Christmas Island

Christmas Portrait

Actually, Christmas at the Island. Whidbey Island, to be exact.

Puget Sound

The view of the Puget Sound from my grandparents’ house.

The Goulash Challenge

(This is a cross-post from

The Old European is the best breakfast restaurant in Pullman, and maybe the world. They serve a potato, sausage, and veggie dish called Hungarian Goulash. It’s delicious and very filling.

When Kristen’s parents were in town, we ate at the Old European and we heard about an upcoming promotion called the Goulash Challenge. This event consisted of an extra-large portion of goulash and a one hour time limit. If you finish all of the goulash in time, the meal is free and you get a t-shirt. If you fail, you pay $17.

Sounds like the perfect deal, right? Wrong. What I didn’t know was that “extra-large portion” actually meant 5 POUNDS OF GOULASH PLUS FOUR PIECES OF TOAST! Of course, I found out this minor detail a bit too late in the game. I had already committed to the challenge.

Wow. That is a big plate.

When the plate of goulash came to our table, I could barely believe my eyes. It was huge! Minding the clock, I knew I had to get started. I tried to eat the first half of the goulash as quickly as possible. The hope was that I could scarf most of it down before my stomach knew what was happening.

Once I was three quarters of the way through this monstrous plate, I hit the wall. I suddenly felt stuffed. I decided to switch to the toast and get that out of the way. By this time, the other patrons in the restaurant had begun to take notice. The waitress came out and said that the cook staff was rooting for me. Then she said that I had the opportunity to become the first person to complete the Goulash Challenge successfully. What!? No one else had managed to accomplish this feat?

Success is in sight...

That’s when I knew I was in trouble. Previously, I was under the impression that the Goulash Challenge was a tall order, but I had no idea that it was considered nearly impossible. I thought giving up, but then I decided that I was too close to victory. Plus, I had twenty minutes left.

Those remaining twenty minutes were absolute torture. I had to force myself to swallow every bite. Slowly, though, the plate began to clear. It was a miserable experience, but I finished everything off. After I went to the bathroom to vomit, the manager came out, took my picture, and awarded me a free t-shirt.

All done!

It took nearly all day for me to recover from that ordeal. Even now, the thought of any kind of shredded potato is extremely unappetizing. I’m pretty sure that this was the last eating competition I will ever do in my entire life. At least it makes for a good story.

Since I became the Goulash Champion, two others have followed in my footsteps. One is an offensive lineman on the WSU football team. The Old European was kind enough to put our names on their reader board. Now we’re Pullman celebrities.

The reader board.


Jim painting

Jim took the first strokes.


Taping the edges.

Krsiten with a roller

It looked kind of orange at first.

Jeff and Jared

Teamwork! That’s so 1970’s.



We were so proud of our final product! It looks great.
Thanks so much to Shelly and the rest of the Steck family for their hard work.

Our New Place – After

The living room

When Kristen’s family came over for Thanksgiving, we gave our new place a mini-remodel. New paint on the walls, new furniture, etc.

Remodeled living room

The living room.

Our new office

The office.

This where we eat

The kitchen/dining room.