neighbor has an interesting way of decorating, using tons of plastic toys in their yard.