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We collaborated with Brenda Braxton and KGW to host a fitness series to help viewers get moving and get in better shape whether they are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond. Each decade presents new challenges and opportunities, and we’ll break those down and provide our community a couple takeaways you can start using right away.

It’s Time To Get Fit(ish) – Week 1

The series is called Fit (ish) and there are a bunch of funny definitions for that phrase. This one sums it up best, “likes to work out but definitely likes french fries!” The series will focus on body positivity and consistency while reminding us that some movement is better than none at all– hence the “ish.”

The series with air on KGW at 5pm and 6pm starting Monday May 17th thru to Friday May 21st.

Here’s a preview of the first episode:

Monday May 17th: Your 20s

Young people in their 20s are typically focused on school or career or both. They’re generally healthier than their older counterparts, can eat what they want without gaining weight, can drink what they want and recover relatively quickly from overindulging. As a result, they may not see the immediate necessity of good nutrition and exercise.

What’s the one exercise habit to build in your 20s?

Use your 20s to develop exercise as a habit like brushing your teeth and taking a shower. Move your body every day. Learn to make it part of your lifestyle. Exercise because you know it helps you to be at your best in every way. You don’t have to go to the gym everyday but do some type of activity that is active and fun on a daily basis. Developing this love of exercise so that it’s part of your regular day and your lifestyle will develop a foundation that will help you as you get older.

How do you get the most bang for your buck considering a 20-something body can handle higher intensity work outs?

It’s Time To Get Fit(ish) – Week 1Incorporate Full body, compound movements – pullups, pushups, squats, burpees

Try Explosive, plyometric movements once per week

It’s Time To Get Fit(ish) – Week 1Add Agility and speed work once per week

Incorporate High-intensity, interval training into your routine twice per week

High intensity workouts provide the quickest training adaptations and are the fastest way to get fit. When we are younger, we can tolerate high intensity workouts better so your 20s is the time to focus on this approach. When doing cardio training, you can incorporate 30-60 second high intensity bursts throughout your session. When strength training, you can incorporate high intensity, explosive, full body movements where you push really hard for 30-60 seconds and then recover before your next set.

Personal Trainer, Nathan Brown, 25 years old demonstrates an effective, high-intensity cardio and strength movement, the Burpee.


The burpee is a high-intensity movement that challenges your muscular and cardiovascular system, your lower body, upper body and core, and would be a great exercise to incorporate in your 20s. Progress as follows with 30-60 second rounds:

It’s Time To Get Fit(ish) – Week 1

Start with a Walk-out Burpee. Start by standing tall. Then place your hands on the ground about shoulder width apart. Walk one foot back and then the other foot back into a plank position. Then step your feet back in and stand back tall.

Add a jump out and in. Once you’ve mastered the walk out Burpee, then instead of stepping out and in, you can try jumping out and in. Remember to keep your core strong, abdominals active and spine long.

It’s Time To Get Fit(ish) – Week 1

Add a jump up. Once you’re mastered the above progressions, as you stand tall at a jump up and a soft landing.

Add a pushup. Once you’re mastered the above progressions, after you jump out into the plank position, add a pushup, then continue through the rest of the Burpee movement.

It’s Time To Get Fit(ish) – Week 1It’s Time To Get Fit(ish) – Week 1Try on one leg – If you’re looking for an advanced option, try your entire Burpee sequence on one leg.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

125769payton-kessler-of-castle-rock-katie-steward-of-la-center-top-1a-trico-league-softball-all-league-team https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2021/05/11/payton-kessler-of-castle-rock-katie-steward-of-la-center-top-1a-trico-league-softball-all-league-team/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/05/softball-fsa-logo-1024x640-600x375.jpg

MVPs: Payton Kessler, jr., Castle Rock; Katie Steward, sr., La Center

Offensive player of the year: Raychel Squibb, jr., Castle Rock

Defensive player of the year: Sofia Nelson, jr., King’s Way Christian


Katey Montgomery, P, sr., Castle Rock

Kayla Clifford, C, jr., King’s Way Christian

Rhiannon Sibbett, IF, jr., Castle Rock

Rachel Gallagher, IF, jr., Goldendale

Breanna Normine, IF, jr., La Center

Delaney Devine, IF, sr., King’s Way Christian

Gracie Kimball, OF, sr., Castle Rock

Jamie Osato, OF, sr., La Center

Addie Clark, OF, fr., King’s Way Christian


P: Emma Coulter, jr., La Center; C: Jenna Lee, jr., Castle Rock; IF: Kayla Meinel, jr., King’s Way Christian; Payton Ricketts, jr., Castle Rock; Haley Kaufman, so., La Center; Kennedy Berry, jr., Goldendale; OF: Kenna Rismoen, fr., Castle Rock; Emma Holmes, jr., King’s Way Christian; Lindsey Logan, jr., Castle Rock


Payton Sheridan, jr., Goldendale; Audrey Hill, so., Goldendale; Autumn Gaudet, so., King’s Way Christian; Gracie Sibbett, fr., Castle Rock; Jaysie Warburton, fr., La Center

Coach of the year: Ron Strode, Castle Rock

125765herrera-beutler-to-support-cheney-through-gop-ouster https://blogs.columbian.com/all-politics-is-local/herrera-beutler-to-support-cheney-through-gop-ouster/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Cheney-600x400.jpg

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, will stick by her fellow embattled, moderate GOP colleague Rep. Liz Cheney as top Republicans push to strip Cheney of her leadership position.

Cheney, the congresswoman from Wyoming and the party’s No. 3, is facing a recall effort led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The ouster stems from Cheney’s ongoing criticism of former President Donald Trump, including her refusal to accept and amplify the falsehood that Trump won the 2020 election.

Like Cheney, Herrera Beutler publicly accepted Joe Biden’s victory. She and Cheney were among the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Herrera Beutler’s spokesperson, Craig Wheeler, confirmed the congresswoman’s decision in a brief statement to The Seattle Times this week.

“Jaime will be voting to keep the House leadership in place,” Wheeler said.

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, have not yet said how they plan to vote. Newhouse was also one of the “GOP Impeachment 10,” as the Washington Post called the cohort of lawmakers in a Monday headline.

House Republicans are expected to vote Cheney out of her leadership position on Wednesday. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York will likely replace her as House GOP conference chair. Stefanik is a staunch Trump supporter.

Herrera Beutler is facing a primary challenge from a trio of pro-Trump Republicans positioning themselves to her right. One, Joe Kent, responded to Herrera Beutler’s announcement with a statement criticizing her and Cheney over their support of a “failed, pre-Trump Establishment Republicans agenda.” Another candidate, Heidi St. John, posted to her Facebook page: “Liz Cheney could lose her leadership position soon. Good!”

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Vibrant and green, fast and fresh, the time for a spectacular salad is now. Easy to achieve, the seasonal choices abound and with a little know-how, making something delicious and healthy is right at your fingertips. Celebrate National Salad Month with a swoonworthy salad that you make at home. Whether you pop into the Farmer’s Market, grow your own, or add something jazzy to your grocery list, spring greens could not be fresher. Source local – Northwest is always best! 

Salad possibilities are endless – once you know the basics, you can riff as you please. Best of all, it’s easy to customize to what suits you and flexible enough to adapt to your last minute whims.  Here’s how to make it happen.

Begin with a large plate or platter. This will be your canvas – a clean space on which to forge ahead. Whether your style is traditional or avant-garde, the plate gives you room to experiment. Begin by dotting your plate with honey, just a little here and there. Rather than flavoring the entire dressing, it will catch on the greens and add just a bit of sweet in some bites.  

Next, add greens. The fresher the better. Make sure they are clean and dry. Consider arugula, frisée or baby lettuces, leaning hard towards any greens that are tender or wispy. 

Go sweet. A scattering of fresh berries either on their own, or in addition to some slices of apple, orange, or pear to tumble onto the greens. As we move into summer, melon, maybe? You could add pickled beet slices if you want, or just keep it to the fruit. If you like adding dried fruit to your salads, a little bit of that works here, too. I like sliced dried apricot or tart cherries, but this is your canvas. Paint on! 

To mint, or not to mint, it’s up to you. If you have fresh mint, adding just a bit of it, finely chopped and scattered, can be quite nice. It adds a fresh, summer vibe and a bit of surprise. Just be careful not to add too much. 

Seeds or nuts come next. Raw or toasted and lightly salted, they add body and crunch, not to mention filling fiber and protein. They make your salad a lot more interesting, which is why I add one or more of them to almost every salad. 

With a salad this fresh you barely need dressing. Less is more, so keep it light. Shower your salad with flaky sea salt, then give it a drizzle of good olive oil. Even better, mist or spray it if you can. Add a squeeze of citrus – lemon, orange or lime – and top with cheese. Soft, crumbly varieties like goat, feta, blue, gorgonzola, or queso fresco or firm, salty cheese like Parmesan, or ricotta salata. Some tiny slices of Manchego or Gruyére, sharp cheddar or even brie, and a finishing of freshly ground black pepper.

It’s your salad and it’s delicious any way you make it. Enjoy!


125751herrera-beutler-continues-trump-era-bipartisanship-under-biden https://blogs.columbian.com/all-politics-is-local/herrera-beutler-continues-trump-era-bipartisanship-under-biden/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/05/JHB-forum-1024x684-600x401.jpg

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, votes in line with President Joe Biden’s agenda 18.8 percent of the time, according to the latest ranking of members of Congress from FiveThirtyEight.

The metric indicates that Herrera Beutler is one of the more bipartisan-minded Republicans in the House. It’s also par for the course for the congresswoman, who under Donald Trump’s administration crossed party lines with 20 percent of her votes.

Out of the 212 GOP House members, just 19 have voted with Biden more often than Herrera Beutler over the first 100 days of the president’s administration. Nine share her same score, including her fellow Washington state Republicans Rep. Dan Newhouse and Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers.

72 House Republicans didn’t align with Biden on a single issue.

Democrats have been even more partisan — of the chamber’s 218 Democrats, all but 18 cast their votes in alignment with the president 100 percent of the time. Of the defectors, most lean further to the left than Biden. Several only opposed the president on one issue: approving Lloyd Austin for secretary of defense, despite Austin’s recent history as an Army general officer. The SecDef is designed as a civilian position, with appointees required to be out-of-uniform for at least seven years unless they receive a waiver from Congress. High-profile progressives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Katie Porter all voted against granting that waiver to Austin.

FiveThirtyEight reports that Herrera Beutler aligned with Biden on three major issues:

On 13 other key votes, Herrera Beutler went against the Democratic president’s agenda. Her list of nay votes includes:

FiveThirtyEight also calculates a predictive score for each member of Congress, measuring how likely they are to support Biden’s policies by examining how well Biden fared among their district’s voters in the 2020 election. It’s less a predictor of behavior than it is a tool to examine how well a representative aligns with their constituents — some House members diverge from their predictive score by more than 70 percentage points.

Washington’s 3rd Congressional District fell Trump’s way by just 3.7 percentage points in the 2020 election. Based on that information, the FiveThirtyEight model would predict Herrera Beutler’s alignment with Biden to be 33.4 percent.

You can read more about the methodology and compare lawmakers’ scores here.

125744body-positivity https://blogs.columbian.com/sherri-mcmillan/2021/05/05/body-positivity/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Sherri-Mountain-Top-e1600909886668-1024x517-600x303.jpg

If you believe that you’ll be happy once you lose weight, you’ll never be skinny enough to be happy. It’s a vicious cycle and it never ends unless we learn to love the body we have as it is right now, not tomorrow or next month or next year.

It’s ok to want to make health improvements to be at your personal best, but you can’t hate and despise the state you’re in now. Making these lifestyle changes is about believing you deserve to be healthier! Love yourself enough to take the time out to exercise and eat well.

Body PositivityIt’s not about making the changes so you can look like someone else or love who you are. If you make changes with this as your ultimate goal, it may be tough to succeed and you may be miserable for life! Body hatred and dissatisfaction are hardly reserved for only the morbidly obese. In fact, many women who clearly have very little body fat to lose, are not happy with their body proportions.

Here’s some steps you can take to learn to love your body and develop a more positive self-image.

Step One – Pay attention to your words. Your brain is listening!

One aspect of gaining control and developing a more positive body image is understanding the role of negative and irrational thinking. We are often our own worst critics and can be so hard on ourselves. Listen to what you say.

Become aware of things you may have thought or said which could sabotage your efforts:

I missed my workout. I’m a total loser!

I need to starve myself to look good!

Since I stuffed myself at lunch, the whole day is ruined. I might as well eat whatever I want for the rest of the day and start all over again tomorrow!

Things always go wrong! I’m such a failure!

It’s not the diet program that’s wrong, it’s me!

I might have lost 10 pounds but I can’t go to the beach until I’m at my goal weight!

I’ll be happy once I lose the weight!

My thighs are the fattest I’ve ever seen!

I need to workout excessively so I can make up for all the junk I ate yesterday!

If I lose weight, then my boyfriend will pay more attention to me.

Why do I have such poor will-power?

Why couldn’t I just have been born with a perfect body?

There’s no way I will wear a bathing suit with this muffin top!

I’ve got to lose 20 pounds within a month to get ready for my vacation or my holidays will be ruined!

I’ll always be like this!

My butt is so big. There’s no way I’m wearing shorts!

I can’t seem to do anything right!

Why would anybody love me?

What is sad are the people who get caught in the thought process of “If I could just lose this extra 20 pounds, then I’d be happy”, and often, even when they do lose the weight, they’re still not satisfied.

Step Two: Manage negative and irrational thoughts.

Listen to your thoughts at the times when you feel worst and listen for irrational/negative thinking.

Dispute these thoughts by asking “Why is this so?”, “Where is this negativity coming from?” and “Could there be another possible explanation or interpretation?”

Imagine repeating what you’ve said to a close friend or child. We could never imagine talking to others as we talk to ourselves. The next time you catch yourself thinking irrationally or negatively, ask yourself if you’d ever speak this way to another human being. You deserve the same type of respect you’d give anybody else! Remind yourself that if you continually practice negative self-talk, eventually, you may actually start to believe your own words. Your self-esteem can end up taking a real beating.

Thought stopping (when worrying, think of a stop sign and then pleasant thoughts)

Stress management (when worrying, participate in your favorite relaxation techniques like massage, reading, baths, journal writing etc.)

Learn to live in the moment and to experience true joy in your life. Stop worrying about the past or the future.

Each night before you fall asleep, write in a journal or make a mental note of what was the best part of your day or of something that you experienced that you really appreciated or enjoyed. Developing a gratitude mindset can help stop negative thinking and help you feel better about all areas of your life.

Live today! Self-hatred takes a lot of time and energy. Obsessing about your body weight, nutrition plan and exercise program leaves you tired and depressed. Deciding to not enjoy the here-and-now because you’ve decided to wait until you lose weight will leave you feeling deprived and will often lead to more negative feelings and behaviors. Remember that thin thighs, a small butt and a 6-pack set of abdominals is not the ticket to a meaningful existence. Fill your life with interesting experiences and people and you’ll enjoy a much higher quality of life.

Step Three: Understand what’s realistic for you?

One step to improving your body image is to stop comparing yourself to others. It’s important to understand your genetics, your body type and your age and strive for a physique that is healthy for you.

Is there a history of excess fat in your family? If both of your parents have a higher percentage of body fat, it will be less likely that you’ll be able to achieve a super thin physique. Understand your genetics and the role it plays in your body composition.

Which parts of your body or your physical attributes are you satisfied with? Focus on your strengths!

What is the lowest weight you have maintained as an adult for at least one year? When did you feel the healthiest? Instead of focusing on a number on the scale, ask yourself when did you feel the healthiest and what did that look like for you?

Based on your genetic predisposition, your age and the amount of time you want to spend exercising, what type of “ideal” physique is achievable for you?

Step Four: Find your tribe!

Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who inspire, challenge and support you. Keep people around who are part of the solution not part of the problem.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

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May 3 was the date many high school basketball and wrestling coaches had circled on their calendars.

That was the date the state was planning to reassess data regarding if counties would remain at Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, or revert to Phase 2.

However, any announcement about changes in counties’ phase status is not expected until Tuesday, Seattle TV station KING-5 reported.

Under state protocols, sports like basketball and wrestling can only hold competitions in counties that are in Phase 3. On April 16, Cowlitz County was pushed back to Phase 2, while Clark County remained at Phase 3.

To be in Phase 3, large counties like Clark and Cowlitz must meet one of the two following metrics — a 14-day new COVID case rate of less than 200 per 100,000 residents, or a new 7-day COVID hospitalization rate of less than 5.0 per 100,000. Smaller counties have different thresholds to be met.

According to reporting by KING-5, six western Washington counties were failing both metrics as of April 25 — King, Kitsap, Lewis, Pacific, Snohomish and Skagit.

KING-5 also reported that Clark County was missing the case rate threshold as of April 25, but was still below the hospitalization rate.

For Cowlitz County, KING-5 was reporting the county remained above the threshold for hospitalization, but it’s case-rate had fallen below the threshold.

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There’s no better time to show your favorite feline how important she is than by putting on the proverbial “Ritz” for her birthday. Why not consider “wrapping” these suggestions in festive ribbons of love and making her big day one to remember?

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Kitty’s Birthday

  1. Purchase a cat-safe cake. What’s a birthday without a birthday cake? As close as your nearest pet store, these cakes are certain to please the palette of even the most finicky feline. And they’re all created from imaginative combinations of such lip smacking, cat-compatible ingredients as chicken, salmon, tuna and shrimp, peanut butter, bananas, pumpkin puree and applesauce, eggs, milk, cheese and plain yogurt – to name but a few.


  1. Buy new cat treats. Famously fond of treats, your cat will never turn down her paws at having more. Select the most tempting ones you can find – including her favorites – at your local pet store, “hide” them throughout your home and then encourage her to “seek” them out.

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Kitty’s Birthday

  1. Get her a new toy. While some cats have one particular toy that they treasure above all others, some are more easily bored and tend to lose interest in a toy – any toy — almost immediately. Whether your kitty falls into the former category or the latter, a new toy is always welcome, especially if it’s unexpected. But before you buy that new toy, always remember to make it an age-inappropriate one.


  1. Celebrate in style. If your kitty is an outgoing and easygoing social butterfly, undaunted by the challenge of dressing to the nines, ensure, nonetheless, that the costume you choose is “feline friendly” – loose enough to be comfortable. For the less adventurous but still game kitty, forego the costume altogether and opt for a festive bow tie or bandana instead. It may be a whisper of an outfit, but a whiskered face never looked cuter than when highlighted by a bow tie or bandana.

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Kitty’s Birthday

  1. Have a professional photo taken. Locate a pet photographer near you and book an appointment well ahead of her birthday for a special portrait session. Choose the most feline-flattering photo and let your imagination run wild. Have it embossed on anything from note cards and note pads to ceramic mugs and cotton T-shirts, then “gift” yourself and those you love as a permanent reminder of this special day.


  1. Please and pamper her. What warmer, more obvious way to observe kitty’s birthday than by paying more attention to her than usual? If your kitty adores affection, indulge her by extending her regular petting sessions. If her preference is playing, play with her for much longer than you normally would. If she’s addicted to adventure and isn’t allowed access to certain rooms or areas of your home, let her accompany you into one of them for awhile and sweeten the experience with a high-value treat.


  1. Donate to Furry Friends in kitty’s name. Since birthdays are best when shared, why not share her “lucky” day with an animal not quite as lucky? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to us in your kitty’s name to help us rescue and care for more kittens and cats in need. Or why not consider SHOPPING FOR A CAUSE by visiting https://furryfriendswa.org/online-purchasing.
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As we run down our pandemic bucket lists, I am making good on all the things I discovered in my pantry, namely the Harina PAN I bought when I had an itch to make those delicious little cornmeal cakes known as arepas. Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside, I will order things off the menu that I don’t even want if I see that they come with arepas. 

Arepas can be found in the cuisines of Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia. Why not give them a try and make some for your Cinco de Mayo? You only need one ingredient to make arepas: arepa flour. Sometimes sold as masarepa, you can find it in Latin markets and some supermarkets. Popular brand names are Harina PAN, Areparina, and Goya. Making the dough is as simple as mixing it with water and salt, although some recipes include butter or oil. Because the flour is already cooked, it forms easily into patties that can be griddled, grilled or baked.

The recipe below makes one batch of 4 arepas. Doing a small recipe lets you practice and get the hang of it. After you try one batch, make another. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro. Water should feel warm to touch, but not too hot. Use your best kitchen tool – your hands – to mix and knead the dough. Feeling your way through the dough is the best way to know when it is accurately ready.

Split arepas and stuff with desired fillings to make a sandwich or top with mashed avocado, black bean, queso fresco and pepitas as show here. Use them as a vehicle for leftovers or fill them like you mean it with stewed meat, beans, roasted veggies or cheese. 

I always knew arepas were delicious, but I never knew how quick and easy they would be to make. This is a great recipe to try with your kids, so much fun to make – try some and see for yourself!


Add arepa flour to a medium bowl. Stir sea salt into warm water until it dissolves. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the flour and using fingers of one hand whisk until water fully incorporates into flour. Add splashes of water, kneading after each addition. Continue adding water and kneading, adding only enough water until dough holds together firmly. Add oil or butter and continue to knead until incorporated. Let rest 10 minutes to hydrate. 

Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. While skillet heats, divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a flattened ball, about 1/2” thick, smoothing edges if desired. Lightly grease skillet, then add arepas. Cook for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden, adding more oil to pan as you turn arepas over. Cook until lightly golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate or wire rack. Serve warm.  

125715on-city-council-fundraising-glen-and-perez-lead-the-pack https://blogs.columbian.com/all-politics-is-local/on-city-council-fundraising-glen-and-perez-lead-the-pack/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Yung-600x400.jpg

Two incumbent Vancouver city councilors aren’t seeking reelection this year. The announcements from Linda Glover and Laurie Lebowsky last month sparked several early challengers for the soon-to-be open seats, and also kicked off an early start to 2021 fundraising.

Currently leading the fundraising pack is Glen Yung, who’s seeking the Position 3 spot held by Glover. He’s raised $22,241, and also leads the pack of candidates on spending with $8,049 dropped on his campaign so far.

Yung, a construction contractor and chair of the Hough Neighborhood Association, saw an early campaign shakeup when former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard issued an endorsement of Yung’s candidacy and then promptly retracted it a few days later. Pollard declined to comment on why and posted an all-caps Facebook post about his decision.


According to Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission, Yung’s notable donors include GOP former state Rep. Liz Pike ($200) and Kate Fernald ($250), who’s spearheading the neighborhood pushback against the city’s oft-debated plan to develop its sleepy Heights District.

The second-highest fundraiser is Diana Perez, who’s also seeking Glover’s seat. Perez has sought city council seats twice before — and both times got pretty close. In 2019, she made it to the final round of a council appointment process but didn’t get the seat. Later that year, she was just barely edged out of the general election in a 7-person primary, coming in third.

Perez has raised $10,960 since declaring her campaign on March 10, and spent $565. Her donor list includes current City Councilors Ty Stober ($250) and Lebowsky ($100), as well as Port of Vancouver Commissioner Jack Burkman ($125), former Commissioner Don Orange ($100) and local environmental activist Don Steinke ($100).

John Blom, the former Clark County Commissioner, has raised $8,122 and spent $1,975 so far in his bid for Lebowsky’s current seat. Blom lost his reelection to the Clark County Commission last year after he dropped his Republican affiliation — county leadership should be nonpartisan, he said, much like the city council. Voters didn’t agree, and his two partisan challengers bumped him out of the primary election. 

Blom’s city council donations got a major boost from the Nierenbergs, a wealthy Camas family that consistently donates to political campaigns ($1,000 each from both David and Patricia Nierenberg and their company, Nierenberg Investments). 

Kim Harless Felix, a program director for a nonprofit also seeking Lebowsky’s seat, raised $3,845 and spent $219 so far this year. 

Harless Feliz also serves as co-chair of the Clark County Charter Review Commission. Her donors include Battle Ground City Councilor Mike Dalesandro ($50) and Battle Ground Mayor Adrian Cortes ($25).

A few other city council hopefuls haven’t filed any contributions with the PDC: Former Clark County Republican Chair David Gellatly (seeking Glover’s seat), and Clark County Young Democrats President Mike Pond (Lebowsky’s seat) both report $0 balances.

Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, who’s running unopposed, has raised $17,656 and spent $3,091. Her donors include Vancouver firefighters union IAFF Local 452 ($2,000), Burkman ($250), Lebowsky ($250) and Gellatly ($100).

125702stevensons-isabella-and-sofia-spencer-top-1a-southwest-washington-league-girls-tennis-all-league-team https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2021/04/29/stevensons-isabella-and-sofia-spencer-top-1a-southwest-washington-league-girls-tennis-all-league-team/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Jugaral.jpg

All-league team as selected by league coaches:

Singles MVP: Megan Letts, Tenino

Doubles MVPs: Isabella Spencer/Sofia Spencer, Stevenson



Hannah Miller, Stevenson

Jessie Tevis, Three Rivers Christian


Claire Hayes/Juliet Perez, Columbia-White Salmon

Ellie Barbo/Shelby Diley, Montesano


Singles: Myla Langdon, Castle Rock; Yesenia Lemmon, Columbia-White Salmon; Doubles: Ella Anderson/Natalie Swofford, Castle Rock; Rilee Jones/Ashley Schow, Tenino.


Grace Vestal, Tenino; Taylor Madden, Castle Rock; Anna Rose/Maylee Cherrington, Castle Rock; Joshephine Beck/Audrey Coyner, Columbia-White Salmon

Coach of the year: Les Hastings, Stevenson

125698columbia-river-baseball-loses-its-appeal-2a-district-playoff-pairing-set https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2021/04/29/columbia-river-baseball-loses-its-appeal-2a-district-playoff-pairing-set/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/NickerAlderSmall-1024x768-600x450.jpg
Columbia River baseball loses its appeal; 2A district playoff pairing set

Columbia River’s Nick Alder delivers a pitch during Monday’s game against Ridgefield (Tim Martinez/The Columbian)

The Columbia River baseball team lost its appeal, and that was significant for the Rapids in a couple of different ways.

On Monday, River played Ridgefield in the 2A Greater St. Helens League season finale for both teams. With Ridgefield up 5-4, River loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh.

Ridgefield then pulled the hidden-ball play, and the Rapids runner on third base was called out. However, before the runner stepped off the bag, Ridgefield’s pitcher returned to the mound without the ball. By rule, that should have resulted in a balk and a tied game.

Despite the protests of River coaches, who tried to point out the rule to the umpires, the call stood. Ridgefield got out of the inning for a 5-4 win, giving the Spudders the league title and the No. 1 seed to the district playoffs.

River filed an appeal with the league. On Wednesday, that appeal was denied.

The loss dropped River into a three-way tie for second place in the 2A GSHL wih Hockinson and Washougal, all at 6-2. When the tiebreaker was applied, River fell all the way to the No. 4 seed to district.

Columbia River will open the district playoffs Friday by hosting Mark Morris. If the Rapids win that game, it would set up a rematch with Ridgefield on Tuesday at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.


Friday’s games

First round

Woodland at Washougal, 4 p.m.

Mark Morris at Columbia River, 4 p.m.

Tuesday’s games

Second round: Woodland-Washougal winner at Hockinson, 4 p.m.

Second round: Mark Morris-Columbia River at Ridgefield, 4 p.m.

Consolation game: first-round losers, 4 p.m.

Consolation game: R.A. Long vs. Hudson’s Bay, 2 p.m. at Propstra Stadium

Consolation game: R.A. Long vs. Fort Vancouver, 4 p.m. at Propstra Stadium

Consolation game: Fort Vancouver vs. Hudson’s Bay, 6 p.m. at Propstra Stadium

Friday, May 7

At Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex

Semifinal: GSHL lower remaining seed vs. EvCo No. 1, 3 p.m.

Semifinal: GSHL higher remaining seed vs. EvCo No. 2, 3 p.m.

Consolation game: Second-place losers, 4 p.m. (at higher seed)

Championship game, 6 p.m.

Third-place game, 6 p.m.

125693cycle-your-way-to-health-and-fitness https://blogs.columbian.com/sherri-mcmillan/2021/04/28/cycle-your-way-to-health-and-fitness/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Sandpoint_071118-600x450.jpg

Biking experienced a rise in popularity during the global pandemic when gyms were closed and people were looking for a safe way to exercise outdoors. One thing that 2020 taught us was the critical importance of our health and riding a bike is a low-impact activity that works your heart and lungs, strengthens your lower body, burns some calories, and works wonders for stress relief.

Most of us have rode and owned a bike at some point in our life so there’s some muscle memory there and it should be easy to get started.

Here’s some tips on gear and training:

Cycle Your Way to Health and Fitness

Get a Tune-up!

If you own a bike but it’s been collecting dust in the garage for a while, it would be wise to get it tuned up. Head to Vancouver Cyclery, Camas Bikes or The Community Hub Bike Shop.

Need to Purchase a Bike?

First, you need to decide what type of bike you want to get…mountain, road, hybrid or cruiser? Then, you need to decide how much you want to spend. The price range on a bike varies considerably anywhere between $200 up to $10,000 for a professional road bike. If you want to do this seriously, you’ll probably spend $1000-$2000 for a good quality bike that will perform well. You can also look on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace because there are often some pretty amazing deals available.

Helmet is Mandatory!

A helmet is a must for safety and almost any helmet will do as long as it is approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) – fortunately, this is true of virtually all helmets sold in the U.S.A. A more pricy, quality helmet will offer more vents and will be more aerodynamic. Too many people go down hard on their bikes saved only by their helmet so be sure to make the investment! You’ll also probably want sunglasses while riding to avoid any irritation due to wind, rocks or pollen.

Shoes & Pedals Can Make a Difference

Most people will just wear regular cross training or running shoes while cycling. But as you advance, you will notice that serious cyclists wear cycling cleats that actually clip into their pedals for better performance on the bike. It takes a lot of practice so it’s not something you should start off with.

A good way to transition into cycling cleats is start by using a Toe Cage. You aren’t locked into the pedal in anyway ,but you slip your running shoe into the Toe Cage/Box and then tighten the straps so that your foot is positioned tightly against the pedal and minimizes the force that you lose as you pedal.

This is better than just a traditional pedal however, you have to practice and feel comfortable preparing for a stop by loosening the straps so you can quickly get your foot out of the pedal to touch down. The more serious cyclist and triathlete will advance to lock in pedals – a mechanism similar to skis that has your cycling cleat locked into the pedal. This is the most efficient type of pedal but will require practice to quickly twist your foot to remove it from the pedal when you need to stop. As mentioned, if you are just getting started, stick with normal athletic shoes and a regular pedal.

Protect Your buns!

A specialized biking short with padding will make your training rides a lot more comfortable.

Be Prepared!

Purchase some maintenance equipment (tubes, air pumps, chain lube etc.) – Your local bike shop will have everything you need and most offer free bike maintenance classes to teach you everything you need to know to fix flats and take care of your bike.

Schedule a Bike Fit

Probably one of the most important things you can do is invest in a professional bike fit. It will make your rides more comfortable, increase your performance and minimize your risk for injury. Most bike shops will offer this and you can check around to see who has the best reputation for this service.

Stay on Paved Trails

Before you venture onto the road, stick to paved trails away from traffic until you are comfortable. Salmon Creek Trail, Discovery Trail, Padden Parkway and the Waterfront provide wonderful trails to safely cycle on. Too many cyclists’ lives have been cut short due to a collision with a vehicle. Many cyclists have now opted to ride away from vehicles and headed to paved or dirt trails.

Join a Cycling Club

You will meet new training buddies, learn a ton to improve your performance and add variety to your riding! Check out the Vancouver Bicycle Club.

Happy and safe riding!

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

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If there is such a thing as cake perfection, this is it. Only seven ingredients, incredibly easy to make, it’s brilliantly simple but it’s intriguing. With a crackly almond top and a crumb dotted with bursts of floral-sweetness from the cardamom, it just feels fancy. This is the one recipe Alice Waters couldn’t live without and after you try it, you’ll see why. 

Start by coating your pan with butter and sugar. This is what gives the cake its amazing crust and also what helps to release it from the pan. If your springform pan isn’t non-stick, use a parchment paper disk in the bottom of your pan. Prep your pan over the sink so that any sugar that gets away goes there, not on your floor.

Cardamom seeds are increasingly easy to find, but if you are using the whole pods you can crush them with a mortar and pestle, chef’s knife or a heavy skillet. Remove the small seeds from their papery pods, then use the same method to bruise the seeds. You can also use 2 teaspoons of ground cardamom, but the seeds are what give the little pops of mystery in each bite. Use a stand mixer, or if you are looking for a little arm exercise, a hand mixer. Because this cake does not have chemical leaveners, aka baking soda or powder, all of the leaving will come from whipping – 5 whole minutes. There’s a great video on food52.com where you can watch the cake being made. 

Try it with your tea. Dash it to a friend’s door. Make it for your Mom. It feels special because it is. Happy Mother’s Day!

Cardamom Cake 

Preheat oven to 350º F. Liberally butter a springform pan, then sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Shake and tap pan until bottom and sides are coated with sugar, leaving any extra sugar in the bottom of your pan. Cover the bottom with sliced almonds, if using. 

Combine eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream until thick, pale and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Bruise cardamom seeds in a mortar. Using a rubber spatula, quickly fold the flour and salt into the egg and sugar, followed by the butter and cardamom. Stir batter thoroughly before pouring into prepared pan. Thump pan on counter to settle batter.

Bake until top of cake feels dry to the touch and springs back lightly when pressed, or tester inserted in center comes out dry, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and leave in pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pan to loosen; invert on rack to cool. Carefully remove bottom of pan while cake is still very warm. Let cool before cutting. 

– recipe by Niloufer Ichaporia King 

125653is-camas-top-administrator-already-on-his-way-out https://blogs.columbian.com/all-politics-is-local/is-camas-top-administrator-already-on-his-way-out/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/1007231750-07-21-Camas-administr-305x460.jpg

Camas’ top administrator might pack his bags soon, less than a year after starting the job. 

City Administrator Jamal Fox has been named a finalist for the city manager gig in Gresham, Ore., according to a news release from that city. Fox is one of three finalists selected from a field of 37 candidates.

Camas Mayor Barry McDonnell announced his selection of Fox for his current position in July. 

A statement from the city of Camas released by spokesperson Bryan Rachal said that Fox “has been pursued by multiple municipalities.”

“Knowing what type of leader Jamal is, we completely understand why,” the statement reads. “Jamal’s skills, talent and leadership have been much appreciated and they have been an important part of the success the city has experienced during the pandemic. While we are saddened to possibly lose Jamal to another city, we’re also excited for the opportunity for him and his family.”

Fox could not be reached for comment. 

He previously spent about three years with the city of Portland, spending his final year there as one of Mayor Ted Wheeler’s deputy chiefs of staff. In 2013, at age 25, Fox made history as the youngest person ever elected to the Greensboro, N.C., City Council, where he served for four years. 

He spent a year at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University as an adjunct political science professor. Fox also earned a degree in political science from the university in 2010 and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Capella University.

Former Camas City Administrator Pete Capell announced in December 2019 that he would step down from his position. Capell’s announcement came after McDonnell, a write-in candidate, defeated incumbent Mayor Shannon Turk in the November 2019 mayoral election.

McDonnell, despite beginning his campaign began about a month before Election Day, was carried by opposition to a proposition on the same ballot that would have earmarked $78 million for a new community center. The bond failed with nearly 90 percent opposition.

Capell later said that he had “a target on my back” as a de facto spokesperson for the bond and other city priorities.

In January 2020, the Camas City Council considered three executive-search consultant firms to conduct a search for the city’s next administrator before landing on Portland- and Seattle-based Waldron. Cost proposals ranged from $18,000 to $28,000.

After Camas began a search for the city administrator position in January 2020, the city reviewed 67 applications for the position, McDonnell said in a video conversation with Fox posted after his hiring announcement. 

“Building trust, or rebuilding and strengthening trust, to make sure that Camasonians believe in their government, that they have the same vision, or the strategic vision that we create, they see themselves in that vision,” Fox said during that conversation, also saying that Camas was “poised for great things.”

During the conversation, Fox lauded the city’s history, parks, residents, infrastructure, schools and public safety.

“We wanted a place where we can lay our roots and grow our family, and Camas was that community,” Fox said. 

The city administrator oversees daily operations, under the direction of the mayor, in Camas’ mayor-council form of government. It is the highest paid position among city employees, with an annual salary ranging from $143,400 to $171,768.

Around Fox’s first day on the job, The Columbian reached out to him to schedule a conversation about what he hoped to accomplish in his new position. Fox has not been reachable for comment since starting in his position.

125647top-girls-track-and-field-marks-in-southwest-washington-this-season https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2021/04/23/top-girls-track-and-field-marks-in-southwest-washington-this-season/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/RunnnerS-600x391.jpg

Top high school girls track and field marks this season in Southwest Washington (through April 23).

Source: Athletic.net

100 meters

1. Brinley Jackson (Union) 12.50
2. Shaela Bradley (La Center) 12.68
3. Melanie Martinez (Kalama) 12.98

200 meters

1. Hannah Polkinghorn (Columbia-White Salmon) 26.37
2. Shaela Bradley (La Center) 26.61
3. Brinley Jackson (Union) 26.79

400 meters

1. Shaela Bradley (La Center) 1:01.30
2. Lucia Ianello (Columbia River) 1:02.84
3. Jamie Maas (Washougal) 1:04.05

800 meters

1. Lara Carrion (Seton Catholic) 2:24.85
2. Elle Thomas (Washougal) 2:25.27
3. Hanna Bailey (Columbia River) 2:27.65

1,600 meters

1. Elle Thomas (Washougal) 5:13.10
2. Sydney Boothby (Washougal) 5:17.18
3. Lara Carrion (Seton Catholic) 5:29.86

3,200 meters

1. Elle Thomas (Washougal) 11:19.55
2. Allyson Peterson (Hockinson) 11:23.28
3. Lara Carrion (Seton Catholic) 11:56.54

100 hurdles

1. Lucy George (Woodland) 15.72
2. Ada Owens (Hudson’s Bay) 17.59
3. Chanele Reyes (Columbia-White Salmon) 17.60

300 hurdles

1. Chanele Reyes (Columbia-White Salmon) 49.76
2. Emma Fisher (Mark Morris) 51.00
3. Camille Vaughan (King’s Way Christian) 51.25

400 relay

1. Columbia-White Salmon 52.80
2. Kalama 52.96
3. Mark Morris 53.34

800 relay

1. Mark Morris 1:53.88
2. Kalama 1:54.81
3. Ridgefield 1:56.09

1,600 relay

1. Columbia-White Salmon 4:22.10
2. Seton Catholic 4:25.00
3. Camas 4:26.12

Shot put

1. Lucy George (Woodland) 36-8
2. Ariel Ammentorp (Union) 36-5
3. Mykala Preston (Mountain View) 34-1


1. Hannah Kim (Camas) 103-3
2. Dorothy Franklin (Camas) 98-11
3. Harling Flores (Ridgefield) 98-8


1. Erin Tack (Kelso) 141-2
2. Bella Hadaller (Kelso) 123-8
3. Natalie Fraley (Kelso) 120-3

Long jump

1. Lucy George (Woodland) 17-2.5
2. Shaela Bradley (La Center) 16-9.5
3. Ava Kruckenberg (Ridgefield) 16-9

Triple jump

1. Cecilia Fox-Middleton (Skyview) 35-3
2. Cassie Macnab (Stevenson 33-4.5
3. Kennedy Huesties (Woodland) 33-2.5

High jump

1. Lucy George (Woodland) 5-6
2. Paige Kessler (Castle Rock) 5-5
2. Four jumpers 5-0

Pole vault

1. Shea McGee (Camas) 11-0
2. Grace Hopkins (Columbia River) 9-0
3. Isabella Mattison (Woodland) 8-6
3. Katie Stevens (Washougal) 8-6

125650top-boys-track-and-field-marks-this-season-in-southwest-washington https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2021/04/23/top-boys-track-and-field-marks-this-season-in-southwest-washington/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/BowThro-600x399.jpg

Top high school boys track and field marks this season in Southwest Washington (through April 23).

Source: Athletic.net

100 meters

1. Isaiah Speer (Camas) 11.41
2. Kasen Dubke (Kalama) 11.46
3. Teddy Beaver (Skyview) 11.49
3. Nate Meyer (Kalama) 11.49

200 meters

1. Brig Griffin (Washougal) 23.77
2. Jonathan Landry (Evergreen) 23.78
3. Chase Leigh (Kalama) 23.83

400 meters

1. Cole Kaysner (Skyview) 55.18
2. James Hallstrom (La Center) 55.30
3. Max Eline (Seton Catholic) 55.47

800 meters

1. Evan Jenkins (Camas) 1:59.32
2. Addison Smee (Kalama) 2:03.01
3. Timothy Bradshaw (Ridgefield) 2:04.15

1,600 meters

1. Joseph Blanshan (La Center) 4:32.34
2. Addison Smee (Kalama) 4:32.42
3. Trevan Bischoff (Hockinson) 4:43.45

3,200 meters

1. Joseph Blanshan (La Center) 9:47.86
2. Joshua Saeman (Hockinson) 10:21.56
3. Cameron Lantagne (Union) 10:22.59

110 hurdles

1. Aiden Wise (Ridgefield) 15.04
2. Carson Shepard (Union) 15.21
3. J’Quan Collins (Fort Vancouver) 16.40

300 hurdles

1. Cason Shepard (Union) 40.16
2. Kasen Dubke (Kalama) 40.96
3. Aiden Wise (Ridgefield) 41.45

400 relay

1. Camas 44.69
2. Columbia River 46.10
3. Kalama 46.16

1,600 relay

1. Camas 3:42.67
2. Ridgefield 3:45.84
3. Columbia-White Salmon 3:46.22

Shot put

1. Garret Bernt (Stevenson) 53-1
2. Jason Bowman (Woodland) 50-9
3. Joseph Landerholm (Ridgefield) 49-5


1. Jason Bowman (Woodland) 143-4.5
2. Christopher Martin (Hudson’s Bay) 139-8
3. Joseph Landerholm (Ridgefield) 135-8


1. Nathan Anderson (Kalama) 171-6.5
2. Max Cox (Kalama) 162-5
3. Cody Wheeler (Hockinson) 161-5

Long jump

1. Kenyon Johnson (Hockinson) 20-3.5
2. Ely Del Angel (Evergreen) 19-5.5
3. Brig Griffin (Washougal) 19.4.75

Triple jump

1. Hewson Nguyen (RA Long) 40-3
2. Cole Logan (Woodland) 39-2
3. Hudson Schnedier (Camas) 39-7

High jump

1. Isaac Trigsted (Castle Rock) 5-10
1. Tucker Kneipp (Washougal) 5-10
1. Nicholas Mounsavath (Fort Vancouver) 5-10
1. Benjamin Haywood (Union) 5-10

Pole vault

1. Judeah Sanders (Woodland) 14-0
1. Levi Williams (Columbia River) 14-0
3. Royce Pascua-Aganon (Skyview) 13-6

125641wa-3-candidate-to-speak-at-rally-headlined-by-rep-marjorie-taylor-greene https://blogs.columbian.com/all-politics-is-local/wa-3-candidate-to-speak-at-rally-headlined-by-rep-marjorie-taylor-greene/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/MTG-and-Kent-1024x473-600x277.jpg

Joe Kent, a Republican running for Southwest Washington’s congressional seat, is speaking at a rally this Saturday headlined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Kent is one of a handful of speakers billed on the event’s flyer in addition to Greene, a Republican from Georgia. Other guests include former Trump campaign data strategist Matthew Braynard and a candidate challenging moderate GOP Rep. Liz Cheney for her House seat.

The “America First Rally” will be hosted Saturday by the Republican Women of Indian River County, located on the east Florida coast. 

Kent confirmed his attendance at the rally on Thursday, adding that he obtained the invitation through a mutual friend of Greene’s.

Nationally, Greene has a reputation as a promoter of far-right conspiracy theories. Among them: that the deadly shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School and Sandy Hook Elementary were false flag operations, that high-ranking Democrats were running a sex-trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor (aka Pizzagate) and that the 2018 California wildfires were caused by a space laser.

I asked Kent if he is a supporter of Greene.

“I am, absolutely,” Kent responded. “I really like the way that she is fighting for the America First agenda in Congress.”

He likes Greene’s energy, he added, as well as her support of a wall on the southern border, her push to reinstate an roll-call vote on the House floor and her introduction of the Fire Fauci Act, aimed at the country’s chief medical adviser who became the face of the country’s COVID-19 response.

I asked Kent if Greene’s history with conspiracy theories gave him any pause.

“It’s all before she was in Congress. I support her record as an elected official,” Kent said.

More recently, Greene attracted headlines last week when she proposed an “America First Caucus” that would recognize America’s “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

In our conversation, I pointed out to Kent that the caucus and the rally bear the same name, are led by the same person and were announced barely a week apart. Given those connections, is the America First Caucus something he’d support should he win election next year?

“No one’s talked to me about any kind of caucus,” Kent said.

“I support the America First agenda, that means many things to different people,” he continued. “I’ve heard of the caucus, but nobody’s asked me to be part of it.”

Braynard, who’s now working as a staff advisor to the Kent campaign, said Kent decided to attend the rally in part because he was already in Florida taking other meetings. The campaign isn’t ready to talk about it just yet, Braynard said, but they’ll be “making some announcements shortly.”

I asked Kent directly whether he’s in Florida seeking Donald Trump’s endorsement. According to the candidate, there’s not currently any meetings with the former president on the schedule.

“I’m an America First Republican, so I’m always seeking an endorsement from Donald Trump,” Kent said. “If opportunity presents itself to go give him my pitch, I will definitely go get it.” 

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Our community hosted the first Live Multisport event this past weekend in over a year and half since the pandemic began. It was a safe return to racing and 600 athletes completed a variety of running distances and a Duathlon (Run/Bike/Run).

Now that racing is live again, many are starting to set goals to challenge themselves physically and mentally. A Triathlon is the epitome of a physical challenge testing your endurance and ability to complete three different disciplines.

There are 3 Triathlon events in Southwest Washington scheduled for August including the Lucky Triathlon in Woodland and the Columbia River and Girlfriends Triathlon at Frechman’s Bar.

If you are ready to conquer the triple challenge, here’s a list of 10 things you should know:

You don’t have to break the bank

Conquering Your First Triathlon

You don’t need an expensive wet-suit or a carbon fiber road bike. Many people have completed a triathlon on a mountain bike or their old road bike that has been collecting dust in the garage. Just make sure you get your bike serviced to assure everything is safe and functioning. Many have borrowed all the supplies and equipment they need from a friend so don’t feel pressured to buy everything new for your first triathlon. You could easily get away with swim goggles and swim suit, whatever bike and helmet you have access to and a pair of running shoes. Bottom line – make sure you practice with whatever you will be using on your actual race day.

Join a triathlon training club

Locally, you can train with groups such as TRIumph Triathlon Club or Dialed Triathlon. You will learn so much and have access to so many resources when you find your tribe to train with. Plus, it makes training so much more enjoyable. Bob Hoffman, local Triathlete and Trainer is starting a 16 Week Triathlon Training Program to prepare athletes for an August triathlon.

Pick your race

There is nothing like signing up for a triathlon to solidify your commitment to getting to the finish line. When most people think of Triathlon, they think of Ironman but an Ironman distance event should not be your first Triathlon. The distances are ultra-long and challenging. For your first event, choose a course that is shorter and flat. A sprint distance is ideal which typically includes a ½ mile swim, a 12 mile bike and a 5K run. Some events even host a ‘My 1st Triathlon” distance that offers a shorter, ¼ mile swim since the open water swimming is the area where most rookies are a bit nervous.

Choose local

Race-cations are fun, but for your first race, make it easy on your

self and select an event that is close to home which can help reduce the hassle of travel and race-day stress. It can also help because you can practice on the exact course you’ll be racing on which will increase your confidence. All three of the local events are ideal courses for first time triathletes since they are flat, easier and offer shorter distances. The events at Frenchman’s Bar are perfectly set up for a timid swimmer because the swim course is point to point, hugs the shore and travels with a light current in the Columbia River. Participants get a little push as they swim. In addition, if swimmers get tired, they can wade to the shore and touch down and take a break if needed. Register for a local triathlon.

Practice Open Water Swimming

Conquering Your First Triathlon

Once you feel comfortable in the pool, you’ll want to make sure you practice swimming outdoors so you can get accustomed to swimming straight without having lines at the bottom of the pool to guide you. Lakes and rivers don’t provide ledges where you can stop and take a break. You’ll need to learn to ‘sight’ and use landmarks every few strokes to pop your head out of the water to assure you’re on track. If you don’t develop the skill to ‘sight’ and swim straight, you can end up swimming a much greater distance than you need to as you zig zag through the course. Be sure you always swim outdoors with a buddy and safety support – this is where joining a triathlon club can be invaluable. It’s important to understand that any stroke counts in a triathlon so you could breast stroke, side stroke and even doggie paddle your way to the finish of the swim course.

Practice brick workouts

Running after you ride is challenging and you’ll want to train your body to get accustomed to it. A brick workout is a training session that has you cycling and then immediately, without a break, heading out to run. It’s called a ‘brick’ workout because your legs feel like bricks initially, but with practice, you’ll get better and you’ll ‘find your running legs’ quicker.

Practice the transition

Many rookies fail to understand that the transition time between the three disciplines counts towards your overall time in triathlon. Elite level triathletes have the transition between swim and bike (deemed T1) and bike and run (T2) down to a science. They know exactly what they need for the next discipline and have it placed exactly where they need it to assure a quick transition. It’s important to practice what you’ll need and how to take some items off while you put other items on to assure you’re not wasting unnecessary time. Practice in a training outfit that you can wear throughout the entire race to minimize time changing in and out of different types of clothing. However, in the beginning, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Take as much time as you need and enjoy the experience.

Ease into training

Conquering Your First TriathlonInitially, just focus on slowly increasing your endurance to complete the required distance for each discipline. You might swim twice per bike, bike twice per week and run twice per week with one of those workouts including a Brick workout. You can easily finish a triathlon on training less than 5 hours per week. Even as you progress your volume of training, the 80:20 rule is a great approach. It includes 80% of your training at a light or moderate intensity and only 20% of your training at a high intensity level where you focus on your speed.

Read your pre-race instructions

The race director will provide you pre-race instructions and videos. Read and watch everything. Study the courses. Fully understand all the rules and nuances of your specific race. You don’t want any surprises. If confused or if you need clarification, reach out to the race director and ask questions. They will be happy to support you and assure you feel confident going into your first race.

Have fun

Remember to smile, enjoy the experience and feel an incredible sense of accomplishment as you cross the finish line.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

1256137-outdoor-threats-to-cats-safety https://blogs.columbian.com/cat-tales/2021/04/18/7-outdoor-threats-to-cats-safety/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Cat-sniffing-plant-600x398.jpg

Notoriously inquisitive, known for nosing around indoors and out, cats continuously court disaster and it’s incumbent upon their conscientious owners to keep them safe from harm.

That said, consider these seven outdoor threats to your own kitty’s health and wellbeing.

7 Outdoor Threats to Cats’ Safety

Toxic Plants: Famously fond of chewing on plants, curious cats should never find these toxic plants in YOUR garden – azaleas, chrysanthemums, daffodils, foxgloves, gladioli, hydrangeas, irises, lilies, marigolds, tomato plants and tulips. For a more complete list of potentially lethal plants, please consult your vet.

7 Outdoor Threats to Cats’ Safety

Unlocked garages and sheds: Both are paw-tential “breeding grounds” for disaster — from sharp tools when stepped on to toxic chemicals when ingested. If your house has a garage, a shed or both, ensure that they’re always closed and locked when not in use to keep your cat from wandering around them unsupervised. Make certain beforehand, though, that all of your tools have been safely stored away and that your cat isn’t hiding some place inside to keep her from being trapped there.

Uncovered swimming pools: Attempting to drink from an outdoor swimming pool can prove fatal to any curious cats should they fall into the water. To spare them this fate, either use a pool cover when the pool’s not in use or ensure that there’s a low edge to it. This way, cats can easily climb out if they happen to lose their balance and take a tumble.7 Outdoor Threats to Cats’ Safety

Chemical herbicides: Far too many dedicated gardeners use chemicals — herbicides and/or insecticides — to keep their gardens free from unsightly weeds and plant-eating bugs. But these chemicals can make cats violently ill if licked, chewed and swallowed. The solution: if you do use such chemicals, restrict your cat’s access to the garden until they’re fully dried or, better still, switch to natural alternatives that are deemed safe for pets.

Rat poison and slug pellets: Not only is rodent poison fatal to rats and mice, it can also be fatal to cats — if they ingest the poison itself or if they eat a poisoned rat. To keep your cat safe, avoid using rat poison in your own garden and speak with your neighbors about their own, possible use of this toxic substance. Slug pellets, shaped like small cylindrical bullets, can also be appealing to cats and should be replaced with harmless alternatives – from copper tape and egg shells to sea shells and recycled wool waste pellets.

7 Outdoor Threats to Cats’ Safety

Fruit stones from trees or plants: The downside of having fruit trees or fruit-bearing plants in your garden is how quickly they litter the ground with fruit stones, berries and seeds. If cats swallow a fruit stone, it can often cause an intestinal obstruction that, if not resolved promptly, can be fatal. In some cases, these stones, along with the berries and seeds, can also be toxic and should be removed from the ground on a regular basis.

Compost heaps: While cats may enjoy digging about in compost heaps, dangers lurk deep within them — from sharp sticks, moldy food and coffee grounds to cat-toxic fruits and vegetables such as raisins, onions and avocados. If there’s a compost heap in your garden, enclose it with a pet-proof fence or use a specially designed bin to keep the compost safely out of reach of your cats’ paws and mouths.


125609spicy-shrimp-celery-and-cashew-stir-fry https://blogs.columbian.com/home-made/spicy-shrimp-celery-and-cashew-stir-fry/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/IMG_4327-e1618630374991-1024x765-600x448.jpg

Make it take out tonight: outside that is. Eat light and enjoy the beautiful spring weather with this quick Spicy Shrimp, Celery and Cashew Sitr-Fry. It’s healthy, delicious and there for you anytime you need something good to eat but forgot to think about it until just now. 

Keep a bag of peeled and deveined shrimp in your freezer for spur-of-the-moment protein. For the quickest, best texture defrost, pour shrimp directly from bag into a big bowl and cover with cold water to completely submerge. In just 10 to 20 minutes, you’re good to go. If you have more time and can actually plan ahead, you can also defrost the entire bag in the fridge overnight. 

This dish comes together very quickly. Prep your ingredients ahead so everything is ready before you start cooking (think Benihana). Mix the sauce in one small prep bowl. Mince the garlic and ginger and combine with the red pepper flakes in another small bowl. Have the celery sliced and the scallions sliced and separated. Get a 1/4 teaspoon measure ready to add each addition of the salt and a tablespoon measure ready for the oil. Have a transfer plate nearby for the celery. Now you’re ready to wok. 

Because of it’s high heat point, I used avocado oil when I made this, but you can use canola, grapeseed or vegetable oil. Substitute tamari for the soy sauce to make this gluten-free. Keto as is, you could also serve it with brown or white rice, or with noodles. Or, keep it low carb with cauliflower rice. The filling would also be a good one for lettuce wraps. Enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp, Celery and Cashew Stir-Fry

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil and rice cooking wine in a small prep bowl; mix together and set aside. Mince ginger and garlic and transfer to a small prep bowl along with red pepper flakes. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, then add celery and cashews. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir-fry about 3 minutes, until celery turns jade green. Transfer celery and cashews to a plate.

Return skillet to high heat. Add remaining tablespoon of oil, shrimp and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir-fry about 2 minutes, or until shrimp turn pink and curl up. Add ginger-garlic mixture and the scallion whites. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return celery and cashews to pan along with most of the scallion greens. Add soy sauce mixture and stir to mix evenly and blend flavors. Continue to cook until thoroughly heated, another minute or more.  Mound on a platter and garnish with remaining scallion greens. 

– recipe from foodnetwork.com

125601top-girls-swimming-times-in-southwest-washington https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2021/04/16/top-girls-swimming-times-in-southwest-washington/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/SwimSwim-1024x576-600x338.jpg

Top girls swimming times for Southwest Washington for the 2020-21 season:

200 medley relay

1. Camas 1:57.00
2. Union 2:01.00
3. Columbia River 2:03.79

200 freestyle

1. Bryanna Ungs (La Center) 2:04.00
2. Angie Eugenis (Kelso) 2:04.05
3. Sydney King (Camas) 2:13.14

200 individual medley

1. Paeton Lessser (Camas) 2:19.72
2. Angie Eugenis (Kelso) 2:24.07
3. Jordan Moore (Skyview) 2:26.72

50 freestyle

1. Annette Chang (Union) 25.26
2. Madison Wick (Mountain View) 25.42
3. Bryanna Ungs (La Center) 25.45

100 butterfly

1. Paeton Lesser (Camas) 1:02.40
2. Annette Chang (Union) 1:04.60
3. Jane Tewinkle (Columbia River) 1:06.27

100 freestyle

1. Annette Chang (Union) 55.50
2. Paeton Lesser (Camas) 56.58
3. Angie Eugenis (Kelso) 56.79

500 freestyle

1. Bryanna Ungs (La Center) 5:41.87
2. Madison Wick (Mountain View) 5:45.20
3. Angie Eugenis (Kelso) 5:48.53

200 free relay

1. Mountain View 1:49.00
1. Union 1:49.00
3. Washougal 1:49.83

100 backstroke

1. Mia Kamenko (Camas) 1:02.56
2. Madison Wick (Mountain View) 1:04.15
3. Paeton Lesser (Camas) 1:05.87

100 breaststroke

1. Bryanna Ungs (La Center) 1:04.00.
2. Aubrey Horner (Mountain View) 1:10.00
3. Paeton Lesser (Camas) 1:13.43

400 free relay

1. Camas 3:56.00
2. Union 4:07.00
3. Mountain View 4:08.00

125598do-governor-emergency-powers-impact-covid-19-case-counts https://blogs.columbian.com/all-politics-is-local/do-governor-emergency-powers-impact-covid-19-case-counts/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Inslee-mask-600x401.jpg

Earlier this week, I reported a story on how lawmakers in Southwest Washington are pushing to roll back the emergency powers of Gov. Jay Inslee.

In a nutshell: The legislators are arguing that they should have more oversight over Inslee’s proclamations related to COVID-19, considering that Washington’s been in a state of emergency for over a year. Defenders of the status quo argue that Washington State has done an excellent job under Inslee’s leadership at curbing the spread of COVID-19, and that his executive orders based in science have undoubtedly saved lives. 

I want to circle back to that story because during my research, I found an odd little correlation between two sets of data that merits a mention: nationwide, state governors with the strongest executive powers have done either the best job or the worst job at slowing coronavirus transmissions and deaths, with little middle ground.

Consider this study from the Maine Policy Institute, which ranks the strength of the executive branch’s emergency powers in all 50 states. The study weighs a few key questions: Can the governor unilaterally declare a state of emergency? How long can the declaration last? What kind of oversight does the state’s legislature have over that process?

According to that study, the states with the strongest executive emergency powers are:

  1. Vermont
  2. Arizona
  3. North Dakota and Nebraska (tied)
  4. Washington, Ohio, North Carolina, Hawaii and Connecticut (tied)

Now consider an entirely separate data set: How various states have fared during COVID-19. According to a tracker from The New York Times, the states with the worst per capita case counts include North Dakota (No. 1), Arizona (No. 6) and Nebraska (No. 10). Among states that fared the best: Hawaii (No. 50), Vermont (No. 49), Washington (No. 46).

Ohio (No. 37), North Carolina (No. 36) and Connecticut (no. 35) fell closer to the middle but fared better than most.

How successfully a state has been able to slow the spread of COVID-19 depends on a convoluted, complex combination of different factors. But I was struck by how the states with more power concentrated in the executive branch were clustered at either the top or bottom of the case count list. Strong emergency powers, it would appear, correlate with a polarizing impact on the spread of the virus depending on who wields them.

And while states with Democrat governors tended to fare better, party isn’t a perfect predictor. Vermont, which has been under a state of emergency since March 13, 2020 and has the strongest executive powers in the country, has a Republican governor in Phil Scott.

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Strong arms give us the strength to lift, pull, throw, push and climb. Plus various celebrities have shown us that muscle is the new sexy! Now that the weather is warmer, you may be ready to focus on your upper body conditioning.

Try the following four exercises, three times per week on alternating days for the next four weeks and you’ll be impressed with the changes to your muscle conditioning.

Chin Ups

Beautiful Back & Strong ArmsBeautiful Back & Strong ArmsThe chin-up is one of the best upper body exercises and compound movements. The problem is most people can’t perform a full chin-up without assistance.

Fortunately, most gyms offer a Gravitron or other Assisted Chin-up machines enabling most people to incorporate chin-ups into their workout routine because the machines offer assistance. The model at your gym may be either a stand-up or kneel model and it may either be computerized or involve only a weight stack. The instructions on the front of the machine will clearly demonstrate how to complete the set-up process.

You will also notice that the chin-up exercise allows you to choose between 3-4 different grips – a wide grip, a mid-grip, a narrow grip and a reverse mid-grip. We recommend to our clients that they use all the various grips to challenge their muscles with a slightly different stimulus with each set. Once you have decided upon the grip, technique is pretty simple.

As you pull with your arms, your body will lift upwards.

Stop once your chin has cleared the bar.

Slowly return to the starting position.

Attempt to achieve full range of motion without locking out your elbows.

Try to focus on pulling with the muscles in your back rather than your arms.

Perform a set of 8-12 reps.

To perform this exercise at home, you can purchase a chin-up bar at most department stores or fitness equipment retailers for a very low cost (or head to your local park and use the monkey bars).

Since a regular chin-up bar doesn’t offer the assistance most people need, you can either use a small bench or just use your legs to jump up to the bar and then control the release on the way down. If your strength isn’t up to the point of lifting or lowering your body weight at all, then you can just keep your feet on the bench/ground and lift and lower as much of your body weight as you can handle.

With time and consistency, you will be able to lift and lower more of your weight soon.

Push Ups

Beautiful Back & Strong Arms Beautiful Back & Strong ArmsLie on your stomach.

Position your hands on the floor a few inches beside your shoulder.

Make sure that your elbows are directly over top or to the inside of your wrists.

Keep your abdominals contracted and your back in its neutral position.

Slowly push up and slowly lower down to the starting position.

Relax for a few seconds.

Perform 8-15 repetitions. (Placing your hands on an incline like a bench, step or wall, will provide a more gentle entry level option also).

Advanced – Perform the same exercise as above but now from your toes.

Reverse Flies

Beautiful Back & Strong ArmsLie on your stomach over a bench or step, grab a light set of handweights (or soup cans).

Position both arms straight to the side beside shoulders.

Use your back muscles to slightly extend your spine so you are not collapsed and flexed over the step.

Arms are perpendicular to your body with elbows just slightly bent.

Slowly lift both arms upwards while pulling shoulder blades together.

Keep your neck in a neutral position, abdominals contracted and back stable.

Perform 8-20 reps.

Chest Press

Beautiful Back & Strong Arms Beautiful Back & Strong ArmsLie on your back on a step/bench holding free weights (soup cans) with legs suspended in the air and knees bent at 90 degrees.

Start with arms positioned straight up over your shoulders.

Slowly lower the weights to the side until your elbows are bent at the side at shoulder height and hands positioned over elbows.

Slowly press the hand-weights back upwards.

Contract chest muscles as you press up and in.

Perform 8-12 reps with enough resistance that fatigues you.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

125576la-centers-shaela-bradley-kings-way-christians-sara-thudium-top-1a-trico-league-girls-soccer-all-league-team https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2021/04/12/la-centers-shaela-bradley-kings-way-christians-sara-thudium-top-1a-trico-league-girls-soccer-all-league-team/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/SoccerBall.jpg

All-league team as selected by league coaches:

Offensive player of the year: Shaela Bradley, fr., La Center

Defensive player of the year: Sara Thudium, sr., King’s Way Christian


Gianna Redman, jr., GK, Seton Catholic

Samantha Coyle, sr., DEF, La Center

Veda Frost, sr., DEF, Castle Rock

Lori Ogden, jr., DEF, Castle Rock

Payton Sheridan, jr., DEF, Goldendale

Emma Setter, jr., MID, La Center

Terra Sloniker, sr., MID, La Center

Sophia Rubano, so., MID, King’s Way Christian

Tara Sloniker, sr., MID, La Center

Hannah Jo Hammerstrom, so., FWD, Seton Catholic

Annabelle Atwood, jr., FWD, King’s Way Christian

Allison Smith, fr., FWD, King’s Way Christian


GK: McKenzie Dahl, so., Goldendale; DEF: Addi McCaleb, fr., Seton Catholic; Kali Watson, so., Goldendale; Kiera Crocker, jr., La Center; MID: Avery Ness, fr., Castle Rock; Electra Duus, sr., Castle Rock; Ashlyn Winston, sr., La Center; Myla Langdon, jr., Castle Rock; FWD: Tiana Watson, sr., Goldendale; Makayla Wilbur, sr., Castle Rock; Rowan Biancaniello, sr., La Center; Taryn Johnson, jr., Columbia-White Salmon


Shannon Coffey, jr., Seton Catholic; Lauren Naughton, sr., Seton Catholic; Madi Manary, sr., Seton Catholic; Taylor Hansen, fr., Columbia-White Salmon

125573colville-high-school-football-player-dies-after-being-injured-during-game https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2021/04/12/colville-high-school-football-player-dies-after-being-injured-during-game/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/football-600x451.jpg

A senior high school football player from Colville has died from injuries received in a game on April 1.

Dale Martin, a senior running back/defensive end, was taken off life support on Saturday, nine days after being injured in Colville’s game against Deer Park.

“Dale’s injuries are too severe for him to survive,” the Martin family said in a statement on Friday. “We are going to have to let him go. We have had him transferred to Mount Carmel hospital in Colville. I can’t express enough gratitude for the donations, fundraising love and support that this community has shown Dale and his family. The funds raised will help with the cost of transport from Kootenai where he was receiving treatment to here so he could be surrounded by friends and family.”

According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Martin received a hard hit in the game against Deer Park. After the play, he stood up, said he didn’t feel good and collapsed on the field. An ambulance was not on scene for the game, but one arrived with 5-10 minutes, according to Taylor Newquist of the Colville Statesman-Examiner.

Colville is located about 70 miles north of Spokane. Colville plays at the Class 1A level.

About a dozen high school or college football players in the U.S. die each year while playing or as a result of an injury on the field, according to a 2013 study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Among student football players who died between 1990 and 2010, brain injury was the second-most common cause of death after cardiac failure.

Click here to read the Spokesman-Review’s full story.

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Add a squeeze of sunshine to your week with these high protein Healthy Blueberry Lemon Pancakes. Light and fluffy but high in fiber, they’re made with nutritious ingredients like oats, cottage cheese and eggs to help keep you fueled for hours without weighing you down. Dotted with plump blueberries, there’s a bright pop of lemon in each bite. 

The recipe below makes 12 4-inch pancakes that are gluten and soy free. You can make them vegan by using an egg replacer, or flax eggs, and dairy free yogurt in place of the cottage cheese. Store leftovers airtight and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave.

Double up: measure just the dry ingredients for a second batch into a separate jar as you make these so that you can make another batch of pancakes quickly. For another bright breakfast, swap in orange peel and juice for the lemon, and use almond extract in place of the vanilla.    

Healthy Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Add all pancake ingredients, except blueberries, to blender. Pulse a few times to mix, then blend on high speed for about 30 seconds until no lumps remain and batter is smooth. Heat a little oil or butter in a non-stick frying pan or griddle set over medium heat. Portion out pancakes using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pouring batter onto heated pan. Scatter 5-6 blueberries on top of each pancake. 

Cook pancakes until bottom is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip, then cook another 1-3 minutes until done. Serve warm with additional fresh blueberries and maple syrup. 

– adapted from daisybeet.com 

Fear not the shortage. Once you try home made ketchup, you’ll be hooked. This easy to make recipe lets you be in charge out of what goes in, leaving you with a delicious, healthier condiment at a fraction what you’d pay for a commercial or artisanal bottle. Adjust the level of salt or sweetness, or make it organic. The recipe below yields about 10 ounces for the cost of a small can of tomato paste plus a few pantry pulls. Delicious served warm, it keeps about 3 weeks in a glass container in the fridge.

If you’ve been hoarding the packets, be aware that Heinz states they have a shelf life of about 9 months. So, look ahead to that Memorial Day cookout. And be prepared to BYOB of ketchup. 

Home Made Ketchup

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan set over medium heat and whisk until smooth. Heat to a light boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Store refrigerated in a covered container. 


125559former-acting-secdef-issues-early-endorsement-for-congress https://blogs.columbian.com/all-politics-is-local/former-acting-secdef-issues-early-endorsement-for-congress/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Joe-Kent-510x460.jpg

A former acting defense secretary under Donald Trump’s administration endorsed Republican Joe Kent’s bid for Congress this week.

Christopher Miller, who served as Trump’s acting secretary of defense for the last three months of the former president’s term, said that Kent — an Army veteran — has his “complete and total support.”

“I have been in combat with Joe Kent. In combat, a person’s true character is revealed,” Miller said, according to a press release from Kent’s campaign. “The only things that matter are honor, endurance, selflessness, service, and empathy. No one I know better exemplifies these virtues.” 

He’s the only “qualified, prepared and battle-tested candidate” of the pool currently running in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, Miller added.

Miller, like Kent, was a Green Beret, and both saw combat during deployments to the Middle East.

Early this year, Miller drew criticism on Capitol Hill after the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C., over his hesitation to approve deployment of National Guard troops from nearby states. He didn’t green-light the order until three hours after Capitol police had been overrun. 

(A sidebar: the original email from Kent’s deputy campaign manager had initially trumpeted the endorsement of “Former Secretary of Defense Stephen Miller.” The manager quickly corrected the error, but not before I fell deep down a Google rabbit hole having somehow convinced myself that Trump adviser Stephen Miller had at some point since 2016 served as the U.S. Defense Secretary, and I’d just run out of room in my brain to log any trivia. He hadn’t. Just FYI).

It’s early to be issuing endorsements, especially when four Republicans and counting are still mounting campaigns for the seat in 2022.

But Miller wasn’t the first — on March 30, Right Woman PAC announced their endorsement of fellow GOP candidate Heidi St. John, calling her “a trusted leader whose deep Christian faith and patriotism are always on display.”

“America needs patriots like Heidi to help us get America back on track and stop the dangerous creep of Socialism,” Right Women Board Member Elaine Norman said in a press release. The rhetoric matched that used by both Kent and St. John, who in public forums have issued dire warnings about the growing control of “the left.” 

125562clark-county-eyes-fair-housing-month-declaration https://blogs.columbian.com/all-politics-is-local/clark-county-eyes-fair-housing-month-declaration/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/1008524585-02-24-Housing-study_01-600x400.jpg

The Clark County Council will consider a resolution later this month to declare Fair Housing Month. 

The council unanimously agreed during a council time meeting Wednesday to place the item for consideration on its April 20 meeting agenda. Council Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien said she introduced the proclamation at the request of the Clark County Association of Realtors. 

The declaration celebrates the 53rd anniversary of the enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968. 

The act enshrined into federal law the goal of eliminating racial segregation and housing discrimination. It committed recipients of federal funding, like Clark County, to promoting fair housing locally.

“Our social fabric, the economy, health, and environment are strengthened in diverse, inclusive communities,” the draft resolution reads. “Acts of housing discrimination and barriers to equal housing opportunity are repugnant to a common sense of decency and fairness.”

Across the U.S., government bodies and community organizations had not always made such clear commitments. For instance, in attempts to prevent people of color from buying homes, many homeowners’ associations required homebuyers to sign racist covenants in which they agreed not to sell to Black families.

In July, Elizabeth Fitzgearld, executive director of the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program, presented a historical photo of such a covenant from a Vancouver homeowners’ association to the council during a listening session on systemic racism. 

“They were, in a very coordinated manner, forced out,” Fitzgearld said. “Today, we have a visibly homogenous community.”

The Supreme Court ruled in 1948 that the covenants were unenforceable. Today, the county’s Black population is 2.4 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The county is one of many communities taking stock of its housing situation amid a shortage. Opportunities for marginalized groups is one of the factors local officials and community leaders have discussed. 

The county is, for example, in the middle of a months-long study of housing needs in the Vancouver Urban Growth Area. 

Study consultants interviewed representatives from dozens of stakeholder groups. Among them were the NAACP Vancouver, Southwest Washington League of United Latin American Citizens Council 47013 and the Latino Community Resource Group.

“Some interviewees noted the importance of working towards equity when reviewing policy and regulations for change to ensure no group is disproportionately affected,” read a summary of stakeholder interviews from study consultants.

125555maintaining-your-health-during-tough-times https://blogs.columbian.com/sherri-mcmillan/2021/04/08/maintaining-your-health-during-tough-times/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Sherri-Trillium-Lake-1-e1617895536253-600x332.jpg

When times are tough, one of the first things people will sacrifice is their health but that’s the last thing you should do, especially during a global health crisis. 

Maintaining Your Health During Tough TimesLooking and feeling your best will give you the energy and strength to overcome any obstacles you may experience

It will be the glue to keep you together during difficult times.

It will help you to manage stress and cause you to be more productive.

It will assure you that there is one thing that you can control in today’s world.

What our country and world are going through will one day pass and you don’t want to have to start all over again when it does. There is light at the end of this tunnel and you should exit feeling great and ready to thrive.

The message is that is exercise is essential. Fitness is not an option so get your workout in.

Here are some ideas to help keep your health a priority during tough times:


These types of programs evoke a relaxation response that many are in desperate need of. If you’re feeling weighed down by the stress of it all, enroll in one of these types of classes or check out many free on demand options. You can also access apps such as ‘Calm’ or ‘Headspace” to provide meditation moments. At the very least, just take a moment to be still and take 3 slow, deep breaths.

Choreographed Classes

Take a Zumba, Jazzercize dance class or any type of choreographed class. You’ll be forced to concentrate on the movements and it will take your mind off anything that is troubling you, even if just for a little while.


If you’re feeling anxious or frustrated, there’s nothing like punching a boxing bag or pads to help ease those feelings.

Join a Gym or Training Studio

The camaraderie of being around other positive, strong, determined people rubs off. You always leave feeling like a million bucks. No one ever leaves the health club saying “I wish I would have never came and worked out today!” If you want to be amazing, surround yourself with amazing people.

Go for a Run/Walk/Hike

There’s nothing like the post-workout high. Appreciate the beautiful scenery and the fresh air. It makes you feel happy to be alive and help put things into perspective.

Exercise is critical at this time in our world – even a short workout counts! You will feel SO much better when you’re done – guaranteed! Take 30 minutes and make it count.

Yours in Health & Fitness,
Sherri McMillan

125546go-orange-in-april-for-the-animals https://blogs.columbian.com/cat-tales/2021/04/04/go-orange-in-april-for-the-animals/ /wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Go-orange-for-animals.jpg

“Every sixty seconds, an animal is abused.”

“Go Orange” in April for the Animals”

This is according to the ASPCA. And so, they have designated April as “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” Month. They have also urged their supporters everywhere to “Go Orange for Animals” to increase public awareness.

The following are ways YOU can help.

“Go Orange” in April for the Animals”


Using your personal Facebook account, create an ASPCA fundraising page for an important event in your life and share it with friends and family. Whether you “donate” your birthday, honor the memory of a beloved pet or run a 5k with Team ASPCA, the money you raise will benefit needy animals nationwide.


Drawing on your own, personal contacts, team up with a local shelter or rescue in sponsoring a ”Go Orange for Animals” event (wearing orange, of course). Whether it’s an adoption event or a donation drive, give them the proceeds and/or supplies you’ve collected, and know the difference you’re making is huge!


Spread the word about “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” Month by posting on your social media networks using the hashtag #fightcruelty and tagging @aspca. Encourage your family and friends to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online, join their Advocacy Brigade to receive emails about important animal welfare-related legislation, and learn how YOU can become a voice for the voiceless.


Looking for the perfect fur friend for your family? Both shelters and rescue groups have loving dogs and cats of all breeds, ages and colors, desperate to find their own perfect families. By adopting, not shopping, you’re saving two lives: the life of the animal you adopt and the life of the animal taking its place.

How To Report Animal Cruelty

“Go Orange” in April for the Animals”

If you witness the act yourself, you can go to your local police commissioner and ask to swear out a warrant summoning the accused person to court.

Or you can find out precisely where to report the incident in your area. Then, either call or email them, providing a concise, factual statement of what you observed, including the date and approximate time of the abuse.

If possible, photograph the abusive situation and date your pictures.

If possible, gather brief, factual written statements from other witnesses.

If you have documents pertinent to your complaint, always make copies for your own records before giving them to anyone else.

If you call to report a case of animal cruelty, keep a record of the person you contact, the date, and the content and outcome of your discussion. Make it clear that you are interested in pursuing the case, and that you will help in any way you can.

If you don’t receive a response from the agent/officer assigned to your case within a reasonable length of time, follow up. Present your information to his/her supervisor and, if necessary, to local government officials, such as the county commissioner, and ask them to act.

Remember. If YOU don’t speak up, this abuse is likely to happen again.

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A more grown-up version of grilled cheese or the best ham and cheese sandwich ever, a Monte Cristo is easy to make at home – and it’s delicious! French toast gets an upgrade when you add some ham and Swiss cheese, dip it in egg batter and pan fry it in a bit of butter. It’s nostalgic, it’s comforting and it’s something you can make right now to use up that last little bit of ham. A perfect combination of sweet and savory, it’s right at home for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Plus, it just sounds fancy and that’s what makes it all the more fun. 

For purists, the classic Monte Cristo comes with a dusting of powdered sugar and raspberry jam on the side for dipping; mustard and mayonnaise may be spread inside the bread. In this preparation, you’ll make a spicy-sweet apple and Hatch chile compote as a sidekick. I made the sandwiches with just the ham and cheese inside and served the chile jam alongside rather than using it inside the sandwiches as the recipe directs. The jam is easy to make and you can use any leftovers to glaze chicken or pork or serve it with cheese. 

You will have more than enough of the egg soak, so make a few extra sandwiches. Transfer cooked sandwiches to a cooling rack layered over a baking sheet and keep warm in a 250º F oven until ready to serve. Enjoy! 

Monte Cristo with Apple-Hatch Chile Jam



Combine ingredients for jam in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and cook at a low simmer, about 20-25 minutes, stirring often. Continue to cook, mashing apples with a spoon or potato masher until apples break down completely and mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. 

Combine eggs, milk and salt in a wide, low dish. Whisk until well combined; set aside.

Make sandwiches: spread a heaping tablespoon of jam on all four slices of bread. On two of the slices sprinkle grated cheese, top each with 2 slices of ham, then sprinkle with more cheese and top with the other slices of bread. Compress sandwiches slightly.

In a large non-stick pan set over medium-high heat, warm butter and oil until butter melts. Working quickly, one sandwich at a time, dip each sandwich in the beaten egg, letting the bread soak for about 30 seconds; flip and repeat on other side. Add sandwiches to hot butter and oil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, pressing down slightly, until sandwiches are brown and crisp. Transfer to cutting board and cut in half before serving.  

– Epicurious, February 2021 

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It is true that if “you don’t use it, you lose it”. Fitness is transient. The unfortunate reality is that the training benefits gained from an exercise program will be lost if the program is discontinued. Exercise must be a regular component of one’s lifestyle to reap the benefits. There is no finish line. Fitness must be a forever initiative.

What’s the Bare Minimum to Maintain Fitness?

However, there are times in our lives when work, travel, family, or say a global pandemic may hinder our ability to adhere to our fitness plan. Consider an accountant during tax season when there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to complete work tasks which can result in workouts taking a back seat.

In situations when you can’t commit to your regular workout regime, it’s helpful to know what the bare minimum is that you should complete to assure you maintain your fitness. Understanding what a maintenance program would involve is very helpful to maintaining your overall health.

The general theme of a maintenance program is that intensity (how hard you exercise) is the most important factor. So you can reduce frequency (number of workouts per week) and duration (length of workouts) during a maintenance program and sustain overall fitness as long as you maintain intensity.


A recent review in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research analyzed the minimum dose literature. One study had athletes involved in 40 minutes of high intensity activity (90-100% max heart rate) 6 days per week for 10 weeks. They then reduced frequency (to 2 or 4 days per week), duration (13 or 26 minutes of exercise) or intensity (61-67% or 82-87%) for 15 weeks. This study showed that their overall fitness (measured by max Vo2) could be sustained for 15 weeks even if duration and frequency was reduced, but as long as intensity was maintained. The message is that during a challenging time period, we can get away with not working out as much or as long, but we can’t get away with going easy in terms of maintaining overall fitness.

Tapering studies also show that athletes can reduce their training frequency by approximately 20% and their training volume by 60-90% and maintain their MVO2 and overall fitness, as long as they keep their intensity high. Many athletes will use this tapering approach as they near an important race or performance.

Muscular Strength:

In terms of maintaining muscular strength and muscle mass, studies show that again intensity is the key factor. You can reduce training frequency to 1-2 days per week and training volume to just 1-2 sets per exercise as long as you are training to muscular fatigue. One study found that a maintenance weight training program allows you to maintain your strength for up to 12 weeks if you just get in one hard resistance workout every 7-14 days.

If you’ve been training for years, there are also some training adaptations such as changes to your biochemistry, energy systems, size of your heart, increases in blood vessels and capillaries that will take longer to fade away. In contrast, there are other areas such as body composition and weight management that may start to deteriorate more quickly with reductions in overall training volume.

It’s important to note that a maintenance program is used to maintain current fitness levels not to improve or experience gains. Don’t use the technique regularly – only during those times where you might find yourself completely neglecting your workouts because of a busy schedule, travel or holiday. We suggest to our clients that during a busy time period, at the very least, get in one short (20 minute), high intensity strength and one 20 minute, interval cardio workout once per week so they don’t slip backwards and can preserve all the results they have worked so hard to achieve.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

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Looking for an easy add in for your holiday table? Your celebration needs a frittata. Welcome spring vegetables and make a statement with this easy-to-adapt dish that is perfect for Easter and kosher for Passover. This one dish wonder is seriously simple. If you’ve got eggs you’re good to go. Whether you showcase what you sourced from the farmer’s market or flaunt the first tender herbs that are growing in your garden, a frittata is a pretty spring dish that deserves a spot on your table. 

Infinitely adaptible to whatever you may have on hand, it’s an easy way to transform whatever it is you may have right this minute into breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A bit of ham, some bell pepper, diced green onion and a toss of some kale quickly becomes this morning’s easy breakfast and if you’re lucky, tomorrow’s easy lunch.

Make it a bit lighter if you like by using egg whites in place of some of the eggs. The add-in possibilities are endless. Try ham, bacon or sausage if you’re not sticking to just vegetables. Add in cooked potato, like leftover hash browns, french fries, roasted or even mashed potatoes. Roasted or sautéed vegetables like kale, chard, asparagus, mushrooms, bell pepper strips or zucchini, or a handful of fresh, tender spring spinach are all possibilities. Sautéed onions or leeks, and maybe some fresh tomato? And then your choice of cheese: gruyere, goat, cheddar, mozzarella, ricotta, along with some parmesan. How about a spring combination of leeks, asparagus, mushroom, new potato, ham and gruyere? You can serve this for the holiday, or use your holiday leftovers to make this the next day.  

Use the recipe below as a starting point. Your add-ins need to be cooked, but you can sauté everything in an ovenproof skillet making this in one dish and lightening your cleanup.  You can make it ahead.   Serve it hot, warm or at room temperature, there is no wrong way to do it, except if you aren’t doing it at all. Travels and reheats well, making this a dish you can share, too. 

So why scramble? Fancy, frugal or freelance a frittata is a dependable dish you can make in no time. Happy Spring! 

Cheese Frittata

Preheat oven to 350º F. Put 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large skillet and use a brush to coat the entire bottom surface and sides of pan. Heat pan over medium-high heat, then add onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. 

Beat eggs lightly in a bowl until just combined. Pour eggs over onions, rearranging with a spoon if necessary so that they are evenly distributed. Sprinkle with cheese and cook 5 to 10 minutes, until eggs are barely set. 

Transfer to oven and cook until edges brown and frittata puffs, about 5 minutes more. Broil for a minute or two, if desired. Cut into wedges or squares. 

– adapted from recipe in How To Cook Everything, Twentieth Anniversary edition

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There are 168 hours in a week and if your health and fitness are important to you, you’ll
need to assure that an adequate amount of that time is spent moving your body. The good news is that if you’re smart about your approach, you won’t have to spend hours at the gym.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the amount of calories we expend from activity that is not exercise related. If we move our bodies more throughout our day-to-day activities, our caloric expenditure increases significantly. If you exercise three hours per week but then are a slug the rest of your waking hours, your health won’t be as optimal. Instead, consider how you can be more active throughout the day, even when you are not exercising.

The problem is we have simply become too sedentary, especially during this last year of isolation and the global pandemic lockdowns. The age of technology is making us fat. Escalators, elevators, remote controls, garage door openers, computers, home banking, internet shopping, restaurant delivery are all conveniences we use that are causing us to dramatically reduce our daily movement.

The International Journal on Obesity estimates that we expend 500-800 calories less per day than we did a few decades ago. Labor-saving devices and technology that are supposed to be making life easier are in fact making our health and our lives a lot worse. Our current rate of obesity in the USA is 42% – that means almost half of our country are considered extremely overweight and will be at risk for various health issues including heart disease, diabetes, various forms of cancer, musculo-skeletal aches and pains and more.

168 Hours to Manage Your Health and Fitness

Consider and commit to simple ways to increase daily caloric expenditure without actually & exercising:

Park one or two blocks away from wherever you’re going and walk

Walk or cycle if your destination is less than 20 minutes away

Always park in the farthest parking stall instead of hunting for the perfect spot right in front of the shop

Take the stairs if you need to go fewer than 5 flights

Take a 10-minute walk before work, at lunch or after dinner

Schedule active outings with your family or friends (hiking, cycling, walking, swimming, kayaking, indoor rock-climbing)

Do a few mini squats or heel raises while making dinner

Do a few light exercises during TV commercials

At work, get up, move and stretch every 30 minutes. (Your back will thank you for it too.)

Sign up for a course (gardening, ballroom dancing, pottery); it will keep you busy and get you out of the house

One study at the University of South Carolina found that we expend approximately 10 calories less per day as a result of just using remote controls. A reduction of 10 calories does not sound like a lot but 10 calories here and 15 calories there – it all adds up. It is
easy to see how people are putting weight on so easily and quickly. In order to lose or gain one point of fat, you need to expend or consume 3500 calories. Bottom line, it is a lot easier to eat 3,500 excess calories (can be done in one meal) than it is to expend 3,500 calories (about 6 hours of exercise).

Ask yourself – If you are exercising three hours per week, what are you doing the other 165 hours? How you spend the time outside of your exercise sessions will make a huge difference to your overall health and results. Being active throughout the day will not take up any more of your time but you will end up expending more calories and feeling a lot better!

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

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Happy Spring! Brighter days are ahead and so is a special recipe guaranteed to shake things up in your kitchen. Hungry for something good? 

March 30 is National Hot Chicken Day. Newsflash: a juicy, deliciously crispy breaded chicken sandwich can be made in your home kitchen and there’s no waiting in a long line of cars. Here’s how.

Start by soaking your chicken overnight in pickle juice. (Pickle juice, I love you.) After you eat that last pickle, save the jar and it’s juice. Use it to quick pickle any veg you like. Try sneaking a splash in your salad, or dice the pickles and add them in, too, like I do when I run out of cucumbers. Really. 

Now the breading. For craggy breaded crunchiness, the secret is: rice crackers. Crushed to varying crumb size in your food processor, they make the coating extra crispy without frying. They also make it gluten-free. 

You may find the mustard sauce sweet enough without adding any honey. Double it and you’ll have enough to use for spreading and dipping again. Double the chicken, too. You’ll be glad you did. Soak your baking rack in a sink filled with sudsy water so you can savor the table conversation along with your sandwich. 

Fans of delicious chicken sandwiches rejoice. You can make them at home. 


Chicken Sandwich with Tangy Mustard Sauce

Chicken Sandwich with Tangy Mustard Sauce

Tangy Mustard Sauce

Place chicken breasts in a large zip-top bag. Pound each breast with a meat tenderizer or soup can to a 1/2 inch thickness all around. Cut each breast in two, then place the 4 pieces into a plastic bag or a bowl. Cover with pickle juice and transfer to refrigerator to marinate overnight, or at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 450º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place a  wire baking rack on top. Brush rack with oil or liberally mist with nonstick oil spray. 

Set out 2 shallow, wide bowls. Add egg and mayo to the first bowl and mix until well combined. In the second bowl, add crushed crackers and seasonings and stir together. Working one piece at a time, lift chicken out of pickle juice and shake to remove excess liquid. Dunk into egg-mayo, turning to coat well. Transfer to cracker bowl and pat all over to fully coat. Place on wire rack then mist top of chicken with oil spray. Bake 20 minutes or until internal temp registers 165º F and tops are crispy and brown. 

While chicken cooks, combine all of sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix together. 

To assemble: spread sauce on inside of top and bottom bun. Layer chicken, pickle, tomato and lettuce on top of bottom bun. Enjoy!

– adapted from recipe by Joy Bauer

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While many felines, like their canine counterparts, chase their tails as a form of amusement or pleasure, it’s a sight seen less often in cats than in dogs.

When Cats Chase Their Tails: Play or Problem

How many times have YOU witnessed your cherished pussycat companion circling round and round in an effort to capture her own tail?

According to animal experts, if a kitty is chasing her tail, it may not be for fun and frolics but rather as an exercise born out of sheer boredom. In that case, as a conscientious cat owner, redirect her attention towards chasing a piece of string, a favorite toy or the red beam of a laser pointer. And remember that high-value treats will both serve to reinforce your efforts and reward her compliance.

Concerned that your kitty is bored because you’re not home for extended periods of time? Keep her constructively occupied by leaving her with one or more interactive toys – from puzzle boards and rolling food dispenser toys to multilevel roller balls and rotating electric toys. These will help her focus more on playing with the toys and less on playing with her tail.When Cats Chase Their Tails: Play or Problem

When Cats Chase Their Tails: Play or ProblemSometimes, though, a cat will chase her tail (and even bite it at the same time) because of some underlying medical condition. She may have an infection that’s making her tail extremely uncomfortable. She may have an allergy that’s making it very itchy. She may have stud tail, a skin condition caused by overactive glands at the base of the tail. Or she may have Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, caused by overactive nerve endings that give her tail a tingly sensation.

Since you know your kitty’s body language best, if you suspect that her behavior is suspect, consult with your vet as soon as possible.

If yours is a multi-cat household, you may find yourself facing another situation: one cat playfully chasing or swatting at another cat’s tail. The solution? Separate them and redirect their attention to those oh-so-essential interactive toys.When Cats Chase Their Tails: Play or Problem

A second, more worrisome scenario may involve one cat attacking, and sometimes biting, another cat’s tail. This may be either playful or pugnacious, depending on the attacker’s demeanor and the extent of the injuries – if any – sustained by the victim. Because a cat’s tail can become infected so easily and can be difficult to treat and resolve at home, any injury, however small, should automatically be examined by your vet.If, however, all medical issues have been ruled out, and your feline friend continues to chase her tail in spite of your best efforts, locate a veterinary behaviorist in your area to evaluate her and assist you in finding the most paws-itive future course of action.



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Ideal posture is important because it helps your body function at top performance in all situations.

Most back problems originate from years of abuse like….

Slouching in front of the TV
Hunching over a desk
Improper lifting and bending
Poor posture
Sedentary lifestyle

A lifetime of poor posture, and poor lifting and bending habits may stress the spine to the point that one day a minor activity like sneezing, slight twisting or bending over might precipitate extreme back pain. If you have poor posture, your bones are not properly aligned and your muscles, joints, and ligaments take more strain than intended. Years of poor posture place the back in an extreme, uncomfortable position causing muscle fatigue, muscular strain and eventually pain. Returning the back to its neutral position of comfort through exercise and posture retraining, can help ease aches and pains.

Standing Posture

First, you need to be aware of when you’re not in proper postural alignment. Imagine that you have a piece of thread that runs through your body from head to toe, linking the bones and muscles into proper alignment.  Whenever your posture is poor, you can simply pull gently on the top of the thread and it will re-align your body perfectly.

Here’s what good posture looks like when the thread is tight:

The head is centered over the trunk with the chin level and held over the collarbone. The ears are in line with the tips of the shoulder.

The shoulders are relaxed and down with the shoulder blades flat.

The arms hang loosely, with the palms facing the sides of the body.

The chest is up and open; the rib cage feels as if it is expanded and well anchored against the spine.

The shoulders are aligned over the hips and are held slightly back and relaxed.

The back feels long and strong, slightly curved in the lower region.

The abdomen is pulled in and up.

The pelvis is tilted slightly up so that the buttocks feel tucked under but relaxed.

Knees are straight and relaxed – neither bent nor hyperextended.

Feet are parallel, slightly apart, with weight balanced evenly among the heels and the outside borders and balls of the feet.

Awareness of this posture is critical to helping you change the posture you’re used to. One of the common postural deviations is shoulders rounded forward and an upper back kyphotic alignment (slight hunch-back). If you’ve been used to this abnormal posture for 40 plus years, neutral posture may feel uncomfortable and awkward. It will take some time for the right posture to feel right. Be persistent. Every time you pass a mirror do a self-check or have a loved one correct you when they notice you’re slouching.

The key to improving your posture is awareness and a consistent effort at trying to maintain proper alignment.

Sitting Posture

People who sit a lot in their jobs are at highest risk for low back pain because the highest measured pressure inside the disks in your vertebrae occurs when sitting. So, if your job involves hours of sitting, put an alarm at your desk that reminds you every half-hour to stand up and walk around the office or do a few stretches.

It’ll only take a few seconds to get some blood flowing back into your spinal region and relieve some of the strain that extended sitting exposes your body to. Some believe that sitting is the new smoking in terms of the damage to your overall health so take this seriously.

Another option for extended sitting is to use a lumbar roll or cushion, available at any medical supply shop. This type of passive support will help keep the natural curve in your lower back and reduce your symptoms, but keep in mind that only active conditioning will develop the muscles you need for a truly healthy back.

Posture ResetTip: If you have found yourself in a seated posture for a long period of time, stand up, place your hands on your lower back and slowly bend backwards looking towards the ceiling.  Hold for 5 seconds and repeat five times.

To find your correct sitting posture, first sit in a really slouched position, then slowly straighten your back and arch it. Immediately relax the arch in your lower back by about 10 per cent. This is your neutral back position and correct sitting posture. If your posture isn’t ideal, you might find at first that your muscles will tire quickly from trying to maintain this position. That’s ok. Eventually, just like any exercise, you’ll get better at it.

It can also be very helpful to have an ergonomics specialist analyze your work station to assure your desk, computer and chair set up is positioned in a way to maximize posture and minimize strain.

At the end of a long day, just before bed, try these stretches to help counteract any posture slouching:

Lie on your stomach and then slowly lift your upper body and support it onto your elbows. Keep your hips on the floor and relax your lower back.  Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.

Pillow arches – Place 2-3 pillows on the floor. Lay on your back over the pillows so that the pillows are at about the level of your shoulder blades. Stretch your arms to the side and up over your head.

Yours in health and fitness,
Sherri McMillan

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The sun is shining, the birds are singing – and you’re exhausted. It’s not your imagination. No week feels longer than the one following Daylight Saving Time. Make waking up a little easier with a bright, cheery breakfast. This Peach French Toast Bake is an easy prep, one dish, do-ahead that will help make things better. Simple to make in your sleep deprived state, tuck it into your fridge tonight, pop it into your oven in the morning and in 40 hands-free minutes you have yourself a perfect, spring-y breakfast. Top with a dollop of vanilla or plain yogurt, drizzle with a little maple syrup, and serve with a side of Canadian bacon or some breakfast sausages. See smiles? 

You can use baguette bread or sandwich bread, and you can certainly use gluten-free bread, as well. You will need enough slices of bread to fit snugly in a single layer of the bottom of your baking dish. How many slices will vary depending on your bread, but trim your slices and arrange them so that they work for your dish. Use a large liquid measuring cup to measure and mix the liquid ingredients. Start by measuring the milk, then add the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla. You can whisk everything together right in the measuring cup, then pour it directly into your casserole, dirtying only one dish and saving you some clean up time.

I used 2 cans of well drained peaches in this recipe, making good use out of what I had on hand. If you use fresh or frozen peaches, you may want to adjust the brown sugar to 3 tablespoons, but because the canned ones were in light syrup I only used 1 tablespoon. To brighten things up a bit, I added some sliced fresh strawberries just before serving.

Make good use out of what you have on hand. While you’re spring cleaning, give your pantry a once over for canned goods that should be replenished or used soon. Plan a few recipes like the one below to use what you have and wake up to something good this week.

Peach French Toast Bake

Spray a 9 by 13-inch ovenproof baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange bread slices in a single layer in the pan, trimming some of the slices if necessary so that bread covers entire bottom of pan. In a large liquid measure, combine milk, eggs, egg whites and vanilla; whisk together. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread in pan. In a medium bowl, toss peaches with lemon juice. Scatter peach slices evenly over top of casserole. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Uncover casserole and bake 40 minutes or until set.

– recipe by Ellie Krieger, foodnetwork.com

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If you are injured or experiencing chronic aches and pains, it’s understandable that you may have a hard time finding the motivation to workout. Injuries can really set you back, reverse any progress you’ve experienced and take you out of your normal fitness routine.

However, it’s important to note that there’s rarely a reason to take a complete hiatus from exercise. Instead, do whatever you can to move your body because it enhances your internal biochemistry, gets the good hormones flowing, improves circulation and blood flow which will aid in the healing process and help to prevent depression while you are rehabilitating. There’s very rarely a reason that you can’t move your body at all even when you are injured!

With that said, you’ll need to modify your program until you figure out the cause of your aches and pains and heal your injury.

Working Out When You’re in Pain

Here are some action steps you can take if you ever find yourself having to manage an injury:

Focus on what you CAN do:

Use this time to focus on other areas. If you hurt your wrist or shoulder, take it as an opportunity to focus your resistance training on your legs and core. Take up hiking or stationary biking. If you hurt your knees, focus your muscle conditioning workouts on your upper body and core until you can start incorporating your lower body. Take up swimming with a pull buoy so you don’t have to involve the legs. You may even be able to work muscles around the injury in an unloaded, gentler fashion. For example, if you hurt your knees, you could probably still do floor work like leg lifts without pain and help prevent the muscles from atrophying too much.

Keep your routine:

If you’re used to jogging every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday….replace this with a swim or weight training. The last thing you want to do is drastically change your schedule. Changing your schedule may make it challenging to return to your present level of activity once your injury has healed. Besides, you’ve worked so hard to achieve your current fitness level and it’s never fun having to start over!

Assess the situation

Are you progressing too quickly? Are you doing too much of the same type of activity? Are you running every day without taking rest days in between?  Are you forgetting to warmup and cooldown? Are you going too hard, too often? How long have you been wearing your current fitness shoes? Are you practicing muscle release like foam rolling or using a massage gun after your workouts? Are you balancing your program and including restorative movement like yoga? Asking questions may help narrow down the culprit.

See a professional:

It’s one thing to treat a symptom, but it’s much more important to figure out the cause. This is why it’s always a good idea to seek expert advice from a sports physician or a physical therapist – they can assess muscle weaknesses and imbalances, provide you with specific stretches or exercises to treat the problem and can often use various other techniques to reduce the pain and/or speed the recovery process. Remember, pain is your body’s warning signal that something is wrong so don’t ignore it which can lead to further deterioration and secondary complications.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

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Stuffed with ground beef or lamb, padded with plenty of veggies, fortified with Guinness and topped with a pillowy puff of potatoes, Shepherd’s Pie is fun for St. Patrick’s Day. 

Use leaner ground beef, like 85/15 or better to reduce the fat in this recipe. Brown the ground beef first and then use the pan drippings to sauté the onions and vegetables so you don’t need to add more fat. Adding mushrooms makes this more hearty and savory and also helps to stretch the meat in this recipe. Use fresh mushrooms if you happen to have them, but canned ones will save you from having to clean, slice and sauté. 

Make fluffy, light delicious potatoes with only 1 tablespoon of butter. Adding chicken bouillon concentrate to the warmed milk makes them extra flavorful without the need for added fat. Keep your mixer on low speed and don’t over mix or they will become like paste. Add a pinch of baking powder while mixing to make them oh-so-fluffy. Make extra potatoes. You can freeze flat in quart size zip-top bags that are easy to defrost and reheat for a quick side dish, or to top another shepherd’s pie in a hurry. 


Shepherd’s Pie

Peel potatoes and cut into small chunks (about 1/2 – 3/4 inch) of equal size.  Place potatoes in a medium sized pot and cover with at least an inch of cold water; add salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes soften and break in half easily when pierced with a fork. Drain, then return to pot and add butter.  Use a hand mixer to whip and mash the potatoes, adding the warmed milk with chicken bouillon base dissolved in it a bit at a time, until potatoes are a creamy, thick mash.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the ground beef or lamb in a large sauté pan until browned, crumbling with a spoon as it cooks. Transfer to a separate dish using a slotted spoon. Add onion to drippings in pan and sauté, stirring occasionally for several minutes. Add carrots and celery and continue to cook and stir, about 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and mushrooms; cook several minutes more. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add Guinness or wine, stirring well to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return beef to pan then add beef stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and peas. Stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and continue to cook until sauce thickens a bit. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Transfer beef mixture to a 9 x 13-inch ovenproof baking dish. Spoon the mashed potatoes evenly over the top, covering to the edges. Cook for 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Broil 1 to 2 minutes to brown potatoes if desired.

Shepherd’s Pie

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Did you know that cats are capable of making more than 100 sounds?

Did you know that every year veterinary behaviorists discover even more sounds as they attempt to decipher exactly what those sounds and combinations of sounds mean?

Deciphering Kitty’s Distinctive Sounds

Curious about the most common sounds that kitties make? Consider the following:


Short mew: Not only can it serve as a feline’s greeting, but it’s also similar to a person’s asking a question. Examples: When you hear a short mew, your kitty may be asking, “Are you concerned about me?” or “Could you please pick me up to get me away from the dog?”


Rapid-fire meow: Often, when a cat’s excited or craves attention, she’ll emit this rapid-fire meow. While its most common meaning is “I’m hungry, paw-lease feed me now!”, it may also be a sign of concern, discomfort or distress.

Deciphering Kitty’s Distinctive Sounds

Chirping or chattering: As part of a cat’s natural hunting instinct, she’ll usually emit this familiar sound when she’s sitting in front of a window staring at the birds, chipmunks or squirrels outside. The reasons: she’s excited because she sees them as potential prey or she’s frustrated because she can’t get to them.


Long plaintive meows: These usually indicate worry, annoyance or an objection on the part of your cat. Tending to be more repetitive in nature, they mean that your kitty REALLY wants something specific – from waking you up in the morning because she’s hungry to demanding an immediate release from the room she’s in.


Growling: Announcing the potential start of a fight, it’s a cat-to-cat sound that literally means, “back off.” Consider this as a warning sign that your kitty is extremely agitated and requires some space.


Purring: While people generally think that a purring cat signifies contentment and happiness, in some instances, it can be a sign that your cat’s uncomfortable or in pain and is purring as a way to soothe herself.

Deciphering Kitty’s Distinctive Sounds

Hissing: Unprovoked cats will often hiss at other animals and people when they’re either threatened, frightened or in pain.


Trilling: While most cat sounds are made with their mouths open, trilling is one sound that cats make with their mouths closed. Not only is trilling used by mother cats to get their kittens to pay attention to them or follow them, veterinary behaviorists see it as a positive, happy and friendly greeting.

Deciphering Kitty’s Distinctive Sounds

Yowling: Outdoor, intact females in heat will often emit this sound in a seductive attempt to lure tomcats their way. Yowling can also signify that a major cat fight is about to start or that a particular cat is in great pain.

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Alley Cat Rescue of Maryland has marked March 3rd as the start of the Feral Fix Challenge, an annual global event that brings together veterinarians and communities throughout the word in an effort to save the lives of feral cats.

The Challenge, currently in its 11th year, asks veterinarians to get involved with trap-neuter-return (TNR) by providing either low cost or free spay/neuters and rabies vaccinations for free roaming cats. Since its inception, over 130,000 cats have been spayed and neutered by more than 1,500 participating vets worldwide.

And because approximately 860,000 cats are euthanized in American shelters each year — many of them newborn kittens or free roaming cats – the most successful way to lower this staggering statistic is to slow the breeding cycle among the feral cat population.

The Feral Fix Challenge Challenges Us All

What, then, is TNR?

Trap-neuter-return (TNR) is a program through which feral (unsocialized to people) cats are humanely trapped, spayed and/or neutered, vaccinated and, when necessary, medically treated before being returned to their original outdoor locations where neighborhood caretakers provide them with regular food and shelter.

Should these spots be considered unsafe or otherwise inappropriate, however, many of the feral cats will be moved to rural and/or farmyard locations. Kittens still young enough to be socialized, and friendly, adult cats will typically be placed in foster homes, then eventually adopted into loving fur-ever homes as cherished kitty companions.

TNR has many advantages. It immediately stabilizes the size of the colony by eliminating new litters. The “nuisance” behaviors often associated with feral cats is dramatically reduced, including the yowling and fighting that come with mating activity and the odor of unneutered males spraying to mark their territory.

The returned colony also guards its “turf”, preventing intact cats from moving in and starting the vicious cycle of overpopulation and problem behaviors all over again, while in urban areas, these spayed and neutered cats continue to provide a natural form of rodent control.

Another significant advantage of the program, when practiced on a large scale, is that it reduces the number of feral kittens and cats entering already overcrowded local shelters. This not only lowers the shelters’ euthanasia rates it increases the number of adoptions of cats already there.

The Feral Fix Challenge Challenges Us All

Endorsed by such well respected groups as the ASPCA, the American Humane Association and the Humane Society of the United States, TNR is considered to be the most humane, effective and financially sustainable method of controlling the growth of free roaming cat populations. Trying to “rescue” feral cats and place them in permanent homes is, quite simply, impossible, given their numbers and the futility of trying to socialize most of them.

On the other hand, “Trap and Remove”, the more traditional technique used by most Animal Control Services across the country, isn’t only ineffectual, it’s counter productive. If ALL of the cats aren’t caught, the unneutered males left behind will continue to breed until the colony’s previous population level is reached. Even more frustrating: if every cat IS removed, new intact ones – both female and male — tend to move into the area and take advantage of the available food sources, and the entire breeding cycle begins again.

How can YOU help?

Alley Cat Rescue asks you to support and promote this global challenge by visiting

www.saveacat,org/the-feral-fix.html and asking them to send your vet an invitation to participate or for a sample invitation if you would rather approach your vet personally.

Vets can sign up at www.saveacat.org/the-feral-fix.html and pledge to provide free or low cost spay/neuter services to as many free roaming cats as is feasible for their individual practices.

Alley Cat Rescue is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of all cats: domestic and stray, abandoned and feral. For more information, visit www.saveacat.org.




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Did you know?

Fascinating Facts about Pussycat Paws

  1. Cats have dominant paws: While studies differ as to what percentage of cats are right, left or ambidextrous, they all show that our feline friends do indeed have paw preferences, particularly when it involves performing difficult tasks. One Irish study even correlated gender with paw dominance, indicating that males prefer using their right paw and females their left. Curious about your own kitty’s paw-reference? Present her with a challenging task such as plucking tasty treats from a hard-to-reach place. For the most accurate reading, repeat this task at least 75 times. Won’t YOUR kitty be paw-leased?


  1. Cats tiptoe: Cats are digitigrades, i.e., they navigate their world on their toes. Why? In the wild, it improves their chances both at survival and at finding food by increasing their speed and lengthening their stride. They’re also much quieter on their toes, making it more difficult for their prey to detect them.

Fascinating Facts about Pussycat Paws

  1. Cat paws are extremely sensitive: Paw pads contain a high concentration of nerve receptors, allowing cats to feel texture, pressure and even vibrations. In the wild, this sensitivity helps them evaluate the energy and proximity of their prey. In domesticated cats, however, this sensitivity makes many of them resistant to having their paws rubbed too often, if at all. The pads are also very sensitive to temperature and pain, and not being insulated, they can be seriously injured on ragged surfaces and hot or frozen pavement.


  1. Cat paws are flexible: Their front paws’ ability to bend and turn inward makes cats admirably adept at climbing trees while remaining stable as they sink their claws into trunks and branches with ease. While ideal for ascending trees, it’s less than ideal for descending them. Since their front claws face in the wrong direction for a head first descent, and because their front legs and paws are weaker than their more muscular hind legs, cats must back down trees instead.

Fascinating Facts about Pussycat Paws

  1. Cat paws are shock absorbers: Their pads act as both sound and shock absorbers, cushioning and softening their landings when cats jump as well as when they tread through rough terrain. In the wild, they assist a hungry cat move and hunt comfortably and silently.


  1. Cat paws are great for grooming: Designed as petit and purr-fect grooming tools, their paws and front legs help cats clean difficult-to-reach areas behind their ears, on their faces and necks and under their chins. This ritual involves licking one of their front paws several times, swiping it across any area they’re unable to lick directly, stopping to lick (thereby moistening) their paw again and repeating the process until every area has been cleaned to their satisfaction.

Fascinating Facts about Pussycat Paws

  1. Cat paws help cats sweat: Since cats sweat from the bottoms of their paws, this highly effective “cooling” system prevents them from overheating on hot days. But scared and stressed out cats also sweat through their paws. Want proof? Check for moist little paw prints on the examining table the next time you take kitty to the vet.
  1. Cats “communicate” through their paws: Whenever cats scratch an object, they’re marking their territory and “transmitting” information about themselves. And thanks to scent glands located between the paw pads on their front and back feet, they’re depositing pheromones containing even more information on those same, scratched surfaces. Some cats will often scratch a specific spot after spraying or urinating.


  1. Cat paws are “color coded”: Paw pads predictably come in colors that either mirror or match the color of a cat’s coat. Examples: Gray cats usually have gray paw pads, orange cats have pink paw pads, while tuxedo cats often sport black spots on theirs. Why? The pigments that make up the fur are the same as those that color the skin.Fascinating Facts about Pussycat Paws


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Picture this: you’re brushing your teeth or preparing a meal and your kitty hops into the sink. Competing for the same stream of water from the tap inevitably goes from amusing to annoying.

Why, you ask, does your finicky feline prefer the sink to her water bowl? Is it by choice or by something more sinister, such as an underlying medical condition that has her seeking out additional sources of water?

Does Your Cat Drink From the Sink?

Essential to answering these questions is having your capricious cat seen by the vet for a thorough examination. If she’s happily healthy, the next step is to carefully inspect your home, then make some equally essential changes to both her living space and her daily routine.

Begin with the location of her water bowl. Cats who crave high places may prefer a faucet because of its “view” to a bowl that’s placed flat on the floor. If it rests in a raucous or heavily trafficked area (shared with children and/or other pets), a sink may seem like a quieter and more appealing solution to all the unwanted hubbub.

Experiment with various locations until you find the purr-fect one. If your cat is happiest with heights, set her bowl on an easily accessible counter. If there are several cats in your household, there should also be several drinking locations. Most importantly, keep kitty’s water bowl far from her litter box. Many fastidious felines prefer not to drink near the place that they potty.

Quite often, cats prefer sipping from the sink simply because the water tastes better. It may be due to the sink’s being free of the Does Your Cat Drink From the Sink?lingering scents or residue found in a bowl that’s not cleaned regularly, is made of a product whose odor she dislikes (think plastic), or whose sights and sounds are disturbing to her (think metal). Two solutions: clean her current bowl daily with an unscented cleaner that leaves no residue, allowing the water to remain fresh and clear or experiment with different bowls to find the most pleasing material for your persnickety puss.

Does Your Cat Drink From the Sink?Cats in the wild favor freshly flowing sources of water and turn down their paws at drinking from stagnant bodies of water. Is it any wonder then, that some cats prefer the sink tap’s free flowing water to the still water in their bowl? Replace your kitty’s bowl with a specially designed pet fountain that regularly replenishes its water, thereby redirecting her attention away from the sink. To further tempt her, smear a soft, high-value treat along the edge, and consider putting a flavored additive into the water (consult your vet first, paw-lease).Does Your Cat Drink From the Sink?

Some cats seek out the sink purely to play with the water – a clear indication that they’re bored. If your kitty’s fascination with the running faucet is all about entertainment, find other ways to keep her constructively engaged – preferably for the entire day. Food puzzles, regularly scheduled interactive play sessions and games of hide and seek work wonders when it comes to both holding her attention and burning up her excess energy.

Does Your Cat Drink From the Sink?

Key to the success of any new routine is reinforcing only the behavior you want repeated. Reward your kitty for drinking out of her bowl or fountain with praise and pets, treats and play: whichever she values most, any combination of the four, or all four. Whenever she reverts to drinking from the faucet or playing with the water, turn off the taps and either look or walk away. With time and perseverance on your part, she’ll hopefully learn to choose the behavior that wins your approval rather than the one that earns her the proverbial cold shoulder.

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Everyone is familiar with the old adage “Curiosity killed the cat.”

Uh-Oh! When Felines Ingest Foreign Objects

But as conscientious cat owners, paw-lease ensure that your cherished companions’ natural curiosity NEVER gets the better of them – especially when it comes to their seeing and then swallowing small, strange objects. While some may pass through their intestinal tract without incident, some won’t, lodging there and causing not only extreme discomfort but a dangerous and potentially life-threatening obstruction.

Thread threat! Another potentially life-threatening situation can occur when a cat swallows thread, particularly when it’s attached to a needle. As she swallows the thread, it can wrap around her tongue and pull against it with every swallow. But even worse, the needle can pierce her stomach or intestines multiple times and prevent the thread from passing through her digestive tract.

Consider, as well, these other culprits:

Hair bands and rubber bands, ribbon and blind cords, dental floss and carpet fibers, stuffing from inside your cat’s toys, and tinsel.

Bones, particularly from cooked chicken, can be very sharp, extremely brittle, and lodge in your kitty’s intestines resulting in severe illness.

String and string-like objects: If swallowed, string can cause the intestines to bunch up, making for one very sick kitty and usually requiring surgery to remove it.

Uh-Oh! When Felines Ingest Foreign Objects

Coins, buttons and earplugs, fruit stones, nutshells and bottle tops, but especially small round objects which are the ideal size to block the intestines and require surgery to remove them.

If YOU suspect that YOUR kitty has swallowed something suspicious, watch for one or more of these symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, straining to defecate, constipation, lethargy and behavioral changes such as biting or hissing when being picked up. To err on the side of caution, promptly contact your vet and bring in your kitty for a thorough examination and assessment.


In order to detect a possible blockage, your vet will have x-rays taken (several x-rays, using dyes, will often be needed to locate a suspected object). Your vet may also order blood and urine tests to determine whether your cat’s overall health has been compromised by the obstruction – should there be one.

Uh-Oh! When Felines Ingest Foreign Objects

Most of the time — especially in uncomplicated cases — the prognosis for cats with a gastrointestinal blockage is very good. But the overall prognosis depends on several factors: the location of the object, how long the intestine has been blocked, the size, shape, and characteristics of the object, whether or not the object has caused a secondary illness and the general health of your kitty prior to ingesting it.

Your vet will provide you with a detailed treatment plan based on these factors. If the object has lodged in your pet’s stomach, however, an endoscopy may be performed. This involves inserting a long tube through her mouth and down her throat to pull the object out. If this is the case, your vet may also suggest hospitalization of your cat for close observation and follow-up x-rays.

But if the foreign object has traveled to and is trapped in her intestine, your vet will have to surgically remove it.

Whatever the scenario, time is critical because stomach and/or intestinal blockages can cut off the blood supply to these organs, causing the tissue to become necrotic or “die.”

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Have you ever wondered how many of their legendary nine lives cats use up when they fall from extraordinary heights?

Have you ever wondered how they, more often than not, manage to land safely on their feet?

known as the righting reflex, this innate ability to reorient their bodies during a fall has been observed in kittens as young as the age of three weeks, and this gravity-defying skill is fully developed by the time they’re seven weeks old.

How DO Falling Felines Land On Their Feet?

Historically, cats falling from greater heights (five stories and more) suffer less severe injuries than those falling from only a few stories. This longer free fall allows them more time to right themselves and position their bodies correctly so that by the time they reach the ground, their feet will touch down first.


How DO Falling Felines Land On Their Feet?Visualize a kitty falling in slow motion. She starts shifting her balance the instant her flight begins. First, her body determines which side should be up, guided by her eyes and ears. A cat’s inner ear’s vestibular system acts as her balance and orientation compass, alerting her to where her body is in relation to the ground. She then begins rotating her head until she’s facing the proper way and can see precisely where she’s going to land.


Secondly, her spine follows as she arches her back. Possessing a unique skeletal structure, a cat’s spine has no collarbone and an unusually flexible backbone with 30 vertebrae – unlike humans who have 24 – and it’s the suppleness of this backbone that enables her to correct her course during her fall. And since a cat has a low body-volume-to-weight ratio, much like a flying squirrel, she’s able to slow her velocity when falling by expanding her body size which, in turn, creates air resistance.

How DO Falling Felines Land On Their Feet?

Thirdly, she positions her front feet under her, followed by her hind legs, with her front paws placed close to her face to protect it from the impact of landing on the ground. More like a parachute and less like an airplane, she relaxes her falling body and spreads it out in preparation for landing, ensuring her leg joints bear the impact of her weight.

Several years ago, a cat who fell a staggering 32 stories from a high-rise apartment to land on the concrete sidewalk was released from a veterinary clinic after 48 hours with only a chipped tooth and a minor lung puncture!


How DO Falling Felines Land On Their Feet?

Nomi Berger

Nomi Berger is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini. For more information about Furry Friends visit www.furryfriendswa.org or contact them at information@furryfriendswa.org or (360) 993-1097

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As more and more people shift to a more sustainable, cruelty-free lifestyle, it can be hard to keep up. Especially when it seems like everything you use is tainted by untenable practices. But, there’s no need to get overwhelmed, particularly when there are companies that strive to make a difference with their products from manufacturer to consumer.

Vegan leather, also known as “pleather” or plastic leather, is one such product. We’ve put together a quick guide to everything you need to know about vegan leather here, so you can start your journey to environmental sustainability.

Leather alternatives

Vegan leather has its origins in 19th century Germany, where it was used in place of then rationed animal leather, making it one of the oldest leather replacements. The most common materials used to make synthetic leather are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU) and in some cases, pineapple leaves, kelp and cork.

Monos is an affordable luxury luggage company whose core philosophy is all about mindfulness. Their wide range of backpacks and duffels come in vegan leather options and their suitcases are made from durable polycarbonate. With a lifetime guarantee on every purchase and free shipping to the US and Canada, they make sustainability accessible and worthwhile.

Durability and quality

Vegan leather is usually lighter in weight and thinner than leather. These qualities may make it easier to work with, giving fashion designers the liberty to design to their heart’s content, but this also means it can withstand a lot less.

Leather is known for its durability and longevity, with most garments seeing a lifespan of decades. Vegan leather, on the other hand, is prone to tearing and flaking over time, particularly when exposed to sunlight for extended periods. But, it’s a small price to pay for a more mindful means of fashion.

Look and feel

To the untrained eye, finding distinct differences between leather and pleather are not easy. Some vegan leather products look and feel more like leather than others. There are several different types of vegan leather and qualities vary from piece to piece.

And although there aren’t many noticeable differences between vegan and real leather, such distinctions come in breathability and the look of aging on the material. Because vegan leather is synthetic, it doesn’t have pores that allow for breathability. And unlike leather, which ages forming a patina, vegan leather does not have this quality.


There’s no question that pleather is a lot cheaper to produce than real leather. Because of its long-standing reputation for aging well and having high durability, leather has earned the price tags and air of luxury often associated with its products.

Although vegan leather does not have the same weight in the textile industry as it stands, there are companies who strive to improve the value it holds as a cruelty-free alternative. It’s also a lot less expensive to produce, which is hard to argue against, especially where luxury is not something everyone can afford.


What vegan leather may not have in its appeal to some, it certainly makes up for in its versatility. You can stretch, dye and shrink pleather to suit any design. It has been used to make jackets, bags, clothes and furniture. The affordability of this synthetic makes it an attractive textile for all craftsmen and consumers.

There are many advantages to considering vegan leather as an alternative to various leather products. And although there are some areas for improvement, as a whole, it seems that vegan leather is here to stay, particularly as we move toward more sustainable means of living.

Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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Aside from the fact that it is great fun, there are studies to prove that gardening is great for mental health. That’s the reason, too, that you will find several gardening clubs in the city where you live.

It makes you forget about the stress of urban life and is a way of unwinding and being able to enjoy the beauty of nature. When you enjoy this with others, it makes the activity doubly more enjoyable! Forget about projects and concentrate on plants!

Fresh air benefits mental health

Going alfresco has multiple benefits as it boosts mental and physical health. Gardening is a moderate form of exercising and it keeps you busy for several hours without getting you tired. The reason behind it is that your mind is totally focused on getting things right – from watering and cleaning the garden to painting the pots and picking the vegetables to composting the soil. So the more you stay outdoors, the more fresh air you get.

Be watchful though. Air, soil and infected plants can cause mold spores to enter your house. Gardening means a lot of moisture in the environment and on surfaces. According to experts from PTAC4less, you need to take all necessary prevention including a good air conditioning unit and exhaust fans to keep humidity levels low, mold inhibitor paints, etc.

Learning a new skill can do wonders for the mind

You should learn a new skill, but you don’t want to expend a huge amount of effort. It’s bad enough just getting out of bed! Gardening is a perfect way of doing just that. After your morning coffee, don your gloves and head out to the garden.

If your garden has been neglected, now is the time to get stuck in and do a lot of pulling out weeds and bramble bushes. You must have an idea of how you want your garden to look and do some online research into what plants to get.

Our need to be one with nature finds expression in gardens

We have an inexorable need to be one with nature. That is part of the human condition. When you are working with plants and putting them into the soil, you are intent not only on making something look beautiful. You are also intent that it lives!

The physical activity involved here is not heavy exertion, and you can pace yourself with the task so you can enjoy the activity. You will find that endorphins get released, which makes you feel great and gives you that spring in your step.

Therapy that is vital for our mental health

It’s no wonder that people with mild mental impairments are given gardening as a therapeutic activity. Taking care of something and providing the nurture and succor for it to grow and thrive can provide the most needed balm for the soul and food for the brain.

This triggers something within even an impaired mind that it finds impossible to resist. It’s a basic human function, but one that brings great joy. People have said there’s nothing like having your hands in the soil, and they’re quite correct. It’s wonderful.

Reduced risk of falling prey to heart disease

Studies have shown that gardening lessens the risk of heart disease. With the disappearance of anxiety and depression once you’re in the garden, it’s no wonder that heart disease and other ailments have less chance of taking root.

Gardening also adds to your self-worth, which boosts your immune system. This, in turn, adds so much to your wellbeing that you become a different person. Your garden becomes an extension of your “new” personality, and you begin to see everything in a new light.

Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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A couple of weeks ago, one of my sons and I made a quick trip to Eugene (exhibiting proper social distancing, using masks and doing hand sanitizing) to pick up some bees. We also ordered chinook salmon from Newman’s. (I miss them so much in Portland; best fish monger ever.)

Nothing better than spring chinookLast night, David and I used Nancie McDermott’s Salmon Steaks in Caramel Fish Sauce from her “Quick & Easy Vietnamese” cookbook, one of my favorites and available on Amazon. I made the sauce; David did the cooking in a cast-iron pan. He removed the skin and cut the salmon into chunks so he could control the cooking, according to the size. Remember, the salmon continues to cook after it is removed from the heat.

Heavenly, just heavenly. It was moist, sweet, salty and fiery all at the same time. We served it with spring greens and a toasted sesame and ginger salad dressing. We also had roasted asparagus and Pinot Gris from Jerry Sass’ winery. Here’s the recipe:
Salmon in Caramel Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped shallots or onions
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
1/4 cup fish sauce (Note from Janet: Use Red Boat. It is 100 percent pure with only two ingredients: black anchovies and sea salt.)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 pounds salmon steaks or other meaty fish, about 1 inch thick
3 green onions, trimmed, white part chopped and green part cut into 2-inch lengths
In a small, deep skillet or saucepan, combine the oil, shallots and garlic. Warm over medium-high heat until the garlic sizzles. Add the fish sauce, sugars, water and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring now and then, until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thickens a bit, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the salmon steaks and let the sauce return to a gentle boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, Carefully, turn the steaks over, add the green onions and cook for 5 minutes more. Transfer the fish steaks to a shallow serving bowl, sauce and all. Serve hot or warm.
— From Nancie McDermott’s “Simply Vietnamese Cooking: 135 Delicious Recipes”

Nothing better than spring chinook

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 50 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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Here is wedding soup, with apologies to all my Italian friends who learned to cook alongside their nonnas. I had to make substitutions because I didn’t want to run to the store, and I didn’t have the soup bones to make the rich, homemade broth. I had ground pork, but not ground chicken for the meatballs. And here’s another confession: I had about a cup of Cento porcini sauce in the fridge. I threw that in because I didn’t have enough for a meal and I didn’t want it to go to waste. That paragraph had a lot of “didn’t” in it. Geez.

Apologies to nonnaSee what I mean when I ask for apologies for messing with what your nonna would have made?
And here’s a side note: When I was about to become a granny, I told my kids I didn’t want to be called “grandma” or “granny.” Ruben said, “No way. You’re Grandma Boats.” That’s what he called his paternal grandmother. I decided that “Nonna Boats” had a nice ring to it and I liked it just fine.

The broth:
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, nicely minced
Olive oil
1 small leek, chopped
3 carrots, chopped into rounds
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of porcini sauce or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
10 cups loosely packed spinach
1 cup orzo

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the leek and carrots. Stir in the chicken broth and sauce or tomato paste. Season with the salt and pepper. Simmer for an hour or two. We’ll deal with the spinach and orzo after you’ve made the meatballs.

The meatballs:
¾ pound ground pork
¾ cup fine dried bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan for serving

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the meatballs. Mix well with your hands, and then roll into 1-inch meatballs. Add them to the boiling water and simmer for about 5 minutes or until they are pretty much done. Transfer them from the water to the soup mixture, where they will continue cooking.
Add the spinach and orzo. Cook about 10 more minutes or until the orzo is done to your liking.
Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Apologies to nonna

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 50 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

117320hunkered-down-and-making-poppy-seed-cake https://blogs.columbian.com/small-plates/2020/03/18/hunkered-down-and-making-poppy-seed-cake/ /wp-content/uploads/2020/03/BB8ED1D8-8907-4E56-B6D3-C4BCD96BA77F_1_201_a-1024x768-600x450.jpeg
Hunkered down and making poppy-seed cake

I dredged up the poppy-seed cake recipe from memory.

Hi there!

It has been awhile, and I can’t say that I’m back at blogging for Small Plates, but today I made a cake that has been in the family files since 1972. It was a recipe that my mother-in-law used after her sister sent it to her from Virginia.

Hunkered down and making poppy-seed cakeHunkering down to avoid COVID-19 is making me think of food and days gone by. I knew I had everything on hand. I had made this poppy-seed cake so many times in the 1970s that it was etched in my memory.

That’s a good thing: I looked for my handwritten recipe, and when I couldn’t find it, I gave it a try from memory. No. 2 son said the result was just as he remembered it. I used whipping cream as the topping, maybe better than a cream cheese frosting, and I happened to have a few raspberries in the fridge.

All this is making me want a cup of coffee. Stay safe and healthy, Small Plates readers.

Aunt Claire’s poppy-seed cake

2 sticks of softened butter
1-1/2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Throw in the vanilla.

Sift together the baking powder, salt and flour. Alternate the flour and the sour cream, beating at low speed.

Pour into a 13- x 18-inch pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. You can use a bundt pan or two 8-inch round cake pans, but adjust the cooking time accordingly.


Hunkered down and making poppy-seed cake

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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Frassati Suppers up and running again

St. Joseph Catholic Church parishioners Robyn Hansen (left) and Jan get the plates ready for Frassati guests at the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in downtown Vancouver.

After an extensive kitchen remodel in the Lower Hall of the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater, we are serving Frassati Suppers again.

Frassati Suppers up and running againWhat’s Frassati? A welcoming place in Vancouver where volunteer greeters, chefs, waiters and others serve the poor and homeless in the spirit of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. The supper is part of the downtown parish’s Pier Giorgio Agape Ministry, an outreach effort named in honor of the 24-year-old Italian man who died in 1925 from polio he likely contracted while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 1990.

My job is to coordinate the volunteers and help in the kitchen. The once-a-week effort averages 25 workers a week. I never planned on volunteering; it just happened as I learned more about the ministry and met dedicated people committed to helping the poor in our community.

And we do make a difference: In 2018, we served 8,470 meals (includes seconds) to the 6,209 people who signed in. It took 3,354 volunteer hours to make this happen.

The work alone has been a huge blessing for me. But I have also made new friends. For example, Greg Repman brings in a crew the third Thursday of the month from Our Lady of Lourdes in northwest Vancouver, and Robyn Hansen, a parishioner at St. Joseph Catholic Church, serves meals the second Thursday of each month. Robyn recently made sloppy joes, coleslaw and potato tots for dinner. The meal was a big hit for our guests.

So I was thinking that sloppy joes might make a quick and easy meal as families begin thinking about back to school and the rush of homework and activities. Robyn’s recipe comes from her sister.

Frassati Suppers up and running again

Frassati guests wanted seconds and in some cases thirds of Robyn’s sloppy joes, coleslaw and tots.

Sloppy joes (serves four to six, depending on size of buns)

1 pound of hamburger
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup of ketchup
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped green pepper (optional)
Brown hamburger and drain fat.  Add onions (and green pepper), spices and wet ingredients and simmer covered on medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve on toasted buns.
Frassati Suppers up and running again

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

109516thai-sweet-and-sour-pork https://blogs.columbian.com/small-plates/2019/06/01/thai-sweet-and-sour-pork/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/06/IMG_1266-1024x768-600x450.jpg

Thai sweet and sour pork

My friend Linda Meade, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Vancouver and a volunteer for the Frassati suppers at the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater where we feed the poor and homeless, took me to lunch the other day at Thai Orchid.

Thai sweet and sour porkWe ordered the Thai sweet and sour pork entree. It was so good that I vowed to replicate it at home. The result? It was delicious at the restaurant but even more tasty at home. I went to a couple of recipes for guidance, and then I combined and improvised.

No. 2 son dropped by as he often does on a Saturday night. It passed the John test. The Intrepid One praised the flavors. In fact, we all pronounced it “company worthy,” a term we use when something is good enough to serve to guests. We had leftovers, so I’m anticipating that the flavors will meld tonight and we will have a delicious lunch tomorrow.

Here is my improvised recipe:

Thai sweet and sour pork

Half a pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 large onion, cut into large chunks

1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips

1-1/2 cups fresh pineapple

1 tomato, chopped into chunks that are about the size of cherry tomatoes

2 green onions, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup cilantro

Steamed rice for serving

For the sauce:

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup pineapple juice (I was a little short, so I threw in a couple of tablespoons of lemonade)

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Thai sweet and sour porkTo put this together:

Marinate the pork slices in the soy sauce, garlic and pepper at the top of the recipe for at least 30 minutes.

Make the sauce by bringing all the ingredients, except the cornstarch, to a boil. After the sugar has dissolved, add the cornstarch and let the mixture thicken. Set it aside.

Cook the pork in hot oil until tender and not overdone. Get a clean frying pan. Heat more vegetable oil and then stir-fry the vegetables. Pour in the sauce and cooked pork. Add the pineapple, cucumber and heat through, Garnish with green onions and cilantro. Serve with steamed rice.






Thai sweet and sour pork

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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Crab sandwich and warm spinach salad


I didn’t hesitate when No. 2 son (John) dropped by the other night and offered to make dinner: a Dungeness crab sandwich alongside a spinach salad. I was thrilled to have a night off from cooking and made a quick deal. He would do the cooking; I would do the cleanup. Afterward, we talked about getting the recipes on this Small Plates blog. But he was worried about being exact.

Crab sandwich and warm spinach salad“I never measure out anything,” he said. So I prodded him into approximate amounts. With that in mind, I suggest that you make adjustments as you go and build the sandwich according to what you think is the correct, spreadable consistency.

Crab and cheese sandwich

1/2 pound of crab
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped dill
1/3 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayo
pinches of black pepper
crusty bread cut 1-inch thick
cheddar or jack cheese to cover

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Warm bacon dressing for spinach salad

1/2 pound spinach
5 strips bacon
2 tablespoons roughly chopped basil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
pinch of black pepper
a little salt
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar

Parmesan cheese

Fry the bacon in a pan. Pull out the strips of bacon, reserving the grease. Wick out half the fat. Chop the bacon. Mix the rest of the ingredients into the bacon fat. Let it boil, then toss over the spinach until the spinach appears reduced by half. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.

Serve warm.

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

Crab sandwich and warm spinach salad
103134food-evokes-joy-of-friendship http://blogs.columbian.com/small-plates/2019/03/16/food-evokes-joy-of-friendship/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/03/IMG_1097-1024x768-600x450.jpeg

Hi there, Small Plates readers:

Last weekend, I had a fabulous visit with one of my best friends from high school and her husband. I flew to San José, Calif., to stay at their house. (It was on a Boeing 737, but not the MAX.)

We went to the Little Italy section of San José and dined at Paesano Saturday evening. I ordered Pappardelle Alexandra, a broad ribbon pasta with pancetta and crab in a tomato vodka cream sauce. It was heavenly.

Food evokes joy of friendshipBack home, I kept raving to the Intrepid One about what a wonderful weekend I had had with my friends.. He had stayed home with our aging Labrador, Abby, who suffers from laryngeal paralysis, a horrible condition common to older Labs that affects their breathing. In late January, she also had a tumor removed from her paw pad. It was determined to be an aggressive malignant melanoma. At this point, we are trying to keep her as comfortable as possible.

Anyway I tried to replicate the Paesano  recipe, though I admit that I used Cento’s creamy vodka sauce, available at Sheridan’s in Southeast Portland. I used Neuske’s bacon, medium sliced, from Portland’s City Market instead of the pancetta. (And next time I’ll make the sauce from scratch.) Anyway, No. 2 son stopped by, and we all agreed the recipe was a keeper and company worthy,

Sorry, St. Patrick, we’re having Italian again tomorrow night because we have plenty of leftovers.

Thanks, Susan, for 56 years of friendship. And thanks, David, for taking care of our beloved pooch, Abby.

Crab and bacon pappardelle

4 strips of high quality bacon, cut into 1-inch strips

1 jar of Cento creamy vodka sauce

Extra whipping cream

1/4 cup basil, finely chopped

salt, pepper

meat from one small crab

Pappardelle pasta (I bought it at Pastaworks in City Market in Northwest Portland)


Fry the bacon chunks. Dab the excess grease with a paper towel. Pour in the creamy vodka sauce and add salt, pepper and extra cream to taste.

Add the basil and meat from the crab. Gently toss.

Cook the pasta according to directions. With the silky strands of pappardelle, it took about seven minutes. Pass the Parmigiano-Reggiano.



Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

Food evokes joy of friendship
97237more-cooking-with-hana http://blogs.columbian.com/small-plates/2019/01/27/more-cooking-with-hana/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/01/IMG_1020-768x1024-345x460.jpeg

More cooking with HanaAnother month and another chance to cook with Hana Adamko, my fellow parishioner at the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in downtown Vancouver.

More cooking with HanaThis time we made a Polish kielbasa-cabbage stew. Again, our guests at the Frassati Supper sang Hana’s praises and sent compliments to the chef. Frassati is a once-a-week event in which volunteers feed the poor and homeless. We served the stew, a peach half and warmed rolls with buter. Desserts are from Simply Sweets in downtown Vancouver, New Seasons and the Clark County Food Bank. (Thank you for your generosity.)

It takes an average of 25 volunteers to put on each supper. Last week, about 130 people signed in and we served 160 plates. (The difference represents seconds, even thirds.) The numbers are down from a couple of years ago. We hope, of course, that that is because some of our former guests have found work and are able to break out of poverty.

More cooking with HanaSo here’s the recipe, as Hana makes it. This version makes about eight servings, but of course we multiply it by 20 so we can serve 130 people or so. I have gotten used to thinking big.

In a large saucepan or nonstick skillet, brown sausage over medium heat. Add the potatoes, cabbage, onion, 1 cup water, sugar, caraway and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
Add beans and vinegar; cover and simmer 5-10 minutes longer. Combine flour and remaining water until smooth; stir into stew. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Thank you to all the Frassati volunteers who work each Thursday serving the poor and homeless.








Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

More cooking with Hana
96505layered-sauerkraut-catches-me-by-surprise http://blogs.columbian.com/small-plates/2018/12/31/layered-sauerkraut-catches-me-by-surprise/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/12/fullsizeoutput_3061-1024x768-600x450.jpeg

Layered sauerkraut catches me by surpriseI coordinate volunteers for the Frassati Supper, part of an outreach program for the poor and homeless at Vancouver’s downtown Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater.

Aboutt a year ago, I was short a head cook for the fourth Thursday of the month. Out of the blue, fellow parishioner Hana Adamko offered her services. Of course, I jumped.

“I only cook Old World meals,” she announced. I remember asking myself what that might mean.

Layered sauerkraut catches me by surpriseBoy, was I in for an adventure, starting with chicken paprikash with homemade dumplings and most recently with a layered sauerkraut dish. I don’t like sauerkraut most of the time, but I found myself making the dish at home right after Hana made it for the 150 people we served Dec. 27. Our guests praised it, too. Plates came back clean. My husband loved it. I shared it with a friend who grew up in Bavaria. (The recipe calls for pork, bacon and sausage along with sauerkraut, onions and sour cream. His wife, a vegetarian, was out of town, and this was perfect timing.)

The Frassati Supper is part of the proto-cathedral’s Pier Giorgio Agape Ministry, an effort named in honor of the 24-year-old Italian man who died in 1925 from polio he likely contracted while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 1990. Our parish program began in December 2012. Besides the weekly supper, it also includes a closet for clothing distribution and a cupboard for food giveaways.

Washington mandates Point in Time, a count of the homeless each January. The tally for 2018 in Clark County was 795; for the state, 22,304.

Now if you think you can’t make a difference in the plight of the homeless, consider these numbers: In 2018, a group of volunteers working in our tiny church kitchen served 8,470 meals to the 6,209 people who signed in. (The difference between the numbers is from seconds and thirds some people requested.) It took the help of volunteers who put in 3,354 hours. (We average 27 volunteers — cooks, servers, dishwashers and greeters — per Thursday.) We also get donations from the Clark County Food Bank and Simply Sweets downtown. (Thank you.)

 Layered sauerkraut catches me by surpriseHana’s layered sauerkraut 

If you find the sauerkraut too sour, wash it. Squeeze all the liquid out of it. 

Rinse the rice and cook it in salty water

In a pan fry the sausages in a little oil. Set aside.

In another skillet fry the chopped bacon; when the bacon releases enough fat, add finely chopped onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent. Add ground pork and fry until it turns white. Pour in a little water, sprinkle with paprika and summer savory, salt (1-1/2 tsp.) and pepper, cover and cook until tender. 

Grease a medium-sized casserole. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line the dish with one-third of the sauerkraut. Spread half of the rice, then half of the meat over the sauerkraut. Place half of the sausages on top of the meat and pour over half of the lard released by sausages. Now comes the half of the remaining sauerkraut, spread one-third of the sour cream over it evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining rice and meat, put the sausage slices and pour over the rest of the lard. Cover with the remaining sauerkraut and spread sour cream on top.

Place in the oven and cook for 45-50 minutes. Take out from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.


Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

Layered sauerkraut catches me by surprise
101231roasted-and-stuffed-portobello-mushrooms-on-the-menu-2 http://blogs.columbian.com/small-plates/2018/10/05/lunch-plans-get-pinch-inspiration/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/fullsizeoutput_2df4-1024x680-600x398.jpeg
Roasted and stuffed portobello mushrooms on the menu

Stuffed portobello mushrooms take center stage for a light supper or luncheon with friends.

I’m giving away the menu, Mary Lou Oberson and Betty Schmidlin.

Roasted and stuffed portobello mushrooms on the menuFor the past couple of years, Mary Lou, Betty and I have renewed our friendship from our days at Portland State. During our working years, we went for long stretches with little communication, except for those Christmas cards. Now we meet for lunch about every six weeks or so. We are far-flung, if you consider Vernonia part of the greater Portland-Vancouver metro area: Mary Lou lives near Cedar Hills and Betty in Vernonia. I’ve been in Vancouver since 1983.

But the friendship has endured for decades. How many? I’m not giving up that number.

I’m hosting the next luncheon. I didn’t have a clue about what to serve until today when I stuffed and baked portobello mushrooms in a desperate move to keep from cooking a big meal. I was looking for something easy but tasty after a week of company. (Chuck Cleaveland and Buff Levine, I could have made this for the cocktail hour.)

See you soon, Betty and Mary Lou.

Stuffed portobello mushrooms (for two)

2 portobello mushrooms, washed and dried, stems removed and chopped for sautéing

6 slices of Genoa salami. cut into 1/4-inch strips

3 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup dried bread crumbs

salt and pepper to taste


1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pour olive oil onto a rimmed cookie sheet.

Wash and dry the portobellos. Chop the stems and set aside. Place the mushroom caps top down on  the cookie sheet. Slather with the olive oil.

Bake for 10 minutes. Turn them over and bake another 5 minutes. Take them out and let them rest. Turn them back over.

Melt the butter and sauté the chopped mushroom stems, red onion, bits of salami, basil, bread crumbs and garlic. Spoon the mixture atop the mushrooms. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.




Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

Roasted and stuffed portobello mushrooms on the menu
93653the-diary-of-a-young-girl-censorship-over-opportunity http://blogs.columbian.com/confessions-of-an-educator/the-diary-of-a-young-girl-censorship-over-opportunity/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/09/ChrisMargolin_037_Anne-Frank-had-a-vagina_IMAGE-640x360-600x337.jpg

The Diary of a Young Girl: Censorship over OpportunityAnne Frank had a vagina—as does just about every other female on planet earth. I know, shocking, isn’t it? A young girl, who stays in hiding and has no access to the outside world, has to make discoveries about herself, and one of them just happens to be that her major sexual organ is an odd one.

In the Definitive Version of Anne Frank’s diary, the publishing company actually decides to give us the entire diary, and not simply the excerpts we get to read in the heavily abridged version of the text. Unfortunately, a few years ago, a mother in Detroit deemed this version as too “pornographic” for her daughter to read.

Her daughter, a seventh grader in a suburban school district, had to read about such disgraceful, sickening, horrifying events like the Holocaust, you know, the murdering of countless people … oh, and about a vagina. The mother felt as if it should have been her job to teach her daughter about such physical traits. She’s right. She should have taught her daughter about her body and it probably should have been done before her daughter was hitting puberty. I guess she missed the boat on that one, and since she couldn’t do it, her daughter had to learn about it from one of the most important and most read pieces of literature in any country.

Here is the excerpt from The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank:

“Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn’t see them. What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris…. When you’re standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you’re standing, so you can’t see what’s inside. They separate when you sit down and they’re very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there’s a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That’s the clitoris….

 There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!”

During banned books week in September, my high school students were always shocked at how many books have been “banned” over time and the silly reasons why. Much like in the time of the great philosophers such as Plato and Socrates and Descartes and Aristotle, people are shunned from asking questions and wondering about society, and themselves.

My parents introduced me to books and movies with difficult subject matter when I was very young. They taught me all about the difference between what I see on the screen and reality. The same logic was presented to me when it came to books. Certain books dealt with subject matter that might be above my weekly two-dollar allowance, but my parents and I kept an open dialogue about what I was reading and it was always a learning environment. I wasn’t watching any sexy-time television (save for the grainy sometimes-maybe-boob porn of searching for the playboy channel); it was just that the stories may have been offensive in some way. But a lot of it revolved around my curiosity to learn about all different ends of the literary realism in which I swam—or at least semi-paddled—to knowledge.

My parents knew how to guide me through what I was watching or reading. I don’t really subscribe to the same ideas as my parents—I will not show my daughter anything questionable—but when we read books at bedtime, she asks a lot of questions, because she’s curious. Reading begets life experience. It helps us understand the crazy world in which we live. It also acts as the perfect escape, allowing one to move seamlessly into someone else’s existence.

My parents did not “ban me” from certain movies or books, but instead, talked to me about the text and made sure that I was not only comfortable with the material, but also for the sake of opening the doors of conversation.

Most of all, my parents talked to me about life stuff and they did it before I hit seventh grade. I wasn’t finding out about my sexuality through a book as a young teenager. They used their position as authority figures to read with me, discuss the material, and make sure that I wasn’t looking at anything that served as a detriment to myself or those around me. You know what they’re not doing? They’re not banning a book.

Life lessons come in many forms. For some, it’s staring into a mirror. For others, it’s speculating on life’s happenings. Most of all, it’s whatever the characters want it to be and they are mostly willing to take us by the hand and help us enjoy the conversation.

It’s banned books week, and I wonder more an more why we are still holding onto these titles as if they will forever scar our children. It’s unfortunate since a good portion of those texts are vital to the life experience, and it’s sad that some students will not have access to, or even know about so many poignant pieces of writing.

So, yeah, Anne Frank had a vagina, and that’s obviously the most terrifying part of her diary.


Originally posted on The Big Smoke

Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

The Diary of a Young Girl: Censorship over Opportunity
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How Not to Be Offensitive“Maybe, you might have some advice to give

How [not] to be [offensitive]….” – Jann Arden “Insensitive”

Offensitive – Easily offended and overly sensitive

I can be fairly sarcastic, a little sardonic, and sometimes I offend people with my off the cuff remarks. There were years where I introduced myself to classes by telling them, “I’m sarcastic, and if that doesn’t work for you, I have two doors in my classroom”. In no way was this helpful, or something that should have been said on the first day of school, nor did it endear me to those I was tasked with educating. It didn’t earn me respect, and frankly, it broke my chances at building a strong connection with several students who needed a positive influence, rather than a jerk. Maybe.

I have a really hard time not being myself in front of students. I have a good time with them, joking around, and having real conversation about life and how to live it. Maybe some students are just too offensitive – new word from Anthony Muhammad that means “too easily offended and overly sensitive”.

I think there is quite a bit of merit to being your most honest self in front of students. They need to see a real person in front of them. It used to be the norm for teachers to be robotic. They were there to instruct, and instruct only what was supposed to be taught. Teachers were the sage on the stage, with a book on the podium, a chalkboard behind them, and no time for the students in front of them. They lacked personality, and a way or want to connect with their most immediate stakeholders. This is not to say there weren’t incredible teachers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries who were wonderful at making honest connections, but that wasn’t the basis upon which education was built.

There is a need to be both of these teachers. We shouldn’t be the sage on the stage. We should stick to the theory that 10-15 minutes of direct instruction per hour is a solid amount of time, and that students should be working in groups, or in discussion, or in some type of activity that furthers their understanding and moves them toward content area proficiency.

But what do we do about the students who are super offensitive? There were always a good handful of students who didn’t appreciate my sarcasm, or somewhat dark humor, and I tried to make sure that with those kids I was careful, and intentional with my words. Code switching is important in those situations. It’s good to make sure you truly know your population, and know how to differentiate your approach. The offensitive students will pick up on the differences, and it will go a long way toward building those necessary relationships.

It is not the students who need to become less offensitive or develop thick skin, it’s the teacher who needs to know when to soften their own.

Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

How Not to Be Offensitive
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The Death Knell for Elementary and Middle Schools: Creating the New Standard for EducationI’m pretty sure it’s time to do away with all elementary and middle schools. We’ve seen enough. The students obviously know everything and since the grades don’t really matter and the permanent records only exist to taunt everyone, there is absolutely no point to Kindergarten through 8th grade. This is unfortunate for educators as it will lead to far fewer positions available; then again, there is such a teacher shortage at the moment, it might just revitalize the whole industry.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) provide a rubric for the essential skills needed to navigate through life, head toward higher education, or begin a career—or at least a job. The whole standards thing leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many parents and teachers alike. Unfortunately, these parents and teachers don’t really stop to understand what they actually mean for their children or students. The CCSS are the same damn thing teachers have been teaching—supposedly—since they ventured into the profession. The only difference is that now students at every level have a light at the end of the tunnel. They are no longer tethered to an “F” for a missing assignment or for a lack of understanding or because they had a family issue and couldn’t get it turned in on time.

Students have spent too many years in fairly unsupportive environments with teachers chiding them for not completely understanding the assignment. Unfortunately, many teachers negate the opportunity to help these students and instead tell them they should have listened or tried harder or done better or stayed during lunch or after school or not have gone to sleep or sporting events or dinner with their parents or work or babysit a sibling or do anything other than focus on the assignment they don’t understand because the teacher was unwilling to re-teach or go over or conference with or do much at all to show that student that they are capable of achieving the goal if they work hard, ask questions, and never give up.

Instead of providing students with straight A-F grades, they are simply asked to work until they have met that specific standard. If a student doesn’t meet a specific standard on an assignment in September, they are now able to complete it over and over again until they reach proficiency. As teachers, it’s easy to not want to grade, and re-grade, and re-grade. It’s tedious, and we get frustrated too easily with students who do not get things right the first time, or the 20th time. But we miss the fact that eventually they get it. Eventually, the student who works on it over and over and over and over again will turn in a paper that meets the goal.

I used to tell my students that “we can work with words on paper.” Words on paper will give students a starting point. It will allow them to show that they’ve at least given a quick attempt at something. But the problem is that students are still scared to ask a question. As cliché as it is, there are no stupid questions, and if one student has that question, then multiple students have the same one. Teachers need to realize that if more than two or three students have the same question or are confused about the same work, that they should simply re-teach or teach in a different way that helps with the confusion. It’s not okay for a teacher to simply shut down the students by saying they’ve already learned the information.

If we want to increase the graduation rates, teachers need to move into a standards system. Students need the ability to move up the ladder and know that they will always have the chance to complete work for a higher level of achievement. So then why do we need the primary or middle grades? Why can’t we just have one school system that moves on a vertically aligned system of grades and standards? We are no longer tethered to curriculum. The standards are our curriculum, and the content is used in order to provide a gateway to those standards. This can open the door to younger children having social skills courses, or typing classes, and once they’ve completed their work and earned at least proficiency for those courses, they will be able to move on to the next goal. If there are 100 goals to meet in order to reach graduation and a student meets them all at standard, why shouldn’t they be allowed to move on to higher education or a vocational program or an internship or whatever it is they want to do, considering they have proven themselves in all areas?

The education system is in a constant state of flux, but it’s headed in the right direction. No one will ever agree on how the system should be run, but we all want the same end result—creating a working-class citizen who has become their best self. People spend too much time complaining, rather than working with students and taking the time to understand that nothing much has changed, save for the now subtle light at the end of the sometimes-challenging tunnel.

Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

The Death Knell for Elementary and Middle Schools: Creating the New Standard for Education
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You Can’t Build a Time MachineI didn’t write my column last week. The days leading up to last Tuesday came and went, and I knew I needed to sit down and write up something, but I just couldn’t think of anything worth writing. At least that was the excuse I used. My wife kept reminding me that I needed to sit down and get it done. I just didn’t. I love writing these posts, but I just didn’t have it in me last week to actually do it. So, I didn’t do it..

I’m going to run with the excuse that because my dog had just gotten fixed, and was running around like a bull in a china shop, with this huge cone around his head. I’m going to say that it was so hot outside, that I just couldn’t pull myself away from the great outdoors. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the sun, so that would be too obvious of a lie. I could say that I was busy gardening, or playing music, or writing the next great American novel. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, but life just got in the way. For so many students, life also gets in the way.

It can be hard to remember that the student sleeping on their desk might have worked the night prior, or had to take care of siblings, or had to do x, y, and z, and all were so much more important than school work. It wasn’t that they couldn’t do the work, it was that they were not able to actually do the work.

In my early years as a teacher, I had no problem telling a student that late work was unacceptable. It ended up in the recycling bin, or crumpled in the bottom of a backpack. I told them time and time again that they could always build a time machine. Where was my empathy? Where were the memories of similar moments? In no way was my response to their needs a positive one. I had my expectations, but they were unrealistic for both student and teacher.

In high school and beyond I was awesome at last minute work. I’d find a quiet space, toss on some headphones – typically a Miles Davis album – and get started. It was easy. I think my head works better under pressure. I do better when I don’t think too much about it, and just keep typing. In Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird, she urges writers to just move one word at a time, not overthinking anything, but rather putting word after word as they come. This means the drafts might be dirty, but they are on paper, and can always be edited and cleaned. As long as I could leave myself enough time to go back through the piece of writing and correct my errors, I was good to go. I think that because I loved this pressure-based writing, I just developed a knack for it. But still, if I don’t do the work it doesn’t really matter how good I think I am when it comes to a last minute finish.

But here I am, another Tuesday has arrived, and I’m just now sitting down to write today’s post. Sometimes we all do last minute work. Sometimes there are real life obstacles for students, teachers, professionals, and everyone else in this world. I did not complete my post last week, and I do not have a time machine. It’s Tuesday, I am running against a deadline, and this is my last sentence.


Follow Chris Margolin on Twitter @theEDUquestion

Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

You Can’t Build a Time Machine
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You can’t Shame Your Way to SuccessIf you’re anything like the many people who step on the scale every morning, after enjoying a night – or full day of – candy, soda, and carbs, you’re probably still really angry that the count is continuously higher than yesterday’s. Regardless, you step down, glare in the mirror, and in your faux-drill-sergeant voice you bellow, “You keep doing this, over, and over again. You’re never going to learn. Why don’t you listen to anyone? Try a bit harder. Meet standard!” Meeting standard has become an all too important part of life. It has also become an important part of education.

It’s annoying to have to convince ourselves, almost daily, that we are not up to “standard,” but we can sure get there if we “try a bit harder”. It’s really easy to bellow words into a mirror each morning, step on that scale, or into the classroom, and continue the frivolous attempt at shaming yourself toward meeting standard. It’s not nice. It’s not kind. It doesn’t help move yourself any farther toward success. It’s a lot harder to actually put in the effort and time to get there.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I was not a believer in the Common Core State Standards until I watched my wife teach, work with students, and grade their papers with feedback rather than a grade. They learned because they knew why they needed the information; it was never a you must, but rather a you can. It was stated via conferences, or feedback on papers, or class discussions, or peer-to-peer discussions. There wasn’t really a grade, because why would anyone grade that which the students really don’t yet understand. Eventually there would be a formative and summative assessment, but even those weren’t final grades, because the student would have more opportunities to meet proficiency. They didn’t have to go backwards, instead, they could look at the next assignment, and know where, and how, to improve their work. They trusted her as a teacher, and she trusted them as students. They all worked for each other.

Deep down I knew that every student should be allowed the opportunity to succeed at each part of the learning process; however, I had somehow lost track of the simple concept that we are not all the same person. Students do not all learn at the same pace, level, or even similar materials. But I was so stuck in this pattern of wanting to change, saying it out-loud, and then doing absolutely nothing to make it better. I was still stepping on the scale each and every morning.

From watching her classroom over time, I became not just a believer in the standards, but I practiced, and preached them to all who would listen. They were one solution to my constant conversation with the mirror. I also realized that beyond the assessments, came the way that students interacted with each other, and learned from each other. It was inspiring. I know that I had, at one point, been that excited about being in a classroom, but now I just seem to be going through the motions.

So, what do we, not just as teachers, but as people, in order to not just move toward change, and promise change, but actually change? If we’ve seen that the numbers never move in the right direction, or that grade books are cluttered with random homework assignments, it’s time to find something different. If you are stagnant, and never get out of your seat, or have your students get out of theirs, it’s time to rethink the way you utilize your classroom. If you stand in front of your classroom and teach at your students rather than with your students, or for your students, you need to rethink the way you approach your classes. If they are not having fun, or if you are not having fun, something needs to shift.

Step away from the scale, and from what you’ve been doing. Give yourself a solid year of change. Seek out professionals, read books, visit classrooms, and ask for help. You will be more confident. You will be okay with buying new clothes, and trying things you’ve never tried before; you will learn a valuable lesson. Then, in a year you can hop on that scale with pride, and know that you have busted through your own standard, and gone far beyond one-year’s growth in one-year’s time.


Follow Chris Margolin / The Education Question on Twitter: @theEDUquestion

Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

You can’t Shame Your Way to Success
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That is approximately how much LeBron James will make per second of each NBA game for the next 4 seasons. Let’s multiply that by however many professional athletes in the United States, and then take a look around our classrooms. Take a look around your office. Take a look at your supplies. Take a look at the desks, the chairs, the carpet. More importantly, take a look at the curriculum in front of you. Are you a 1:1 district? How old are the textbooks? Do your students have pencils? Food? Shoes?

Whether or not athletes should make this much money has been hot-button issue for as long as there have been professional sports. According to a 2012 study from Next Gen Personal Finance, there are roughly 5000 professional athletes within the United States in the core four sports: Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey. While not many players will ever make LeBron James money, a lot of them will make more than half our day’s wages in less than 5 minutes of each game played.

Our nation does not have a top education system. In fact, we don’t even rank in the top ten. “In a 2015 Pew Research Center report, only 29% of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM) as above average or the best in the world.” but it would be nice if each of our school districts could at least provide students with basic necessities. Aren’t we exhausted by opening the broken books that we’ve been using since the mid-seventies? The underfunding of our public education system is a dead horse that we keep on beating, but it’s still dead, and we still don’t have the necessary resources to support our students. Many teachers can’t even afford to live within the boundaries of the school they serve.

The reason professional athletes make as much as they do is because we believe there are so few people who can do what they do at that level; it’s so special that we pay them an exorbitant amount. It is widely know that there is a teacher shortage, yet society seems to view teachers as a dime a dozen. Good teachers are becoming just as scarce as professional athletes. Where else would anyone accept that the majority of substitutes are on emergency certificates – meaning non-credentialed educators - and that teachers are placed in content areas in which they are clearly unqualified. Educators are a valuable resource, so how do we adjust society’s viewpoint so that what we do is seen as that special. Teachers are not benchwarmers; they are masters of their craft, and should be seen, and paid, as thus.




Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

One-Hundred-Sixty-Three-Dollars Per Second – by Chris & Courtney Margolin
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The Principals of Speed DatingEven though it’s been a handful of years since I was a classroom teacher, or even since I’ve been to the building in which I began my career, I still hold fond memories of my classroom with its decades-old yellowed-carpet, held down with duct tape, and years worth of old gum, and soda stains. We went through a lot of construction, and a lot changes in theory and practice. Mostly though, we went through a lot of administrators. It was like sitting down at some niche bar, creating a list of conversation topics, and likes, and dislikes, and hoping that someone in that room would take your life in the right direction. You wanted a leader who would want to stick around.

Sometimes when you get into a new relationship, you make the mistake of opening your mouth, and asking, “so, um… how many dates have you…..”, and before you can even finish the sentence, you watch all the sizzle fall out of whatever could have been.

You had already fallen in love with the idea of a future together. Everything was new. Everything was exciting. Things were moving in a new direction with new dynamics, and constantly changing positions. You would spend your days taking care of all your children, and then complaining about them as soon as they’re out of the room.

But, then there are problems. There’s some type of miscommunication. An argument about how to get those damn kids to graduate. Or maybe you catch wind that they have been keeping their eyes open for another opportunity – something more exciting, more suited to their current needs. Maybe the respect fades. The trust wanes. You swear you’ll stick it out for the rest of the year – at least until the kids graduate. When graduation comes, and the kids move away, you say your goodbyes to them, and to each other. There’s a divorce. It’s bitter, but amicable. You all keep with what you brought into the relationship, but there’s an emptiness in the brick-and-mortar, and a hope for brighter times.

Because you’re not someone who can wait too long to move on, you place an ad online. You list all of your minimum requirements in a partner, as well as a bit about yourself, and your hopes for the future. You want a leader. You want someone who has experience. Someone who can move in quickly – even if it’s too soon. Really, you just need someone, and hopefully they are good enough. At least for a while. At least as a rebound.

I spent 11 years in one school with 17 administrative changes. I once told a principal – I think it was my fourth – that I felt like I was locked in a rotating door of bad relationships. There was always a hopeful honeymoon where you promise that you on the same wavelength, and that teachers will have more time together, and students will see more growth over the course of the year. While we really want to hold onto that hope, we’ve heard it before, only to watch it all blow up at the end of the year when leadership, once again, changes.

Sometimes it’s good to move slowly. Sometimes it is good to take time to get acquainted. It’s okay to start as friends, maintain a bit of status-quo until you begin to hold hands, and smile with hope for a brighter future.

Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

The Principals of Speed Dating
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Teach Like It’s The 21st CenturyIn the beginning there were desks. There was a chalkboard. There was a podium. There were students in rows, pencils at the ready, notebooks opened, and a sage on the stage who preached grammar, and geography, and math, but gave no thought to the students in front of them. They were there to listen, learn, keep their mouths shut, and their bodies at attention, always.

In the pictures from the late 19th century and early 20th century make education look so drab, dry, and boring. Everyone in uniforms. No creativity from a visual sense, or an educational sense. Teachers were not designing their unit plans, or bringing in materials that would inspire most students. Instead, they taught straight from textbooks, or lectured on minutia they thought was important.Teach Like It’s The 21st Century

So, why hasn’t it changed? Why are students still sitting in rows? Why are textbooks still the daily lesson plan? Why are students not standing up, going to stations, having constant conversations, building things, reading from outside materials, and rockin’ all the visual literacy in the everyday world. Why are so many teachers so unwilling to grow with their students, learn from their students, and provide students with materials that truly engage the stakeholders in the classroom.

My experience as a student was not very positive. In all of high school, I think I really connected with two teachers. I didn’t enjoy being there. I wanted to read, and write, and learn about why I wanted to read and write. But I was stuck in a desk. I was stuck with the same Language and Literature and Question and Form books that I still see on teacher bookshelves throughout the last three districts in which I’ve worked. I didn’t attend many classes my junior year of high school. I was much more interested in music, my girlfriend, and the library. I didn’t skip school to get stoned; I skipped, and hopped the bus to the downtown Portland library, and read all day long. It was more engaging than school. I learned so much more from picking up Crime and Punishment, or Rolling Stone, than I did from a molding textbook.

One of the main reasons I became a teacher was to make sure that students were not as bored as I had been. I wanted to make sure that I actually met them where they were at, and let them know that they could read materials they wanted, and that we would only use the textbook a couple times a year. If my students wanted to be auto-mechanics, then if we were doing lit circles, or some time of sustained reading, they could bring in auto-manuals. If they loved video games, bring in a guide book. If they wanted to read the newspaper, a magazine, a news-based website, they could do that as well.

And they worked.

And they enjoyed the work.

Because it didn’t feel like work.

When we moved through different themes, say Social Justice, students looked for news articles, TV spots, court transcripts, and whatever else they could find that focused on the issue, and could be shared with the class. Instead of raised-hand discussions, we did Philosophical Chairs and Socratic Seminars. My desks were in a U shape so everyone could see everyone else. I didn’t stand in the front of the classroom unless there was a real need. I sat with my students. I worked with my students. I learned from my students.

We are in a mobile world – both in screen and movement. Stagnation leads to a lack of learning. We should be out of our seats, or in groups, or doing something that engages body and brain. We are in the 21st century, and if you are still teaching like it’s the 20th, then you need to catch up with the times.


Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

Teach Like It’s The 21st Century
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Write the Real, Not the “Real”Write the real. Notice there are no quotation marks around the word “real” in that first sentence; it’s because the words that should go down on paper are those that actually represent what actually happens either in real life, or in the thought process of real life, or in the real life lessons learned over time, or in the real understanding of real circumstances. In essence, don’t lie to the reader, because the reader will close the book, and walk away, and forget that the words ever existed.

Tell it like it is. Throw no sucker punches – life’s day-to-day twists are more than enough. Don’t write for shock value. Don’t try to figure out what’s already happened. The reader gets nothing from scenes that don’t represent the real.

Now, this doesn’t mean that your piece needs to be one of realism. Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and Magical Realism all represent ideas that people have, or lessons that need to be learned. If we think about it, there’s nothing new learned from Star Wars; it’s simply the story of family, friendship, struggle, and survival. It’s the same for “The Very Old Man With Enormous Wings,” in the way that it’s the story of judgement, degradation, and the inability to overcome certain fears and stereotypes.

It is not the author’s job to give you a new reality, but to simply ask you to think about your own – to find your own story within the one they are providing. To use their characters as mirrors rather than windows.

It’s far too easy to merely observe Holden Caulfield, or J Gatsby, or Moll Flanders, and think that none of those stories apply to you while you’re reading. It’s much more difficult to stare at those characters as if you’re looking back at yourself. We are all Holden in the way that we all struggle to figure out who we really are, and we all swim through a world of “phony” people, or deal with families that don’t seem to care, or our own psyche that tells us everything is wrong. We are all wanting so badly to be J. Gatsby, and never worry about a thing – at least on the outside – and live a life of the surreal where everything just comes to us, and love is easy, and work is easy, and money is easy, while in reality, we know that we can only live that lie for so long, and that at some point it will always lead back to staring across the water toward the green light.

It’s the author’s job to show you reality; it’s your job to admit to it.

Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

Write the Real, Not the “Real”
90274when-the-sidewalk-never-ends-2 http://blogs.columbian.com/confessions-of-an-educator/when-the-sidewalk-never-ends/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/08/81NpqDKpkXL._SY355_.jpg

When the Sidewalk Never EndsI don’t remember how old I was when my mom brought home a copy of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, but I know it’s the first book of poems that I remember reading. I still have my copies of both that book, as well as A Light in the Attic, and while both are tattered, and leaking from their seams, they have been forever loved, and forever staples in my book collection.

I grew up in a household of readers – my father is a collector of all things Sherlock Holmes, and my mother a school teacher who loves books. There was never a time where I wasn’t surrounded by words. In fact, in my childhood bedroom, my dad kept one of his bookcases because he had run out of room in his upstairs library. My middle name is Holmes. I’m not happy about it.

Some of my earliest memories are my mother tucking me in at night, underneath the same two blue blankets that I kept on my bed until my wife finally threw them away, and reading to me from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I don’t think we ever outgrew that book, reading those stories over and over again until I could recite each one of them from memory.

When I was a child, I was never very fascinated with television, and so books were all I wanted, and when I wasn’t outside playing with friends, book were all I had. I read anything I could get my hands on, and devoured everything around me: fiction, non-fiction, historical novels, choose your own adventures, and poetry.

I remember after reading through the Shel Silverstein books, I wanted to start writing my own pieces. My first poem was called “I’m Rubber, and You’re Glue,” and while I’m sure the spelling was wrong, and I know I copied the title and idea, my 5-year-old self was so excited when my mom read it and put it up on the fridge. It was a shining moment for a burgeoning authorPossibly plagiarized, but a shining moment nonetheless. I was going to be a writer when I grew up!

It’s funny though, because I don’t remember any books of poetry between Shel Silverstein, and my discovery of Langston Hughes in my junior year of high school. Ms. Wood, my English teacher both freshman and junior year, had us write a paper on an American Poet. I was having a really difficult time deciding who I would choose. I didn’t know a lot of names, and I remember going back and forth between Adrianne Rich and Langston Hughes. Eventually, either she got tired of waiting for me, or she saw something in me that made her hand me Hughes’ name on a sheet of paper. It was life-changing. I couldn’t get enough of him – still can’t! I wanted to read everything he’d ever written, from his earliest poems through his communist party brochures, and children’s books, and essays, and everything in between. The music in his words spoke to me like Silverstein’s had when I was just a child, except for this time, I was learning about a much more adult world.

In college, I ventured from Hughes to Yeats, and Keats, and Browning, and Shelly, and Donne, and Blake, and Wordsworth, and my fascination with 16th through 19th century British poetry grew at an increasing rate. The bleakness of their words, the raw honesty, and emotion with which they wrote. The way that I could see everything that happened in their time just by reading a short stanza. It was so enthralling.

As time has moved on, I have fallen in love with new poets – Rudy Francisco, Taylor Mali, Shane Koyczan, Mark Halliday, Donald Justice, Shihan, and so many more – and I’ve continued to learn from each and every one of them.

What I have found, as a reader, is that the sidewalk never ends; there is always another adventure from which to choose, another path yet traveled. Reading isn’t just fundamental, it is essential to the soul. Read to yourself, to your children, to your friends, to a stranger at a bus stop, but never stop reading.

Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin is a Curriculum Specialist for English Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, AP, IB, and College in the High Schools. He spent 12 years as a high school English teacher, working not only with students but also as a member of the district curriculum design team, developing the district’s Creative Writing course. He is a contributing blogger with The Columbian, NCTE, McGraw Hill Education, The Buck Institute of Education, Ed Tech, and The Medium. He currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and daughter.

When the Sidewalk Never Ends
95879study-common-class-of-drugs-linked-to-increased-risk-of-dementia-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/04/26/study-common-class-of-drugs-linked-to-increased-risk-of-dementia/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cropped-HEALTHBEAT-FINAL-LOGOrgb.png

A new study found the use of a common class of drugs is associated with an increased risk of dementia – even when taken 20 years before a dementia diagnosis.

The international research team from the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland analyzed more than 27 million prescriptions for anticholinergic drugs. They compared those prescriptions as recorded in the medical records of 40,770 patients over 65 years old with dementia to the records of nearly 284,000 older adults without dementia.

The researchers found a greater incidence of dementia among those who were prescribed anticholinergic antidepressants, bladder medications and Parkinson’s disease medications than among those not prescribed anticholinergic medications.

Dementia increased with greater exposure to the drugs, according to researchers.

Anticholinergic medications block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, and have previously been implicated as a potential cause of cognitive impairment, said Noll Campbell, Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University Center for Aging Research investigator and co-author of the new study, in a news release.

“These findings make it clear that clinicians need to carefully consider the anticholinergic burden of their patients and weigh other options,” said study co-author Dr. Malaz Boustani, a Regenstrief Institute and IU Center for Aging Research investigator, in the news release.

Further research is needed to understand the reasons for the link between the drugs and increased dementia risk, the researchers said.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Study: Common class of drugs linked to increased risk of dementia
95882report-clark-county-has-higher-rates-of-female-young-doctors-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/04/25/report-clark-county-has-higher-rates-of-female-young-doctors/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/doctor-600x398.jpg

While Clark County has more physicians and more primary care providers per 100,000 than the state average, it lags behind in several specialties and psychiatry, according to a new report by the state Office of Financial Management.

Clark County also has a higher rate of female physicians per 100,000 people and has the youngest median age of physicians in the state, according to the report.

The new report by the office’s Health Care Research Center looks at the state’s physician supply using data from 2016.

Clark County has 263 physicians per 100,000 residents – only slightly higher than the state rate of 261. Clark County was one of only eight counties with rates higher than the state average.

County rates ranged from a high of 402 physicians per 100,000 in Chelan County to a low of 19 in Wahkiakum County.

Clark County also has a higher-than-average rate of primary care providers per 100,000 residents: 122. The state rate is 96 providers per 100,000.

But when it comes to specialists, Clark County is below the state rate of 165 per 100,000. Clark County has 141 specialists per 100,000 residents – better than 29 other counties.

Clark County also falls below the state rates for anesthesiologists, cardiologists, emergency medicine providers, family medicine providers, psychiatrists and radiologists. The county exceeds the state rates for internal medicine providers, obstetricians/gynecologists, pediatricians and surgeons.

In total, Clark County had 1,215 physicians, accounting for 6.5 percent of the state’s physician workforce.

The five most populous counties in the state – King, Pierce, Spokane, Snohomish and Clark – had 73 percent of the state’s total physicians while accounting for just 65 percent of the state’s population.

Female physicians in Clark County make up 39.5 percent of the physician workforce compared with 37 percent statewide. Only three counties had higher rates than Clark County: Columbia (42 percent), King (41.7 percent) and Snohomish (40.5 percent).

Across the state, 60 percent of physicians obtained their first state license since 2000. In Clark County, however, 72.6 percent of physicians received their first license since. Only Lincoln County had a higher rate (73.9 percent).

So, not surprisingly, Clark County has the youngest median age of physicians: 47 years old. At the other end of the spectrum is Garfield County, where the median age is 63 years old. Most counties have a median age higher than the statewide median age of 50.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Report: Clark County has higher rates of female, young doctors
95885romaine-lettuce-e-coli-outbreak-continues-to-grow-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/04/19/romaine-lettuce-e-coli-outbreak-continues-to-grow/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/romaine-339x460.jpg

Want to avoid E. coli? Better stay away from chopped romaine lettuce.

The number of people sickened in a multistate E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce has climbed to 53 people in 16 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC is recommending people don’t eat any store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes with romaine lettuce. Even those who have eaten some of the lettuce and have not gotten sick should toss the lettuce, the CDC warned.

Health officials suspect that chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region is the source of the outbreak, but no common grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been identified.

The CDC first announced the E. coli outbreak on April 10. At the time, health officials had identified 17 cases in seven states.

On April 13, the CDC announced the outbreak link to chopped romaine lettuce. By then, 35 people had been sickened in 11 states.

And in the week since then, 18 more people and five states were added to the outbreak. Washington has reported one case.

Ill people range in age from 10 to 85, with a median age of 34. Seventy percent of ill people are women, according to the CDC.

Since the outbreak began, 31 people have been hospitalized with the infection, including five people who have developed kidney failure, according to the CDC. No deaths have been reported.


Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak continues to grow
95888wsu-researchers-study-effects-of-pot-on-depression-anxiety-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/04/19/wsu-researchers-study-effects-of-pot-on-depression-anxiety/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/pot-smoke-600x361.jpg

Researchers at Washington State University have confirmed what medical marijuana users have been saying for years: Smoking pot helps with anxiety, stress and depression.

The WSU researchers looked at how self-reported levels of stress, anxiety and depression were affected by smoking different strains and quantities of cannabis at home.

They concluded that smoking cannabis can significantly reduce short-term levels of depression, anxiety and stress but may contribute to worse overall feelings of depression over time.

This research is unique because it looked at inhaled marijuana use in the home, whereas most of the previous research has been conducted in a laboratory using orally administered pills, according to a WSU news release.

The WSU researchers assessed how use of cannabis with varying concentrations of chemical compounds tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) affected users’ feelings of wellbeing.

They found that one puff of cannabis high in CBD and low in THC was best for reducing symptoms of depression.

Those looking to reduce anxiety symptoms responded best to two puffs of any type of cannabis. And 10 or more puffs of cannabis high in CBD and high in THC produced the largest reductions in stress, according to the researchers.

While both men and women reported decreases in symptoms for all three conditions after using cannabis, women reported a significantly greater reduction in anxiety following cannabis use, according to the news release.

“This is to my knowledge one of the first scientific studies to provide guidance on the strains and quantities of cannabis people should be seeking out for reducing stress, anxiety and depression,” said Carrie Cuttler, clinical assistant professor of psychology at WSU and lead author of the study, in the news release. “Currently, medical and recreational cannabis users rely on the advice of bud tenders whose recommendations are based off of anecdotal not scientific evidence.”

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

WSU researchers study effects of pot on depression, anxiety
95891research-shows-marijuana-ends-up-in-breast-milk-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/04/12/research-shows-marijuana-ends-up-in-breast-milk/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/pot-600x400.jpg

New research shows that a marijuana compound ends up in mom’s breast milk, but the exact consequences of that are still unclear.

Research published this month in Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at marijuana use among eight women in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal. The women were between two and five months postpartum and were all exclusively breastfeeding.

“This study is just a start to see if marijuana transferred into breast milk. Levels in milk were quite low,” said senior study author Thomas Hale, director of the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo, in a HealthDay article.

Still, researchers advised against women smoking marijuana while breastfeeding because there’s no known safe amount.

The anonymous women in the study all used marijuana, but the amount they used varied. Most used it infrequently; one woman said she used it seven to 10 times in the prior week.

The women used a provided breast milk collection kit that included bottles for the breast milk, as well as a new glass pipe for smoking marijuana to avoid contamination from past drugs.

The women were then instructed to buy a specific strain of marijuana from a specific dispensary to ensure a consistent dose. They were asked to stop smoking marijuana for 24 hours prior to smoking for the test.

The mothers then collected breast milk samples one, two and four hours after smoking for the test. About 2.5 percent of the amount the mother smoked was found in the milk. The test looked for a specific compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

The researchers said more work needs to be done to get a better understanding. For instance, the study only looked at inhaled marijuana. It’s also unclear whether the amount of marijuana in the breast milk would rise if a woman smokes more or if levels would be different among heavy users.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Research shows marijuana ends up in breast milk
95894survey-young-women-dont-see-std-risk-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/04/11/survey-young-women-dont-see-std-risk/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cropped-HEALTHBEAT-FINAL-LOGOrgb.png

While more than half of young women are sexually active, more than 85 percent of those who are do not believe they are at risk for chlamydia or gonorrhea, according to a new report.

Quest Diagnostics surveyed thousands of young women 15 to 24 years old, their mothers and primary care and OB/GYN providers about sexual activity, sexual health and knowledge of and screening for STDs.

The results showed a disconnect between sexual activity and perceived risk among young women, as well as poor communication between patients and providers.

The survey found that 56 percent of young women are sexually active, but of those, only 39 percent said their partner used a condom the last time they had sex.

And while STD rates have been on the rise – gonorrhea rates are up 19 percent since 2015, chlamydia rates are up 5 percent – young women are more worried about HIV/AIDs, according to the survey.

About 40 percent of survey respondents said they’re concerned about HIV/AIDS, while 20 percent said they were concerned about chlamydia and only 16 percent were worried about gonorrhea.

Yet of those who are sexually active, only 56 percent said they’ve been tested for an STD, according to the survey.

But the survey also revealed that physicians may be contributing to the problem.

A quarter of physicians said they were very uncomfortable discussing STD risk with female patients. In addition, one in three physicians said they relied on symptoms to diagnose an STD, even though infections can be present without symptoms, according to the survey.

About half of young women said they don’t want to bring up sex or STDs with their providers, and less than 25 percent of women would ask their provider for an STD test.

On the flip side, nearly 50 percent of women said their provider has never asked them if they want STD testing.

And when young women do talk about sex with their doctor, they’re not always truthful. About a quarter of young women admitted they don’t always tell the truth. Among 15- to 17-year-olds, that rate is much higher: 43 percent.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Survey: Young women don’t see STD risk
95897surgeon-general-urges-people-to-carry-opioid-antidote-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/04/05/surgeon-general-urges-people-to-carry-opioid-antidote/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/naloxone-600x399.jpg

In an effort to combat the opioid’s crisis, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams says more Americans should be carrying the overdose antidote naloxone.

Adams released a public health advisory Thursday, recommending more people carry the medication that is already carried by many first responders. Individuals, including family, friends and those who are personally at risk for an opioid overdose, should have the drug on hand, according to the advisory.

Naloxone, which is delivered via nasal mist or injection, can counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. While it’s not a long-term solution, it can temporarily suspend the overdose effects until emergency responders arrive, according to the surgeon general.

In many states, including Washington, a prescription isn’t required to get naloxone from a pharmacist. Most states also have laws designed to protect providers who dispense and Samaritans who deliver naloxone or call for help during an opioid overdose, according to a news release from the surgeon general’s office.

The surgeon general’s public health advisory is part of the administrations ongoing effort to respond to the rising number of overdose deaths. Since 2010, the number of opioid overdose deaths has doubled from more than 21,000 to more than 42,000 in 2016, according to the news release.

The biggest increase in opioid overdose deaths were related to illicitly made fentanyl and synthetic opioids, according to the news release.

“Each day we lose 115 Americans to an opioid overdose – that’s one person every 12.5 minutes,” Adams said in the news release. “It is time to make sure more people have access to this lifesaving medication, because 77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home.”

Naloxone is covered by most insurance plans and, for those without insurance, may be available at no or low cost through public health programs or retailer and manufacturer discounts, according to the news release.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Surgeon general urges people to carry opioid antidote
95900poll-majority-will-buy-own-health-plan-even-without-mandate-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/04/04/poll-majority-will-buy-own-health-plan-even-without-mandate/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/reform-531x460.jpg

The vast majority of people say they will continue to buy their own health insurance, even without an individual mandate requiring they do so, according to a new poll.

The March Kaiser Health Tracking Poll surveyed non-group health plan enrollees about the individual mandate and their health coverage.

As part of the Republican tax plan signed at the end of 2017, lawmakers eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty beginning in 2019.

Only about 19 percent of respondents were aware the mandate penalty had been repealed but is still in effect for this year. Regardless, 90 percent of respondents said they will continue to purchase their own insurance, even with the individual mandate repeal.

About 34 percent of respondents said the mandate was a “major reason” why they purchased insurance in the first place.

The poll also found that about half of the public believes the health plan marketplaces are collapsing. The rate is higher (about 60 percent) among those who purchase plans through the marketplaces.

Among those who are uninsured, the top reason for not having health insurance is its high cost (36 percent) and job-related issues, such as unemployment or their employer not offering health insurance (20 percent).

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Poll: Majority will buy own health plan, even without mandate
95903medical-costs-still-preventing-people-from-visiting-doctor-4 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/03/29/medical-costs-still-preventing-people-from-visiting-doctor/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cash-600x384.jpg

In the past year, 44 percent of people report skipping a visit to the doctor when they were sick or injured because of the cost of being seen.

And about 40 percent say they skipped a recommended medical test or procedure because of the cost, according to a new national poll.

The survey, conducted by West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago, asked more than 1,300 adults how they feel about medical costs and how those costs affect their decisions.

More people fear the medical bills that come with a serious illness (40 percent) than the illness itself (33 percent), according to the survey.

Other interesting findings:

“The high cost of healthcare has become a public health crisis that cuts across all ages as more Americans are delaying or going without recommended medical tests and treatments,” said Dr. Zia Agha, chief medical officer at the West Health Institute, in a news release. “According to this survey, most Americans do not feel they are getting a good value for their healthcare dollars, and the rising cost of healthcare is clearly having a direct consequence on American’s health-and financial well-being.”

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Medical costs still preventing people from visiting doctor
100324coconut-macaroon-nests-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/03/28/coconut-macaroon-nests/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_1601-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

Coconut Macaroon NestsCoconut Macaroon Nests will totally be on the table at Easter brunch next weekend.  Although they’re a bit messy to make, they look adorable and taste great.  Feel free to make these a day or two ahead so you have less to manage on Sunday.

Coconut Macaroon Nests

Makes 24 nests



Heat oven to 300.  Coat mini muffin pans with non stick cooking spray.

Use a stand mixer to combine egg whites, sugar, salt, vanilla, coconut and almond extract.  Mix briefly.  Add shredded coconut and mix until combined.

Scoop 1 T blobs of coconut into the prepared muffin pan.  Grease a smaller item (I have a narrow bottomed shot glass) such as wine cork and gently press it down into the coconut to create the nest-like shape.  It can be messy, it will look like twigs after you bake it.

Bake for 30 minutes until nests set and edges are golden brown.  If it’s browning too quickly, cover the pan with foil.  Set aside and cool completely.

Carefully remove nests from pan.  I used a small spatula to wiggle around the edges and pop them out.  You WILL lose some… I started with 30 and ended up with 24 intact.  It just happens.

Carefully melt chocolate chips in a plastic bag in the microwave, using 30 second intervals and checking often.  Drizzle into nests and carefully stick the eggs to the chocolate.  Feel free to put a bit of chocolate on the back of an egg to “glue” it to the others.  Cool completely and serve.

Recipe modified from “Macaroon Nests,” inspiredbycharm.com

Coconut Macaroon Nests

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Coconut Macaroon Nests
95906study-thousands-of-children-injured-in-hoverboard-falls-3 http://blogs.columbian.com/healthbeat/2018/03/27/study-thousands-of-children-injured-in-hoverboard-falls/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/hoverboard-600x417.jpg

New research reveals that nearly 27,000 children and teens were treated at hospital emergency departments for injuries sustained while riding hoverboards during the first two years of sales.

Researchers analyzed 2015-16 injury data among children younger than 18 and found that injuries were most common among 12-year-old boys.

The body parts most often injured are what you would expect with falls: wrist (19 percent) and forearm (14 percent). Head injuries also accounted for 14 percent of injuries, according to the research published in Pediatrics.

Fractures were the most common diagnosis (40 percent), followed by contusions (17 percent) and strains or sprains (13 percent).

Only three burns were reported during the research period, despite hoverboards being known for spontaneously catching fire during those early years.

None of the burns was caused by malfunctioning batteries. Rather, two of the burns resulted from patients being scalded while riding a hoverboard in the kitchen and colliding with a pot of boiling water. The third was a friction burn that developed after the patient’s finger was ran over by a hoverboard, according to the researchers.

The researchers also looked at skateboard injury data. More than 121,000 children visited emergency departments during that two-year period with skateboard injuries. Again, 12-year-old boys accounted for most of those injuries, according to researchers.

And like hoverboard injuries, wrists were the most frequently injured body part among skateboarders and fractures were the most common diagnosis.

But while the majority of hoverboard injuries occurred in homes, skateboard injuries were most common on the street.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Study: Thousands of children injured in hoverboard falls
100329super-lemon-coffee-cake-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/03/25/super-lemon-coffee-cake/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_1377-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

I’m a food nerd.  Completely comfortable with this title, it means I read cookbooks for fun (yes really), take pictures of everyone’s food at restaurants (sorry not sorry) and take about 5 hours in any kitchen store (I told you to get a coffee and bring a book).

Food nerd status also means I love testing new ingredients.  After few weeks ago I went crazy with coconut milk powder in Creamy Coconut Cheesecake.  After the dust settled, I finally got around experimenting with lemon juice powder.  It’s literally dehydrated fresh lemon juice, the idea is to pack a lot of bright, lemony punch into a small amount.  (Side note, don’t try eating it directly, it’s super duper sour).  Lemon juice powder is absolutely worth adding to your baking collection.

Super Lemon Coffee Cake

Serves 12


Lemon Streusel

Lemon Coffee Cake

Lemon Glaze


Heat oven to 350.  Carefully grease a tube pan (at least 10 C capacity).  A tube pan is another name for an angel food cake pan with a removable bottom.

To prepare lemon streusel, combine all dry ingredients except for pecans.  Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until mixture is coarse crumbs.  Mix in pecans.  Set aside.

To prepare lemon coffee cake, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, lemon juice powder and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Use a stand mixer to cream butter and lemon extract.  Add sugar and beat at least 2 minutes, until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, scrape sides if needed.  Add sour cream.

Remove bowl from stand.  Use a spatula to gently stir in dry ingredients.

Spoon about half the batter into the prepared tube pan.  Sprinkle half the lemon streusel.  Finish with batter and more streusel.  Gently tap the pan on the counter to prevent bubbles.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly and run a thin knife around the edges to loosen.  Turn the cake on to a plate and place another plate on top, flipping it over so the streusel is visible.  Allow to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix ingredients and drizzle over cake.

Recipe modified from “Lemon Streusel Coffeecake,” kingarthurflour.com

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Super Lemon Coffee Cake
100334pecan-caramel-clusters-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/03/18/pecan-caramel-clusters/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_1403-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

Pecan Caramel Clusters

Pecan Caramel Clusters don’t require any baking.  Quick and easy, these treats would be a perfect addition to Mother’s or Father’s Day brunch.  You can also substitute in your favorite nut mix.  A coworker has asked me to try making these with a pecan, cashew and pistachio combination.  Sounds even better, can’t wait to give it a spin.

Pecan Caramel Clusters

Makes 18 clusters



Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Break pecan halves into slightly smaller pieces, leaving big chunks.  Put in a large bowl.

Dump heavy cream and unwrapped caramels into a small sauce pan.  Heat over medium low until everything melts, stirring gently to combine.  Don’t be tempted to heat caramel too quickly, it can burn (I know from firsthand experience).

When caramel and cream have melted together, remove from heat.  Add vanilla and 1/4 t sea salt and mix completely.

Pour melted caramel over pecan pieces and use a spatula to stir until evenly coated.  Use a tablespoon to scoop out clumps, setting on prepared baking sheet.  Allow to cool, about 30 minutes.

When pecan clusters have set, transfer chocolate chips into a plastic bag.  Microwave in 15 second bursts until chocolate melts.  Snip the corner and drizzle pecan clusters.  Sprinkle with sea salt if using.

Store refrigerated.  Put parchment paper between layers if stacking, these get a bit sticky at room temperature.

Recipe modified from “Caramel Pecan Clusters,” mybakingaddition.com

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Pecan Caramel Clusters
85400do-you-have-any-experiments-you-can-recommend https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/do-you-have-any-experiments-you-can-recommend/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dr.-U-Hero-257x460.png

Dr. Universe: Do you have any experiments you can recommend? Thanks! -Etta, 7, Milwaukee

Dear Etta and Friends:

You can try all kinds of fun experiments at home. It really all depends on what you are curious about. Lately, I’ve seen some really great sunsets and started wondering what gives them their colors.

I decided to ask my friend Tom Johnson, who leads fun physics demonstrations for kids visiting Washington State University. I asked him if he had any simple ideas for an experiment I could try out in my lab, or even the kitchen. One idea he had was to create a sunset in a cup.

Maybe you can try it, too. You’ll need a flashlight, a transparent cup or two, water, and some milk. We cats have a reputation for liking milk. But it really isn’t so great for our digestion. So instead, I like to use it for science.

Once you’ve collected all your supplies, you’ll want to fill your glass about 2/3 of the way with water. Then, you’ll want to add milk until the liquid gets pretty cloudy. Be sure and stir it up well.

Turn on your flashlight and turn down any other lights in the room. Now you can shine the flashlight down into the water and look through the side of the glass. What color do you see?

This time, shine the flashlight through the side of the glass while looking at it from the opposite side. Any changes? Then hold your glass up off the table. Shine the flashlight up through the bottom of the glass and look down into the liquid. What colors can you see now? Perhaps the colors are looking more like those you’d see during a sunset.

Milk in the water scatters the light from the flashlight. It’s similar to the way different molecules and dust in our atmosphere scatter light from the sun.

Light travels from one end of the glass to the other and then up to your eyes. The further the light has to travel through the water, the more blue light gets scattered. That leaves more red light for your eyes to pick up.

Now that we’ve started to get an idea of how light scatters, runs into particles, and travels long distances, you can really get to experimenting.

What happens when you use less or more milk? Will you see any changes if you use a different kind of flashlight, like an LED? What kind of milk gives off more orange or reddish colors? Two percent? Whole milk?

Does the shape of the glass change anything? Why do you think that might be? Make a prediction and give it a try sometime. I’d love to hear more about your experiments and how your own sunset in a cup turns out. E-mail: Dr.Universe@wsu.edu.

Dr. Universe


The post Do you have any experiments you can recommend? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

100338fudge-buckeye-cake-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/03/04/fudge-buckeye-cake/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_0849-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

Fudge Buckeye Cake combines dense chocolate cake with sweet, squishy peanut butter filling.  A great option for Father’s Day, you can substitute 9 inch round cake pans for the fancy rectangular ones.  Buckeye is a reference to a super popular treat originating from the Midwest.

Fudge Buckeye Cake

Serves 12






Heat the oven to 350.  Grease and flour the baking pans.  Be sure not to miss any spots.  You will be making 4 layers, meaning you need enough time to bake in to batches.

To make the cake, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add eggs, oil and vanilla.  Scrape sides if needed.  Gradually add water, beat until smooth.

Pour about 1/4 batter into each pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes then turn cakes out of the pans to cool on a rack.  Wash the pans and grease and flour again.  Fill with remaining batter and bake again.

To make the filling, use a stand mixer.  Combine peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.  It will be crumbly.  Add milk in increments until smooth and spreadable.  It needs to be thick enough to hold its shape but soft enough to spread between the layers.

When the cake is completely cool, use a spatula to divide the peanut butter mixture into 3 even amounts.  Eyeball the 4 cake layers, if they have puffed up in the centers you may need to carefully trim with a serrated knife until it is mostly even.

Carefully set the first layer of cake on a platter.  Use an offset spatula to distribute a third of the peanut butter filling.  Start in the center and carefully push out to the edges.  Set on next layer of cake and repeat.  Leave the top later uncovered.

To make frosting, combine chocolate chips, heavy cream and corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl.  Decrease the power to 50% and carefully melt together using 30 second bursts.  You’ll need about 90 seconds.  Stir until smooth.

Spread along the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.  Store in the refrigerator until chocolate frosting sets.

Recipe modified from “Peanut Butter Fudge Buckeye Cake,” kingarthurflour.com

Fudge Buckeye Cake

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Fudge Buckeye Cake
85035how-do-we-get-our-personality https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/how-do-we-get-our-personality/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screen-Shot-2016-05-06-at-4.08.12-PM-349x460.png

Dr. Universe: How do we get our personality? – Jamie, 11

Dear Jamie,

Everyone is different. Maybe you are adventurous, shy, outgoing, funny, or kind. Before you were even born, your unique personality was beginning to take shape.

Part of the answer to your question is that some of your personality comes from your parents. Just as parents pass down physical traits like hair and eye color to their offspring, they can also give them different personality traits. They’re in your genes, the information passed throughout generations.

But your personality isn’t set in stone from the beginning. There are a few other things that go into it.

That’s what I found out from my friend Chris Barry, a psychologist at Washington State University. He studies personality in young people, including how people express themselves on social media. He was really excited to hear about your question.

Even as little babies, people start to express their own personalities, he said. Maybe you were a really fussy infant. Maybe you laughed or smiled a lot. As you grew up and learned how to communicate, your personality started to grow, too.

You’ve had a lot of different life experiences and those play into your personality, too. Barry reminded me that humans are social animals. He explained that as the brain develops, you become much more aware of the world around you.

For example, when you were little, you could run around with spaghetti all over your face and no one would think much about it. But now that you are an 11-year-old, running around with spaghetti on your face could be a little embarrassing.

Perhaps your family and friends would suggest you find a napkin. Barry explained that as you get older you are not only more aware of different social situations, but also your own personality.

Humans are often looking for information from other humans to figure out how to navigate the world. Meanwhile, an almond-shaped brain structure called the amygdala is especially helpful as you figure out these new situations and emotions.

You may notice that your family, friends, or others may react to the way you behave. You might learn to change your behavior depending on their reactions. While everyone has their own personality, in a way, other people are helping shape it, too.

Humans have all kinds of words to describe each other’s personality traits. In fact, some researchers have come up with a list of more than 600 characteristics.

Barry explained that we still have a lot of unanswered questions to explore when it comes to understanding personality. He said that while your personality develops a lot as you grow from a baby into a kid, it probably won’t change too much once you become a grown-up.

Based on your question, it appears that you are very curious. That can be a great personality trait. Have you ever thought about become a scientist or researcher one day? Keep asking great questions and you’ll be well on your way.

Dr. Universe

The post How do we get our personality? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

84815why-do-cows-moo https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/why-do-cows-moo/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Dr.-U-Hero-257x460.png

Why do cows moo? -Sam, 11, Gahanna, Ohio

Dear Sam,

If you’ve ever been near a herd of mooing cows, it might have sounded like all their moos were the same. But just as each person’s voice is a little different, so is each cow’s moo.

Human ears might not always pick up the small differences in moos, but cow ears sure can. In fact, cows have great hearing. They can even tell that different moos mean different things.

That’s what I found out from my friend Amber Adams-Progar, an animal scientist at Washington State University who studies cow behavior. She learns a lot about how we can better care for cows and spends time visiting our herd out at the Knott Dairy Center in Pullman, Wash.

Adams-Progar explained that before humans domesticated cows and started raising them on farms, these animals lived in the wild. In nature, mother cows go off on their own to find a spot to have their baby.

Sound is a big part of how a mother and baby cow bond. While a calf might send out one kind of moo when she is hungry, another moo might mean she’s lost.

“Sometimes a calf will go running off and the mom will look around. All of a sudden you hear her moo and then somewhere in the distance you hear a little moo respond back,” Adams-Progar said. “It’s kind of cute.”

Some cows will also moo when they are looking to find a mate. Finding other cows in the herd is part of why these animals moo, but there are other reasons, too.

In the wild, cows are prey animals. Sometimes mooing attracts predators, but sometimes cows can also use their moos to help keep each other safe. They can use their moos and their great sense of hearing to let other cows in the herd know there might be danger afoot.

While mooing can help cows find and protect one another, they also use other kinds of behaviors to communicate. Sometimes cows will grunt. Usually when we see cows grunting, they are pretty content, like when they are eating. They may also use their grunts when they are defending themselves or letting other cows know about their rank in the herd.

A wag of their tail can also help communicate to animals around them. When its tail is between its legs, the animal may be cold. A wagging tail could also mean it is in pain or just irritated. Cows also use their tails to swat away flies and sometimes calves wag their tails when they are nursing.

It’s a great question you ask, Sam. Maybe the next time you pass a herd of mooing cows you can think about all the different communication that is going on out there in the pasture.

In fact, your question leaves me with even more questions about animal communication. Why does a bat screech? A bee buzz? Or an elephant trumpet? What is your favorite animal? What sounds does it make to communicate? Tell me about it sometime at Dr.Universe@wsu.edu.

Dr. Universe

The post Why do cows moo? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

100344simple-spice-cake-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/02/18/simple-spice-cake/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_0784-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

Simple Spice Cake

Simple Spice Cake is a throwback recipe to less complicated time.  It’s easy to get caught up in the super complicated gourmet recipes people seem to favor these days, I like to things my grandma would have made 70 years ago.  Feel free to add raisins and pecans if you love them, only about a cup total before baking.

Simple Spice Cake

Makes 24 cupcakes



Heat oven to 350.  Line muffin pan with cupcake wrappers.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice.  Set aside.

Use a hand mixer to combine butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time.  Measure out buttermilk.

Add some of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar with about half of the buttermilk.  Mix gently.  Add the rest of the flour and buttermilk.  Scrape sides if needed.

Transfer to prepared cupcake pan, filling 3/4 full.

Bake for 22-25 minutes until cupcakes are lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely and frost with white chocolate cream cheese frosting.  Garnish with fresh nutmeg.

Recipe modified from “Old Fashioned Spice Cake,” geniuskitchen.com

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Simple Spice Cake
84567can-video-games-help-us-learn https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/can-video-games-help-us-learn/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Dr.-U-Hero-257x460.png

Can video games help us learn? – Isaac, 12, Clyde, N.Y.

Dear Issac,

All kinds of games can help us learn, including some video games. They can be a fun and useful way to help you remember what you learn, too.

Our brains work hard each day to take in and process information. Ever since video games were invented, people have been asking if and how they might change our behavior and brains.

For example, people once thought that video games left players with poor eye-sight and poor attention. Some scientists decided to actually test out these ideas. Their studies have shown that some video game players actually have better attention than non-players. Other studies have shown how some video game players also have sharper vision.

When it comes to learning new things, being able to focus and quickly process visual information can be helpful. But those aren’t the only things that help with learning.

That’s what I found out from my friend and Washington State University education researcher Raed Alsawaier. He studies how different elements of games can help us learn in our classrooms or other settings outside of the virtual, video game world.

“Almost all of us grow up learning through playing,” he said.

Just think back on a time when you played a game with friends. Maybe you worked with as a team. Maybe you used some creativity and imagination to face a challenge or solve a problem.

It appears that there are two elements to video games, in particular, that can really help us learn, Alsawaier said. One of these elements is collaboration. Learning through video games often happens when you are working with others to reach a goal. This can happen in the game or outside the game.

For example, some games like Minecraft help kids learn to read and write. But the game itself doesn’t actually require you to read or write. The game also doesn’t come with a lot of instructions. Players read other people’s experiences online and write about their own.

The other element of learning through video games is, well, fun. When playing video games, people use a lot of their senses during the experience; sight to watch the screen, hearing to listen to their fellow players, and touch when using the controller.

Our senses and experiences are also tied closely to our memory, Alsawaier explains. Not only can video games give us skills that help us learn, but there’s evidence that they can help us remember what we learn, too.

We still have a lot to learn about different video games and how they affect us, but we can say, at least in part, that the answer to your question is yes.

Now that you know about few elements in video games that can help us learn, what kind of video game would you design? Tell me about it sometime at Dr.Universe@wsu.edu.

Dr. Universe

The post Can video games help us learn? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

100348creamy-coconut-cheesecake-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/02/11/creamy-coconut-cheesecake/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_0793-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

Confession time.  We made 3 of these in a week.   Although we only ate 1 at home, the other 2 went into work because the office had a cheesecake emergency and everyone HAD to have a slice.

Be sure to find coconut milk powder ahead of time, I ordered from Amazon Prime and it was $7 for a 5.5 oz bag.  This was enough for 3 cheesecakes.  Coconut milk powder is also available at specialty health food stores.

Creamy Coconut Cheesecake






Heat oven to 350.  Use a food processor to turn graham crackers into crumbs.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, shredded coconut, salt and butter with a fork.  Dump into a pie pan.  Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to gently press down the crust, starting in the center and moving out to the edges.  Leave the edges a bit rough, it will look pretty when it bakes.

Use a hand mixer to blend cream cheese and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add coconut milk powder and coconut extract.

Scoop into prepared crust, smoothing with a spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes total, 20 minutes uncovered and 10 minutes with a pie crust shield.  If you don’t have a crust shield, you can gently wrap a few pieces of aluminum foil on the edges.

You can tell when the cheesecake is done because it will start to puff slightly around the edges.

To make the topping, put shredded coconut on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 5-8 minutes until golden brown.  Sprinkle on top of cheesecake.

Allow to cool before serving.  Keep refrigerated.

Recipe modified from “Easy Coconut Cheesecake,” King Arthur Flour

Creamy Coconut Cheesecake

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Creamy Coconut Cheesecake
84425strawberry-buttermilk-baked-doughnuts http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/02/04/strawberry-buttermilk-baked-doughnuts/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/02/IMG_0815-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

Spring is  around the corner.  From an errant daffodil in our front yard to needing only one coat to walk the dog in the evening, better days are definitely on the way.

Strawberry Buttermilk Baked Doughnuts use real fruit in both the cake and the glaze, making for a bright and tasty treat.

Strawberry Buttermilk Baked Doughnuts

Makes 24 regular size



Strawberry Glaze

Vanilla Drizzle


Heat the oven to 425.  Lightly spray a doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix flour, wheat flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine melted, cooled butter, oil and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth.

Measure out buttermilk.

Pour about a third of the flour mixture into mixture and stir gently.  Add half the buttermilk and stir some more.   Add the next third of the flour, half the buttermilk and finish with the flour.  The key is to combine the ingredients gently but to make sure everything comes together.  Mixture will be thick.  Fold in strawberries.

Transfer to a plastic bag and snip the corner.  Pipe into prepared doughnut pans filling 2/3 full.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the doughnuts are pale gold and spring back when touched with a fingertip.  Remove and cool.

To prepare strawberry glaze, put strawberries in a small sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until mixture thickens.  Use a mesh sieve to strain out chunks.  Mix strawberry concentrate with powdered sugar and red food coloring if using.  Glaze will be thick but spreadable, add a small amount of milk if needed.

To make vanilla drizzle, combine all ingredients.  Transfer to a plastic bag and make a very small cut in the corner.

Dip cooled doughnuts into strawberry glaze and set on wax paper.  If your glaze is thin you may need to dip them twice.  Add vanilla drizzle.  Allow glaze to set.  Because you used real fruit, the glaze may be stickier than glazes with artificial flavors.  Share with friends.

Recipe modified from “Strawberry Cake Donuts,” bakedbyanintrovert.com

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Strawberry Buttermilk Baked Doughnuts
84409why-does-hair-turn-gray https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/why-does-hair-turn-gray/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Final-Dr.-U.-Gray-Hair-2-1-600x354.jpg
Dr. Universe examines a gray hair.

Dear Dr. Universe: Why does hair turn gray? –Darae, 10

Dear Darae,

Hair comes in lots of different colors. There’s black, medium brown, auburn, light brown, strawberry blonde, and copper, to name just a few. But in the end, almost everyone will have hair that’s gray or white.

Ever since you were born, different cells have been working on your hair. Each hair sprouts from a follicle, a sort of little hair-making factory under your skin. Here, some of your cells are making your hair and others are coloring it.

The cells that color your hair are called melanocytes. They produce a pigment, or natural coloring matter, called melanin. This is the same pigment that gives your eyes and skin their color, too.

I decided to visit my friend Cynthia Cooper, a biologist and researcher at Washington State University, for help answering your question.

A close-up look at cells 

Cooper and the other scientists in her Vancouver, Wash., lab are really curious about cells. They are investigating questions about how some cells end up becoming the kind that produce skin pigment.

As people get older, she said, the pigment-producing cells in their hair follicles gradually die. They can no longer make enough pigment to keep coloring their hair.

If we took out all the pigment from your hair, it would be totally white.  So when melanocytes stop producing melanin altogether, your hair turns white.

“Why hair follicle melanocytes die over time, and are not replaced, we don’t entirely know,” Cooper said. “Our skin doesn’t turn gray, so the biology is quite different,” she adds.

While Cooper works on pigment in skin, she said some scientists are also working on other big questions about the pigment in hair, too. These scientists are especially curious about the inner-workings of the cells and how gray hair is part of people’s DNA.

Perhaps, you’ve heard someone say their kids are giving them gray hair. But scientifically, if anyone is giving someone gray hair, it’s likely their own parents. Those that come before us pass down their hair color to us through the genes we inherit from them. It’s the same with graying hair.

Scientists have even pinpointed specific genes and parts of cells that are involved in growing gray hair. The new knowledge is helping us put together a better picture of how pigment works. Still, there’s a lot more to discover.

Maybe as you get older and find that first gray hair, you’ll remember some of the science that’s at the root of it all. If you have a cat or dog, maybe you’ll notice that they’ll go gray around their muzzles, too.

I’ve actually had gray and white hair ever since I was a kitten. I think it’s pretty great. Our pigment, or lack of it, help make us all unique.

Dr. Universe

The post Why does hair turn gray? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

84016why-do-we-get-fevers https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/why-do-we-get-fevers/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Dr.-U-Hero-257x460.png

Dr. Universe: Why do we get a fever when we are sick? – Marcelina, 11, Ovid, N.Y.

Dear Marcelina,

Lots of warm-blooded animals get sick, including cats. I’ve had a fever before, but I wasn’t entirely sure why we warm up when we get sick. I decided to ask my friend and professor Phil Mixter at Washington State University.

Mixter is curious about the germs, or microbes, that we all carry around with us. In fact, scientists estimate that humans carry more than 100 trillion of these tiny microbes with them wherever they go. Not all of these microbes are bad, but some of them can make you sick.

Thankfully, a lot of animals—from starfish to cats to humans—also have an immune system that helps them fight off bad germs. In humans, fevers are one way your body helps fight back.

It’s sort of like that story about Goldilocks and the three bears, Mixter said. In the middle of your brain is a control center, the hypothalamus, which helps your body know if it’s too hot, too cold, or just right.

Maybe the last time you went in for a check-up the doctor took your temperature and told you it was somewhere around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit—or 37 degrees Centigrade for readers outside the United States. That’s a pretty normal temperature for humans.

Cats run a little warmer, with temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As we go about our day, sometimes our body temperatures will rise or fall just a little. But if germs come on the scene, things can really heat up.

When your immune system realizes something unusual is going on, some of your white blood cells will release a substance into your blood stream. The substance is made up chemicals that your brain can detect. When the hypothalamus receives the chemical message, it sends an alert back out to the body: Turn up the heat! We’ve got to slow down these germs.

Many microbes that make us sick do best in an environment that is about 98.6 degrees F. The temperature is just right. When we get a fever, the heat helps slow down these troublemakers. You might feel sweaty and hot on the outside, but the microbes are also getting too hot. The heat helps keep them from multiplying rapidly.

One thing a fever can’t really tell us is what kinds of germs are in our system. Sometimes there might be something else going on and we might need to visit with a doctor.

A fever may not make us feel great, but it’s usually a good sign that our body’s immune system has kicked into gear and that we’ll get better real soon.

Dr. Universe

The post Why do we get fevers? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

83974how-does-a-string-of-lights-work https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/how-does-a-string-of-lights-work/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Dr.-U-Hero-257x460.png

Dear Dr. Universe: How does a light bulb work? When one bulb in a string of lights goes out, why do they all go out? – Molly, 8

Dear Molly,

Just the other day I was taking down a string of lights from my lab, when I discovered the bulbs were burnt out. I visited my friend Aaron Crandall, an engineer at Washington State University, to see if I might get them working again.

Crandall explained when you plug in a string of lights to a power source, like an outlet, an electrical charge flows into the wires. A lightbulb works when an electrical current runs through thin metal wires in the bulb and electrical energy gets converted to heat and light. We can get this current of electricity to follow different paths, depending on how we wire up the lights.

When the electricity reaches the first bulb in a string of lights, it flows up a tiny vertical wire inside the bulb. Here, it crosses a tinier horizontal wire, which acts kind of like a bridge, for the electrical current. The current follows another tiny vertical wire down and out the bulb. The current moves on, powering up the other lights, until it gets back to the power source. It’s all part of a looped pathway.

My string of lights is on one long path, or circuit— if one of the lightbulbs goes out, they all go out. Usually this happens when the tiny wire bridge that connects those two vertical wires inside the bulb melts or breaks.

Crandall said in some sets of lights you can gently shake the bulb to try and get the tiny horizontal wire to reattach to the vertical ones. I attempted this with my broken lights, but didn’t have much luck. I decided to pick up a new set of lights. This newer set has individual loops, or circuits, for each light. It also requires more wire to work.

You might think of this type of circuit like the monkey bars on a playground. Imagine the view from the top. There are two parallel bars that connect to rungs (the part you swing from). Let’s say you and a few friends are lightbulbs. You each hang from your own rung.

A circuit called a series circuit would be kind of like if you and your friends (the lightbulbs) were all holding hands and the current was flowing down the line. If one friend left, it would break the connection.

But on the monkey bars you aren’t holding hands. You have your own connection (rung) to the lines the electricity is flowing along (the parallel bars). In this kind of design, each light or a series of lights has its own loop, or circuit. If one route along the electrical pathway is not working or blocked, the rest of the bulbs can still light up.

I’ll put up my new lights next year, but I think I’ll break apart my old set of lights to do some experiments with circuits. With some help from an adult, you can check out how to make your very own circuit with old holiday lights. Tell me how it goes sometime at Dr.Universe@wsu.edu.


Dr. Universe


The post How does a string of lights work? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

83576white-chocolate-raspberry-cupcakes-with-white-chocolate-cream-cheese-frosting http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/01/16/white-chocolate-raspberry-cupcakes-with-white-chocolate-cream-cheese-frosting/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/01/IMG_0698-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

While chocolate is not technically chocolate.  It has cocoa butter, sugar and milk but no cocoa solids (aka cocoa powder).  Feel free to share this bit of knowledge to annoy your friends… I definitely have.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting don’t need cocoa solids.  Clocking in with a whopping 3 white chocolate baking bars in just 12 cupcakes, these are totally decadent.  I added raspberry filling to as a nod to Valentine’s Day.

Because these are for a friend who works as a corrections deputy, a handful are garnished with a chocolate handgun, similar to his duty weapon.  Corrections deputies and their families are unsung heroes of public service, providing safety 24/7 to our community with little acknowledgement of their sacrifices.  This means my friend gets as many cupcakes as he wants (and not just on his birthday).

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 12 cupcakes


White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


To make cupcakes, heat oven to 350.  Line baking pan with muffin wrappers.

Carefully melt white chocolate in the microwave.  I drop the power to 50% and check it at 30 second intervals.  This usually takes about 2 minutes.  Lowering the heat allows the chocolate to melt but not scorch, chocolate can seize up or become grainy.  Other melting options include a double boiler.  When chocolate is melted, set aside to cool until tepid.

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  Measure out buttermilk.  Set aside.

Use a stand mixer to cream butter and sugar for 2 minutes or until fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs, scraping sides.  Pour in cooled, melted white chocolate.

Switch the mixer to low and add part of the flour mixture and half the buttermilk.  When just combined, add the rest of the flour and buttermilk.

Scoop batter into prepared pan, about 2/3 full.  Bake for 20 minutes total, 10 minutes on a lower rack and 10 minutes on upper racks until cupcakes are lightly golden.  Cool completely.

When cupcakes are cool, use a sharp knife to make a small hole in the center of each one.  Transfer raspberry jam to a plastic bag and snip the corner.  Pipe jam into cupcake.

To make frosting, repeat melting technique for white chocolate.  Set aside to cool until tepid.  Use a stand mixer to combine butter and cream cheese.  Add vanilla.  Add powdered sugar in increments.  Add melted white chocolate.  Frosting will be soft but should keep shape.  If it seems squishy, add powdered sugar in 1/2 C increments until it reaches desired consistency.

Pipe on cupcakes and garnish with fresh raspberries.

Recipe modified from “White Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe,” leitesculinaria.com

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
83888why-do-some-animals-live-in-groups-2 https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/why-do-some-animals-live-in-groups-2/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/01/dr-universe-bees-600x399.jpg


Dr. Universe: Why do some animals live in groups?

– Mrs. Rubert’s students, Foothill Knolls STEM Academy of Innovation, Upland, Calif.

Dear Mrs. Rubert and Students,

Fish swim in big schools. Baby ducks waddle in a straight line. Ants and bees divide up labor. The world is full of animals that live in groups and they do it for a few different reasons.

For one, living in groups helps some animals avoid getting eaten by predators. Some even join forces to take down prey bigger than them with less risk and effort. Working together can also help them find more food. Ravens and rats, for example, will return from a hunt and let the rest of the group know where to find their next meal.

Being part of a big group is also helpful when it comes to caring for young animals. Sperm whales, warthogs, and some fish will care for young that are not their own. In the future, others in their group will return the favor. That’s what I found out from my friend Charlotte Milling, a researcher at The Ohio State University who studied wildlife sciences at Washington State University.

While there are advantages to living in a group, Milling said, there are also down sides. Sometimes a group gets so big it attracts the attention of predators. When food is scarce, having so many mouths to feed can make it harder to find food for everyone, too.

If there aren’t enough resources or the animals start getting really sick, it can be hard for other animals in the group to survive. Milling explained that while there are benefits to living in groups, it only works if the benefits to an animal are bigger than the costs in the long run.

Believe it or not, finding out how animals work in groups can also help us engineer and design new technology, like self-driving cars. My friend Kshitij Jerath is an engineer at Washington State University. He studies how individual things make up groups and looks for big patterns to help us solve problems. He used a flock of birds as an example.

Jerath explained that we can use math to calculate information about how a bird flies with its flock. How many neighbors does a bird have and how many can it see? How far away are these neighbors? How fast does it need to fly to stay with the group?

Using a similar idea, Jerath’s research helps us learn more about swarms of drones and self-driving cars. A single self-driving car can move on its own but it has to interact with lots of cars on the road, too. Using math and engineering, Jerath is working to help us understand how self-driving cars can better avoid accidents or prevent big traffic jams.

We still have a lot of unanswered questions about groups and systems in our world. Whether you’re looking at a pack, a pod, a school, or a flock, maybe one day you can help us learn more about animals and why they live in groups. Who knows? Learning from nature might even inspire you to come up with new ideas and inventions.

Dr. Universe

The post Why do some animals live in groups? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

83890glass-how-is-it-made-2 https://blogs.columbian.com/blog/news/glass-how-is-it-made-2/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Dr.-U-Hero-257x460.png

Dr. Universe: How is glass made? And, what is it made out of? What about thick glass like they are putting up on the Space Needle? – Tali, almost 8 years old, Seattle, Wash.

Dear Tali,

We can make glass in factories and we can find it in nature. Some volcanoes make glass. When they spew out lava, it often cools into obsidian, a black glass. Glass can also form on sandy beaches. Small tubes with smooth glass on the inside may appear after super-hot lightning strikes the sand.

In fact, sand is one of the most important ingredients we use to make glass. We may also use things like seashells, salt, and other chemicals. That’s what I found out when I visited my friend John McCloy, an engineer at Washington State University. McCloy and graduate student Jose Marcial were testing out different materials to make glass in the lab.

smiling cat in a lab coat

Marcial explained that glass is made of molecules—think of them as building blocks—arranged in a pretty random order. Most of the time we think of glass as a solid. But the way its molecules are arranged actually allows it to act as both a solid and a liquid. When we heat up the mix of sand, seashells, salt, and other chemicals, it can become molten, kind of like lava.

In the lab, Marcial poured a mixture of solid materials into a tiny metal cup. He heated it way up until the mix turned to something in-between a solid and liquid, similar to a thick honey. It was so hot that as Marcial poured it out onto a table, the molten material started glowing orange. As the mix cooled down, the molten liquid turned to a solid piece of glass right before our very eyes.

Marcial said that in factories, glass is made in a similar way. We take sand, add in different chemicals, heat it up, and pour it out onto a bed of molten metal. Just as oil sits on top of water, the lighter, liquid-like glass material floats atop the metal.

As everything cools down, the metal stays molten, but the glass on top solidifies. The glass might end up in a pair of eyeglasses, a computer screen, fish tank, or window. The big pieces of glass you see in buildings or observation decks are often made up of thinner layers of glass that have been combined.

As you’ve observed, the Space Needle is getting a big renovation. According to friends at the Space Needle, more than 10 types of glass will be used to renovate the landmark. They will also bring in 176 tons of glass during construction—that’s more than twice the weight of a NASA space shuttle.

As you can see, glass is made in lots of different ways. Believe it or not, you can also make something very similar to glass in your kitchen. Instead of grains of sand, salt, and seashells, you can use tiny grains of sugar.

With the help of a grown-up you can make your own edible sugar glass by mixing together ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, water, and cream of tartar. Try it out sometime and let me know what you learn at Dr.Universe@wsu.edu.

Dr. Universe

The post Glass: How is it made? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

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I got a Twinkie pan for Christmas!  Technically, it’s a “cream canoe pan,” although I have no idea what cream canoes are exactly.  This recipe can be made as cupcakes but it’s much more fun to create Twinkie look-alike treats.  Be sure to read about whipping egg whites if you’re new to the kitchen, stiff peaks are the key to the fluffy, spongy cake.

Yellow Snack Cakes with Vanilla Cream Filling

Yellow Snack Cakes with Vanilla Cream Filling

Makes 24 cakes


Yellow Snack Cakes

*It’s worth ordering Princess Flavoring.  It makes the cake taste almost the same as Twinkies and it’s great for other treats.

Vanilla Cream Filling


Heat the oven to 350.  Lightly coat the cream canoe pan with non stick spray.

Use a stand mixer with a very clean bowl to whip egg whites.  Add cream of tartar to help stabilize.  Whip in to stiff peaks.  Set aside.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vegetable oil, cold water, egg yolks and Princess Flavoring.  Use a whisk and blend until smooth.  Try not to over mix.

Gently stir about a third of the stiff egg whites into the cake batter.  Use a spatula to mix gently.  You don’t want to crush the air you have added to the recipe.  Continue adding egg whites.

Fill the wells of the cream canoe pan 2/3 full.  Cakes will puff up while baking but shrink back down as they cool.

Bake for 8-12 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Cool for about 5 minutes and use a spatula to gently loosen cakes.  Invert on to a cooling rack.

Wipe out any remaining crumbs or cake and lightly spray again.  Repeat until all cakes are baked.

While cakes are baking and cooling, make the vanilla cream filling.

In a saucepan, cook together flour and milk over medium heat.  Mixture will thicken and form a paste.  Be careful not to boil or the mixture may burn.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Press plastic wrap on the surface and set aside to cool.

When the paste is completely cool, use a stand mixer to combine flour paste with butter, shortening and sugar.  You will need to beat for at least 5 minutes on medium high-speed, the mixture will become smooth and creamy.  Load into a piping bag or the piping syringe that comes with the cream canoe pan.

Flip a cooled snack cake upside down.  Gently inject vanilla cream filling in three different spots.  Start slowly, you will be able to feel the cake expand in your hand as you inject filling inside.  It doesn’t take too much, perhaps about a teaspoon per injection.  If you go too quickly, the cake will crack and burst in your hand.  Continue until all cakes are filled.

Wrap cakes individually and tightly in plastic wrap.  Store at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Unlike real Twinkies, Yellow Snack Cakes with Vanilla Cream Filling do not contain a million preservatives that allow them to survive a nuclear winter.

Recipe modified from “Twinkling Good Vanilla Snack Cakes,” kingarthurflour.com

Yellow Snack Cakes with Vanilla Cream Filling

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Yellow Snack Cakes with Vanilla Cream Filling
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Dr. Universe: Do all animals pass gas? Do cats fart?

Hasandi, 11, Jeddah; Harrison, 10, Albany, Ore.

Dear Hasandi and Harrison,

If you’ve ever been near a cat or dog when they tooted, the smell might have sent you running right out of the room. A lot of animals pass gas. But believe it or not, some animals do not.

First, let’s talk about the gassy ones. When us cats and humans eat food, we are also swallowing air, or gas. It’s made up of elements like nitrogen and oxygen. The gas travels down into our digestive system and can take up space in our stomach and intestines. In our digestive systems, we also find tiny living things called bacteria.

You might blame the dog for your farts, but the real credit goes to your bacteria. Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, a lot of bacteria are helpful. Some of them help break down your food into its simplest form, like proteins and sugars that you can use for energy and growing. Some get rid of waste. But as they do their different jobs, they produce a bit of gas.

That’s what I found out from my friend Kristen Johnson. She’s a researcher at Washington State University who has tackled some big questions about how cow gas impacts the environment. She explained that while each bacterium makes a small amount of gas, there are millions of them doing it. It really adds up.

This gas needs to leave your body somehow, so you can release it either as a burp, a fart or by breathing. But if you were a clam or other mollusk, you wouldn’t toot. If you were a sea anemone, you wouldn’t fart, but you could probably burp.

Last year, a bunch of researchers listed which animals they studied farted. According to their list, it appears that some worms don’t pass gas either. Then there are some animals that scientists aren’t sure about, like spiders and parakeets. One researcher even found that some millipedes have hard valves on their rear ends that silence their toots. It would be nice if some other animals I know had those.

Birds have the equipment to fart but apparently don’t. Some scientists have found that a lot of them don’t usually carry the same kinds of gas-forming bacteria in their guts that humans and other mammals do.

As it is, humans toot around 20 times a day, producing enough gas to fill up about half a two-liter bottle of soda. A lot of the time these farts don’t smell. But sometimes your bacteria release sulfur and other things that can get pretty stinky. It might not always be pleasant, but it’s totally normal. Silent or deadly, a fart is usually a sign that our bodies are healthy.

Dr. Universe

The post Do all animals pass gas? Do cats fart? appeared first on Ask Dr. Universe.

83456lemon-cheesecake-bites http://blogs.columbian.com/sugar-and-spice/2018/01/02/lemon-cheesecake-bites/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/01/IMG_0551-1-1024x768-600x450.jpg

Lemon Cheesecake Bites are perfect miniature treats.  With a lemony crust, sweet cheesecake filling and tart lemon topping, these little beauties will impress anyone.  Need extras?  (Hint… you’ll need extras).  The recipe doubles easily.

Lemon Cheesecake Bites

Makes 24 miniature cupcakes




Lemon topping


Make the crust ahead of time.  Use a mixer to combine cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add flour.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 325.  Line mini muffin pans with cupcake wrappers or coat with nonstick cooking spray.

Use a small cookie scoop to make 1 inch balls.  Set into pan and use fingers to squish to fit OR use a shot glass rolled in sugar (I found narrow ones at a grocery store… super useful).  You want to make crust-like shapes.

To make filling, use a mixer to combine cream cheese and sugar.  Add lemon juice, vanilla and egg.  Scoop into prepared crusts, filling 3/4 full.  I used a teaspoon sized measuring spoon and it worked pretty well.

Bake 18-22 minutes.  You will see the crust becoming lightly golden on the edges and the cheesecake mixture inside will puff up.  Don’t worry, it will settle when it cools.

Remove from the oven and cool about 5 minutes.  Carefully run a thin knife around the edges and remove.  Set aside and cool completely.

While cheesecakes are cooling, make lemon topping.  Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a small sauce pan.  Add water, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Boil for 1 minute, mixture will become very thick.  Remove from heat.  Add yellow food coloring (if using) and 2 T butter.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Transfer lemon topping to a plastic bag and snip the corner.  Pipe on cheesecakes, leaving the crust and a teeny bit of the filling showing.  Garnish with fresh fruit.  Keep refrigerated until serving.

Recipe modified from “Miniature Lemon Cheesecake Tarts,” tasteofhome.com

Lemon Cheesecake Bites

Anna Lookingbill

I'm a self-taught Betty Crocker. Food should be pretty, delicious and have sprinkles. Professionally I'm a clinical social worker. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest- Sugar and Spice Baking Blog- for great recipes, amazing restaurants and culinary adventures.

Lemon Cheesecake Bites
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Outfit of the Week: Taxi Outfit of the Week: Taxi

Does it look like I’m hailing a cab? Check out these sweet taxi mittens that my cousin sent me that pair nicely with my dark, neutral outfit. They look like they would be perfect for New York City, which is exactly why she sent them to me. 

I’m moving to the Big Apple! Which means that this is my last Everyday Style post. I know this column has been a bit short-lived, but it’s been a blast. I’m so thankful to The Columbian for giving me the space and resources to share my opinions about fashion. I’ve always dreamed of having a style blog but never had the means to, so being able to create one for such a great platform has been amazing. 

For this week’s outfit, I’m wearing my trusty winter coat from GAP, a cozy turtleneck that I’ve had for ages from Forever 21, and Anne Klein earrings. My taxi mittens are from Kate Spade. 

If you would like to follow along with my adventures in NYC, you can find my instagram at instagram.com/marielabbene. If you would like to contact me after my departure from The Columbian, you can email me at mariel.abbene@gmail.com.

Cheers my friends, and thanks for reading! 

Photos by Ariane Kunze.

Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

Outfit of the Week: Taxi
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Streamline your style by color-coordinating your closetIf you peek into my closet, you’ll see my clothes all fall into a limited color palette. Everything looks like it goes together, and that isn’t an accident. 

For several years now, I’ve done my best to visually streamline my closet. Not only does it make it look neat and tidy when I slide my door aside to pick out an outfit; creating a cohesive color scheme has a lot of other benefits.

First of all, it expands your options if most of your clothing items don’t clash. It also allows you to purchase more interesting pieces. Patterns, metallics and other fun details become a lot more wearable if you have the right colors to pair them with. Traveling is also simpler because you’ll be able mix, match and rewear a few items that all go together. 

I would also go out on a limb to say that having a color cohesive wardrobe can reduce impulse purchases. Knowing what colors you like, what hues look good on you, and what shades will match with your current clothing items can steer you away from that crazy fluorescent pink miniskirt that is destined to hang in the back of your closet with the tags still on. Once you discover your preferences, you’re more likely to stick to them.

The method

Now the question is: What’s the best way to get to this point without shelling out lots of money? 

The most important thing to remember if you’re aiming to streamline your closet colors is to be aware that it will happen over time, not immediately. There’s no need to spend your whole paycheck or throw out large portions of your current wardrobe. It took me several months of (normal levels) of shopping before I started to notice cohesiveness emerging in the items I purchased. 

The first step is to take a look at your current clothing. Are there any pieces you own that don’t look good on you? If yellow makes you look sallow or purple just isn’t your thing, get rid of it. My philosophy is that there’s no reason to keep clothing you don’t like unless you need it for utility or professional purposes.  

Secondly, the next time you shop, start building up a base of neutral colored pieces. When I was a teenager, I thought neutrals were boring. Now, I love them for their flexibility. If you’re someone who starts snoring at the thought of black or beige, think of neutrals as a way to try out different shapes, materials and details. For example, a black shirt with bell sleeves and a ruffled collar is far from dull. In addition to navy, black, gray, brown and white, also consider what I call secondary neutrals, which include colors like olive, camel, and cream. They are versatile and are great if you fancy warmer hues. 

Next, based off your personal preferences and what is already in your closet, determine what non-neutral colors you like to wear. Personally, I tend to favor toned-down primary colors, and gravitate toward red, blue, yellow and green. However, if you’re like my mom, who likes jewel tones, your closet might be filled with violet, emerald and turquoise. I would choose around three or four colors, each of which look good with your complexion and make you feel great. 

Lastly, think about accent colors. For me, red is the perfect pop for almost any outfit. For example, I have a great tan raincoat that has red lining and drawstrings for the hood, which make it look more preppy and adds some interest. I also own no less than three red bandanas that I pair with everything. You can utilize these colors in any kinds of accessories like purses, hats, scarves, jewelry and shoes. 

Whew! That might seem like a lot, but don’t freak out. The most important thing is don’t expect everything to come together immediately. Keep your eyes peeled when shopping, and notice what you gravitate toward. Also, this is by no means a hard-and-fast method. If you see a shirt that you love that is out of your chosen color range, that’s fine! This approach aims to give you more options and streamline your style, not to stifle your creativity. 

Already have a color-coordinated closet? Email me a photo with your name and neighborhood and I’ll feature it for inspiration at the bottom of next week’s online post!

Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

Streamline your style by color-coordinating your closet
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Outfit of the Week: Embroidery Outfit of the Week: Embroidery Outfit of the Week: Embroidery

This week’s outfit is special, because it has a handmade touch to it: the collars are hand embroidered. I bought this white button-up shirt from H&M almost six months ago with the intention of personalizing it. I embroider all the time, yet I didn’t get around to it until recently. 

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I sketched the design on the collar with a disappearing marker, then sewed it with a simple backstitch. If this DIY project interests you, it’s super easy to try. Embroidery materials are cheap, and there are plenty of tutorials on hand embroidery on the internet.

I paired my newly embroidered shirt with my favorite coat from GAP, a pair of Madewell jeans, and my Cole Haan booties. When it comes work wear, I usually lean toward menswear-inspired outfits. Buttoning up my shirt and the structured style of my coat helped me give off a more polished look. 

It was really cold and windy out when these photos were taken, but photographer Ariane Kunze did an amazing job of utilizing the lighting. A big shout out to her for making me look like a fancy model!

Photos by Ariane Kunze

Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

Outfit of the Week: Embroidery
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What to wear, what to wear? Your wardrobe may surprise you

Have you ever woken up in the morning, washed your face, brushed your teeth, and then sat in front of your closet, wishing a fabulous outfit would materialize in front of your eyes? I’ve been there. It’s hard to pick out an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable when your closet seems tired and boring. 

In lieu of going to the mall and buying an entire new wardrobe, I thought I’d share some tips that I use to pick out an outfit when I’m really stuck. 

First of all, choose an item that you really like. It could be anything, from a killer pair of boots, to a new sweater, to a cute pair of glasses. Hopefully there’s at least one clothing item in your closet that you can get behind. Don’t be afraid to grab something fun, sparkly, or colorful.

The next step is to start building an outfit around what you selected. Look at your item: What colors are in it? What texture is it? What colors go well with it? Is there anything unexpected you could try on with it? Utilize any neutrals you have, even if the rest of your outfit is all black. After all, black is the new black, folks. 

After that, accessorize! Use the same techniques in the previous step to choose jewelry, a hat, or a scarf. Don’t feel the need to go overboard, but sometimes the perfect pair of earrings or a cute hat can really make an outfit. 

The last step is important: Don’t give up after the outfit. Outerwear matters! What a shame it would be to put together a great outfit and pair it with a junky raincoat or sad cardigan. This might be a hole in your wardrobe (which is understandable because coats can be a big commitment), so if it is, make note for later. There are tons of great resale stores, such as Buffalo Exchange or Goodwill, where you can find great quality, super stylish jackets. 

After that, you’re ready to go! Grab a snack, get out there and rock what USED to be your tired, boring closet. 

Illustration by me.

Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

What to wear, what to wear? Your wardrobe may surprise you
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Outfit of the Week: Gingham

Outfit of the Week: Gingham

It’s rare, but once in a while, I will get the urge to bare my legs during the winter for the sake of fashion.

On Monday, I mixed patterns and textures by pairing an H&M gingham shirt dress with a cozy marled cardigan from Target’s latest brand, A New Day. I love the curved collar of the cardigan that makes me feel like I’m wearing a fancy, classic coat.

I also wore a Madewell bandana (surprise!) for a pop of color, and my Doc Martens boots to finish things off. Thank goodness for sunny days in November!


EDIT: My apologies if you read this post before and were confused – it looks like the paragraphs got mixed up while we were trying to fix some technical issues. It’s fixed now.




Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

Outfit of the Week: Gingham
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Outfit of the Week: Winter Wear

With the weather getting colder, it’s time to dig out the heavy layers. 

Today, I’m wearing my favorite coat, which I found at Buffalo Exchange for $30. I remember trying it on and sending a photo of it to my boyfriend at the time to ask him what he thought of it. He said, “Eh, it’s all right.” I promptly bought it and have worn it every day since, weather permitting. 

This Gap scarf is one of the oldest items in my closet, but I still love it. The colors are trendy, yet are easy to match with other clothing. 

I’m also wearing Madewell overalls (if it seems like half my closet is from Madewell, that’s because half of my closet is from Madewell), and Doc Martens. I’m actually from Portland, so there’s probably some kind of contract stating that I have to wear Doc Martens for 30 days a year in order to be considered a resident. Or something. 

 Photo by Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian

Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

Outfit of the Week: Winter Wear
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Four ways to wear button-up shirts

One of my favorite things to do when I get dressed in the morning is to pick an outfit I’ve never worn before. I repeat combinations sometimes, but I try to avoid wearing the same outfit twice. 

You may be thinking: “How big is this girl’s closet?” while picturing one of those crazy Pinterest-style rooms stocked with shoes and clothes. If only that was my secret.

In reality, I scope out clothing items that are versatile and get creative with layering and accessories. I also try to keep all my clothing within the same color family, so that everything goes together and can be interchanged. I own a lot of neutrals, which gives me more options and allows me to add colorful and fun accessories to spice things up. 

By far, the most useful items of clothing in my closet that serve as a great base for any outfit is a button-up shirt. They can be worn in so many different ways — buttoned or unbuttoned, dressed up or dressed down. Some brave folks even wear them as a skirt or make them into off-shoulder tops. The options are plentiful and varied.

This week, I decided to show the ways that I usually wear my button-up shirts, and the things I consider when putting together an outfit in order to make it different and more interesting. I selected one top and assembled four outfits around it.

The shirt I chose is a denim Madewell top. I love the boxy structure and the raw hem, which makes it flattering tucked or untucked. Plus, a denim shirt is a great staple, and it’s likely that many readers have one in their closet already, and may be able to relate and experiment with their own looks. 

Four ways to wear button-up shirts

Buttons undone: 

This style is perfect for showing off your favorite necklace or scarf. If you read my first post, you’d probably be unsurprised that I chose a bandana. This one is a basic red one from a craft store. I’m also wearing a crescent necklace from Etsy. This basic, super comfy skirt is from GAP, and I’m wearing my favorite winter shoes — my Doc Martens boots. 

Four ways to wear button-up shirts

Buttoned up: It’s not as common for women to wear their shirts buttoned all the way up, which is one reason that I love this style. It’s unexpected, but it looks sharp and put together. I’m wearing my favorite pair of pants: floral print, tie waisted trousers that are as comfortable as pajamas. I’m also wearing my favorite shoes, which are fabulous Dankso clogs with fringe that I found at Nordstrom Rack. This outfit shows how you can easily turn something casual, such as a denim shirt, into a dressier outfit.

Four ways to wear button-up shirtsUnder: Wearing a crew neck sweater over a collared shirt is a classic workwear staple. I mixed it up by layering this long V-neck sweater from LOFT over my shirt. The relaxed joggers, which are also from LOFT, make it a little more casual, so I chose sleek Cole Haan booties to finish off the look and prevent it from looking sloppy. 

Four ways to wear button-up shirts

Over: This style is easiest when going for a casual look. Maybe I have been watching too much “Stranger Things,” because this outfit has a bit of an ‘80s vibe. Under my denim shirt, I’m wearing a striped tee from Madewell, tucked into these great high-waisted corduroys from Urban Outfitters. I’m also wearing a belt that I stole from my mom’s closet, and my Stan Smith Adidas sneakers to keep the look casual, comfy and sporty. 

Button-up shirts, especially in a neutral color or fabric such as denim, can yield a large plethora of different outfit options. Layering, tucking, or buttoning can create totally different vibes and makes it easier to make good use out of the clothing you already have. It doesn’t take a giant closet full of clothes for outfit options — just a bit of creativity. 

Four ways to wear button-up shirtsFour ways to wear button-up shirts

 Photos by Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian

Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

Four ways to wear button-up shirts
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Outfit of the Week: Leather

Do you ever get that feeling when you buy some new clothing and you just want to wear it all at the same time? Well, this outfit is a product of that feeling. 

I recently bought this super cool top from Zara, that features a boxy cut and some striping down the middle and on the sleeves. 

I also finally found a leather jacket that suits me! It’s faux leather, which is totally fine with me, both because I don’t want to kill a cow for fashion and also because it was $35 on Asos.com. Win-win.

The bottom half of my outfit isn’t new, but worked well with showcasing my fun items on top. I chose plain skinny jeans (sans rips, of course, since I wore them to work), and my waterproof Cole Haan ankle boots which were perfect for a drizzly day like today. 

 Photos by Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian

Outfit of the Week: Leather   Outfit of the Week: Leather

Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

Outfit of the Week: Leather
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It’s all right  to wear white

Well, here we are. It’s weeks past Labor Day, and I’m wearing white. 

Not just white shoes or a white scarf — all white. 

Before you call Stacy London of “What Not to Wear” in outrage, let’s chat about the origins of this age-old adage and whether or not it should be preserved.

According to a Time article from 2009, this fashion rule began in the early 20th Century. For the most part, people wore white during the summer because the dark, heavy clothing they would usually wear was too hot for summer days. When fall returned, they would revert to their usual black, brown and gray. This could be one reason for the rule. However, it’s possible the true origin of the “no white after Labor Day” rule was created out of snobbery. 

During the early 1900s, members of the old-money elite could afford to take long vacations, unlike their social inferiors. During these high-class holidays, they would wear their smartest white linen and finest ivory accessories, giving off an air of casual luxury. These outfits created a sharp contrast between the rich folk and the drab fashions of the general population. Labor Day was an unofficial end marker to summer, as it is now, and the trend of storing away white clothing as summer came to a close became a hard-and-fast etiquette rule for the elites. It was a way to separate themselves from the burgeoning middle class that was becoming increasingly wealthier and closing the social gap. Those who weren’t in the know were easily identified and viewed as outsiders.

Fortunately, it’s not the 1930s anymore, and we don’t have to dress based on our social status in society. White clothing can provide respite from the drudges of the endless black, navy and gray that colder months often entail. There are many ways to style fall and winter whites, and I went all in for this outfit. I have not yet been snubbed, which is a good sign that this rule is a bit outdated, and at it’s core, fairly ridiculous. 

What I’m wearing

Today’s outfit is centered around some great ivory crop flare jeans from Madewell. They are one of my favorite pieces for fall, because the off-white color makes them a versatile neutral that looks great with a variety of other colors, both dark and light. 

If you want to be an etiquette rebel, you can go for the all white look, like I did today. My top is a soft, grayish-white flannel, which also happens to be from Madewell. I chose this shirt because it’s fuzzy texture and thickness definitely says autumn. Plus, it has pockets. 

As a self-proclaimed scarf aficionado, you can spot me with a bandana around my neck at least three days a week. Today was one of those days. This artsy, abstract bandana from Zara works great because the colors have nothing to compete with, since I’m wearing all white. There is also a bit of cream in it, which reflects the color of my pants and ties the outfit together. Lastly, I am wearing a great pair of mules, which were a steal from Target at $22. Talk about bargain shopping!

It’s all right  to wear white

If you’re still wary of wearing white after Labor Day, here are some tips to make your outfit more cold-weather friendly:

Photos by Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian





Mariel Abbene

Mariel Abbene is a designer and illustrator at The Columbian. Once a fashion merchandising major in college, she is obsessed with clothes and putting together comfortable yet stylish outfits. You can reach her at mariel.abbene@columbian.com

It’s all right  to wear white
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Male Western Tiger Swallow-tail butterflies will sometimes congregate in wet areas seeking nutrients.  The term for this behavior is mud-puddling.  These butterflies were seen today on the west side of Gee Creek downstream from Abrams Park in Ridgefield.  There were 32 that Paul Snoey counted with some leaving and new arrivals dropping in on occasion.

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The Ridgefield Lions Club will be serving burgers again this year at their famous corner booth at the Clark County Fair. While they are trying to increase membership in the club, they still need many, many volunteers to help at the booth. They have set up a sign-up list on their website www.ridgefieldlions.com and ask that anyone interested, signup for any 6 hour shift. You will get free entrance to the fair for the day and have a good time with the other Lions in the booth.

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Workers are hurrying to finish the ground work before paving Main Avenue in downtown Ridgefield this summer. The deadline of course, is the 4th of July so the road will be in good shape for the parade. Let’s hope we don’t get any rain before then. These photos are looking north and south on Main Avenue.

Road Work Continues in Ridgefield

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Windy Hills Winery in Ridgefield is putting the final touches on their grand rock facade between now and their opening of Memorial Day Weekend. Owner Dave Kelly, right, and winemaker, Bob Mayfield are excited to be a part of the growing Clark County wine scene. (Photo by Viki Eierdam)

This from winemaker Bob Mayfield: “They said it couldn’t be done, and they were almost right. After nearly two and a half years of planning and building, Windy Hills Winery is finally going to open. Owner Dave Kelly texted me at 1 pm Friday to let me know we got the final OK from the county, and here we go! We’ll be open Memorial Day Weekend, noon to five, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The winery is at 1360 S. 38th Ct. in Ridgefield.

The Windy Hills lineup consists of two vineyard designated Pinot Noirs, a bodacious Reserve Pinot blend, a Tempranillo, and a party red blend. We needed to source juice from elsewhere to fill out our roster, so we grabbed some amazing Viognier (seriously!), Malbec, Syrah, and a Bordeaux blend, all from Walla Walla. We’re starting with two tasting menus, $10  for a flight of five wines, wines by the glass, and beer from a Hood River brewery, whose name I cannot remember.

As wine maker, I will be releasing my wines under the label Spudders Crest (I just got labels approved this morning!), and I’m starting with an estate rosé of Pinot Noir, though I have to call it Homegrown (don’t ask), and a fabulous Sunnyside Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir. I also have an O! Naturelle wine (no sulfites added) that I hope to release next week, a couple more rosés, and in a couple weeks a Cheep Cheep White Wine, an Auxerrois, some fruit wines, and a hopped apple cider. Phew!

BTW, I promise, I will not spam anyone, and will only send out emails to people who really want them.

And finally, Windy Hills is a fabulous building, a first class event center (I know what you’re thinking, how did I get involved?), just a gorgeous location.

That’s all for now. I hope to see ya’ll soon. It’s gonna be crazy!


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Join host, ethnobotonist and author Kat Anderson at theCathlapotle Plankhouse for a special presentation, “Beauty, Bounty and Biodiversity,” and night hike on May 26 from 7-8:30 pm.

“Kat Anderson will share connections with California and Pacific Northwest tribes, by examining traditionally managed edible wildflower gardens of California. She will also explore the implications that these gardens have for fostering pollinator habitat, increasing biodiversity, and the ways in which these plants have evolved to meet the needs of people.”

Then at 8:30 pm explore the Oaks to Wetlands Trail on a naturalist guided hike, “The Refuge at Dusk”. RSVP required, email sarah_hill@fws.gov to save your spot today!


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You are invited to the Ridgefield Art Association sponsored Bruce Crockett Memorial Quick Draw Friday, May 5th, at the Ridgefield Community Center, 210 Main Ave.

You will be able to watch eight artists create original artworks while you enjoy food, beverages and live music. A caricature artist will draw portraits, and there will be interactive art and both live and silent auctions.

A portion of the proceeds benefit the Ridgefield High School Art Department.

You may buy tickets from any Ridgefield Art Association members, or call Patricia at: 360-931-9573. You may also email the Ridgefield Art Association at: ridgefieldartists@live.com to purchase tickets.

This is going to be a great opportunity to see artists in action and get to know your Ridgefield neighbors. Newcomers to town are especially welcome.

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Healthy Living Question:  Does your body desire cooked vs raw food?  Do you strive to eat more raw foods and feel sluggish and bloated?  Consider switching to consuming more cooked food to jump start your healthy living eating program. 

I am currently enrolled in Vancouver Yoga Center‘s 200 hour yoga teacher trainer course instructed by Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner Melonie Nielsen LMP and E-RYT 500.

Healthy Living Cooked vs raw:  Cooked wins

Wowza what a course – not only are we learning about traditional yoga asanas (poses), body alignment, and body biomechanics… we are also learning about the power of the mind, benefits of meditation, ayurvedic principles, natural healing, healthy living, breath work and I’m sure a whole host of other topics yet to be discussed in our final 3 immersion weekends.  Its been a great way to jump start my journey to better health of my mind body and spirit.

Healthy Living Cooked vs raw:  Cooked winsPart of this month’s assignment was to complete a 5 page comprehensive ayurvedic health history to help me determine my mind-body constitution – otherwise known in ayurvedic terms as my prakriti. My prakriti corresponds to the type of dosha I have – either vata, pitta or kapha or a combination of dosas.  In a nut shell the vata dosha = cool, dry, irregular; pitta = fiery, hot and good leaders; and finally kapha = oily, wet and easy going.  I believe I’m a vata pitta dosha – it will be interesting to get validation once my assessment is complete in the next few weeks.  For more info on doshas.

Each meal I ask my body what she wants.  For some reason over the last week, my body wanted more cooked foods over raw foods.  My vata constitution said “heck yeah!”  No problemo – pulled pork crockpot, non dairy salmon chowder, oatmeal with cherries and walnuts, and lots of vegetable stirfrys.  Not one RAW SALAD ALL WEEK!  My body and mind felt nourished and more alive.  My body easily digests and metabolizes cooked foods over raw.  This gives me so much energy or digestive fire Agni.  I feel more alive which I believe is due to better absorption of nutrients.  When I am eating a diet consisting of more raw fresh fruits and vegetables my body feels sluggish with more bloating and more gas.

I remember I did a similar week long cooked food vs raw food protocol experiment 2 years ago as part of my Nutritional Therapy coursework at Portland Community College.  I remember feeling this same amazing on top of the world feeling then too.  Why didn’t I continue eating/cooking this way?  I dunno life got in the way I suppose.  Nevertheless, I am reminded yet again that my body really enjoys cooked food over raw foods and have posted a note on the fridge to help me remember how wonderful I am feeling!  Read more about Ayurvedic Perspective on Food from the Chopra Center

Healthy Living Cooked vs raw:  Cooked winsSo in celebration of this refreshed “cooked over raw” ayurvedic approach to food preparation I prepared a wonderful breakfast for myself of black bean noodles with red curry sauce and sauteed vegetables.

Black Bean Noodles:  Prepare black bean noodles according to package directions.  Once drained, toss noodles with 1 tsp olive oil

Sauce:  16 oz can of light coconut milk, add 1 TBS red curry sauce, 1 tsp of tumeric, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp of 5 powder spice, and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.  Bring ingredients to a boil then reduce to a simmer until desired consistency.  Warning – watch the boiling stage – easy boil over stage.

Vegetable saute:  1 cup of carrots sliced, 1/2 red onion chopped, 2 cups of romaine lettuce chopped, 1/4 cup red cabbage sliced, 1/2 yellow pepper.  Saute vegetables in 2 tsp of olive oil until desired consistency.

Serve:  3/4 cup of noodles, add 3/4 cup of sauted vegetables, and 1/2 cup of sauce.  Enjoy!

Healthy Living Cooked vs raw:  Cooked wins

  #healthliving #satedsensitive #yum #healthybreakfast #ayurvedic #igotthis

Denise Hays

Welcome to Sated Sensitive. My name is Denise. Furry momma to 1 dog and 1 cat (^._.^)ノ . Married lucky 13 years to Mr. Fantabulous. We love Clark County! I have food sensitivities to dairy, gluten, peanuts, and soy. I am now fully embracing the "right" foods to nourish my body. I'll be sharing ideas for healthy living tips for us sensitive food enthusiasts. Thanks for visiting!

Healthy Living Cooked vs raw:  Cooked wins
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As the dreary gray days continue here in Clark County coupled with the switch this weekend to daylight savings time (HATE!), so many people at my gym Battleground Snap Fitness – have shared with me that they’re feeling bluesy, tired, sleepy and depressed. What can you do about it?  Consider evaluating your Vitamin D levels!  Vitamin D is NOT just for bones – it may just help boost your mood, and improve your memory too.  

MOOD BOOSTER Vitamin D – NOT just for bones
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which helps support bone health, muscle function, cell growth, immunity and so many other body functions.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth and helps protect older adults from osteopenia or osteoporosis.   Even if you have a calcium rich diet (plenty of low fat dairy foods and green leafy vegetables), without enough Vitamin D you can’t absorb the calcium into your bones and cells.  Without enough Vitamin D and calcium, vitamin deficiencies may pose a health risk to the 40+ adult leaving their bones at risk for bone fractures.

Vitamin D aids in other areas in our body. It helps muscle function in that nerves need Vitamin D it to carry messages between brain and every body part. The immune system uses Vitamin D to help fight off invading bacteria and viruses.  Vitamin D also helps promote normal cell growth and prevents inflammation throughout the body making it a promising anti-cancer agent as well as an inflammation reducer.

MOOD BOOSTER Vitamin D – NOT just for bonesVitamin D is obtained in 3 ways:

Vitamin D comes in 2 forms – D2 (ergocalciferol) found in some plant life in response to UV radiation (mushrooms) and in most fortified foods. D3 (cholecalciferol) is the more potent and most biologically active. Studies have shown that both forms are equally good for bone health.

Some FAQs:

MOOD BOOSTER Vitamin D – NOT just for bonesThere is continued ongoing research on additional benefits of Vitamin D from helping to prevent colon, prostate and breast cancers to preventing and treating diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and multiple sclerosis. There may also be a correlation with vitamin D deficiency and auto-immune diseases.  I am curiously looking forward to reading the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Dr. Joann Manesults of a the V-I-T-A-L (VIT comes from vitamin D; A from OmegA-3; and L from Trial) 3 year trial that is exploring the potential role of vitamin d and omega 3 fatty acids in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.  Over 25,000 men and women were involved with this study.  Check out VITAL Study.

As a Nutritionist, I highly recommend taking advantage of the Pacific Northwest sunshine with outdoor activities at least 15 minutes a day 2 – 3 days a week during the spring and summer to naturally stockpile Vitamin D. During the fall/winter its best to supplement with Vitamin D to ensure proper Vitamin D levels. I personally take Genestra Brands’ “D-Mulsion 1000” liquid vitamin supplement in Citrus Flavor. Each drop contains 1,000 IUs of cholecalciferol with .01 mg of stevia. I prefer the easier to swallow liquid form over a capsule; each day I add my vitamin D drops to my liquid calcium/magnesium supplement to boost my mood.

MOOD BOOSTER Vitamin D – NOT just for bones

Come “Stump the Nutritionist” Denise Hays most Thursdays 1 – 4 PM at BG Apothecary located at 314 NE 1st Ave, Battleground WA. I’m always happy to talk nutrition, health, and wellness! See you soon.



#satedsensitive #healthyliving #glutenfree #dairyfree #eatrealfood #soyfree #naturalremedies #nutritionaltherapy #nutrition


Denise Hays

Welcome to Sated Sensitive. My name is Denise. Furry momma to 1 dog and 1 cat (^._.^)ノ . Married lucky 13 years to Mr. Fantabulous. We love Clark County! I have food sensitivities to dairy, gluten, peanuts, and soy. I am now fully embracing the "right" foods to nourish my body. I'll be sharing ideas for healthy living tips for us sensitive food enthusiasts. Thanks for visiting!

MOOD BOOSTER Vitamin D – NOT just for bones
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As part of its 2016-2017 U.S. tour, World Help is proud to present Children of the World International Children’s Choir. The choir, comprised of orphaned and disadvantaged children from several different countries, will be performing at Ridgefield Church of the Nazarene on Saturday, March 25th at 6:30pm and on Sunday, March 26th at 9:00 and 11:00am.  This event is open to the public.  There are no tickets, but a free-will offering will be taken to support the ministry of World Hope.  For additional information about the concert, visit the church website at www.ridgenaz.org or call the church office at 360-887-3576.

The choir represents a rich and culturally diverse set of backgrounds and experiences, each with an urgent story to tell. This year’s Rescue Tour calls attention to the staggering impact that poverty, malnutrition, and dirty water have on millions of children around the world.

Through the powerful medium of song, dance, spoken word, and creative media, Children of the World provides a compelling message of hope and opportunity, leaving an unforgettable impression with audiences across the country.

The children have performed in such venues as Focus on the Family, Brooklyn Tabernacle, and Disney World.

About World Help

World Help is a faith-based humanitarian organization that exists to serve the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world.  World Help is committed to meeting people’s physical needs by providing humanitarian, medical, and educational assistance and ensuring access to clean water to as many communities as possible. We promise to meet people’s spiritual needs by providing Bibles and establishing churches.

Since 1991, World Help has impacted over 73 million people in 69 countries worldwide, offering both physical and spiritual restoration for individuals, families, and communities.

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Every 3rd Sunday, I bake healthy gluten free treats for the Battleground FourSquare Church – so I’m always searching for new and exciting recipes!

I spied this B-A-K-E-D Sweet Potato Donuts with Chocolate Coconut recipe from Ambitious Kitchen blog 

Inspired, I made a few changes for us Gluten Free and Dairy Free Sensitive bakers.  Here’s Sated Sensitive’s take on this scrumptious breakfast treats:

mmmmm Healthy Living Baked Gluten Free and Dairy Free Do’h nuts

3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (or canned pumpkin)
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled (olive oil also works well)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 TBS vanilla                                                                                               1/2 cup coconut flakes


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together gluten free all purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt; set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix together the sweet potato (or pumpkin), honey, egg, coconut oil and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Avoid overmixing here as it can make the donuts tough instead of light and fluffy. Spoon the batter into the donut pan, filling almost to the top.  Bake for 13 – 16 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Turn the donuts onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Once donuts are cooled, mix together the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Dip each donut in the icing then immediately dip into the coconut flakes, then transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining donuts.

You can skip the icing and coconut flakes however the baked donuts are just not that pretty on the up side so they kinda needed something to spruce them up.

Homer Simpson votes YES for these healthy living donuts!

mmmmm Healthy Living Baked Gluten Free and Dairy Free Do’h nuts


Denise Hays

Welcome to Sated Sensitive. My name is Denise. Furry momma to 1 dog and 1 cat (^._.^)ノ . Married lucky 13 years to Mr. Fantabulous. We love Clark County! I have food sensitivities to dairy, gluten, peanuts, and soy. I am now fully embracing the "right" foods to nourish my body. I'll be sharing ideas for healthy living tips for us sensitive food enthusiasts. Thanks for visiting!

mmmmm Healthy Living Baked Gluten Free and Dairy Free Do’h nuts
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Three simple salmon recipes worthy of the kitchen table

Smoked paprika grilled salmon paired with a 2011 Tarì Irpinio Aglianico is unconventional but an admirable Northwest twist. Viki Eierdam

In 2016 an unfortunate statistic was reported; for the first time in history Americans spent more money eating out than they did on groceries. Unfortunate for a multitude of reasons, one being that the expansion of the American mid-section is largely attributed to meals prepared outside the home. Google it, I don’t make this stuff up.

I love a meal out as much as the next person but cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, folks. To prove it, here are three variations of salmon paired with three different wines (two super foods joining forces to return dinnertime to the kitchen).

Wine: 2011 Tarì Irpinio Aglianico (Taurasi)

Some wine writers are more traditional, some are a little edgy. Pairing aglianico with salmon is certainly unconventional but the smokiness imparted from grilling and the smoky and floral notes of the paprika make an atypical suggestion an intriguing combination. Racy acidity and bracing tannins are calmed in older vintages and a little breathing time before drinking. My Texas friends would say aglianico pairs better with brisket but this Northwest twist is admirable.

Smoked Paprika Grilled Salmon

¼ C orange juice

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp thyme leaves, divided

1 ¼ lb salmon fillets

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp grated orange peel

½ tsp sea salt

Mix juice, 2 Tbsp oil and 1 tsp of thyme in 9”x13” glass baking dish. Add salmon, turn to coat. Cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Mix sugar, remaining spices and orange peel. Remove salmon from marinade and dispose of marinade. Rub top of salmon evenly with spice mixture and place on preheated, generously oiled grill for about six minutes on each side. Serves 4-6.

Three simple salmon recipes worthy of the kitchen table

Photo error: Pair Mustard-Crusted Salmon with Pinot Gris for best match. Viki Eierdam

Wine: 2015 Kudos Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley)

The creamy, slightly zesty notes of the mustard sauce mingle nicely with the rich texture of this white. Welcomes with stone fruit to mandarin orange on the palate and plenty of acid follow through to keep it lively.

Mustard Crusted Salmon

1 1/4 lb salmon fillets

¼ tsp salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ C low-fat yogurt (or sour cream)

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp lemon juice

Place salmon, skin-side down in lightly oiled 9”x15” glass baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Combine yogurt, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread evenly over salmon. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Wine: 2011 Leone D’Oro Chianti Classico Riserva (Chianti)

Made predominantly from sangiovese grapes, this is on the dry side with black cherry and tobacco notes. The fattiness from the pecans and salmon match the acidity of this wine while the seasonings play with the spiciness of the Chianti. Oak aging brings out a hint of nuttiness on the finish.

Three simple salmon recipes worthy of the kitchen table

Photo error: Pair Pecan Crusted Salmon with Chianti for best flavor match. Viki Eierdam

Pecan Crusted Salmon

1 1/4 lb salmon fillets

4 Tbsp pecan meal

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

¼ tsp lemon pepper

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp Johnny’s seasoning salt

To make pecan meal, process pecans in a blender on low. Store unused pecan meal in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Mix pecan meal, olive oil and four seasonings in a small bowl.  Place salmon, skin-side down in a lightly oiled 9”x 15” glass baking dish. Coat the top of the salmon fillet with pecan mixture. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serves 4-6.



I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

Three simple salmon recipes worthy of the kitchen table
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Burnt Bridge featured wine at The Grant House wine dinner

Photo provided

Did you crash and burn this Valentine’s Day? Here’s your chance for a do-over…

 Burnt Bridge featured wine at The Grant House wine dinner


I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

Burnt Bridge featured wine at The Grant House wine dinner
99737new-hat-or-old-tricks-portland-timbers-2017-preview-10 http://blogs.columbian.com/portland-timbers/2017/02/18/new-hat-or-old-tricks-portland-timbers-2017-preview/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Caleb-Porter-459x460.jpg

Last years’ end state was horrible; the Portland Timbers, returning MLS Champions, missed the playoffs.  Not good; especially when 60% of  the teams in your Conference make the playoffs.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

Clearly changes needed to be made.

Notable midfield additions include David Guzman, Sebastian Blanco, and the return of Dairon Asprilla.

On the defensive side, where the Timbers had their biggest weakness, new faces are more scarce.

Gbenga Arokoyo, who saw no appreciable time last year, was expected to start at right center-back.

Roy Miller and Lawrence Olum have also been signed.  Miller is not yet available while Olum appears to hold the center-back spot until Miller shows value or another new signing occurs.

It is rumored that Banana Yaya may be added soon – he’s a center-back (with two caps for Cameroon) who has played 69 games in the last two years for Plantanias (Greece); that volume of games played should indicate he’s a starter who’s offered consistency and quality.

So… changes have been made – but signing a player is just the first step…

READ HERE for a track record of previous Portland Timbers signings:  Making the Most of the Much Maligned Melano.

As follow up to the first step here’s my list of “next steps” (of equal importance) I sense/submit need to happen (on the pitch) to reduce goals against this year:

David Guzman needs to show better than Jack Jewsbury or Ben Zemanski – in pre-season – I would offer he has.  Some wonder if Ben Zemanski remains with the squad this year; I do too.

Liam Ridgewell needs to pull his socks up and LEAD by example.

The days of cynical fouls (anywhere) on the pitch must be stopped.  There are worthy fouls, like the one he had the other night to stop play while Fenando Adi was down on the pitch, and then there are just plain cynical, stupid fouls, that are more about ‘men behaving badly’ than anything else… more leadership and less ‘men behaving badly’…

Diego Chara needs to follow the leadership example expected of Liam Ridgewell; limit his misplaced, men behaving badly fouls, and show aggression where timely – not untimely.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

Vytas needs to continue to show abilities in playing a shut-down fullback role so sorely missed with the departure of a (then) VERY under-rated Jorge Villafana.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

With another year under his belt Alvas Powell not only needs to continue offering grist and speed on the right (improve his outlook as a shutdown fullback) but he also needs to show better positional play and (wait for it) try to stay on his feet more.  The more sliding tackles you make the more often you’re out of position to begin with.  Fewer sliding tackles would be a great individual statistic to track for Alvas.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

Caleb needs to show a bit more patience with the younger players and give them opportunities to fail.

It’s failure – and learning from failure – that makes players better.  If a player DOESN’T learn from failure, then move ‘em… and make room for the next man up.

Here’s my list of younger players who should get more minutes…  with hindsight  being 20-20 I’m sure Caleb would have played more younger players last year if he’d known the Timbers were going to yield 53 goals against AND still have a reasonable shot at the playoffs…

In the interim (while Clarke grows and the Timbers perhaps sign Banana Yoyo – great name!) Lawrence Olum needs to offer better defensive play than Jermaine Taylor or Stephen Taylor… Is it cynical to offer that Olum already shows greater lateral speed than either one of those guys?

Part of better defending includes improved attacking. 

Jorge Villafana added great positional awareness and penetrating skills when in attack – Vytas and Alvas need to show the same grist in being able to play both sides of the ball – while thinking defense first.  That’s a hard order to follow – but if David Guzman adds value as a true #6 then those two SHOULD be able to push a tad bit higher up the pitch.

Is Sebastian Blanco the answer in lieu of the much maligned Melano?  I think so… Blanco has shown good possession skills, measured awareness and the ability to make space for himself and others WHILE also showing a great 1st touch…  a considerable improvement.

Darlington Nagbe needs to show his “inverted” attacking prowess improves productivity while also showing his improved abilities to play on both sides of the ball.  Caleb and I spoke about Darlington playing inverted over two years ago.  Caleb confirmed with me that both he and Gavin Wilkinson knew this was a productive area for Darlington… what got “in the way” was not having a worthy player to suit up on the right.  With Blanco in the fold that gap should be closed.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

Diego Chara needs to push forward a bit more – we’ve seen his penetrating ability in the past, and his speed adds great value as a trailing midfielder.  But what adds more value is seeing Diego slightly higher up the pitch where he can press and use his ball-winning skills to manage the midfield better.  Quicker pressure can lead to turnovers, which can lead to quick counterattacks for the likes of Diego Valeri and Fenando Adi.

Speaking of which; the Maestro is simply one of the best players in MLS.

Most offer Diego Valeri is an attacking midfielder – I’m a bit old-fashioned – for me he’s earned the worthy title of Striker…

There are forwards, there are midfielders, and then there are strikers – Diego is a striker… Diego needs to continue to provide a great first touch, vision, penetrating passes, and striking ability; those four ingredients enhance Portland possession and keep the ball from the opponent.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

Diego’s striking partner is Fenando Adi.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

Fenando, a forward, is a true #9 striker… (perhaps?) the best in MLS.  Anytime he’s on the pitch this team has a chance, and with his size/strength he also adds great value in defending set-pieces…

If these things occur the Portland Timbers should be better in defending – and hopefully they’ll return to 2013 form where they yielded just 33 goals against…  the last time this team spent a good portion of the game in possession of the ball.

So how about the substitutes this year?  A key part to any team, and a weakness cited by Porter this year, are the next seven off the bench. 

In looking at the most recent pre-season game I think things are taking shape on Porter’s first in (if you will).

We saw Dairon Asprilla replace Sebastian Blanco (helping his missus move to Portland).   It’s great to see Dairon back with Portland.  He’s always added value playing both ways.  And his presence should only serve to keep Sebastian Blanco on his toes.  And with Darlington Nagbe finally getting the national team recognition he deserves it’s likely Dairon gets plenty of minutes this year.New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

Next up we saw Darren Mattocks, Victor Arboleda, and Rennico Clarke, followed by Jack Barmby when Diego Valeri took a knock.

I saw value in all those players coming onto the pitch – yes Clarke got a bit cross-wise in defending atop the 18 yard box – but as Porter indicated after the game – he has confidence Rennico will learn from that.  And… the more opportunities he has to learn from failure (early on) the better prepared he’ll be for regular season – if needed.

Darren has been shifted up top – a good thing in my view.  He still can leverage his pace and high pressure abilities – but he won’t have to find himself losing energy in having to play both sides of the ball all game long.

In thinking about the placement of Jack Barmby.  In the few games I’ve seen Jack has taken up the central attacking midfielder position.  I like this – Barmby has shown good awareness, first touch and playing on both sides of the ball.

What sticks out to me the most, however, have been some of his unsuccessful (penetrating passes).  Those passes are the same types of passes we see with Diego Valeri – some don’t find a teammate (usually because the teammate isn’t thinking fast enough) but some do…

It’s those (unsuccessful penetrating) passes that remind me of Diego Valeri.  A good individual statistic this year for Jack Barmby – in showing growth – are the number of unsuccessful penetrating passes…  the more playing time he gets I’d offer, the fewer of those we see as his teammates will begin to expect the unexpected.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview

Barmby – Courtesy of Oregon Live

I’d offer those are the first five players off the bench…  leaving Jeff Attinella (goal keeper) and one additional player.

My preferred choice is Marco Farfan.  I don’t watch training all that often and it’s hard to say whether or not Caleb would go with another central midfielder.  But… in the past Caleb has usually had a fullback on the bench.  I sense that slot is filled by Marco Farfan.

In all, I’d submit that’s a pretty strong first 18.

Who do you think makes the subs bench this year?

Best, Chris

For those who like a bit of nostalgia – here’s what I offered to begin the 2016 season.  Old Hat?  New Tricks?


COPYRIGHT: All Rights Reserved.  Trademark PWP

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

New Hat? or Old Tricks? Portland Timbers 2017 Preview
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Wine & Travel: Texas Hill Country

Picpoul blanc, charbono and tannat are featured alongside 100 percent roussanne Comfortage, cinsault Rosé and Thinkers—a red blend of petite sirah and tinta cão, proving the varietal diversity of Texas Hill Country wines. Viki Eierdam

Living in the northwest surrounded by so many terrific wine regions, it can be easy to forget the world is filled with exceptional wines and even varietals yet to be discovered. On its own, the United States provides fun and exciting excuses to venture out in search of the great grapes of the globe.

Everything’s big in Texas and their wine scene is no exception. In fact, the Lone Star state boasts the second largest AVA in America. Texas Hill Country was my destination of choice back in January and it was clear early on that, yes, there is award-winning wine worthy of the voyage.

Wine & Travel: Texas Hill Country

Flat Creek Estate winemaker, Tim Drake, hails from Federal Way, Washington. He came to the Hill Country to dabble in different winemaking techniques including aging pinot grigio and viogner in Russian oak barrels. Dan Eierdam

A bit off the beaten path lies Flat Creek Estate. As such, there is on-site lodging and dining and events scheduled throughout the year to make the effort worth every patron’s while. Interestingly, winemaker Tim Drake hails from Federal Way, Washington. He came to the Hill Country to dabble in different varietals and winemaking techniques. Aging pinot grigio and viogner in Russian oak barrels is imparting a subdued spice that is turning heads.

“I always felt the viogniers from Washington were nice but had a hole in the mid-palate. We fill the hole in down here in Texas,” Drake said.

In fact, Pedernales Cellars (another Texas Hill Country winery) walked away with a Grand Gold at the 2013 Lyon International Wine Competition for their 2012 Viognier; the only U.S. viognier to earn such an honor. Their compadres, Flat Creek Estate and Becker Vineyards, also earned medals for the same varietal.

Wine & Travel: Texas Hill Country

The patio of Hye Meadow Winery overlooks a stunning oak grove that can be enjoyed much of the year thanks to the temperate Texas climate. Dan Eierdam

On Hwy 290—dubbed the Wine Road which leads into quaint and friendly Fredericksburg—wine seekers will find an unassuming building containing Hye Meadow Winery. Step inside to savor the stunning oak grove that it overlooks. Chief grape stomper, Mike Batek, exudes true southern hospitality as he pours crisp Trebbiano, unfiltered Rosato, a gamay-style Dolcetto, The Full Monte—a 100 percent montepulciano with vanilla and dark cherry to plum notes—and a spicy Aglianico with gripping tannins.

Wine & Travel: Texas Hill Country

Located in the heart of Fredericksburg is Lost Draw Cellars, co-owned by a fourth generation peanut and cotton farmer. Dan Eierdam

Located in the heart of German-centric Fredericksburg, visitors will find Lost Draw Cellars. One of their Rhône-style whites not only sports a unique name but a unique grape in its blend. Gemutlichkeit, translated loosely, means ‘come together and share good cheer.’ According to tasting room lead, CJ Evans, possibly only 100 acres of picpoul blanc are grown in the U.S., 5 of which are found in Hill Country.

A short drive out of town is worth the effort to experience the wines of Bending Branch. Their lineup includes 100 percent picpoul blanc displaying green apple and racy acidity, charbono with smoky big fruit and chewy tannins and tannat with a chunky nose that finishes smooth. As with the other wineries, warmer weather tempts visitors to linger in the outdoor patio spaces.

Wine & Travel: Texas Hill Country

Proudly waving the Texas flag, Pedernales garnered a Grand Gold for their 2012 Viognier at the 2013 Lyon International Wine Competition. Dan Eierdam

After tasting the delicate tropical fruit notes of their 2015 Albariño and light citrus of the 2015 Vermentino, the 2015 Viognier Reserve continues to prove why Pedernales Cellars was the Grand Gold winner in 2012. Oaked for 15 months, soft white blossoms are followed by toast and dairy characteristics and a melt-in-your-mouth, decadent quality.

Wine & Travel: Texas Hill Country

Surprisingly, port-style wines are quite popular in Texas Hill Country including this Messina Hof 2015 Estate Black Label made with Lenoir. Coconut and chocolate-covered cherry notes follow with a velvety mouth coating and distinct toast from the French oak aging. Dan Eierdam

Grand in scale and production, Messina Hof could be mistaken for a tourist destination but they cater to the aficionado, as well. In fact, owner Paul Mitchel Bonarrigo, is so serious about wine and educating the consumer that he’s invested in WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) certification courses for all his tasting room employees and their level of expertise is refreshing. Messina Hof is proud to be the most awarded winery in Texas.

Wine & Travel: Texas Hill Country

Owner of Spicewood Vineyards and Elway, Ron Yates also possesses a law degree and owns a music company. Here, Elway is on squirrel and deer patrol to protect the 32 estate acres including a rare four acres of sauvignon blanc. Dan

Heading back toward Dallas just off US-281, travelers are in for a treat at Spicewood Vineyards. Owned by Ron Yates (who also possesses a law degree and owns a music company), Spicewood boasts 32 acres of vines and something I was particular delighted to find—four acres of sauvignon blanc, which is rare for the area. Bright acid, lemon/lime, citrus, a slight herbaciousness with grassy notes; it was all there and so easy to imagine as my go-to wine for lazy Texas days.

With over 350 wineries spread throughout eight different AVAs, there’s a lot of ground to cover in Texas. From more familiar varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and tempranillo to regionally-specific ones like lenoir, blanc du bois, picpoul blanc and tannat, a growing wine scene is just one more excuse to visit the Lone Star state.

Need more? Check out The Treaty House—a craft cocktail cigar bar with a focus on premier wines; The Club at Baron’s Creekside—an indoor/outdoor wine bar with a decidedly European flair thanks to owner, Daniel Meyer who hails from Switzerland; The Cabernet Grill—a wine-centric restaurant located inside the unique lodging compound of Cotton Gin Village; and the Lincoln Street Wine and Cigar Bar, a perfect spot for nibbles, a night cap, live music and a cellar full of wines by the glass (or bottle).

**Follow Corks & Forks by clicking the ‘Follow’ button or follow Corks & Forks on Facebook, Twitter @WACorksandForks or Instagram Viki@WACorksandForks.





I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

Wine & Travel: Texas Hill Country
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Tickets still available for Oregon Chardonnay Celebration

At the 5th Annual Oregon Chardonnay Celebration, winemakers and serious consumers came together to analyze five different chardonnay styles all sourced from Durant Vineyards. Viki Eierdam

Tickets are still available for the 2017 Oregon Chardonnay Celebration. Held at the luxurious Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon, the 6th Annual event promises to be even more consumer-focused than last year.

The in-depth seminar, held from 1-3 p.m. will be led by Food & Wine magazine’s executive wine editor, Ray Isle. The expert panel consists of Luisa Ponzi from Ponzi Wines, Bob Morous of Phelps Creek Vineyards, Maggie Harrison of Antica Terra, Bryan Wilson from DANCIN Vineyards and Ken Pahlow of Walter Scott.

Attendees are invited to follow along as these chardonnay authorities quip and enlighten us about bringing the reputation of this noble grape back through a reverence of the unique terroir found throughout Oregon. From the Chehalem Mountains to the Columbia Gorge, Eola-Amity and the Rogue AVAs (American Viticultural Area), the soils and microclimates impart from subtle to distinct flavor profiles. Regardless of different winemaking styles, the agreed result is a spectrum from lean, crisp wine with high acidity that makes a refreshing accompaniment to seafood in its youth to wines with some age that show creamier textures and a beautiful round mouth-feel to pair with heavier sauces.

Tickets still available for Oregon Chardonnay Celebration

Held at the Allison Inn & Spa, the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration Grand Tasting is an opportunity for consumers to sample exquisite examples from over 40 Oregon wineries. Viki Eierdam

After this virtual vineyard tour, apply what you’ve learned as you taste over 40 exquisitely-produced Oregon chardonnays at the Grand Tasting from 3-5:30 p.m. Combine your ticket to attend both events or, if time is tight, purchase the Grand Tasting ticket only.

If you’re a wine drinker who swears “I do not like Chardonnay,” this is the event for you. Oregon winemakers will make you a convert and you’ll forget the overly-oaked California style from the days of old in no time.

To make the most of your time in the Valley, why not book a night at The Allison Inn & Spa? Special rates are available for Oregon Chardonnay Celebration guests but you must call ahead to reserve (no special rates with on-line bookings).

**Follow Corks & Forks by clicking the ‘Follow’ button or follow Corks & Forks on Facebook, Twitter @WACorksandForks or Instagram Viki@WACorksandForks.







I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

Tickets still available for Oregon Chardonnay Celebration
74492n-mississippi-restaurant-features-italian-inspired-wine-dinner http://blogs.columbian.com/corks-and-forks/2017/02/15/n-mississippi-restaurant-features-italian-inspired-wine-dinner/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Quaintrelle-306x460.jpg


Four-course family-style dinner with wine pairings, $75

February 14, 2017 – Portland, OR – Quaintrelle will host a February winemaker dinner on Wednesday, February 22 with Darryl Joannides of Viola Wine Cellars.

Join sommelier Matt Hansel and chef de cuisine Bill Wallender for a four-course family-style dinner. The seasonal menu will be paired with Italian-inspired natural wines from Viola Wine Cellars. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $75, including gratuity. For reservations, please call Quaintrelle at 503-200-5787 or purchase tickets online.

Viola Wine Cellars selections include:

2016 Viola Ramato of Pinot Grigio

2015 Viola Bianco d’Allegre (Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato, Pinot Grigio)

2015 Viola Dolcetto d’Allegre

2015 Viola “Dugger Creek Vineyard” Sangiovese

Darryl Joannides has spent the past 20 years immersed in Italian food and wines. Darryl’s first Italian-inspired business was as chef/owner of Assaggio in the Sellwood neighborhood from 1995-2005. Viola Wine Cellars was created in 2002 during harvest when Darryl worked as an intern for Andrew Rich Vintner during the inaugural year of the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio. Viola became a full-time venture in 2012 and today production is located in his garage in NW Portland. The majority of the vineyards used to produce Viola’s wines are located in the Columbia Gorge appellation.

Upcoming winemaker dinners will feature Brianne Day of Day Wines on April 12 and Pam Walden from Willful Wine Company on May 17.

About Quaintrelle: Located in Portland’s bustling N. Mississippi neighborhood, Quaintrelle serves Pacific Northwest inspired cuisine made with passion and intention and works with a range of purveyors to ensure the best seasonally available local ingredients. The restaurant is located at 3936 N. Mississippi Ave. Reservations may be made through OpenTable, or by calling the restaurant at (503) 200-5787 or online at www.quaintrelle.co.

**Follow Corks & Forks by clicking the ‘Follow’ button or follow Corks & Forks on Facebook, Twitter @WACorksandForks or Instagram Viki@WACorksandForks.


I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

N. Mississippi restaurant features Italian-inspired wine dinner
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Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine’s Weekend

English Estate Winery carries a large line of fortified ‘nectars’—dessert wines made with their own pinot noir brandy distilled by Clear Creek Distillery. Viki Eierdam

Valentine’s weekend is upon us and, with that, wineries will be hosting their annual Chocolate & Wine Pairing festivities from SW Washington to the Yakima Valley, Southern Oregon and beyond.

In honor of the occasion, I tasted several of the port-style treats being crafted by vintners throughout Clark County. Be sure to pick up a bottle or two to enjoy at home with your sweetheart. Keep in mind all prices are for 375 ml size.

English Estate Sweet Ruby Red Pinot Noir Nectar

Only slightly less ABV than traditional port, this is the truest port-style wine offered by English. Made from their own Pinot Noir brandy distilled by Clear Creek Distillery and estate Pinot Noir, showing considerable toast from aged oak barrels and succulent cherry notes. 17.5% ABV, $28.

Other offerings:

Raspberry Delight—When the freezer broke one day, threatening the estate raspberries that Gail English had harvested for canning, Carl Sr. quickly found a way to preserve the just-picked freshness. He nailed it! Excellent for sparkling spritzers or as a sauce over cheesecake. 17% ABV, $49.

Sugar Plum—At the heart of this nectar with baking spice on the palate are the juicy plums found on the homestead. 17% ABV, $39.

Sweet Autumn Gold—A combination of estate pinot noir juice and their own pinot noir brandy, light oak lends coconut to the finish. Versatile paired with blue cheese or crème brûlée.  16.5%, $28.

Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine’s Weekend

Not only does it hit the palate just right, the label of the Gougér Cellars Mine, Mine Mine took an International Double Gold Medal for Design at the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition. Viki Eierdam

Gougér Cellars Mine, Mine, Mine

Sweet enough to be paired with desserts but not so much that it can’t be enjoyed alone, aged brandy is employed to add complexity to this blend of syrah, zinfandel merlot and muscat of Alexandria (an ancient vine with an impressive lineage). 18% ABV, $22.

Mine, Mine, Mine Chocolate—This wine captures the essence of chocolate in a bottle with a lush weight that romances the palate. Popular for pairing with high-end chocolates. 18% ABV, $22.


Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine’s Weekend

Hints of white blossom from apple to honeysuckle draw you into Koi Pond Cellars Elle’s Crème Brûlée. Photo provided.

Koi Pond Cellars Elle’s Crème Brûlée

Hints of white blossom from apple to honeysuckle draw you in. Hot on the front with hazelnut and a bit of coffee mid palate with a caramel finish and whisper of chocolate, this white port-style wine delivers something from beginning to end. Warm and soothing. 16% ABV, $35


Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine’s Weekend

Moulton Falls Winery collaborated with Yacolt Valley Vineyard to create this port-style dessert wine. Viki Eierdam

Moulton Falls Winery NV Yacolt Valley Vineyard Port-Style Dessert Wine

Made from deep, rich Red Mountain syrah and fortified with Yacolt Valley Vineyard Pinot Noir, then distilled to brandy locally at Double V Distillery. This syrah brings out a deep cherry flavor reminiscent of candied cherries followed by a silky, dark fruit finish. 19.5% ABV, $28


Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine’s Weekend

The complexity of Daybreak Cellars Tempranillo Dessert Wine is a result of a blend of four beautiful vintages. Viki Eierdam

Rezabek Vineyards Daybreak Cellars Tempranillo Dessert Wine 

With a port-range ABV and grape composition including tempranillo (aka tinta roriz), touriga nacional and a scant amount of tinta cão, this may be the closest port-style wine being made in Clark County. Baking spice aromas follow with big juicy cherry notes on the palate, a swirl of chocolate and coconut notes on the finish. 19.5% ABV, $18


Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine’s Weekend

Rusty Grape Vineyards 2010 Vino de Ciocolotto is the perfect pairing of wine and chocolate. Viki Eierdam

Rusty Grape Vineyards 2010 Vino de Ciocolotto

This syrah-based treat is the perfect pairing of wine and chocolate. Retaining its higher tannin quality, the warm nose teases your palate with notes of cocoa nib and brandy while the mouth feel is full and velvety. Pair with dried fruits like figs, plums and apricots or a nut cake.18% ABV, $32

Other notable dessert-style wines:

Bethany Vineyards

Emanar Cellars

Heisen House Vineyards

Olequa Cellars

Pomeroy Cellars

Three Brothers Winery 

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I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine’s Weekend
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NW Wineries make Wine Spectator cover storyHave you caught the January/February issue of Wine Spectator yet? Two Oregon wineries—Ayoub and Bethel Heights—and two Washington Wineries—Novelty Hill/Januik and Sparkman Cellars—are featured in the cover story: 30 Wineries to Discover.

The wineries are noted for consistently delivering high-quality wines. Ayoub crafts eight small-production wines that I can say from personal experience deliver all the power, elegance and depth we’ve come to expect from the Willamette Valley.

NW Wineries make Wine Spectator cover story

Mo Ayoub pouring at the recent Pinot in the City in Dallas, TX. Dan Eierdam

It’s all in the family at Bethel Heights where cousins, Ben and Mimi Casteel, are carrying on the first generation’s legacy. Slightly more fruit-forward than Burgundian pinot noirs, their offerings deliver consistent layers to ponder.

Sourcing from Red Mountain, Wahluke Slope and even more affordable releases throughout the Columbia Valley, Mike Januik took a wealth of knowledge with him when he left Chateau Ste. Michelle nearly two decades ago. Now crafting wines for Novelty Hill and his own label, Januik, here is a man who has certainly hit his stride.

NW Wineries make Wine Spectator cover story

Photo supplied

An $18 bottle of riesling from an esteemed producer is nearly unheard of in this day and age. Along with other bright whites, Sparkman Cellars sources quality fruit from top-rated vineyards throughout Washington State to grace their firm yet approachable reds.

Read all about these NW Wineries to Discover in the latest issue of Wine Spectator, on newsstands now.

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I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

NW Wineries make Wine Spectator cover story
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Gary Gouger with hie new tank

Gougér Cellars of Ridgefield is the first winery in Clark County to have a high pressure tank made specifically for producing sparkling wines. The tank was custom made in Italy and took over 6 months to receive. The tank will enable Gouger Cellars to expand their sparkling wine offerings which already include a Sparkling Rose and Sparkling Pinot Noir.

Gougér Cellars was established in 2009 and produces premium international awarded wines from grapes sourced from two states. Winemaker, Gary Gougér, enologist (winemaker) graduated from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and is known for sparkling and bold red wines such as Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sparkling Rosé and Sparkling Pinot Noir.


Gougér Cellars is at 26505 NE 10th in Ridgefield.

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Clark College hosts Food Summit this FridayA daylong discussion about the region’s food ecosystem and the college’s role in its future 

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Clark College will be hosting “Growing Our Future” on Friday, February 10, to explore issues within the local food system and possibilities for new curriculum at the college to support this region’s food-producing industries.

The daylong event, which is made possible with support from the Clark County Food System Council, will feature speakers from local businesses and organizations like Heathen Brewing, Lapellah, Ecotrust, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture, as well as Clark College faculty. Together, attendees will explore concepts like the future of farming and the challenges of trying to use local ingredients in commercial enterprises. In between workshops and speakers, participants will enjoy a “locavore lunch” and “talking and tasting café.”

“Our goal in hosting this event is twofold,” said Vice President of Instruction Dr. Tim Cook. “First, we want to provide an opportunity for our growing community of food providers to discuss the issues confronting their industry right now. Second, the college wants to investigate the ways we can help support that industry, whether it’s by providing specialized training or potentially even creating a new Ecology and Agronomy program.”

The event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be held at Clark College at Columbia Tech Center, 18700 Mill Plain Blvd. Driving directions and parking maps are available here. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased, cash only, at the door. For more details about the event, click this link. 

About Clark College

Located in Vancouver’s Central Park and serving up to 13,000 students per quarter, Clark College is Washington State’s second-largest single-campus, for-credit community college. The college currently offers classes at two satellite locations: one on the Washington State University Vancouver campus and one in the Columbia Tech Center in East Vancouver. Additionally, its Economic & Community Development program is housed in the Columbia Bank building in downtown Vancouver.

Disclaimer: This is a reprint of Clark College’s press release

**Follow Corks & Forks by clicking the ‘Follow’ button or follow Corks & Forks on Facebook, Twitter @WACorksandForks or Instagram Viki@WACorksandForks.


I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

Clark College hosts Food Summit this Friday
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Burnt Bridge Cellars rolls out Thursday Happy Hour

Photo provided

Burnt Bridge Cellars, Vancouver’s only urban winery, rolled out their first Thursday Happy Hour back on January 26.

You asked and they answered. In response to numerous requests, Burnt Bridge will now be open from 4-9 p.m. every Thursday and extend discounted glass pours, to boot.

Opening in November of 2010, Burnt Bridge started with Saturday and Sunday hours. Friday evening hours were added in 2015. Coupled with the talents of Chef Kim Mahan from Class Cooking (located next door), Burnt Bridge is always offering something new and exciting for its growing fan base including Blind Tasting events, food and wine pairings and scheduled live music.

Burnt Bridge Cellars rolls out Thursday Happy Hour

Photo provided

When not showcasing sumptuous nibbles designed to pair with their deep and elegant offerings, visitors can order a calzone or pizza from Vancouver Pizza Company to be delivered to the tasting room.

Make plans to join the team at Burnt Bridge Cellars soon and support their new Thursday hours.

**Follow Corks & Forks by clicking the ‘Follow’ button or follow Corks & Forks on Facebook, Twitter @WACorksandForks or Instagram Viki@WACorksandForks.


I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

Burnt Bridge Cellars rolls out Thursday Happy Hour
96930reunited-and-it-feels-so-good-black-coffee-and-delish-dairy-free-creamer-13 http://blogs.columbian.com/sated-sensitive/reunited-black-coffee-delish-dairy-free-creamer/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/01/IMG_7015-1024x742-600x434.jpg

Many years ago when I transitioned to dairy free living, I sadly gave up my coffee creamer.  Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps it should have been an easy transition back to black coffee (lol!) but it wasn’t.

Over time, I got used to a new way of dairy free healthy living.  If the coffee place was cool and it wasn’t too busy I’d be brave to order a cubano espresso (where the barista adds a 1/2 packet of raw sugar on top of the ground coffee in the portofilter).  Super yummy!  But most times, if the place was jammed I’d order just a plain americano with no room.  Black coffee became my norm – but I still missed my creamer from time to time.

I have experimented with many dairy free milk alternatives when I owned and operated an Airstream Cafe which served up small batch artisan drinks, eats and treats.  (I was so ahead of my time!!…). Here’s what I found using cappuccinos as the benchmark:

Almond Milk

Soy Milk – Comparable to dairy in every way especially the microfoam department.  Pretty tasty. If you’re soy free – nevermind. It is commonplace to see this in most coffee places but quickly being replaced by almond milk.

Hemp Milk has a nutty light consistency.  It steams up nicely but loses it’s texture super fast. I don’t really see this at most coffee houses.

Coconut milk has a super water consistency very hard to make long lasting dreamy microfoam.  Hard to make microfoam.

It’s nice to have a splurge coffee out in town but who can afford it these days?!  $3.00+ for a latte.  I save that for a special occasions.  As far as what I use at home… again I mostly drink black good quality micro roasted coffee.

Then I saw this product!  I was walking through New Seasons Market Fishers Landing just this past weekend and this beauty Califia Farms DAIRY FREE BETTER HALF UNSWEETENED COCONUT CREAM & ALMOND MILK caught my eye in the dairy aisle.  It is the first creamer in along time that spoke to me – into the cart it went to give it a try! I just love New Season’s for all the wonderful food sensitive products they offer!

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD – Black Coffee and Delish Dairy Free Creamer Ingredients:  Almond milk, coconut cream, natural flavors, calcium carbonate, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, potassium citrate, locust bean gum, gellan gum.

Nutrition Facts:  Only 15 calories per 2 TBS.  Total fat 1.5 g.  Sodium 30 mg.  Sugars 0.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD – Black Coffee and Delish Dairy Free Creamer

Nutritionist Denise Hays Review:

Sated Sensitive Denise Hays Review:  Nice taste.  Nice texture.  No bitter aftertaste.  Yes ~ it does smell like coconut.  It was on special at New Season’s –  priced (I recall) at either $3.99 or $4.99 for the pint carton.  That’s 16 servings at $4.99 which equates to $0.31 cents per cup of coffee.  On their website the 16.9 fl oz product is listed at $8.99.  Wowza!  I would definitely purchase again as a nice treat for my black coffee every once in a while.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD – Black Coffee and Delish Dairy Free Creamer

If you give this product a try let me know what your thoughts are!

#dairyfree #dairyfreelife #dairyfreeliving #glutenfreedairyfree #godairyfree #sodeliciousdairyfree #glutenanddairyfree #dairyfreelunch #dairyfreeproducts #dairyfreenom #dairyfree4good #becausesomeladiesareglutendairyfree #dairyfreediet #dairyfreefood #dairyfreeeaster #dairyfreedelicious #healthyliving #satedsensitive #foodsensitivities #foodallergies #foodallergy #readthelabel #labeling #nutrition #coconutcream #almondmilk #califiafarms

Denise Hays

Welcome to Sated Sensitive. My name is Denise. Furry momma to 1 dog and 1 cat (^._.^)ノ . Married lucky 13 years to Mr. Fantabulous. We love Clark County! I have food sensitivities to dairy, gluten, peanuts, and soy. I am now fully embracing the "right" foods to nourish my body. I'll be sharing ideas for healthy living tips for us sensitive food enthusiasts. Thanks for visiting!

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD – Black Coffee and Delish Dairy Free Creamer
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Clark County transplant managing balancing act with wine and family

At Portland’s SE Wine Collective, Pam Walden crafts her Willful label employing naked fermentation to bring out the truest sense of the vineyard and vintage. Photo provided

After years of following, Pam Walden, owner/winemaker of Willful Wine Company, is leading and her graceful confidence is contagious.

A relative newcomer to Vancouver, Washington, Clark County wasn’t specifically on her radar. When I asked her how she ended up on the North Bank, her response was honest and unapologetic.

“Some guy,” she laughed. “I ended up in Nepal because of a guy. I ended up in winemaking because of a guy. It’s as good of a reason as any.”

Clark County transplant managing balancing act with wine and family

With her tenacious nature, Northwest vintner Pam Walden embodies the name of her wine label—Willful Wine Company. Photo provided

This simple philosophy translates to her winemaking style. At Portland’s SE Wine Collective, she crafts her Willful label employing naked fermentation (not adding yeast) to bring out the truest sense of the vineyard and vintage. Her efforts to make her own way are being noticed. Prince of Pinot gave her 2014 Willful Winemaker Cuvée Pinot Noir 92 points and Wine Enthusiast came through at 90. This 100 percent Pommard clone wine captures what Walden strives for in pinot noir.

“Pinot noir is often described as being a woman. It should be more elegant and feminine not chunky and monstrous. I’ll leave that for cab; be as big as you want. A winemaker should play to a grape’s sense,” Walden said. “I want something that’s interesting that I can think about that’s lush and sexy and stuff.”

For this single mother of two, winemaking wasn’t in her game plan until that guy came along. After their amicable split in 2009 and his subsequent death in 2013, Walden went through some soul searching to come to where she is now.

With her engaging English accent (born and raised in Leicester, England), she explained “I don’t think I would have taken on the challenge to make wine and take over the vineyard. It’s easy to sort of rise to the occasion and make it work but at some point you get over that and think ‘Is this mine? Is this something I really want to do?’ as opposed to just reacting to circumstances.”

Clark County transplant managing balancing act with wine and family

In 2013 Pam Walden sold her 17 acre vineyard site in Dundee and now crafts her Willful Wine label out of SE Wine Collective and Jezebel from Eugene Wine Cellars. Photo provided

Fortunately for her growing fan base, she embraced her situation and embodies the name of her wine label. Her early years in the winemaking industry with then-husband, Aron Hess, helped her gain an appreciation for his favoring of Pommard and employment of pre-fermentation cold soaking to extract fine grain tannins. She has since arrived at her own style which is a balance of ageability and a wine that is pleasurable to drink upon release.

Walden has also simplified her home life in an effort to maintain as much balance with it as she does with her wines. Shortly after Hess’s death, she sold their 17 acre site in Dundee and is content with her current 4,500 case production which includes her second label, Jezebel—an easy-going and fruit forward line using grapes sourced from both Southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley. This set up affords her the time to homeschool her 10 and 13 year-old sons, Cato and Samson.

“My priority really is my kids. While I’d like to have my own winery space, I like the flexibility to be with my kids. My dad was the same. He had his own business and was there for us. I wanted to give my kids the same; that kind of drives most of my decisions.”

**Follow Corks & Forks by clicking the ‘Follow’ button or follow Corks & Forks on Facebook, Twitter @WACorksandForks or Instagram Viki@WACorksandForks.





I am a Clark County native. I am Level 2 WSET (wine and spirit education trust)-certified and enjoy pairing wine with my passion for travel and fondness of food. My most prized possessions are the memories of places I've been with my husband, the chance encounters we've been blessed to have along the way and my carry-on bag. I can often be seen around town and in tasting rooms with our two beautiful, double-Merle Australian shepherds, Challenge and Baby Girl.

Clark County transplant managing balancing act with wine and family
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It’s TEA time ~ Herbal Tea Healthy Living Benefits For centuries, people in every culture have used herbs and spices to enhance the taste of food and drink as well as to support, protect and heal their bodies. Passed from generation to generation, the wealth of information about the healing powers of herbs and spices for our physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual selves continues to hold true today. One way to enjoy the health benefits of herbs and spices is by drinking herbal tea. Herbal teas or tisane (pronounced “tea-ZAHN) is an infusion of herbs, spices, leaves, flowers, fruits, berries, seeds, bark or roots. The plant constituents from this infusion is extracted in hot water and then enjoyed as a beverage either hot or cold. In drinking well-steeped herbal tea, we receive all the plant’s benefits to help heal and protect our bodies in an easily digestible form. What are some of the health benefits of drinking herbal tea?

It’s TEA time ~ Herbal Tea Healthy Living Benefits

314 NE 314th Ave Battle Ground WA

Did you know there is a wonderful bulk herbs, teas and tinctures place in Battle Ground called the BG Apothecary located at 314 NE 1st Ave, Battle Ground, WA 98604.  BG Apothecary stocks so many wonderful proprietary house blend herbal teas. A few of our offerings include:

With well over 1,000 herbal tea recipes, Diana would be happy to help blend a special offering just for you. Just last week I helped mix up a small batch of Nerves tea with passion flower, skullcap, chamomile, lavender plus a few other goodies.  Sure could use some of that with all the wonderful exciting weather! It’s TEA time ~ Herbal Tea Healthy Living Benefits Sated Sensitive Denise Hays recommends enjoying the health benefits of herbal tea by incorporating these delicious beverages into your diet on a more regular basis. Moderation is key with any food or drink. So go ahead ~ brew up some delightful herbal tea today. There are so many BG Apothecary herbal tea blends to chose from – my favorite is a special one Diana made up for me it’s a blend of Immuni-Tea with just the right amount of rosemary for that cognitive pick me up! I’m onsite at BG Apothecary most Thursdays from 1:15 to 4:30 – come on in I’d love to meet you! Let’s talk about healthy living, nutrition, yoga, wellness or ? Have a great day!  Namaste,  Denise It’s TEA time ~ Herbal Tea Healthy Living Benefits

Denise Hays

Welcome to Sated Sensitive. My name is Denise. Furry momma to 1 dog and 1 cat (^._.^)ノ . Married lucky 13 years to Mr. Fantabulous. We love Clark County! I have food sensitivities to dairy, gluten, peanuts, and soy. I am now fully embracing the "right" foods to nourish my body. I'll be sharing ideas for healthy living tips for us sensitive food enthusiasts. Thanks for visiting!

It’s TEA time ~ Herbal Tea Healthy Living Benefits
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How many in Clark County come from countries on Trump’s list?

Source: JayCoop, Commons, Wikimedia.

Many airports remained embroiled in protests today after President Donald Trump on Friday issued a temporary order to turn away travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. That list includes: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya.

How many people in Clark County were born in those seven countries? The answer is close to 500 but there’s a couple of caveats. First, the data is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey’s 5-year estimates and, as with any survey based on sample sizes, there’s what we call margin for error. And second, the ACS data doesn’t drill down far enough in this county to get numbers for some countries.

But here is what we know. According to the 2015 ACS, an estimated 423 from Iran, 11 from Iraq, 65 from Syria, 0 from Yemen and Somalia and 12 from Sudan. Libya is not on the list but the data does show 16 from other North Africa, including Libya, Tunisia and Algeria and possibly others (I did not see a list of those countries in Northern Africa but took an educated guess based on geography).

Now, let’s talk about that margin of error, which is kind of big for these estimates. For example, the margin of error on people here from Iran is +/- 193 of the total estimated 423, so there could be as little as 230 here from Iran or as high as 616. I’ll let you decide what to believe and at the same time, here’s the margin of error on the other 6 countries: Iraq (+/-17), Syria (+/-64), Yemen (+/-28), Somalia (+/-28) and Other Northern Africa (+/-17).

Here’s how that stacks up with 2010 ACS data: about 391 from Iran (+/-211), 37 from Iraq (+/-39), 8 from Syria (+/-12), 0 from Yemen (+/-123), 0 from Sudan (+/-123), 132 from Other Eastern Africa which would include Somalia (+/-89) and 27 from Other Northern Africa which would include Libya (+/-44).

If we assume the margin of error is nonexistent, it appears the Iranian population here is the largest of the seven banned nationalities and it has slighly increased, and the number of Iraqis in this county has nearly doubled.

How does that stack up against the foreign-born population here? ACS data from 2015 shows that about 44,711 people in this county are foreign-born, or about 10 percent of the total estimated population of 444,506. Of those, an estimated 21,735 or 48.6 percent are not U.S. citizens.

Interestingly, it appears in Clark County at least that more foreign-born residents are becoming naturalized citizens. ACS data in 2010 shows that about 10 percent of the population was foreign-born but about 23,130 foreign-born people in Clark County or about 55 percent were not U.S. citizens while about 18,830 or 45 percent were naturalized citizens.

Go back farther to 2000 and census data shows about an estimated 29,357 of the county’s 345,238 residents or 8.5 percent were foreign-born. Of those, about 10,146 or 34.6 percent were naturalized citizens while 19,211 or 65.4 percent were not citizens.

In 2015, the bulk of the foreign-born naturalized citizens came from Asia (10,340 or 45 percent) and Europe (8,016 or 34.8 percent). Of those who were not citizens, an estimated 9,066 or 41.7 percent came from Latin America, 6,136 or 28.2 percent from Europe and 4,510 or 20.7 percent from Asia.

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

How many in Clark County come from countries on Trump’s list?
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The snow storm that hit Tuesday evening was the largest we’ve had in several years.   It left a foot of snow on the ground in the Ridgefield area, closed schools and public offices, and with the continued cold will likely last until midweek next week.

The photo above is of a robin eating fruits from a tree on Pioneer Street.  These fruits have been available for several months and are only now being eaten.  It suggests that they are only being eaten because the birds have little choice.

It’s the same thing with berries on holly trees.  During prolonged periods of cold with snow on the ground some holly bushes in Ridgefield have been stripped of their berries.  The fruits may not have the nutritional value that more available foods may have.

Fruits remaining on trees can ferment after the first frost and become toxic.   Deep snow means a challenge to wildlife that cannot forage for food on the ground.  Robins eat fruit but also worms, insects, and spiders. Robins don’t feed from bird feeders but will take food scattered on the ground.   The Audubon society recommends putting out foods such as chopped apples, grapes, and raisins.  They will take meal worms that can be purchased in pet stores as well.

Since the deep snow and cold are going to last for a time, it makes sense to help wildlife by putting out food for them.  Scott and Kathy Hughes have food for birds and squirrels at the hardware store and Petco has mealworms.  Robins and other birds need a water source to drink and bathe so if it’s not too cold a birdbath can provide water.  An upside down garbage can lid filled with water works as temporary birdbath.

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A Refreshed Healthy Living Path for 2017

Happy 2017 – celebrating with vegetables and fruits for a refreshed new year


With the first few days of 2017 under our belts and the unusual weather pattern of more snow and ice…It’s that time of year when we typically go inward to assess last years performance – and chart a refreshed healthy living path for the new year.

Looking back over last year, using the measures of very good, good, and fair – what grade would you give yourself for achieving your health goals in 2016? Using the table below select the most relevant grade. Be honest with yourself. Whatever report card you give yourself try to do it from a loving place without judgment. It’s just a starting point to explore what behaviors worked and what didn’t work for you last year.

Very Good Most of the time I consume healthy foods & exercise frequently
Good Often I consume healthy foods and sometimes I exercise
Fair Some of the time I consume healthy foods and I exercise when it suits me

Whether you gave yourself very good, good or fair rating – guess what? 2017 you can refine or make changes with a refreshed healthy living path going forward. YOU GOT THIS!

Check back here at the beginning of each month, I will recommend a practical step for you to consider implementing in your life for a healthier you. Follow these steps each month and by the end of 2017 you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you.

First Steps to a healthy January:  Bump up your daily water intake to six to eight 8 oz of water per day. Yup that’s 48 to 64 oz of water a day.

Frequently asked questions:

1)    May I include coffee and tea? Absolutely!  Caffeinated beverage are made primarily of water so it’s okay to include these in your daily requirement however try to limit to 2 glasses a day of your overall daily water intake. Plus 4+ cups of coffee per day is not really a good thing – can make you very jittery and anxious.

2)    I’m not a fan of straight water - may I include lemon? Sure!  Water and lemon is a great refreshing combo. Another way to add flavoring is to stop on in to BG Apothecary (located at 314 NE 1st Ave, Battle Ground, WA) for a special tincture. I personally use one – I add a dropper full of a special mix of sweet fennel and peppermint – it boosts the flavor of water and it helps reduce gas.

3)    Do I need to start drinking 64 oz right away? No – just add one additional 8 oz glass of water a day per week until you get to 6 – 8 cups a day.

Why do we need to pay attention to hydration? Water is an essential component to lubricating our joints, keeping our skin supple, helping to eliminate waste and helping to reduce caloric intake while increasing our fullness after a meal. If we are dehydrated we have less blood in our bodies, forcing the heart to pump harder to deliver oxygen cells to our muscles. Increased water intake reduces dizziness, clumsiness, irritability and headaches too. So drink up!

As we walk our refreshed path to healthy together – I’m starting to hum a familiar Lesley Gore “It’s my party” song… only with new words. It’s my healthy party… I can try if I want to… try if I want to …. Try if I want to!

Need an in person pick me up – no problem – I am onsite most Thursdays starting at 1 PM at BG Apothecary located at 314 NE 1st Ave, Battle Ground, WA for a visit.  I would be happy to chat with you about your 2017 healthier you goals and any holistic healing, nutrition, fitness or wellness topics of your choice.

Check out BG Apothecary at www.bgapothecary.com

Be well!  Hope to see you soon!

Denise Hays


Denise Hays

Welcome to Sated Sensitive. My name is Denise. Furry momma to 1 dog and 1 cat (^._.^)ノ . Married lucky 13 years to Mr. Fantabulous. We love Clark County! I have food sensitivities to dairy, gluten, peanuts, and soy. I am now fully embracing the "right" foods to nourish my body. I'll be sharing ideas for healthy living tips for us sensitive food enthusiasts. Thanks for visiting!

A Refreshed Healthy Living Path for 2017
99749gluck-making-the-most-of-the-much-maligned-melano-9 http://blogs.columbian.com/portland-timbers/2017/01/04/gluck-making-the-most-of-the-much-maligned-melano/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Isolated-Lucas-Melano-1024x858-548x460.jpg

For most, the hot topic/question for the Timbers is… What to do about Luca?  

For me, it’s certainly a short-term concern, but I’d submit there’s a longer term question that still needs to be answered that far outweighs what to do about Luca.

To explain, if you will.

The Timbers have seen the trees through the weeds and first asked themselves this offseason:  Was the poor performance – for the whole team – a cause or effect of something more pear-shaped?

Gluck – Making the Most of the Much Maligned Melano

Gluck – Making the Most of the Much Maligned Melano

In summary, give or take, the Timbers have had roughly 90 player acquisitions with just ten showing great consistency of purpose and what I’d offer is a willingness to bleed Timber-Green.

Statistically speaking, that’s just over 10% success in seeing previous player scouting and recruitment activities over the last four years.

Meaning, for me, the most pressing question is:  Have the Timbers made a good decision by hiring Ned Grabavoy as the Director of Scouting and Recruitment?

That offered…  Back to square one:  Making the most of the much maligned Melano and looking to answer the question – should the Timbers retain the services of Lucas Melano?

Team results – the bottom line on how success or failure is measured:

Individual statistical assessment – a supporting tool, when weighted properly, in player scouting and recruitment:

Individual Observation – a critical assessment tool in player scouting and recruitment:

Porter indicated the club is in the market for wingers that “help us execute our style of play. We want to press and if the wingers don’t press then it doesn’t work.” In the same interview with Paul Tenorio, Porter indicates the club is still evaluating whether F Lucas Melano is a long-term fit.

Gluck – Making the Most of the Much Maligned Melano


So what’s the skinny on how Lucas Melano will “help us execute our style of play…”?

Lucas Melano needs to improve his first touch.  Porter likes to see his team move the ball quickly, especially during a counter-attack.  And if precision in ball movement is needed so to is a great first touch.  Until he improves his first touch I don’t see Melano helping his team execute Porter’s style of play.

Furthermore, Lucas needs to up his mentality on the pitch.  The idea that someone can be observed, and labeled, as a ball-watcher (who appears disengaged) usually means that player doesn’t have the right mentality to succeed.  When looking at that first list of players I offered earlier – all of them have a great mentality… in the words of a friend of mine – they look to bleed for the organization; Lucas doesn’t.

So what about a tactical shift to try and use Lucas a different way on the pitch?  Perhaps move him up above Diego Valeri – a false 10 if you will?

A shift in tactical team alignment might work but is the juice worth the squeeze?

Tactically the Timbers could shift and play a more narrow formation – say a Diamond 4-4-2.  They certainly have the players for a formation like that.  There’d be Adi up top – with Lucas playing off Adi.

At the head of the diamond you’d have Diego Valeri while David Guzman would play the base of the diamond.  To the left – playing narrow – would be Darlington Nagbe, and to the right, also playing narrow, would be Diego Chara.

With a formation like this your width comes from the fullbacks while Melano’s main tactics would include running lateral to the back-four, dropping deeper into the midfield as a connector, while purposefully trying to make and create space for himself and others across the width of the pitch.

The challenge here, however, remains the same.  To play a false 10 a player needs to have a great first touch – and – they also need to be 100% engaged (both on and off the ball) in order to maximize team opportunities.

If Lucas Melano isn’t in a position to improve his first touch, nor does he show a capacity for a stronger mentality on the pitch, then all Porter has done is shifted his problem from the wings to the middle.

Is the writing already on the wall?

In an article on Dec. 27, Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep reported that the Timbers are in the market for a Designated Player winger to replace Lucas Melano, who is drawing the interest of clubs in his native Argentina.

One source tells Goal USA that the Timbers are in the process of trying to sign a designated player to play as a wing midfielder, an addition that would help offset the expected departure of Argentine midfielder Lucas Melano, who the Timbers are preparing to unload after a disappointing two seasons in Portland. Multiple Argentinean clubs in the market for Melano’s services.

In that same article, news was offered that Rodney Wallace may be returning to the Timbers.  Here’s a direct quote on that topic as well:

Another player who could make his way to the Timbers is former longtime Portland midfielder Rodney Wallace. A key figure on the Timbers’ MLS Cup-winning team in 2015, Wallace is currently playing for Brazilian side Sport Club do Recife. The Costa Rican international told Goal USA last month that he would be open to a return to the Timbers, though he remains under contract in Brazil and would have to resolve that in order to pave the way for a return to the Timbers.

In conclusion:

The Portland Timbers need players and a system to compliment Diego Valeri, not Lucas Melano.

Gluck – Making the Most of the Much Maligned Melano

And while the speed Lucas offers, adds value, I’d submit there’s too many to-do’s for Lucas to continue playing in Portland.  The bigger question, however, still remains.  Can the Portland Timbers improve their overall player scouting and recruitment enough to where they don’t find themselves in a position like this next year?

What are your thoughts?

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

Gluck – Making the Most of the Much Maligned Melano
73616a-look-at-our-most-popular-facebook-posts http://blogs.columbian.com/digital-desk/2017/01/04/a-look-at-our-most-popular-facebook-posts/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Screen-Shot-2017-01-04-at-3.05.59-PM-450x460.png

Every year the media trots out Top 10 and Best of lists as the year draws to a close and we are not stranger to this trend. Earlier this week, we provided a list of the top 10 local stories of 2016 selected by the newsroom and by the readers, as well as the 10 stories on columbian.com with the most pageviews and a list of our favorite photos chosen by the photo staff.

But just in case that’s not enough for you, I thought I’d dig back through our Facebook data to pull out a list of our 10 most popular Facebook posts, so here goes:

1) A family returns Hunter, an adopted dog, to the Humane Society so the animal can go home to his owner, firefighter William Jones. This story went viral, gaining coverage as far away as Europe. It  was also the second most viewed story on columbian.com with 79,270 pageviews. According to Facebook, the total reach of this story exceeded that of any story we’ve ever shared on social media with about 523,313 people reportedly seeing this post in their feeds. (Below we’ll simply add the total reach to the end of each item.)

2) Mathew Rios administers CPR and saves a woman’s life at Costco: 131,599.

3) Evergreen Public Schools announces it’s changing the start time for high schoolers next year: 118,138.

4) PeaceHealth uses music in neonatal care to help infants with feeding and pain management: 95,945.

5) Live video the morning of Bernie Sanders’ visit to Vancouver: 95,491.

6) The Ilani casino plans to hold a job fair and hire up to 1,000 people: 88,805.

7) Value Village will close its doors in November: 86,297.

8) Vancouver get its own Hopworks: 82,598.

9) We publish our annual map showing where to see homes lit up with holiday lights: 80,369.

10) The body of a naked man is found early one morning inside a Chinese restaurant: 74,391. (This story was the 4th most viewed story on columbian.com with 42,074 pageviews.)


John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

A look at our most popular Facebook posts
72674gluck-predicting-team-standings-in-professional-soccer http://blogs.columbian.com/portland-timbers/2016/12/05/gluck-predicting-team-standings-in-professional-soccer/ /wp-content/uploads/2016/12/PWP-LOGO-PREDICTABILITY-600x458.jpg


Over the last four years I’ve conducted research on various professional soccer leagues and competitions.  To include Major League Soccer, the English, German, and Spanish Premier Leagues, as well as the UEFA Champions League and the Men’s World Cup of 2014.

Here’s my latest analyses on how the Possession with Purpose Index can be used to predict which teams will make the playoffs, qualify for the UEFA Champions League, or make the semi-finals of the World Cup..

Before beginning here’s a rerun on a few important items of interest about Possession with Purpose:

Intent:  Develop a simplified, strategic set of performance indicators to better understand the outcome of a game based upon primary inputs.

End State:

Key events to date:

Major League Soccer 2013 – The Maiden Year for PWP:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

English Premier League 2014:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

Germany Premier League 2014:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

Spanish Premier League 2014:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

UEFA Champions League 2014:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

Men’s World Cup 2014:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

Side note about the Men’s World Cup:

Major League Soccer 2014:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

Major League Soccer 2015:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

Major League Soccer 2016:

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer

Closing Thoughts:

Best, Chris

You can follow me on twitter @Chrisgluckpwp.

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

Gluck – Predicting Team Standings in Professional Soccer
101094chili-and-cornbread-13 http://blogs.columbian.com/paleomama/chili-and-cornbread/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_0362-1024x682-600x399.jpg

Chili and “Cornbread”

My Grandmother is from the south and has always made a mean cornbread. The best thing ever is to crumble it up in a big bowl of chili, so tasty. These days I try to avoid regular chili, the beans aren’t paleo and regular cornbread is full of non-paleo ingredients. I modified some different versions of paleo chili I found and came up with a version I really liked. The beans have been replaced with veggies and I think you could really get creative with the vegetables you use here. I thought carrots were a bit odd in chili but it turns out they worked!

Chili and “Cornbread”

The best thing however is the “cornbread” recipe I found. Yes I used quotations because there’s not a bit of corn in this bread, but for me it hit the spot. The key is almond flour which has a similar course texture to cornmeal. The original recipe (found here) used more honey than I can handle so I scaled back on it and added a little sweetener. If you have no problems with the added sugar, just use the 1/3 cup of raw honey originally called for.

Chili and “Cornbread”

I think this is a great comfort food meal for a chilly (ha ha get it?) fall day. Hope you enjoy!

Paleo Chili


½ lb. ground beef

16 oz. beef broth

1 small onion diced

1 zucchini diced

1 cup diced carrots

1 tsp minced garlic

1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chili)

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

1- 2 Tbsp. chili powder (add more for a spicier chili)

1 tsp cumin

1 – 2 Tbsp. avocado or coconut oil

Salt and pepper to taste


In a medium sized pot cook onions in oil over medium high heat until tender. Add beef and cook until browned. At this point you can drain some of the fat (confession I didn’t, don’t judge me, fat is flavor). Add beef broth, carrots and onions. Bring to a boil then turn to low and simmer until veggies are tender. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and stir well, leaving it to simmer for another 20 – 30 mins.

Paleo “cornbread”


1 ½ cups almond flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ Tbsp artificial sweetener

1 Tbsp honey

4 eggs


Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well, add to a greased 8×8 pan or a small round pan. Bake at 350° for 25 mins or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Should be a little golden brown on the top.


Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Chili and “Cornbread”
101100avocado-egg-salad-13 http://blogs.columbian.com/paleomama/avocado-egg-salad/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_0340-1024x682-600x399.jpg

Avocado Egg Salad

I thought I’d bring you the thing I’ve been eating the most lately and enjoying so much! Thinking back on those church pot-luck days as a kid had me remembering how someone always brought an assortment of little sandwiches cut into triangles. My favorites were the cream cheese and pineapple, tuna salad, and of course egg salad. Fast forward to today, I don’t eat the traditional sandwich that much anymore but I wanted something reminiscent of those yummy little guys, so this version of egg salad was born.

I had some hard boiled eggs on hand but I try to avoid mayo these days, at least the store bought kind. There are Paleo mayo’s out there but I have yet to try them. Maybe I’ll throw together a homemade version of that for another day. Any-who I was thinking how the creaminess from an avocado would be a pretty good mayo substitute and it was de-lish! I added a few more ingredients to give it that egg salad-y flavor I remember and it was perfect and satisfying. This also couldn’t be easier and takes minutes to whip up if you’ve already got your eggs boiled. You might like this neat way to “hard-boil” eggs in the oven too.

I ate my creation in lettuce cups but I have also eaten it right out of the bowl. Hope it takes you back as well and I hope you enjoy!

Avocado Egg Salad

Avocado Egg Salad


1 medium ripe avocado

2 hard boiled eggs

1-2 tsp yellow mustard

Salt and pepper to taste


Dice eggs and avocado then mash together in a bowl with a fork. Add salt, pepper and mustard. Mix well and enjoy!

Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Avocado Egg Salad
72053how-clark-county-voted-for-president http://blogs.columbian.com/digital-desk/2016/11/10/how-clark-county-voted-for-president/ /wp-content/uploads/2016/11/prez-map-2016-382x460.png

Clark County’s Elections Office is still counting ballots but the vast majority have been tallied, so far giving Democrat Hillary Clinton a slight edge over Republican President-elect Donald Trump, 46.1% to 44.3% as of Wednesday night.

Below you can see maps showing how the county’s precincts voted and how each of the state’s 39 counties voted (with data from the Washington State Secretary of State’s office), and you can see Clark County and the state mirror the rest of the country with pockets of urban blues surrounded by suburban pinks and rural reds.

In the county, Vancouver, Camas, Ridgefield and Woodland are strong or leaning Democrat, while the rest of the county leans or is staunchly Republican. It’s easy to see how the state’s 49th Legislative District keeps electing Democrats while the 17th and 18th elect Republicans.

At the state level, you can see strong support for Trump in more rural counties such as Lincoln County near Spokane where 72% voted for the Republican billionaire. That support flips to Clinton, of course, in the more densely populated urban counties along the Puget Sound, especially King County where 73.6% voted for the former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator.

For more election results, visit our Election 2016 page. We will be updating the local results as more information becomes available.

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

How Clark County voted for president
82549can-a-democrat-win-the-3rd-district-5 http://blogs.columbian.com/digital-desk/2016/11/03/can-a-democrat-win-the-3rd-district/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/12/3rddistrict-537x460.jpg

In recent years, Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler hasn’t had too much trouble dispatching her opponents to keep her seat in the 3rd Congressional District, but this year she faces state Rep. Jim Moeller, a Democrat who’s built up some name recognition serving the 49th Legislative District.

Can a Democrat win the 3rd District?

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and Democratic challenger state Rep. Jim Moeller of the 49th District squared off in a debate at the Oak Tree Restaurant in Woodland Tuesday afternoon. State Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, left, and U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, square off Tuesday afternoon during a debate in Woodland. Moeller is challenging Herrera Beutler for her 3rd Congressional District seat. (Roger Werth/The Daily News)

That name recognition is something her previous two challengers lacked, but does Moeller have a chance of winning on Tuesday?

“Not a bit,” says Mike Gaston, the former executive director of the local GOP.

When redistricting occurred in 2010, Gaston points out that the political landscape changed dramatically in the 3rd District as the heavily-Democratic portion of Thurston County was removed from the district while adding predominantly Republican Klickitat County.

Dan Ogden, a longtime local resident who has served as chairman of the Clark County Democratic Party, agreed that the Democratic base took a hit after redistricting.

“I think Jaime is going to win,” Ogden said. Former 3rd District Representative and Democrat “Brian Baird used to carry it, but he still had Olympia in the 3rd District those days.”

The effects of redistricting can be seen in the election results the past three Congressional elections. In the 2010 election, Democrat Denny Heck took over for Baird and squared off against Herrera Beutler, receiving 35,677 votes from Thurston County compared to 25,878 for Herrera Beutler but that wasn’t enough to offset Herrera Beutler’s 15,000-vote margin in Clark County and another 10,000 in heavily Republican Lewis County.

Those margins grew even larger in Clark and Lewis counties in 2012 and 2014 but was that because the Democratic candidates didn’t have the name recognition of someone like Heck, or was it a further shifting of the electorate to the right? One thing is certain: voter turnout didn’t seem to help because Democrat Jon Haugen had a much larger turnout in 2012, a presidential election year, but received 40.6% of the county’s vote. In 2014, Democrat Bob Dingenthal also received 40.6% of the county’s vote.

On top of redistricting, the 3rd District’s most populated county has shifted. Jim Moore, a political science professor from Pacific University, says Clark County’s demographics began shifting in the 1980s and ’90s making it more of a Republican-leaning county. That shift culiminated in 1994 with the election of former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith to the 3rd District over Democrat Jolene Unsoeld.

That shift has left a Democratic stronghold, the state’s 49th Legislative District that Moeller serves, surrounded by the largely Republican-leaning 17th and heavily Republican 18th districts. To take the 3rd District, Moeller will need to pull votes from those outlying districts or neighboring counties.

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

Can a Democrat win the 3rd District?
101105coconut-curry-chicken-and-vegetable-soup-13 http://blogs.columbian.com/paleomama/coconut-curry-chicken-and-vegetable-soup/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_0215-1024x682-600x399.jpg

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Doesn’t that title just say it all? Yum in a bowl happened at my house tonight. I knew it would be a soup making week when it started out with a sick hubby and then kid. It quickly moved on to a sick me and since this soup is one of my favorite “under the weather” go-to’s, I knew I had to make it.

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This soup was brought to you my by new favorite little kitchen helper…The Instant Pot! This amazing pressure cooker / slow cooker combo is sweeping the food world. Mine is on permanent loan from my mother-in-law. We share joint custody, she gets it every other weekend or when she wants to make rice. So glad she encouraged me to try it out and gives me free use of hers! The Instant Pot makes all sorts of dishes and in a lot less time than a traditional slow cooker. I’ll now end my commercial and get to the soup.

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetable Soup

You can really do whatever you want with this soup. I even made it with frozen chicken breasts which I cooked in 10 mins in the Instant Pot. You can throw in whatever vegetables suit your fancy and spice it up or down. Mine has a healthy squirt of Sriracha (Rooster Sauce) but you can leave it out and add some to just the bowl of the spice lovers in your house after the fact. You can also add a store bought curry sauce to this but if you want to be careful about the ingredients you can just stick to adding curry powder like I did.

It was also not thick enough for me so I used an immersion blender for an easy thickener. If you’re using full-fat coconut milk that will help too. I used a few cups of a coconut milk drink because the full-fat coconut milk upsets my tummy, unfortunately.

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetable Soup

No matter the version you make, this is sure to be a winner and chase away any crud lingering in your sinuses (you’re welcome for that mental picture). Happy souping!

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetable Soup


2 – 32 oz cartons chicken broth

3 frozen chicken breasts or 6 tenderloins

2 cups coconut milk (I used a coconut milk drink from a carton, can also use 1 can full-fat coconut milk)

1-2 broccoli crowns chopped

½ head cauliflower chopped

2 cups of carrots chopped

1 lb green beans trimmed and chopped into about 1” pcs

1-2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used mini-portobellos)

1 large zucchini chopped

3-4 stalks green onions chopped

2 Tbsp ginger paste (you can find it in the produce section of the grocery store)

1/2 Tbsp curry powder

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp chopped garlic

2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

Salt to taste


Add chicken breasts to Instant Pot, pour chicken broth over just to cover and sprinkle the garlic powder over the top. Put lid on pot and making sure the valve is not on vent, set to “manual” for 10 mins. If not using an Instant Pot, you can cook covered on the stove top at medium high heat for about 20 mins or until the chicken is cooked. If using Instant Pot, quick vent once time is up. Remove chicken, shred and add back to pot. Add veggies on top and then the rest of the broth. Add curry powder, ginger, chopped garlic and salt to taste. Mix well, add unvented lid back and cook again on “manual” for another 20 mins. If using stove top cook cover for 45 mins to an hour until veggies are tender. If using Instant Pot, quick vent once time is up. At this time you can add your coconut milk, Sriracha and green onions. This is the point also at which I used my immersion blender to thicken. Some Paleo friendly thickeners include arrowroot powder or tapioca starch. I would Google the best way to use these thickeners if you’re so inclined before just dumping them in. At this point you can spice it up more and even garnish with more green onions. Enjoy!

Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetable Soup
82553most-counties-see-growth-in-median-income-5 http://blogs.columbian.com/digital-desk/2016/09/20/most-counties-see-growth-in-median-income/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Screen-Shot-2016-09-20-at-2.47.24-PM-381x460.png

Median household income rose in Clark County last year as it did in many counties across the country, something reporter Patty Hastings wrote about last week on columbian.com. Here in this county, the median household income rose by about 4.1% from 2014 to 2015 and 26.4% from 2005 to 2015. As regional economist Scott Bailey noted in the story, though, some of the gain has been offset by the rising cost of living.

Also, while much of the country seems to be enjoying the perks of an improved economy, there were some counties that did see a decline. Below you can use the interactive map to see which counties saw median household income grow or decline over the past year and the past 10 years. You won’t see every county shown because the ACS only applies to counties with more than 60,000 people.

In the Pacific Northwest, Spokane and Clallam counties saw the biggest drops over the past year, declining by 3.4% and 3.3% respectively. On the flipside, the counties with the largest increases were Cowlitz and Chelan counties at 18.3% and 13.4%.

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

Most counties see growth in median income
101112paleo-pumpkin-bread-13 http://blogs.columbian.com/paleomama/paleo-pumpkin-bread/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IMG_0196-1024x682-600x399.jpg

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

It’s that time of year again! Pumpkin spice everything! While I’ve seen some of you poke fun at how this time of year suddenly turns everything into a pumpkin spice-o-rama, I happen to love fall and all it’s pumpkin-spiciness. Also nothing screams fall more than a good old pumpkin bread recipe.

Today I bring to you a yummy paleo-fied pumpkin bread that smelled sooo good coming out of the oven. It contains 5 different spices!

This was also a good excuse to start pulling out the fall decorations (yummy candles here I come).

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

Brought to you from the blog The Barefoot Kitchen, this recipe is gluten-free, using almond flour as the base. I also cut down the amount of honey and added some sugar-substitute as I’m always striving to keep my blood-sugar even.

The original blog warns you that the spice mix is strong and you can cut it down to suit your taste. Call me a Spice Girl (go Ginger Spice!) because I loved the mix, but I can see how it would be too strong for some. This also came out a little flat for me (keeping it real here), so I think next time I’d make it in 2 mini loaf pans.

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

Hope this makes for a perfect fall kick off! Now if only Starbucks would offer a sugar-free, dairy-free pumpkin spice latte I’d be all set!

Paleo Pumpkin Bread


Dry ingredients

- 1 C. almond flour

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/4 tsp salt

-2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

-2 tsp ground nutmeg

-1 tsp ground cloves

-1 tsp ground ginger

-1 tsp ground allspice

Wet ingredients

-3 eggs

-2-3 Tbsp honey (1 used 1 Tbsp and 2 of a sugar substitute)

-½ C. pumpkin puree

-1 Tbsp vanilla extract


Mix together the dry ingredients then in a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry to the wet until well incorporated. Add to a greased loaf pan or 2 mini greased loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 40-45 mins. Enjoy!




Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Paleo Pumpkin Bread
82556what-we-do-for-work-in-clark-county-5 http://blogs.columbian.com/digital-desk/2016/09/09/what-we-do-for-work-in-clark-county/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Screen-Shot-2016-09-09-at-1.58.54-PM.png

They say we don’t talk to our neighbors any more but let’s pretend we do, and we know what they do for a living. But do you ever wonder whether what all of those other people in your neighborhood do? Well, we’ve got a couple of maps that might help.

Below you can see two maps that let you drill down and see the percentage of people working different types of jobs by census tract.

The first map provides a look at the bigger sectors: management, natural resources, production, sales and office and service jobs. You can see pockets where the percentage of people in some areas is higher and some lower, i.e., there appears to be more people in management living in east Vancouver and in Camas while the natural resources jobs appear to be, well, up north and to the east where you find more resources. A larger percentage of the service sector appears to live in central Vancouver and near the mall.

The second map drills down further, offering a look at some subsectors such as agriculture, arts and entertainment, construction, education, finance, retail, transportation, wholesale and more.

Obviously, census tracts are pretty big, or can be big and can contain more than one neighborhood, so this doesn’t exactly tell you what everyone in your neighborhood does for a living. But it’s about as close as we can get and still retain some sense of accuracy, though the Census Bureau cautions that even at the tract level all of this data is generated from sampling and has a margin of error. In other words, take it all with a grain of salt.

Still, even though Labor Day came and went on Monday, these maps offer a glimpse into what we do for work in Clark County. See any surprises?

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

What we do for work in Clark County
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Chocolate Banana Brownie Bites

Mmmmm chocolate. I bet you didn’t know you could have something this yummy and still consider it healthy huh? I recently discovered these little gems over at one of my Paleo heroes blog The Paleo Parents. These mini brownie bites really satisfy the need for a treat when everyone else is having something yummy and you’re feeling left out.

If you’re also wondering why you see so many of my posts featuring banana, I have to say they are one versatile fruit. I know they can be a bit on the starchy side and some people avoid them because of this however, since I avoid so many other starches, bananas are A-OK in my book. For more Paleo banana recipes see here and here.

Chocolate Banana Brownie Bites

I keep these in the fridge after a day, and eat them cold or warmed up a bit in the microwave, either way they are delicious. I tweaked this a bit from the original and made it very low sugar by using a sugar substitute, but you can replace that with maple syrup if you don’t mind the extra sugar. This originally called for paleo-friendly chocolate chips but I left them out as they are a bit pricey. I think nuts would be another great add in as well.

I bought a mini muffin tin specifically for this recipe and I love it so much. If you don’t have one what are you waiting for? Go get one…now… I’ll wait.

That’s better. Here’s the recipe, enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Brownie Bites


2 mashed bananas

5 eggs

¾ cup coconut oil melted

1 cup almond flour

½ cup cocoa powder

½ granulated sugar substitute or ½ cup maple syrup

1 Tbsp. vanilla


Pre-heat oven to 350°. Mash bananas with a fork until smooth (or use an electric mixer). Mix in eggs, coconut oil, vanilla and sweetener (or maple syrup if using) until well blended. In a separate bowl combine almond flour and cocoa powder then add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Using a small ice cream scoop divide mix into a 24 cup mini muffin tin (or two 12 cup tins). I have found that with all the coconut oil they probably don’t need to be greased but I do it anyway. Bake for 10 mins. Yum yum!


Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Chocolate Banana Brownie Bites
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Howdy Clark County Fair Fans!!

I trust you all have been joining me in the annual countdown to the BEST FAIR ON THE PLANET!! We’re down to mere hours now for Friday’s opening and the free pancake breakfast sponsored by Fred Meyer.  WHOO HOO!

(Get your tickets ASAP at the Customer Service desk of any county Fred Meyer if you want free flapjacks AND free entry to the Fair on Friday morning!)

If you’ve followed along here the past few years, you know that I’ve had an absolute blast-and-a-half sharing the Fair with you.  The animals, the events in the Grandstands, the Clark County Equestrian Fair Court, the 4-H exhibits, the milkshakes and homemade pie.  All of the stuff that makes the Clark County Fair ours.

So I am sad to say that for various reasons, including recovering from a recent ACL surgery (beware of stepping on large sticks, people.  Trust me on this.), I am unfortunately going to bow out of blogging for the Columbian this year.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the opportunity the newspaper has given me the past several years to bring my version of The Fair to you.  They graciously let me run with it and run I did.  A sincere and heartfelt thank you to them… and to you for joining me.

I will still be attending The Fair this year but probably going it at a little more slowly.  I’ll be playing around with a new Instagram account so feel free to follow me at “its_the_fair”  It won’t be nearly as detailed or as frequent an account as all things Fair as you’ve found here, but it will give me something to do as I give my knee a rest.

Thank you all again for coming along for the Fair Ride these past few years!  Hope to see you around the Fairgrounds!

I’m back!  Sorta.

Toni Woodard

I am a Clark County Fair Fanatic and eat all things fried during the glorious 10 days of The Fair. I have lived in Clark County since 2004 and consider it the second-best decision of my life. I am married to a great guy named Rob (first-best decision) who graciously carries my stuff and takes my picture every time I eat something at The Fair. We have two indoor cats and lots of deer, rabbits, and coyotes who are kind enough to stay outside.

I’m back!  Sorta.
95847cauliflower-fried-rice-12 http://blogs.columbian.com/paleomama/cauliflower-fried-rice/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/100_7177-1024x769-600x450.jpg

Cauliflower Fried Rice

I’ve been meaning to bring this one to you for a while. Rice is one of those carb-filled items that I most miss, so finding this alternative made me want to do the dance of joy. I also have to confess that I cooked this yesterday and the whole batch is already gone (no judging).

This recipe has now been made easier by my friends over at Trader Joes. I promise they’re not paying me to write this, but I was so excited to see they sell already “riced”  cauliflower in the fresh and frozen section. The biggest thing that kept me from making this more often was the time it took and the mess it made chopping cauliflower in the food processor.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

With several steps eliminated, I was eager to finally bring you this recipe. Cauliflower rice can be used in many dishes, I’ve used it before in a paleo-friendly gumbo and it was perfect. My next plan is to work on a version of Spanish rice, my most favorite rice dish.

For now enjoy this by itself, with a stir-fry or whatever else you can think of. I made a “rice” bowl and added this Kalua pork recipe I made a few days ago and my favorite roast candy broccoli dish. It was serious yum time.

The other great thing is you can make this how you like, leave out the veggies or egg, add more veggies, or you could even add chicken or shrimp for a one pot meal. Yum with a capital Y!

Hope you put your own spin on this and tell me how it turned out!

Cauliflower Fried Rice


1 bag frozen riced cauliflower or 1 small to medium head of cauliflower chopped into florets and run through a food processor until it resembles grains of rice

1 cup of frozen peas and carrots (add any other veggies you’d like)

2-3 Tbsp avocado oil (sesame would also kick up the asian-y flavor)

4 Tbsp soy sauce

1-2 Tbsp coconut aminos (optional, this is a paleo alternative to soy sauce, can use alone if you want to skip the soy all together)

3 eggs (more or less to your liking)


Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat and add the cauliflower. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes (may take a bit longer if using frozen). Add frozen peas and carrots, I used a little water in the pan to help steam them and then let it cook off. Add soy sauce and coconut aminos and stir well (add more or less to taste). Beat eggs in a small bowl, move “rice” to one side of the pan, add eggs and scramble, then incorporate them back into the rice mix once cooked. Enjoy!

Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Cauliflower Fried Rice
95853pizza-muffins-12 http://blogs.columbian.com/paleomama/pizza-muffins/ /wp-content/uploads/2018/11/100_7138-1024x769-600x450.jpg

Pizza “Muffins”

Mmmm pizza (insert voice of Homer Simpson here). If you’re eating Paleo, or practicing any kind of fairly healthy lifestyle, pizza is usually off the menu. I know there are a lot of alternative pizza crusts out there but in the words of Marvin Gaye: “Ain’t nothing like the real thing”. So sometimes you have the real thing as a treat and other times you make something like these ah-mazing pizza egg muffins.

Pizza “Muffins”

Originally found over at my latest Paleo blog crush The Paleo Parents (check ‘em out!) these are pretty simple to make and truly tasty. The proof is in the fact that I’ve already inhaled 3 while I’ve been typing. I think I even fooled my brain to think I was eating cheese somewhere in there. Also a yummy addition if you eat dairy and are just low-carbin’ it.

Pizza “Muffins”

I also love that you can add whatever toppings you’d like. Next time I will use those mushrooms before I forget they’re at the back of the fridge and let them go bad (true story). I think I’ll also add sausage.

Try them out today and let me know what you think and what toppings you used.

P.S. Both kids liked it (Mom win!).

Pizza “Muffins”


1 small red onion, chopped

1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil or avocado oil (my 2 favorites)

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 can diced tomato (I recommend the petite diced)

1 cup chopped pepperoni (I actually used more)

10 eggs

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

Dash of pepper

Add any other pizza-like spices you prefer


Preheat oven to 325°. Over medium high heat, sauté onions in oil until soft. Add tomato paste and stir together. Drain canned tomatoes and add to mix along with chopped pepperoni. In a separate bowl beat together eggs and spices. Line a muffin tin with liners and fill each cup with about a tablespoon of the tomato mixture. Top with eggs mixture until about ¾ full. Bake for 25-30 mins. Great to heat up later in the week for a quick breakfast. Enjoy!



Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Pizza “Muffins”
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Portland Timbers travel to Colorado for the first time this year and the challenge for both teams is finding the right balance between attacking and defending.

In their last league home game the Timbers struggled in the first half – not unlike their US Open Cup match as well.

If not for an untimely hand-ball by David Horst and a really terrible PK call against the Dynamo goal keeper it’s likely the Timbers come away with a single point… to be sure they were fortunate as the two goals against in the first half were pretty much to standard given their entire defensive unit this year.

So when getting ready for Colorado it’s quite hard to figure who starts and who doesn’t.  

Does Taylor Peay start at right back?

He probably should given his higher passing accuracy and what appears to be better, heads-up, defensive positioning but in all likelihood Caleb Porter goes with Alvis Powell.

If you’re a Rapids supporter that’s probably a good thing – nearly 60% of all Dynamo attacking pressure came down Powell’s wing.  And when looking at this diagram below we see Colorado is balanced in penetration (touches) but weighs more towards the left side when taking (shots).

Defense First ?  Timbers to Ride the Rapids?

In my pre-match scouting report on Houston they weren’t balanced in penetration – nearly 40% of their penetration was down the right side – yet against Portland – Wade Barrett had his team push left… big time!  It’s likely Colorado will do the same.  MLS teams are pretty good at pressing the weak points an opponent has in defending as those players are more likely to make mistakes.

So if you’re a Timbers supporter hopefully the midfielders will add support for Powell.  I figure Diego Chara and Ben Zemanski in a double pivot as the first recourse should be for Portland to get at least one point.

In thinking about the left fullback.

I’m hopeful Zarek Valentin gets the call but Porter has gone with Jermaine Taylor before.  It was Taylor and Powell who paired up during that two-goal outburst by Houston last weekend…  And given the stingy defense of Colorado it’d be a nightmare for Portland to go a goal down in the first ten minutes.

However viewed the fullbacks do not man the wings alone – it’s likely both Chara and Zemanski start in a double pivot as Porter is going to want to give his team a chance to get at least one point.

And with the double pivot that doesn’t mean Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, and Lucas Melano won’t have defensive responsibilities – they will and Melano cannot afford to ball-watch this game.

Here’s the same diagram offering up information on the Timbers attack:

Defense First ?  Timbers to Ride the Rapids?

Probably a tad more balanced in attacking touches than Colorado – but the same lean towards taking shots from the left sides appears for Portland as well.

Of note – while Portland has played somewhat more direct this year there average number of long passes (per game) is about 10-15 fewer than Colorado – from a tactical viewpoint that probably translates to slightly more MF play between Valeri, Nagbe, (Chara and Zemanski).

It doesn’t mean both teams won’t try to stretch the defensive back-four with long balls – but given Powell’s tendency to push higher up the pitch Nat Borchers might be really busy this game.

A key indicator on the attacking scheme will be to watch how deep and how quickly the fullbacks for Portland push forward – the less tendency to push forward the more likely Porter is thinking defense first.

So how do the fullbacks work in Colorado?  I asked Chris Brown, to share his thoughts with me on Friday:

Colorado’s fullbacks have been key in shutting down attacking threats, getting narrow when they need to crowd the box but also making smart decisions to step out when they have adequate cover from midfielders Michael Azira and Sam Cronin.

Marc Burch is the first choice left back for the Rapids and Mekeil Williams usually plays at right back. When the cover is there they step out and close down attackers, preventing crosses from coming into the box but also positioning themselves to try and limit the danger from the other teams fullbacks overlapping.

Colorado plays defense first, so the midfield is always there in support, clogging channels and disrupting the attack.

Time and time again Colorado’s opponents have been able to get to the top of the 18 yard box but met with Cronin and Azira, ahead of a narrow back four, have to slow down their attack and pass sideways. If given time to set the defense up in its proper shape, Colorado extremely difficult to break down.

In closing:
Colorado team defensive performance this year as been first class – they are second best across MLS in limiting quality attacking by their opponent.  On the other hand – Portland is the highest quality attacking team in MLS this year.  Below is a diagram intended to show three things:
  1. Dark red bar – Colorado opponent’s average percentages in six categories,
  2. Dark green bar – Portland’s average percentages in six categories, and
  3. What gaps exist between each of those six categories.

Defense First ?  Timbers to Ride the Rapids?

In other words:

CRFC opponents average possession percentage is 51% while PTFC, in attack, averages 49% possession.

CRFC opponents average 75% passing accuracy while PTFC average 78% passing accuracy.

CRFC opponents and PTFC penetration averages are the same.

CRFC opponents and PTFC shots taken per completed penetrating pass averages are near the same.

CRFC opponents are far less successful in converting shots taken to shots on goal – and shots on goal to goals scored.

It should be a classic battle of a potent attacking team against a potent defending team.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

Defense First ?  Timbers to Ride the Rapids?
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What’s the worst day and time to cross the I-5 bridge?

Reporter Dameon Pesanti, who covers transportation for The Columbian, wanted to know so earlier this spring he set out to find the answer, obtaining data from the Washington and Oregon State Departments of Transportation. Both agencies provided us with five years worth of data from 2009 to 2014 (WSDOT even had 2015 but ODOT’s still processing last year’s data so we filtered that out).

The answer is 3 pm on a Friday, though Saturday is equally as bad. Overall, though, Friday is the worst day of the week for fender benders on the bridge with 157 to Saturday’s 145. You can see this information and much more, including a map of the 800-plus accidents, in our data visualization below.

But what about other days of the week? Is 3 pm the witching hour every day? And do these trends hold steady year after year or do things fluctuate from year to year? Tne answers: No and yes. On Tuesdays, the worst time of day is 4 pm, just as rush hour is really ramping up. On Wednesdays, it’s even later at 5 pm. But don’t just take our word for it, you can slice and dice the data yourself with the visualization above, or this one below.

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

Three ways to look at I-5 bridge crashes
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Bacon Guacamole Sliders

After tooling around the Paleoverse today, I felt like making something for all the carnivores out there. However I have to admit something to said carnivores…I’m not a big bacon fan. I know, I know, it’s famous as a low carb staple, but I can usually take it or leave it. However, there is something about delicious, delicious pork that really makes for a yummy, satisfying dish and also helps me not miss the bun and cheese here at all. There is much debate whether bacon is truly Paleo due to the preservatives and nitrates. (More on cured meats here.) I chose an uncured, high quality bacon for this dish.

Bacon Guacamole Sliders

But don’t even get my started on avocado…avocado and I are BFF’s from way back.

Bacon Guacamole Sliders

And avocado shines nowhere better than in guacamole.

I also love the combo of ground beef and ground pork for the sliders. They are the perfect size and can be made easily into a lettuce wrap. I’m also planning on having some left over burgers with a fried egg on top. Talk about yum-tastic. Hope you enjoy!

Bacon Guacamole Sliders



1 lb. ground beef

1lb. ground pork

8-10 slices of bacon, cooked and drained

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. dehydrated onion

1-2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste


2 large ripe avocados, flesh scooped out and diced

Juice from half a lemon

Dash or two of onion powder and salt

2 Tbsp. of your favorite salsa (or more!)


  Combine ground beef and pork with the eggs and spices. Shape into palm sized slider patties. (This amount made 12 for me). Grill until cooked through (recommended temp of 160°). For guacamole, mash avocado with a fork and stir in remaining ingredients. To assemble sliders serve on a bed of romaine lettuce or in lettuce wraps topped with the guacamole and bacon. Traditional burger fixings of tomato, onion and pickle, would also be delicious. Enjoy!


Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Bacon Guacamole Sliders
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My time at The Columbian is coming to a close but I know we were always meant to be, even if our moment together was fleeting. Life is like that.

A Tom Vogt article from The Columbian about my family cheering on the Venezuelan basketball team in the 1992 Tournament of the Americas hung in my bedroom since I could remember. Vogt, one of the OG’s who was covering the Blazers at the time, wrote about my loud obnoxious family and when I came in for an interview, I told him I’d had his byline by me since I was a boy. A headline about “latin-flavored hoops,” became something of a mission statement in my own life and it led my to the start of my career. That the Venezuelan basketball team is going back to the Olympics this year for the first time since ’92 and that I am leaving at the same time makes me feel as though I closed the loop.

I will no longer be working and/or posting things here. The Columbian is eliminating its original Blazers coverage and the blog will exist but it will mostly be idle. I will no longer be using the legendary @BlazerBanter twitter handle.  It was a fun three seasons covering the team for the paper, which included the two most successful seasons since 2000.

I was told of my future last Wednesday and Friday, June 17, is my last day at The Columbian. I have the ominous distinction of being the last Blazers beat writer at The Columbian. It was an honor to follow in the footsteps great reporters like Candace Buckner, Matt Calkins, Brian Smith, Kenny Vance and Tom Vogt, just to name a few. When I first learned the news, I was blindsided and crushed. But as time has passed, I’m truly looking forward to what comes next. The warmth I’ve received from friends, colleagues and readers has truly made me realize how lucky I am.

This is my farewell to you all, at least in this space. I’ll keep firing off tweets (@Erik_Gundersen). The Bulls vs. Blazers NBA Podcast with my buddy Sean Highkin will live on. You should also leave us a 5-star review on iTunes. And I’m sure when I get the urge, I’ll write some Blazers/NBA thoughts somewhere.

This blog had very little on it when I came to the position and I’d like to thank my bosses, specifically Micah Rice, for giving me a shot and letting me make this blog whatever I wanted to make it. I had never filed on deadline and early on, it showed. I can’t thank our great sports staff enough for giving me room to grow.

There are lots of other good people that lost their jobs and I know that I only contributed a small drop in the bucket compared to the others who are leaving the paper. I’m just glad that I got to be a part of it.

I had no idea what I was doing at first. Then things like “The Scouting Report” were born, we blogged even the smallest piece of news and we even broke some too. Big news, even, all of which, I proudly stand by.

My hope was to bring a broader view of the league to this blog, to help people understand the Blazers in the context of the NBA ecosystem. I never wanted to be just some guy who only watched other teams when they played the Blazers. I’m not exactly sure if I did that, but I definitely tried.

I love the NBA, I always have (okay this is a lie, the Jail Blazers almost drove it out of me but Boris Diaw’s 05-06 season brought me back) and I always will. I carry a Drazen Petrovic rookie card in my car as protection. It’s not an exaggeration to say basketball is my religion.

Journalism is the business we’ve chosen (shout-out to Hyman Roth) and it’s a cutthroat one. I’m so thankful for getting the experience at The Columbian and to the Trail Blazers before that for letting me in the door. I’m thankful that the paper took a chance on someone who had only one season of NBA work under their belt but had a passion and truly cared about the game.

It was a pleasure getting to write here and blabber on about basketball. I’ll miss a lot of things and honestly, there will be plenty of things that I won’t miss. I’m hopeful that I will land on my feet soon. I’m hopeful that all of us who were laid-off will.

Un abrazo,


Erik Alexander García Gundersen


Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

It’s been real
101032blazers-hire-espn-radios-kevin-calabro-as-television-play-by-play-announcer-10 http://blogs.columbian.com/blazer-banter/2016/06/17/blazers-hire-espn-radios-kevin-calabro-as-television-play-by-play-announcer/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/225859scr_2a92c786e3a50491-518x400.jpg

Via ESPN MediaZone

The rumors have been confirmed: the Portland Trail Blazers are bringing in the NBA’s national radio voice into the both for all 82 games next season. Kevin Calabro is the new Blazers play-by-play man for the foreseeable future. Calabro, who was the Seattle Supersonics play-by-play man for 21 seasons until the team moved to Oklahoma City, has been the lead voice of ESPN Radio’s NBA coverage.

Calabro hasn’t taken an NBA team job since 2008 but has been a prominent broadcast voice on ESPN Radio, NBATV, TNT and the Pac-12 Networks.

He told Casey Holdahl of TrailBlazers.com why he didn’t take a gig outside of the Northwest.

“Since the Sonics left in ’08 I’ve always entertained the thought of being with a club, had a couple of opportunities, but the time was never right with the family because my kids were in school at the time,” said Calabro. “I just did not want to live apart from my family after putting in 21 years in the league, just didn’t feel like moving away was something that I wanted to do. Over the last couple of years I actually entertained the thought of, if there ever was an opportunity available anywhere in the league I definitely would be interested. Unfortunately, there just weren’t any opportunities.”

The team is weary of the Seattle connection, given Paul Allen and Vulcan Inc.’s Seattle roots. DirecTV-owned ROOT Sports, who broadcasts the Seattle Mariners and Portland Timbers, is based out of Seattle. However, it does not appear that the Calabro hiring has anything to do with that. He has worked for pretty much every network, which most broadcasters do. This was about bringing in one of the best in the business.

According to Holdahl, McGowan approached Calabro as he called games during Portland’s series against the Golden State Warriors.

“Many people in our organization have admired Kevin through his work with the Sonics and ESPN, so we reached out to gauge interest and begin conversations during our playoff series with the Golden State Warriors,” said McGowan. “After several long conversations we determined there was mutual interest and were able to work towards a deal that was just finalized.

The decision to remove Mike Barrett and Mike Rice from their posts, as well as radio analyst Antonio Harvey, was one that did not go down easy.

You may not know Calabro if you aren’t a die-hard NBA fan who occasionally listens to basketball on the radio. However, his voice will soon become a familiar one in the city and his talent has landed him the call for the NBA Finals for the last few seasons.

If you want to get a taste of Calabro, tune your radio to 1080 AM The Fan on Sunday night when he calls Game 7 of The Finals with Hubie Brown.

No word yet on who may join him in the booth for the broadcast but they have already locked in their play-by-play man for the future.


Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Blazers hire ESPN Radio’s Kevin Calabro as television play-by-play announcer
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In perhaps their best team performance all year the Portland Timbers defeated the San Jose Earthquakes, in the fourth round of the US Open Cup, at Providence Park last night 2 – nil.

I don’t offer that lightly – the Timbers have struggled on both sides of the ball this year – not only in finishing chances but in denying chances.  As evidence - their lack of clean sheets on the back-end and a rather low number of goals scored per shots taken on the front end.

If this game shows the tenor of things to come for Portland this year the rest of Major League Soccer needs to take notice!

In particular – many times we hear that a player is a great defender because they have higher than average numbers of tackles – this couldn’t be further from the truth.

A solid defender is a person who shuts down penetration and forces the opponent to move the ball elsewhere.  Jorge Villafana was superb in doing that last year and Zarek Valentin stepped in last night and did the same.

Rarely did you see him have to tackle or leave his feet -  if memory serves I don’t recall him doing that once last night.  And I can only recall Taylor Peay doing it once himself.

When you want to give yourself a solid chance at a clean sheet you need your fullbacks to shut down the wings and force the opponent to play in low-percentage crosses.  A good indicator to support that theory is the high level of clearances last night with a high level of crosses.


Amobi Okugo:  With the acquisition of Amobi Okugo the Timbers have shored up what I thought was a waning center-back weakness with the departure of Norberto Paparatto.  Okugo impressed me when I saw him play for Philadelphia Union, a few years ago, and that positive impression remains.  A solid defender who knows his positional role and how to support others around him.  A great awareness to be sure.

Taylor Peay:  As referenced earlier Taylor, like last year, continues to progress.  He’s shown well against the likes of Graham Zusi and others last year and apart from one instance against Shea Salinas – one of the quicker players on San Jose – he showed well again last night.

Jack Barmby:  Jack Barmby has shown good pace and quick feet since joining the Timbers – others, like Lucas Melano, have shown the same.  The difference, in my view, is that Barmby actually understood and understands how his positional play impacts and influences the play and space generated for others.  In addition, his first touch is far better.

Many may view my opinion about Lucas Melano as a personal affront - it’s not.

The youthful Lucas shows great strength in spreading the defenders wider with  his speed.  But with his considerably higher salary, and slow development of a good first touch (at least on turf), his continued role is tenable as a starter.  So the sooner Barmby matures on the pitch the better.

Others may disagree, but in my view, there is no room in MLS for highly paid players who don’t provide specific, attributable, results relative to team success on a consistent basis.

Bottom line is Lucas Melano hasn’t shown consistent value given his salary.  Perhaps a return to South America does suit Lucas better?

Tenor of tactics:

In thinking about gravitational pull – this is all about playing without the ball as much as playing with the ball.  Nearly 95% of the game a player plays without the ball.  Last night, for me, was a great example on how effective the entire team was in playing without the ball.

I think much of that has to do with what Caleb Porter touched on in his post game presser – the tenor of the Timbers attack has moved on this year.

With always trying to play a 4-3-3 Timbers players movement without the ball became predictable – if you don’t know what I mean just watch Columbus Crew.  Meaning, as advocated very early this year – the Timbers needed to move on and develop more flexible ways to attack.

Note the increased level of passing these last few games and the interaction/rotation of players within the attacking half.  All of this is to the good and should be fair warning to scouts tracking the Timbers that their penetration schemes are diverse and more dangerous – less predictable!

Improvement on the pitch:

Jack McInerney:  When I first watched Jack McInerney I didn’t think he showed a lot of grist in applying pressure or shifting about to create openings elsewhere on the pitch.  I won’t say that now – in the last few games his rotational play and finishing has been superb.  His improvement on the pitch simply makes other players more effective.  I wonder how well he’d work with Fenando Adi in a two-striker format for 75+ minutes?

The basic/bucket 4-4-2 can be quite boring at times but when it comes down to it – it’s probably one of the most fundamentally sound formations in soccer.  The greater your team is in executing the 4-4-2 (with all its nuances) the more effective other formations become.

Dairon Asprilla:   As for Dairon Asprilla – from day one he’s impressed me with his first touch and ability to play all sides of the pitch while also understanding his positional role relative to his teammates.  My concern has been his chippy mentality – like we witnessed two weeks ago.  But I don’t think it’s that chippy-ness, on the pitch, that got in his way of minutes earlier this year.

I think it’s his chippy-ness in seeing a teammate, like Lucas Melano, getting more minutes when Dairon has strong feelings/emotions that his performance on the pitch was just as good – if not better – than Melano’s.  That (might?) sound a bit dubious but players can be quite sensitive at times – especially when you need an ego to play.

A Head coach never wants a player who doesn’t show passion – the challenge for the players and team leadership is moderating that passion when not selected… his performance last night was strong – very strong – it’s good to see Dairon do well – I think he will have a key role in this team being successful this year.

And if Lucas Melano can keep things more simple and just rely on his instincts, and a better first touch, I’m sure he can add greater value too.  But if you’re going to maximize flexibility in attack it’s likely we won’t see Dairon Asprilla and Lucas Melano on the pitch at the same time… especially if Jack Barmby and Darren Mattocks improve.

Moving forward:

Nineteen games remain – max points equals 57 – an unlikely target but I’d bet every game the Timbers play will begin with the intent to get three points.

Flexibility and shifting players (in-game) to maximize different ways and means to penetrate, create, and score goals is critical – but not as critical as holding the opponent scoreless.  The defensive side of this team has not been good so far – it NEEDS to improve.

One game is not a trend, but this latest litmus test shows that fullbacks on the Timbers are getting better at locking down the wing penetration – can they sustain that lock down?

The weekend game against Real Salt Lake is the next test – can they continue?

Best, Chris

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

Timbers Shake Quakes Again!
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Mike Barrett (left) and Mike Rice (right) will not be back with the Blazers photo via @PinwheelEmpire on twitter

The Portland Trail Blazers’ broadcast crew is undergoing a major overhaul and several faces who were synonymous with the organization will no longer be there.

The team announced Wednesday that television duo Mike Rice and Mike Barrett, as well as radio analyst Antonio Harvey will not be with the team next season. A national search to replace Barrett and Rice has already begun. Radio voice Brian Wheeler will be back for his 19th season, doing a Vin Scully-style solo broadcast on the radio.

“After reviewing our entire broadcast operation over the past couple of seasons, I felt it was a good time for us to transition into a new direction,” McGowan said in a press release. “I would like to thank our broadcasters for their years of dedicated service to our organization and wish them nothing but success in their future endeavors. Going forward, we will focus our efforts on a national search to fill our open TV broadcast positions, with the number one goal of bringing in top-notch talent that our fans will be excited to watch during Trail Blazers broadcasts.”

The Blazers 10-year deal with Comcast Sportsnet Northwest is up after next season and both sides have been in negotiations since the new year. The Blazers and Comcast have butted heads in the past over who would get revenue from streaming games, which has caused Blazers fans who pay cable subscriptions to continue living in 2006, with no streaming option the past two seasons. Joe Freeman of The Oregonian got the scoop that Comcast offered the Blazers a deal but that the Blazers are listening to other offers and must decide on a new partner before July 1.

From Freeman

Comcast, which leans on the Blazers as its flagship partner in the region, submitted a new contract offer earlier this year during an exclusive negotiating window. But the Blazers — long frustrated by Comcast’s lack of distribution — have been fielding offers from other potential partners for weeks and it’s possible they will move in another broadcast direction. For nearly a decade, Blazers games have been unavailable to satellite television subscribers because of national distribution disagreements between Comcast and DirecTV/Dish, leaving a large percentage of Blazers’ fans in the crosshairs of a corporate kerfuffle.

DirecTV owned ROOT Sports broadcasts the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Mariners. As Freeman also noted, they could also go a non-traditional route with their broadcast. The Blazers often feel the pressure for living up to their “Trail Blazers” brand and a streaming broadcast option would set a precedent in the league. Here’s what McGowan told me when it came to carriage of Blazers broadcast earlier this year.

“It’s super important,” McGowan said of carriage on other providers. “Unfortunately we don’t control it which is a tough thing. There’s only a few companies that carry regional sports networks. You have to create a deal and a partnership with those companies. It’s definitely a factor. It’s on our mind. It’s our end goal. It’s one of those things that we understand our fans want our games as widely distributed as possible.”

Comcast Sportsnet Northwest’s positioning is also precarious with regards to the Blazers. According to sources, the network’s future could be in jeopardy if the Blazers don’t renew their contract with them.

All the best to Mike, Mike and Tone who were nothing but gracious to a young reporter trying to break into the game.



Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Blazers overhaul broadcast crew: Mike Barrett, Antonio Harvey and Mike Rice out
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(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The NBA Finals live to see another day. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving both scored 41 points and King James added 16 rebounds and seven assists to boot. SOMEBODY CALL STEPHEN A!!!!! LeBron would have had a triple-double had budding TJ Maxx Player Kevin Love been able to knock down a shot. Where are we with Love after he signed a max deal last summer? Can he be revived as a max player, or his he destined to join Harrison Barnes as a TJ Maxx guy?

Speaking of Harrison Barnes, the Iowa Mafia that runs the Chicago Bulls is apparently being offered Minnesota’s No. 5 pick in the upcoming draft in hopes of reuniting Jimmy Butler with new Timberwolves head coach and President Tom Thibodeau. Sean was front and center for the last years of the Thibs era in Chicago and tells us why the Bulls front-office pettiness isn’t going to let that happen.

After talking about the Finals and how amazing LeBron and Kyrie were, we also went into a brief discussion on the Blazers offseason. Love was long viewed as an upgrade for the Blazers. Now? I think they are better off with Aminu at power forward and (insert center here).

Crazy how far we’ve come. What do you think?




Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Bulls vs. Blazers NBA Podcast: Is Kevin Love a TJ Maxx player?
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photo via adidas

It’s a Monday and it’s the summer, which can only mean one thing on this blog: Damian Lillard dropping new music. His latest #MusicMonday release is a freestyle over Mobb Deep’s classic “Shook Ones Pt. II.” featuring V.I.P.Lillard is in Taipei as part of his adidas “Take on Summer” tour but he continues bringing the heat.

Lillard has already released three original tracks and a couple of more tracks for Spalding. We are all still waiting on the album. TMZ reported a few weeks ago that Lillard’s skills behind the mic are getting attention from the music industry. He’s also been tweeting about Chance The Rapper, which I’m hoping results in a collaboration.

Anything involving “Shook Ones Pt. II” is a win in my book. Lillard could have said nothing and I would have enjoyed it.  I’ve already listened to the original “Shook Ones Pt. II” five times since listening to the Dame version. Never forget that “Shook Ones” is also responsible for the greatest commercial in NBA history.

Lillard’s time in Asia has also given him space to set off some very fire tweets. He also took time during his trip to announce that he is releasing an updated version of his PDX Carpet sneakers, which are a favorite of Blazers coach Terry Stotts.

I won’t be able to bring you the updates on Dame’s music beyond this week. However, as I’m sure you already know, you can follow all of Dame’s music drops by following him on SoundCloud.







Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Dame DOLLA: Shook Ones Pt. II Freestyle feat. V.I.P.
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(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

This is the last week that I will writing on this blog, as you may have heard. However, The Network will live on beyond the confines of this space. The people need the content. The Real Lakers of Los Angeles are out here making waves and the Golden State Warriors, their parents and spouses, are engaged in an all-out verbal assault on LeBron James.

Draymond Green is suspended for Monday night’s Game 5 (6 p.m. PDT on ABC) after being assessed a flagrant 1 after hitting James below the belt, which gives him the requisite points for a suspension. He dug his own grave on this one and it gives the Cavaliers a chance to keep their season alive. Kevin Love, your time is now or never.

We discussed the impact of the Green suspension and the many ways we are hoping Green documents his suspension. If Snapchat isn’t paying Draymond to put together a story from his suite at tonight’s Oakland A’s game, then maybe it’s not really worth $20 billion. Just give him enough to cover a potential fine.

The Real Lakers of Los Angeles were also forced to issue a press release stating that Magic Johnson is no longer officially part of the Lakers. They’re clearly guarding against tampering charges for when they sign Meyers Leonard to the max.

We’ll have another episode after Game 5.





Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Bulls vs. Blazers NBA Podcast: The High Road
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Photo via adidas

Damian Lillard is always a busy man. Not a month after playing his final playoff game, he’s been touring in China with adidas. Here you can see him coaching up some young Chinese hoopers as part of the adidas “Take On Summer” tour. Brand aware as always, Lillard is rocking his PDX Carpet D Lillard 2′s while coaching up the kids in China.

Trail Mix: Lillard tours China, Sabonis story gets a reboot

Damian Lillard coaching in the PDX Carpet D Lillard 2′s.

Dane Carbaugh did a review of florist edition of his signature shoe for Blazersedge. I don’t think anybody does product reviews on shoes quite like Dane. Check it out.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Golden State’s Stephen Curry would not participate in this summer’s Olympic games in Rio. This of course improves Lillard’s chances of joining the team. But is that a good thing? Eric Griffith explored that issue for Blazersedge. Given Coach K’s affinity for Kyrie Irving, moving Steph effing Curry off the ball, it’s probably safe to say Dame won’t be a featured player if he does go.

The Portland Trail Blazers have produced a series of podcasts on key figures and moments in Blazers history. Earlier this week, they did an excellent 33-minute podcast on how Arvydas Sabonis came to America and the Blazers. Sabonis was arguably the best player in the World before he came to the NBA but he spent most of his prime in Europe because Cold War. Michael Lewellen and Kris Koivisto did a very good podcast if you want to learn more about that story. The god Bill Schonley, who saw it all unfold, tells some great stories and they even got the GM at the time, Bucky Buckwalter, on the record.

Bill Simmons included “Sabonis coming over to the NBA in his prime” as one of the greatest “What if’s?” in NBA history. The Blazers were a perennial playoff team with excellent guards and wings. While Kevin Duckworth and Buck Williams were solid players, it’s impossible not to imagine Drexler, Porter, Kersey and Robinson circling around an offensive fulcrum in Sabonis. To me, this might be a bigger franchise what-if than missing out on Michael Jordan.





Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Trail Mix: Lillard tours China, Sabonis story gets a reboot
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(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

The odds that the new Dame DOLLA album will include some samba beats just got better. It looks like Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard will be spending some time in Brazil this summer, now that Golden State’s Stephen Curry will not participate in the upcoming 2016 Olympics.

Curry suffered a knee injury in the playoffs, which he is citing as the main reason for his absence in the upcoming Olympics.

Via Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group

“After a great deal of internal thought and several discussions with my family, the Warriors and my representatives, I’ve elected to withdraw my name from the list of eligible players on Team USA’s preliminary roster for the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil. I recently informed Jerry Colangelo of this decision.”

Thompson also wrote that several other potential Team USA players, including another competitor at the point guard spot in Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, could stay home to avoid the Zika virus. Westbrook, Cleveland’s LeBron James and Golden State’s Andre Iguodala may not be in Rio.

Over 200 health care professionals have signed a petition to the World Health Organization to either relocate or postpone the games in Rio. According to Thompson’s report, players are already being advised to sleep in malaria nets to avoid catching the virus.

If Westbrook does stay that will leave him, 2014 Team USA member and Coack K favorite Kyrie Irving, Lillard and Memphis’ Mike Conley vying for three point guards spots. They could carry more than three point guards in theory, but they only took three to the 2014 World Cup (Irving, Curry, Derrick Rose). Washington’s John Wall is recovering from knee surgery and has been removed from the player pool.

No matter how it goes, at least Lillard will have a friend close by. Blazers guard CJ McCollum is officially part of the USA Select Team, which will scrimmage against the Olympic team, as of Tuesday.

Here’s the group that will make up the USA Select Team, which will be coached by San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.

Selected for the 2016 USA Basketball Select squad were: Malcolm Brogdon (University of Virginia); Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Detroit Pistons); Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento Kings); Kris Dunn  (Providence College); Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic); Jerami Grant (Philadelphia 76ers); Gary Harris (Denver Nuggets); Rodney Hood (Utah Jazz); Brandon Ingram (Duke University);Brice Johnson (University of North Carolina), Stanley Johnson (Detroit Pistons); Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves); CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers); Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls); Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets); Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia 76ers); Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks); Julius Randle (Los Angeles Lakers); D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics);Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Denzel Valentine (Michigan State University); Justise Winslow (Miami Heat) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets).

While McCollum will just be scrimmaging against the Olympic team, he is now in the USA Basketball pipeline. Although he won’t be able to make the Olympic team this season, this gives him a chance to be considered for future teams.

Finally, Dame DOLLA released another new song yesterday as part of his Music Monday releases titled “Isley.

Lillard was also named the “Male Professional Athlete of the Year” at Monday night’s Oregon Sports Awards.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on Tuesday’s Chris Mannix Vertical Podcast. You can listen here.



Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Trail Mix: Lillard’s USA Basketball chances get a boost
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(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

As weird as it may seem, we are now less than a month away from a pivotal time for the Portland Trail Blazers. Free agency begins July 1 and before that we have the NBA draft, where the Blazers could potentially sneak into the draft, although they currently don’t own a draft pick.

Their offseason has suddenly become one of the league’s most intriguing and I went on Real GM Radio with Danny Leroux to talk about everything the Blazers may or may not do this offseason.

If the plug-in for BlogTalkRadio doesn’t want to cooperate, you can follow the link to the website here. You can also listen to the podcast by subscribing to it on iTunes.

You can follow Danny and all of his work on twitter by following @DannyLeroux.

And we are planning on having a new Bulls vs. Blazers in the next day, where we will talk to Sean Highkin, who will give us a report from Cleveland about what’s going on in the Finals.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Podcast: RealGM Radio Blazers offseason preview with Danny Leroux
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Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Ok can I just make a confession here? Remember when I mentioned that paleo allows for an 80/20 way of eating where you’re eating paleo 80% of the time? Well lately friends I’ve kind of had this flipped and was not going to even mention it to you thinking I could pull the wool over your eyes. But as I’ve said before, over here at Paleo Mama we’re all about keeping it real and I think we can all say we’ve been there sometimes with bad eating habits. What’s important is that we get back on that wagon or horse or insert your favorite old-timey mode of transportation here. Well this dish is me getting back on the paleo horse. And now back to our regularly scheduled recipe

Here’s one I’ve been wanting to make for a while. It features once again the favorite paleo pasta substitute spaghetti squash. We’ve been down this road before regarding my love of this happy yellow squash, more on it here.

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

I had seen some recipes for spaghetti alla carbonara and figure it would translate well into a squash dish. What really yums up this one is the bacon and onions combined with the creaminess of the egg mixture. (Inspiration from Paleo Grubs one of my favorite paleo blogs).

I’m usually a microwaver of the squash for convenience sake but this time I decided to use Martha Stewart’s method of roasting and it came out perfectly done.

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

In fact, the squash I used was so huge only half this amount went into the recipe. Also a word to the wise drain your noodles once you scrape them out. I did not and ended up with a lot of moisture in the finished dish I had to drain later.

Hope you enjoy the tastiness!

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara


1 small to medium spaghetti squash cooked or roasted with flesh scooped out

5 pcs bacon

½ onion diced

1 tsp chopped garlic

2 eggs

¼ C. almond or coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste


While squash is baking, fry the bacon, crumble, set aside, and reserve about half of the grease. In a small bowl mix the eggs with the milk adding salt and pepper to taste. Cook onions in the grease on medium high heat, when almost done add the garlic and cook until fragrant (don’t let the garlic burn). Add the squash into the pan with the onions and garlic and stir to coat. Lower heat to low and slowly drizzle the egg mixture over the squash stirring to coat. Cook until you no longer see raw egg. This should make a creamy coating for the noodles and not look like scrambled eggs. Serve and enjoy!



Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
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Tim Probst, who is running to replace Sen. Don Benton in Olympia, filed his personal financial statement late.
And the Washington State Republican Party noticed.
“Why is partisan Democrat Tim Probst trying to hide his six-figure government paycheck from the voters?” said WSRP Chair Susan Hutchison in a press release. “State law requires candidates to disclose their financial affairs to avoid conflicts of interest. What else is Tim Probst trying to hide?”
Marsha Manning, the treasurer with the Probst campaign, did respond to the public disclosure commission complaint.
“This was an oversight on the part of the campaign as the original filing for this campaign began in 2013,” Manning wrote. “Mr. Probst did complete the (financial statement or F1) on May 11, 2016.”
It is currently on file with the public disclosure commission and available for the public to see.
Officially, Probst’s campaign responded in-kind with, “Tim is running a positive campaign and is focusing on important issues like equal pay for women, re-building the middle class and getting big money out of politics.”
Nick Ande, who is running Probst’s campaign, added it’s an attack in the hopes of distorting Probst’s record.
“It’s the same playbook Don Benton used to win by (76) votes four years ago,” Ande wrote.

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

82104jhb-keeps-quiet-on-trump-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/political-beat/2016/06/03/jhb-keeps-quiet-on-trump/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Lauren_Dake_110_1-150x150.jpg

House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday he will vote for the GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

Previously, Ryan said he was “not ready” to back Trump, but reversed course writing in an editorial that “on the issues that make up (the Republican) agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”

I wondered if this would bring the rest of the Republican party around, including U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas.

I wasn’t the only one.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly fired off an email, saying Herrera Beutler has followed Ryan’s talking points to delay endorsing Trump.

“Now that Ryan has ended his charade, we can only expect that Herrera Beutler … will also stop playing word games and endorse Trump’s toxic campaign, to which they are already inseparably tied,” Barb Solish of the DCCC wrote in an email.

Not so soon.

I asked Herrera Beutler’s campaign and they responded saying she had “nothing new” to add.

The last time she spoke to The Columbian at the end of April she said she wasn’t sure “the right person for the job” of U.S. President was running.

Herrera Beutler initially endorsed Marco Rubio.

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

75251trail-mix-blazers-rise-in-espns-future-power-rankings-3 http://blogs.columbian.com/blazer-banter/2016/06/02/trail-mix-blazers-rise-in-espns-future-power-rankings/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Trail-Blazers-Kings-B_acco-6.jpg

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

We are a mere handful of hours away from Game 1 of the NBA Finals as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will battle for the second season in a row. Stephen Curry and the 73-win Warriors go up against LeBron James, trying to get one for #TheLand. My podcast co-host Sean Highkin and I have a Finals preview that we recorded after the Warriors punched their ticket to the dance.

Now that we have our homegrown Finals content up front, let’s get to what you came here for: a collection of all the important stuff written on your Blazers this week.

We begin with ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, compiled by insiders Kevin Pelton and Chad Ford. As expected, the Blazers made a considerable jump after a second round appearance and battle against the Warriors.

From Pelton 

While we were relatively optimistic about the Trail Blazers in September, they’ve still tied for the largest jump since then. Portland moved back into the top 10 after not only defying expectations by making the playoffs but winning a series (albeit aided by the Clippers’ injuries) and competing with the Warriors in the second round.

Now, the Blazers have the opportunity to clear max space while retaining their young core, led by the dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. That’s possible because GM Neil Olshey locked up young free agents Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis to contracts that look like enormous bargains.

The Blazers’ future is bright. However, success in the NBA is rarely cheap, this past season being an exception. Danny Leroux penned a detailed piece for The Sporting News on how the success of the Blazers could and probably will affect their cap sheet.  The Blazers are expected to swing big in free agency with the ability clear max cap space, but what Leroux nails is that keeping their own free agents will likely cost a pretty penny.

ESPN showcased the Blazers later on in the week when they released their “Famous 100,” a ranking of the 100 most famous athletes, based on an algorithm which includes salary, endorsements, social media following and Google search popularity.  Portland’s Damian Lillard clocked in at 45, just behind Blake Griffin (43) but ahead of fashion icon and elite guard Russell Westbrook (48).

The Blazers success has also earned them a guest appearance in the latest “Game of Zones,” which is Bleacher Report’s amazing NBA-themed “Game of Thrones” parody.

In actual important news that greatly affects the team but doesn’t really draw a lot of attention, the Blazers finalized their coaching staff on Wednesday. As part of the finalized coaching staff, assistant coach Dale Osbourne was promoted to the front of the bench and advance scout John McCollugh was added to the staff. Sought after assistant Nate Tibbetts, who interviewed for the Memphis head coaching job and the lead assistant job with the Warriors will stay, as well as David Vanterpool, the longest-tenured assistant on the staff along with Osbourne. Jim Moran, who was added to the staff last season to help coach the big men, will be back for his second season.

More snacks




Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Trail Mix: Blazers rise in ESPN’s future power rankings
82106clinton-wins-wa-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/political-beat/2016/05/27/clinton-wins-wa/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Lauren_Dake_110_1-150x150.jpg

Hillary Clinton won the Washington state primary on Tuesday.

Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won the Washington state caucuses.

The results from the Democratic primary will largely be ignored, but they could provoke a change in the system.

As Melissa Santos with the News Tribune wrote, “almost three times as many Democrats had voted in the primary as participated in Democrats’ March 26 precinct caucuses.”

And that could mean Democrats change the way their primary system in the future.

State Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, told Santos “caucuses have a romantic image and play a meaningful role in terms of activism and energy, but that a primary is more Democratic and reflective of the broader values of the population.”

But others have pointed out that Sanders’ supporters knew their vote wouldn’t count for much in the primary.

In 2018 or 2019, the Washington State Democratic Central Committee plans to vote on whether to rely on the presidential primary or caucus system to allocate its delegates.

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

82108your-vote-counts-well-kind-of-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/political-beat/2016/05/24/your-vote-counts-well-kind-of/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/11/john-oliver-600x400.jpg

Every election season, there are those people who don’t bother to vote.

They forget. They’re not inspired. They feel like their vote doesn’t matter.

For once, they might have a point.

Tonight is Washington state’s primary. The GOP presumptive nominee is Donald Trump, although Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and John Kasich remain on the ballot. And the Democrats will largely ignore the primary results.

“So you know your awful friend who says he doesn’t vote because he feels like his vote doesn’t count?” John Oliver, the comedian and host of Last Week Tonight on HBO said. “If he’s a Washington Democrat participating in the primary, he’s right. He’s still awful, but he is right.”

Technically Oliver is right.

Check out his video:

Democrats allocate their delegates according to results of precinct caucuses, which were held March 26. Bernie Sanders was the clear winner.

But this is still a chance for Democrats to let their voice be heard. There was a lot of upset people after the caucuses. This is an opportunity for voters to show whether the caucuses align with the state’s Democratic voters.

“This is a good way to let every voter participate,” said Cathie Garber. “At a caucus there is usually 5 percent of eligible voters. If you look at turnout for a regular election, there is a big difference.

Republicans will allocate all 44 delegates to their national convention based on the primary results.

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

Your vote counts … well, kind of
82111goodspace-guy-for-governor-8 http://blogs.columbian.com/political-beat/2016/05/20/goodspace-guy-for-governor/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Lauren_Dake_110_1-150x150.jpg

Sam Kim, Clark County’s chief information officer, generated a buzz this week when the lifelong Republican filed to run as an “independent Democrat.”

It was unusual that he was switching parties.

But also, what is an independent Democrat?

And he wasn’t the only one.

Tim Probst, who is vying for Sen. Benton’s seat, and Kathy Gillespie, who is running for the 18th Legislative District, also filed as independent Democrats.

“For Tim, he’s always been very independent minded and bucked his party in a lot of trends and very consistent with the independent nature of the district,” said Nick Ande, Probst’s campaign manager.

A candidate, it turns out, can state any party they would like, using 16 characters.

“Party preference is entirely the candidate’s decision,” Cathie Garber, with the Clark County Election Division.

And they can also write any name, which is evident by Kathleen “Grandma Warrior” Arthur who is running for the 3rd Congressional District and Goodspaceguy, a Republican, is running for governor.

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

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Gov. Jay Inslee visited Vancouver’s future waterfront park on Wednesday and called it a center of economic expansion that will benefit the entire state.

As Inslee walked along the river, the Interstate-5 bridge loomed in the background.

Inslee said if he’s re-elected he will once again try to gain momentum for replacing the aging bridge.

In the previous two legislative sessions, some Southwest Washington lawmakers tried to create momentum to form a coalition of lawmakers from both sides of the river to revive discussions of a crossing over the Columbia River. The efforts failed.

It’s a project of importance to the entire state, Inslee said on Wednesday, not only Clark County.

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, a fierce opponent of the defunct Columbia River Crossing project, has announced he isn’t seeking re-election.

When Inslee was asked whether it might be easier to gain consensus with Benton retiring, the governor replied, “markedly.”

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

Building bridges
82562clark-is-5th-fastest-growing-county-in-last-5-years-7 http://blogs.columbian.com/digital-desk/2016/05/20/clark-is-5th-fastest-growing-county-in-last-5-years/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Screen-Shot-2016-05-20-at-12.02.27-PM-1024x961-490x460.png

Clark County’s population grew by 8 percent based on 5-year population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday, May 19, 2016, making the county the fifth fastest-growing in the state. The four faster growing counties include Franklin, King, Benton and Snohomish.

If you look at just the past year, though, Clark grew by 2 percent, tying it with Benton as the 3rd fastest growing county.

Where is Clark County’s growth coming from? Some of it is what the Census Bureau calls “natural increase,” meaning births minus deaths. The rest is from migration, both domestic and international. Clark County grew by about 34,132 in total population the past five years. Of that about 12,149 came from within the county as a natural increase and about 21,085 stemmed from migration. And of those who’ve migrated here most have come from within the U.S., about 18,194, while about 2,891 came from abroad.

Use the map below to further explore the data.

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

Clark is 5th fastest growing county in last 5 years
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Banana Pancakes

As you may have guessed, I heart bananas. I also heart pancakes but they don’t heart me back so here is a healthier, yet still tasty version. Also I don’t love just any bananas. I love those brown, almost black, mushy ones that you’re thinking ‘maybe I should just throw away’. Wait! Don’t toss them! Those brown beauties are just waiting to be mashed into a recipe like this one or these pancakes. I’m always on the look out for the discounted brown bananas in the grocery store to grab up for just such a recipe.

Banana Pancakes

This recipe comes from StayFitMom and is a great gluten free option as well. I first tried banana pancakes without the coconut flour but those are very hard to flip. The coconut flour in these adds just enough body to increase their flipability exponentially (I just graduated from college hence the fancy shmancy words).

Banana Pancakes

And since breakfast for dinner is pretty popular around here (no Mommy guilt over it either) this is a great option for any time of the day.

Banana Pancakes

I upped the cinnamon when I made them but you could even leave it out. A word to the wise however, don’t be lazy like me and think you can just eyeball the vanilla and then dump two big “glugs” into the bowl making for a very vanilla-ish batter. Seriously learn from me kids, don’t try it at home. Use those pretty measuring spoons people.

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes


1 ripe banana

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. coconut flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla


Mash banana. Mix in eggs, coconut flour, cinnamon and vanilla. Heat a large pan with coconut oil or another healthy oil of your choice. Drop batter into pan making small to medium pancakes. This yielded about 6 medium pancakes for me. Flip after 2-3 minutes. Enjoy.




Sandy Carpenter

Busy working Mom of two and wife of one. Trying to eat healthier so I feel better and convincing my family to do the same!

Banana Pancakes
82565take-a-look-at-who-benefitted-from-countys-fee-waivers-7 http://blogs.columbian.com/digital-desk/2016/05/16/take-a-look-at-who-benefitted-from-countys-fee-waivers/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-1.54.09-PM-1024x938-502x460.png

The jury is still out on whether Clark County has seen a flood of new jobs resulting from a decision in 2013 to waive traffic impact and application fees for all nonresidential development in unincorporated areas.

The county has experienced job growth, including a 3.9% jump last month that outpaced national, state and regional numbers. Proponents of the fee waivers have said it’s proof they’re working, but skeptics remain. If you read reporter Kaitlin Gillespie’s recent story on at the fee waivers, you’ll see there are many perspectives on the issue.

In the meantime, we’ve taken data obtained from the county by Gillespie to create a map below showing where the 300-plus applicants for fee waivers are located. You can filter your view of the map by the total fees waived and the projected new jobs each applicant is expecting to create. Each dot on the map is color-coded by the fees waived and the size of each dot varies according to the projected jobs for that applicant. The larger the dot, the more jobs. Take a look and see who’s benefitted so far from the waivers.

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

Take a look at who benefitted from county’s fee waivers
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When apple prices drop, the employees at the Vancouver Education Association know to prepare themselves.

Chicken wire is already around all the windows. Crates are in front of the chicken wire, placed at a 45-degree angle, so when the apple comes flying through the air they hit the crate and bounce away from the building.

The apples have broken windows. They’ve clogged the drain. They’ve caused thousands of dollars of damage.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is campaigning for her fifth term in Congress and once again, some of her opponents have encouraged throwing apples on the rooftops of her supporters. But this election cycle, the reports of people receiving letters are seemingly more frequent.

Several individuals have reported receiving a note, signed “Titania” that warns people apples might be thrown on their roofs.

“Dear reader of this note,” it says. “We have been throwing (apples on) rooftops of supporters of Patty Murray, usually just before dawn. Because some people have windows up there where the roof is, we’ve broken a few of them; but please understand that this is happening by accident. It is sometimes difficult to see in the predawn murkiness and we thought about apologizing for the damage. But in the spirit of Murray and Obama, we are not apologizing; like them we have no intention of fixing anything.”

There haven’t been any reports of someone actually throwing the apples, or breaking personal property, to The Columbian until now.

Rick Wilson, with the VEA, said the apple-throwing has been steady at the education association’s offices. A man on a bike, with long, red hair, stands across the street and chucks the apples, Wilson said.

Wilson noted the association supports candidates on both sides of the aisle.

“The last major election we had signs for both Republicans and Democrats,” he said.

In previous years, similar letters have circulated about Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

Rotten tomatoes caused a stir in Vancouver when they were left in President Barack Obama supporters’ yards.

In the last year, Wilson said, the apple thrower has been outside the office windows 30 to 40 times.

“He’s been an incredible nuisance to us,” Wilson said. “He’s damaged property and caused significant issues.”

Kim Kapp, with the Vancouver Police Department, said officials from the department have chatted with the city’s attorney’s office and there’s not a lot they can do.

“They are not considered threats under criminal harassment laws because there is no threat to hurt anybody and it’s difficult to prove a crime like trespass or vandalism, because there’s no suspect information,” Kapp said.



Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

82568homes-just-keep-getting-bigger-and-biggerer-7 http://blogs.columbian.com/digital-desk/2016/05/11/homes-just-keep-getting-bigger-and-biggerer/ /wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Screen-Shot-2016-05-11-at-4.22.44-PM-1024x943-499x460.png

Owning a home has long been considered by many people to be a key piece of attaining the so-called American dream.

It appears that now that also means having about 600 square feet per person. As business editor Gordon Oliver reported last Sunday, American families have steadily gotten smaller since the 1970s but homes have gotten bigger. With that in mind, we took a look at three different homes from three distinct eras which you can read about in Oliver’s story and see firsthand in this video by digital producer Ariane Kunze.

You can also see where the larger homes have been built over the years in Clark County with this visualization below that we constructed using 2015 data from the Clark County Assessor’s office.

In the past 40 years, homes in Clark County have grown from an average of 1,545 square feet in the 1970s to an average of 2,372 square feet in the last 5 years, a 53.5% increase. If the trend holds for the next decade or two, that number could reasonably be expected to jump to 2,700 square feet or more. The percentage of homes being built in this county that are 3,000 square feet or larger in the past 5 years is nearly 20%, something you can see in this chart.

Perhaps the only thing holding us back from building homes bigger is economic factors such as the cost of land and building materials as Oliver reports. The economy itself is, of course, also an ever-present looming factor as shown during the early recession of the 1980s and again after the tech and housing bubbles burst.

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

Homes just keep getting bigger and biggerer
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“I think we can all do things. Sometimes fear holds us back. Maybe when people read this story, they’ll think: If she can do that, we can adopt a kid and give them a life.”~Julia Griffith

Some members of the Griffith family take advantage of warm spring weather as they sit down to a homecooked meal Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. Pictured are Jennica Griffith, 12, clockwise from front left, Mirlie Griffith, 18, mom Julia Griffith, Silas Griffith, 16, and Samson Griffith, 15. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Single Mother of Seven Adopted Children Finds Balance in School/Kids/Farm

Julia Griffith, from left, shares a laugh and a hug with her daughter, Mirlie, 18, as Samson, 15, and Jennica, 12, are seen in the background Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Single Mother of Seven Adopted Children Finds Balance in School/Kids/Farm

Julia Griffith feeds some of her feathered friends before the family sits down to dinner Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Single Mother of Seven Adopted Children Finds Balance in School/Kids/Farm

Julia Griffith joins hands with her daughter, Mirlie, 18, on Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Single Mother of Seven Adopted Children Finds Balance in School/Kids/Farm

Mirlie Griffith, 18, pauses to look over family photos while enjoying a sunny evening on the farm Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Single Mother of Seven Adopted Children Finds Balance in School/Kids/Farm

Samson Griffith, 15, from left, his brother, Silas, 16, and his sister, Mirlie, 18, watch as Silas’ shot goes into the hoop Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Single Mother of Seven Adopted Children Finds Balance in School/Kids/Farm

Jennica Griffith, 12, from left, greets some of the family’s animals as her mom, Julia, checks the temperature of her brother, Samson, 15, after he complained of feeling under the weather Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Single Mother of Seven Adopted Children Finds Balance in School/Kids/Farm

Silas Griffith, 16, left, and his sister, Mirlie, 18, share a sweet moment with the family Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Single Mother of Seven Adopted Children Finds Balance in School/Kids/Farm

Members of the Griffith family pose for a family picture Thursday evening, April 21, 2016 in Ridgefield. Pictured are Jennica Griffith, 12, Samson Griffith, 15, mom Julia Griffith, Mirlie Griffith, 18, and Silas Griffith, 16. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

99777portland-slow-out-of-the-gate-again-10 http://blogs.columbian.com/portland-timbers/2016/05/10/portland-slow-out-of-the-gate-again/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Caleb-Porter-459x460.jpg

When week three of Major League Soccer closed the Portland Timbers were 14th worst in overall team performance – that has changed – but not for the better!

Portland are now 16th worst in overall team performance – taking into account how well (and how well their opponent’s) possess, pass, penetrate, create, and score goals.

I’ll speak more a bit later about the Timbers – for now here’s some thoughts about the rest of the league first.

Portland slow out of the gate again!

And to clarify – my power rankings are purely objective – no fancy opinions – no feelings – no indirect or direct influence by one person over another – it’s clinical, objective, published in Europe, and presented at the 2014 World Conference on Science and Soccer.

Bottom line here – there is no subjectivity and how a team finished last year has absolutely no bearing on where that team started and ranks this year.

Some thoughts about the teams after week ten:

The CPWP Index – two views…

Portland slow out of the gate again!

Portland slow out of the gate again!

Over the remainder of the year I’m going to offer up four teams who fit these categories the best:

And to follow that some additional insight for your consideration (the way to really see why you can’t simply look at attacking or defending statistics separately – you must look at them together)

Portland slow out of the gate again!

The diagram above shows Attacking PWP only – this is strictly the statistical roll up of each teams attacking team performance.  Note the four blue bars – these are the top three teams in each conference.  Now my observations relative to what the Index shows:

Here’s the Defending PWP Index – same approach applies here – this is a statistical roll up of each teams defending team performance ((i.e. how well the opponents’ combined attacking PWP data goes against their defenders); again the top three teams in each conference are shown with blue bars:

Portland slow out of the gate again!

A dash of statistics and then my closing on the Timbers:

So what ails the Timbers?  

Best, Chris

Copyright, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

Portland slow out of the gate again!
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The Clark County Democrats’ 2016 convention last week was chaotic and lasted hours.
The event was scheduled to end by 5 p.m. but ran past 9 p.m.

As Stevie Mathieu reported, it started with a “burst of enthusiasm” but turned to “crankiness for many participants.”

Throughout the state of Washington and surely other states, Democratic caucuses blew past deadlines.

It appears Bernie Sanders’ supporters figured out sometimes people need more than a revolution.

They need pizza.

Enter, socialist pizza!

A Facebook group called just that “socialist pizza” sends pizza to sustain supporters through the night. It’s a smart move to make sure Sanders’ supporters stick it out.

After the caucus, one supporter wrote on the group’s Facebook wall, “Your pizzas were worth it!” and added that Sanders’ earned overwhelming support in Clark County.

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

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Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is campaigning for her fifth term in Congress and, once again, the apple throwers are ready.

It’s not the first time some of Murray’s opponents have encouraged throwing apples on rooftops of her supporters. But this time, they seem to be missing their target.

“I’m a registered Republican,” said Lisa Schmidt, who lives in the 49th Legislative District, and received one of the letters.

The note, once again signed from Titania and handwritten using bubbly letters, appeared a couple of weeks ago.

It’s the same notes that has surfaced in some of Murray’s previous elections.

“Dear reader of this note,” it says, “We have been throwing rooftops of supporters of Patty Murray, usually just before dawn. Because some people have windows up there where the roof is, we’ve broken a few of them; but please understand that this is happening by accident. It is sometimes difficult to see in the predawn murkiness and we thought about apologizing for the damage. But in the spirit of Murray and Obama, we are not apologizing; like them we have no intention of fixing anything.”

The letter circulated in 2015 encouraging people to throw apples started out with: “Some of us wish for our purses not to be emptied nor to see our dictionary become skinnier to please their ears … In the neighborhood if someone pulls the clothes off of your clothes line, then you have a license to pull the clothes off their line. That is how things have always worked in neighborhoods.”

In previous years, similar letters have circulated about Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon.

And rotten tomatoes have caused a stir in Vancouver when they were left in President Barack Obama supporters’ yards.

Although The Columbian has heard from a half dozen people who have received a similar letter, we haven’t actually heard of anyone who found apples on their roof or who has had a broken window.

Most of the people who have received the note mentioned they are Republicans.

“I took it as a threat,” Schmidt said. “Everyone who works in politics I talked to said it was threatening, it’s threatening our property and Republicans take property matters very seriously.”

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

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There’s no question the pain of losing Darlington Nagbe, for us supporters, is nowhere near the physical pain Nagbe experienced as a result of that brutal tackle by Nigel de Jong!

How do they do that?





All to play for:


Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

Dealing without Darlington
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“I think things are fine. A lot of fabricators are busy,” said Michael Moore, business development manager for Thompson Metal Fab. “Commercial, industrial and residential construction means masons, carpenters and fabricators are doing really well.”

Employee John Laughter takes measurements on a pipe Friday morning, March 25, 2016 at Thompson Metal Fab. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Thompson Metal Fab

Production journeyman Andrey Nikiforov, center, lends a hand while joining other welders at work Friday morning, March 25, 2016 at Thompson Metal Fab. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Thompson Metal Fab

Crews work behind the scenes Friday morning, March 25, 2016 at Thompson Metal Fab. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Thompson Metal Fab

Employees George Mason, left, and Mike Marsh look over shop drawings Friday morning, March 25, 2016 at Thompson Metal Fab. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Thompson Metal Fab

A tape measure is seen hanging from the pocket of employee John Laughter on Friday morning, March 25, 2016 at Thompson Metal Fab. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)


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“You just forget yourself for a few minutes. When I get mad, I work. When I get sad, I work.” – Mandi Vee

The Homeless Artist

The Homeless Artist

Entering the downtown Vancouver Community Library, on any given day, you might notice one of the tables covered in a purple velvet cloth belonging to Mandi Vee. There’s not enough room to make jewelry in the broken-down van where she sleeps each night with her husband, K.C. Vee. At the library, she can spread out a bit, get something to drink and charge her cellphone.

Vee said she’s long struggled to hold down a regular job; her part-time job at Michaels craft store in Jantzen Beach is her longest stint yet. She’s been homeless off and on for most of her adult life.

Vee and Ruth Shafer, program services manager at the library, are working together to host an art gallery featuring the works of homeless artists. The two are trying to get more momentum around the idea and are accepting submissions from anybody who’s homeless or has experienced homelessness.

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99788portland-timbers-is-it-too-early-to-worry-10 http://blogs.columbian.com/portland-timbers/2016/04/06/portland-timbers-is-it-too-early-to-worry/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Portland-Timbers-MLS-Champions-2015-1024x576-600x337.jpg Portland Timbers MLS Champions 2015

Some pundits have offered that it’s probably to early to worry; I completely disagree.

At no point in the last four years of tracking possession with purpose have the Timbers been so low on this Index:

Some may scoff at the reference to my Index, so early in the season, but in my most recent MLS PWP Power Rankings I show that:

 Translating back, for me, that it’s not too early to worry.

So in venting my own frustration, after the first four games, here’s my bottom line up front:

  1. The Timbers have not had great success in scoring goals, and
  2. The Timbers have not had great success in preventing goals from being scored against them.

So what’s the next steps?  In no particular order here are my expectations as a supporter:

In closing:

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

Portland Timbers – Is it too early to worry?
99792us-mens-national-team-mauls-the-minnow-guatemala-4-nil-10 http://blogs.columbian.com/portland-timbers/2016/03/31/us-mens-national-team-mauls-the-minnow-guatemala-4-nil/ /wp-content/uploads/2019/02/us-soccer-crest-2016-600x300.jpeg

This should have been the repeat headline from last week – and thankfully the last week headline wasn’t a repeat this week!

I’ll be the first (probably 100th though) person to congratulate the players on their performance yesterday – well done lads!

Now the grist – with the caveat “I’m still frustrated”!  US Men’s National Team Mauls the Minnow Guatemala 4-nil

It’s my view there’s a critical failure in US Soccer when the Head Coach can get the tactics and player selections and what positions they play that wrong in a game.

When it comes to head to head matches, where the tactics and selections are limited in their adjustment given three substitutions (unlike in an away and home leg setup) I wonder how much confidence there is in the ability of our head coach to get it right the first time?

For me, this 4-nil win is NOT a ‘bye’ for Jurgen Klinsmann!

So – next up statistics; shame on me!

I usually hold true to the form that individual statistics, even when added up – on their own – don’t tell a reasonable story about the game.

Proof is the pudding when viewing my last article and my references to crosses should make my point.

Like last game, the US offered up a number of crosses this game – none of them – I repeat none of them were successful in open play.  Yes the USMNT won 4-nil.

What can we take away from this?

I’d offer two things:

  1. It’s a slap on the wrist, to me, for falling into the statistics trap without the full context, and
  2. It’s another way to reinforce that the general tactical approach, the players selected, and what positions they played were completely pear-shaped in game 1 last week!

I’ve learned my lesson – has Jurgen Klinsmann learned his?

In closing:

Since I was pretty harsh in my previous article, about the leadership of Jurgen Klinsmann, it’s only fair I offer who I feel or think (without seeing these guys train on a regular basis) who should suit up for the USMNT.  

This isn’t about me being right or wrong – it’s about me offering up, my views, so others can throw sticks and stones at me.  :)

Bottom line at the bottom.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved  PWP – Trademark

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

US Men’s National Team Mauls the Minnow Guatemala 4-nil
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“I just want each painting to say something. Even though it is a portrait, can they see the joy in these womens’ faces?” – Hilarie Couture

36 Portraits

Artist Hilarie Couture painted 36 portraits of influential women in Clark County. The portraits will be on display at popular Vancouver locations from May to December.

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