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Volunteering at the Seattle Children’s Hospital Bargain Boutique

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 1:29pm


Submitted by The Seattle Children’s Hospital Bargain Boutique Volunteers are the backbone of the Seattle Children's Hospital Bargain Boutique, raising money for uncompensated care.

Volunteers are the backbone of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Bargain Boutique, raising money for uncompensated care.

Our Mission: Seattle Children’s Hospital Bargain Boutiques exist to provide support for uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s, and to ensure that no child will be turned away because of inability to pay medical costs. To foster this support, our goal is to provide quality new and used merchandise at fair prices in a pleasant environment. Our History: Seattle Children’s was founded in 1907 to establish care for the community’s poor and disabled children. Retail had its origins after WWI, when guilds sold war surplus to raise funds. Seattle Chil¬dren’s Retail is now made up of six stores. Our Volunteers:  Volunteers are the heart of our stores. We are constantly in need of help to acquire merchandise, sort, price, create displays, cashier and sell merchandise. We are always looking for experts to help us in different areas of the store. Here’s what our volunteers have to say about the time spent helping at the Bargain Boutique: Jean:  She is part of the Mona Westover Guild and loves volunteering because of the great service, worthy cause and the wonderful people. Bobbie: She has an amazing love for Seattle Children’s Hospital and enjoys the “Monday Crew.” Jane:  “I love it and it lives in my heart!” Tani: This experience is a “labor of love.”  She loves the volunteers, staff and most of all the cause. Stevie: She is simply amazing, warm and extremely devoted to helping the kids. She looks forward to seeing all the volunteers, staff and helping at the boutique. This month we honor Arline and Linda:

Longtime volunteers, and best friends, Linda and Arline can be found in the Olympia store every Wednesday.

Longtime volunteers, and best friends, Linda and Arline can be found in the Olympia store every Wednesday.

Once upon a time in a small town called Olympia, two sweet ladies met and became friends.  This is their story….. Arline and Linda have been good friends for 22 years. That is incredible in itself. They met through their husbands who were both involved in the real estate market. Linda was a dental hygienist and Arline was an L & I claims representative. Linda has three sons and one daughter, and four grandsons and one granddaughter. Arline has two sons and one grandson.  Linda loves photography and spends her free time looking for the perfect picture. Arline loves gardening and flowers, reading and taking walks. Linda was taking pictures downtown when she noticed the Bargain Boutique and saw a sign in the window that volunteers were needed. She applied, and called Arline and told her “she had to volunteer too.” They both said that the love they feel for the children at Seattle Children’s Hospital is what keeps them inspired and motivated to continue helping as long as they can. The extra bonus they get each Wednesday is volunteering alongside so many other people with the same love and dedication.  Stop by some Wednesday and meet these two fantastic ladies – they will put a smile on your face and love in your heart. Seattle Children’s Hospital Olympia Bargain Boutique 2020 Harrison Ave NW Olympia, WA 98502-5097 360-236-8245 Monday to Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 5 p.m.

So You Want Fitness Results?

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 12:47pm



Submitted by Fitness Ablaze

Fitness ablaze sign and womenEveryone wants “results” (at least a high percentage people) when they think about implementing a training (workout) program and/or improving their nutrition. There are a number of common goals that people want to achieve including losing weight, gaining lean muscle, improving athletic performance, improving mobility, or they just want to be healthy and feel better about themselves. The list can go on and on but to really get the results desired one must begin their journey into the health and fitness lifestyle. This process isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but it will always be worth it and necessary to truly transform mind and body.

When most people step foot into Fitness Ablaze for the first time I imagine it could be a vastly different environment than what they are accustomed to. It isn’t surrounded by mirrors, tvs, treadmills, stairmasters, recumbent bikes, and other  “fitness equipment” that is typically provided in the “big box gym” (nothing against this setup). It may be slightly intimidating and “different” for the majority of the people in the beginning, but the most important components of Fitness Ablaze are the amazing members, great coaches, and motivating atmosphere. The experience is something different but rewarding.

Our coaching methods are also most likely different than the common 45-60 minute cardio days and chest/arm/leg/back days. Our coaching model here at Fitness Ablaze is programmed to be both efficient and effective. It includes a progressive program that trains the body based on “movements” as opposed to”muscles”. We use compound, multi-directional, pain free, actions that incorporate the proper movement patterns: push, pull, rotation, hip/knee dominant, locomotion, core activation/stabilization and perform explosive activities that are geared to help people burn calories, improve metabolism, gain lean muscle, and improve movement quality.

Ok, now that I have explained a little about the health and fitness lifestyle and the philosophy of the training at Fitness Ablaze I want to go into detail about what is needed to maximize Fitness ablaze groupresults when it comes to health and fitness.

Mindset- this is probably the most important and often overlooked aspect of your health and fitness journey (or any journey). If you want to achieve amazing results you will have to get your mind right. You must be mentally prepared to commit and be consistent with the health and fitness lifestyle.  Understand there are going to be struggles, challenges and obstacles that you will have to overcome in order to be successful. You have to have goals and figure out really WHY you want to achieve those goals. This is why if you are feeling “stuck” it may be a great investment to find a coach (trainer) to guide you from where you are at now to where you want to be.

Nutrition – The phrase “You can’t out train a bad diet” is not a false statement. If you truly want to transform physically then you will have to take a look at what is fueling your body. Your nutrition will directly affect your training performance, energy during daily activities, and how you look. Optimal nutrition isn’t as complicated as most people think. The difficult part is being honest with yourself and staying consistent (mindset). Below are a few tips for nutrition:

1.  Learn more about the basic macro-nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

2. Learn how to read food labels to understand serving sizes, calories, etc.

3. In general try and stick with whole clean foods such as lean proteins, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive/coconut oil, yams, sweet potatoes, etc.

4. To begin with, simply evaluate what you are currently consuming on a daily basis and slowly cut out bad habits each week/month and you will notice an improvement. Don’t overdue it and go on some crazy fad diet.

5. Hydrate yourself with water or tea. The sodas, fruit juices and such all have crazy amounts of pointless calories and sugars.

6.  Be consistent but allow yourself some cheat/treat meals. You should aim be 85-90% compliant with your food choices while allowing yourself some room to have cheat/treat meals.

7. Figure out a nutrition lifestyle that works best for you and that you can live with on a day-to-day basis. This is another reason why I strongly disagree with fad diets, cleanses, etc because they are not geared for long term (lifestyle) changes but rather quick fixes that are not likely to be continued after the “diet” or “cleanse” is over.

Fitness Ablaze womenTraining- I am sure everyone knows by now that if we are sedentary we will likely gain weight, gain fat, decrease movement quality, decrease metabolism, and negatively affect our overall health. This is where exercise and a proper training program come into play.

Here at Fitness Ablaze we provide our members with a results based program for all fitness levels. Whether it is semi-private personal training, small group personal training, team training (TFW Hurricanes,bootcamp, or any other group metabolic conditioning ), we program it based on our member’s health and fitness goals. We pride ourselves on over delivering to our Fitness Ablaze Family.

The training is by no means easy. It is challenging but in a progressive manner. We use equipment such as your own body, suspension trainers (TRX), dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbells, sandbags, valslides, Olympic weights, bands, ropes, and more. We program in a way to keep it challenging with different variations while at the same time keeping it fun and interesting. The world class coaching coupled with sound nutrition principles will only lead to a leaner, stronger, more energized version of you.

The process to achieve amazing results in regards to fitness and health may sound simple but it isn’t always easy. It will take work. I personally believe every individual has the ability to take action and exceed their expectations. It just takes a little support and for them to ultimately believe in themselves.

Andrew “Bo” Tinaza co-authored a new book, released September 11, 2014, titled “Rapid Body Makeover”. The book has already reached  ”best selling” status and #1 in several categories. Click here to learn more.

Ablaze Fitness Training Center

2727 Westmoor Ct SW Suite 100, Olympia 98502







Fresh and Fantastic Fall Food

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 11:48am



By Katie Hurley

kale salad recipe

Crunchy, lemony Tuscan Kale Salad is a delicious Fall side dish.

Fall sort of snuck up on me this year. We took a late summer vacation, and after we returned I walked into Bayview Thriftway to replenish my grocery supplies. I was met with pots of mums outside the door and found the produce department loaded with gigantic Washington apples, peaches, and pears and gorgeous bunches of locally grown leafy organic greens. I was giddy when I realized my favorite food season is here!

I love Fall and all of the delicious opportunities to incorporate the seasonal produce into my family’s menus.

The produce departments at Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway are bursting with signs of early fall… giant juicy peaches and Fuji apples from Martin Family Orchards, Washington grown Bartlett pears, leeks and gorgeous bunches different varieties of kale. While the early weeks in September were sunny and gorgeous, those warm days are soon to be few and far between. But while it is still warm, my favorite Tuscan Kale Salad is on the menu at our house. I always make extra, because it tastes even better the second day.

When the weather calls for comfort food, my favorite Bean, Kale and Chevre Soup is frequently in our dinner lineup. Start it a day ahead so the dried beans can soften. The soaking liquid from the beans forms the rich broth for this soup. Paired with a green salad, it makes a great Sunday dinner and leftovers for lunch. Both Bayview and Ralph’s have a good selection of dried beans in their bulk foods section.

fall produce recipes

Spencer is excited to show off all of the varieties of organic kale available this fall at Bayview Thriftway.

Leeks are another fall favorite of ours, and there are many ways to use them in addition to the standard Potato Leek Soup. Grain-free, dairy-free Cauliflower, Leek and Bacon Soup is thick, creamy and satisfying. Leeks are a great way to flavor quiches, soups, stews, roasted meat or vegetables, and can be sautéed and used as a pizza topping or a garnish for grilled steak or fish. Leeks are a key ingredient in my husband’s very favorite recipe, Smoked Sausage Cassoulet. Here are some other great uses for leeks.

Those big, juicy Martin Family Orchards peaches and apples I mentioned earlier are too good to pass up. The Fuji apples, thinly sliced, pair perfectly with Beecher’s Flagship cheese, or any other sharp white cheddar.

Try adding thin apple slices to a grilled sharp cheddar sandwich for a sweet crunch that contrasts nicely with the sharp, melted cheese. The peaches are almost a meal by themselves, and are so sweet they will satisfy almost any sweet tooth. Grilled Pork Chops with Peaches and Pole Beans is a great dish for those nice fall days when you still want to be outside grilling.

For all of the great Fall produce mentioned here and more of what this season has to offer, stop by locally owned Ralph’s or Bayview Thriftway.

fall produce recipe

Delicious crispy Fuji apples from Martin Family Orchards are a Fall favorite.

Bayview Thriftway

516 W. 4th Ave., Olympia



Ralph’s Thriftway

1908 E. 4th Ave., Olympia


Harrison Quadruplets Just Trying To Live Up Their Name at Yelm

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 7:12am



By Gail Wood

dairy queenThey’ve become a familiar scene at Yelm.

There’s grandma, Donna Harrison, sitting on her folding chair, cheering at a Yelm High School tennis match, soccer game or cross-country meet. There’s also mom, Deanna Harrison, cheering.

And, of course, there are the four Harrisons, the quadruplets with game. Cierra plays soccer. Mason runs cross country. Hunter and Cole play tennis.

The four sophomores keep their grandma and parents entertained.

“We’re so lucky,” Donna said as she watched two of her grandsons playing tennis in a recent match. “We’re a busy family. I just love it.”

yelm tennis

Yelm High School sophomores, Cole (left) and Hunter Harrison are turning out for tennis for the first time this year.

Usually, after a game, Donna rounds up her grandkids and takes them to Dairy Queen for a treat.

“The manager at Dairy Queen knows us by name,” Cole said with a smile. “The guy at the window knows my grandma’s voice.”

This isn’t exactly Donna’s first Yelm sporting event she’s attended. Her husband, Roy, was a 1950 Yelm grad and a three-sport star.

“Their grandfather, my husband, was an athlete,” Donna said. “So, I’m used to sitting.”

It’s no wonder Donna and Deana enjoy going to watch the next generation of Harrisons play sports. That next generation was close to not making it. They’re the miracle babies. Premature, they weighed one to two pounds at birth. They were born at 27 weeks, not enough time to fully develop. Deanna’s doctor asked her not to announce her children’s birth because they were so small and he wasn’t sure they’d survive.

But, now, 15 years later, they’re all healthy, living up to the name of being a Harrison.

“Grandma has told stories about Grandpa,” Cole said. “My family has turned out for athletics at Yelm all these years. I’m just trying to follow in their footsteps.”

It was Cole’s idea to turn out for tennis this fall. He asked his brother, Hunter, to join him. But Hunter wasn’t so sure at first.

“I turned out because my dad played tennis in high school,” Cole said. “Then I persuaded my brother to turn out. Two practices later he started up.”

After Cole won his first two matches playing singles, Yelm tennis coach Mike McClellan decided to pair up the Harrison brothers and let them play doubles together.

“We’re loving it,” Cole said. “It’s awesome.”

McClellan figured he’d try the Harrison brothers at No. 2 doubles because they’re “pretty steady hitters.” He was a little worried about how Hunter would respond, but both brothers played aggressively.

yelm tennis

Two of the four Harrison quadruplets are playing tennis for Yelm High School this year.

“I was waiting to see if Hunter would rely too much on his brother,” McClellan said. “So far, it looks pretty good.”

It’s a little too early to be predicting how they’ll finish the season.

“We’re looking at kids who have been playing tennis for three weeks,” McClellan said. “I’m excited they’ve come out. I can’t predict where they’re going to be but if they continue to work this hard we’ll do fine.”

McClellan made one prediction.

“They’re going to have fun,” he said “You can already see that.”

One thing McClellan has learned about coaching tennis is not to over coach.

“You don’t want to go too far and mess with them,” the Yelm coach said. “That’s the way you’re going to serve? That’s going to work. I’ll say we’re going to keep working on this. I’m not going to say we’re going to change your game.”

Cole is 5’8″ and four inches taller than Hunter. But Hunter isn’t worried about it.

“He’s always been taller,” Hunter said with a grin. “I’m used to it.”

While sports have always been an important cog in the Harrison family, it’s not been the focus. It’s grades then sports.

“School first,” Deanna said. “Then sports.”

It works. They all have a 3.8 GPA or better. All of the quadruplets are taking advanced classes including AP world history, honors English, honors biology and advanced calculous together.

yelm tennis

Yelm tennis coach, Mike McClellan, has paired up Cole and Hunter Harrison as his No. 2 doubles team.

“We’re kind of a package deal,” Hunter said with a chuckle.

The fourth generation Tornadoes tag isn’t lost in the Harrison family. They’re proud of it

“It is something I like to brag about,” said Deanna, who grew up in Yakima. “Fourth generation. That’s not something that happens a lot now days.”

At the end of their match against Aberdeen, which Cole and Hunter won, grandma and mom got some sweaty hugs. Then the brothers got some high fives from their siblings. Mason, who ran 10 miles at his cross country workout, made it to watch the last part of his brothers’ match. Cierra also showed up after her soccer practice.

“I try to make it to all their events,” Donna said. “I love it.”

Deanna said, “I’m a proud mom.”


Bonaventure Owner Jeanne Carras Retires, Leaves Legacy in Downtown Olympia

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 6:32am


By Natasha Ashenhurst

Edward Jones Block AdWhen you ask Jeanne Carras why she is retiring, she has a ready answer. She says, “I love my store. I still love what I’m doing. I love my customers, but I love my husband just a wee bit more.

“I’m not retiring because I don’t love this,” she continues.  ”I am retiring on a high note. 2014 was one of Bonaventure’s best years ever. It is simply time for me to move on in my life with my husband.”

She gives this answer all day long to friends and customers as the news leaks out that she is retiring. And, it is a story she told me as we sat and talked over coffee on one of the big comfy couches at Bonaventure.

jeanne carras bonaventure

Jeanne Carras, retiring after 21 years of small business ownership, will be missed by friend and Olympia Downtown Association Executive Director, Connie Lorenz.

It was a decision made after a recent road trip with her husband. “I realized that I didn’t want to wake up at 80 to discover that I didn’t spend enough time with him. A few friends have recently passed and that influenced the decision too. After the trip, we started succession planning. In June, our buyers backed out, but we have a new negotiation under way. My goal is to know my customers will be taken care of and not to leave a hole downtown,” she said.

Longtime friend and Executive Director of the Olympia Downtown Association (ODA), Connie Lorenz, has no doubt that Jeanne will succeed with this goal. She said, “If Jeanne sets her mind to something, she’ll do it.”

Twenty-one years ago, Carras opened the high-end, specialty shoe store she named Bonaventure. “I can remember the first day I opened. I was walking up the hill toward Legion. I felt that I was home, that this is where I belong,” said Carras.

Carras was determined to make Bonaventure a success. She knew the importance of networking, but also was committed to the revitalization of downtown Olympia. She quickly became involved in local business organizations, including the ODA, the Thurston County Chamber and the Economic Development Council (EDC). She has served on the boards of the EDC, was Chair of the Chamber board, and has served on the ODA’s board for 19 years.

Revitalization of Downtown Olympia

jeanne carras bonaventure

Jeanne Carras flips through a scrapbook of memories during her time as a downtown Olympia business owner.

Lorenz says that Carras’s legacy downtown is vast. “In 2001, the ODA lost funding from the City. We needed to replace those dollars quickly. Jeanne came up with the idea of the Fall Ball, our annual auction and dinner dance, which has been going strong ever since. Later, she heard about the concept of a Girl’s Night Out, brought it to the board then did all of the work to set it up. It has been very successful and good for downtown.”

Thurston County Chamber President/CEO, David Schaffert, said, “Jeanne continually led by doing. She saw a need and stepped forward. She brought businesses together through the Fall Ball and Girl’s Night Out. That was how she was with everything in the downtown area. It is Jeanne’s style.”

Mentor to Other Downtown Business Owners

Not only was Carras involved in the revitalization downtown by taking a leadership role, she also served as a mentor to new business owners in the area. Cheryl Selby, the owner of Vivala, was one of those mentored by Carras.

She said, “Jeanne is an inspiration to not just downtown, but retailers everywhere. She mentored me when I opened my store and was always there for encouragement on tough days when you didn’t know if you made the right decision. She is one of the most generous people I know, with knowledge and with her time. It is going to take two people to fill the void she’ll leave behind.”

Advice for Small Business Owners


Jeanne Carras believes in building business based on friendship.

As we sat and talked about Bonaventure, we also talked about what it takes to make it as a small downtown business owner. Carras is generous with her advice.

First, she tells me a story. “I was a very shy girl and attended a private Catholic school. There, they made you stand up to answer questions. I would cry the entire time. When we moved to Olympia, I started at a new school and worked very hard to overcome my shyness, to reinvent myself. Later, as a business owner, when I took on roles that required public speaking, I had a very tough time. However, I worked through it until I felt comfortable. I think in my heart of hearts I am still a shy person, but I am able to push myself out of that shy place.”

Carras is known throughout Olympia as a skilled networker, and it how she built her business, both in gaining loyal customers, but also in building relationships with vendors and physicians who recommend her shoes. She said, “One of my mottos is ‘build a friendship and you’ll build a business.’ When I joined the Chamber, I started building those friendships. In networking, my goal is to never have to tell them what your business is. Your friendships will network your business for you.”

She taught those lessons to those she mentored as well. Selby says, “Jeanne taught me that to succeed as a small business owner, you have to have a passion for people. You have to love your customers.”

Carras agrees, “I love my customers. This store is my friendship machine,” she said.

She also passes on advice she learned from her dad. “My dad taught us many things, but the three most important lessons have been to set goals, avoid debt and give back. My dad taught us to give back to the community. My husband and I may be leaving, but as snowbirds, so we’ll be back. We’ll still shop downtown. I’ll still buy my clothes from Vivala. I’ll shop for nieces and nephews at Captain Little Toy Store.”

“When we return, I want to find some non-profits that I’ll have time to be involved in hands-on – to have the time to give of myself, and to enjoy it.”

Her many friends in Olympia would agree when I say, Jeanne has had an incredible first act. What act two will look like, it is hard to tell, but I do know that she’ll do it with tenacity, style and grace.


Couple Celebrate 40th Anniversary With Redesigned Wedding Ring From Hartley Jewelers

Sat, 09/20/2014 - 7:35am



Submitted by Hartley Jewelers

Peggy and Mike Miller on their wedding day over 40 years ago.

Peggy and Mike Miller on their wedding day over 40 years ago.

“My original wedding ring was just a solitaire,” says Peggy Miller, who recently celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary to husband Mike Miller. “We were only 19 years old and on a shoestring budget.”

Many years ago, Peggy went to a jeweler to see about having her ring redesigned. “I had a vision of what I wanted to do, but they told me it couldn’t be done.”

Miller tucked the idea away and nearly forgot about it.

In recent years, Miller, who is the Director of the Miss Washington Scholarship Organization, worked closely with Hartley Jewelers to create custom rings for pageant winners and supporters.

“Having worked with them on those projects, I knew they always want to make sure they do the right thing for you,” she says, “and to help create what you’re looking for.”

She broached the subject of her wedding ring with Rick Hartley, who quickly came up with ten different sketches of redesigned rings based on what Miller told him she would like to see.

“Rick is so good at seeing someone’s vision and understanding what they’re asking for,” Miller says.

Peggy and Mike Miller worked closely with Hartley Jewelers to transform Peggy's original wedding band into something special for their 40th Anniversary.

Peggy and Mike Miller worked closely with Hartley Jewelers to transform Peggy’s original wedding band into something special for their 40th Anniversary.

She then took the drawings home and showed them to her husband; they both picked the same favorite, and the process of creating a beautiful new one-of-a-kind wedding ring began.

The couples’ original wedding rings both had shafts of wheat incorporated into their designs, significant to Miller who spent time growing up on the wheat farms of her grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the Pullman area of Eastern Washington.

“I spent a lot of time over there as a kid, visiting relatives in the summer,” she says. “It’s like a second home to me.”

Miller’s new ring keeps that wheat motif but expands from one solitaire to a total of 15 sparkling diamonds.

“When my mother-in-law passed away, we inherited her anniversary band,” says Miller. “So all of those diamonds now frame the solitaire, and the additional gold is from that ring, as well.” Hartley Jewelers is often able to repurpose stones and gold from otherwise unused jewelry that may still have important sentimental value. It is an effective way of getting custom jewelry created at a lower cost.

The finished rink was everything Peggy and Mike Miller had hoped for.

The finished rink was everything Peggy and Mike Miller had hoped for.

Miller hoped to keep her original ring as part of the new design. If you turn the new piece over, you can still see the lines of the original band that holds the solitaire running underneath the added swoosh of diamonds swirled by new wheat shafts.

“The diamonds and wheat are laying on top of my original ring,” she says. “That was important to me, to keep that intact.”

Rick Hartley first made a wax mold of the new ring, which Miller instantly loved.

“It was a very easy process,” she says of the custom design. “I was made to feel very comfortable. They don’t ever rush you; they take their time, which I appreciate. They’re just the nicest people and so helpful.”

And seeing the finished ring – slipping it on her wedding finger for the first time?

“It was very emotional,” she says, smiling “It was everything I’d hoped it would be and more.”


Andrew Landers: Local Pastor Follows Call to Career in Music

Sat, 09/20/2014 - 7:25am



By Gale Hemmann

volkswagenYou can say it is Andrew Landers’ calling to touch people through music. Whether it’s playing at a festival or beside a hospital bed, Landers is known for the joy and spiritual sustenance that his songs bring. An acoustic-guitar folk singer and songwriter, Landers is an accomplished musician. In fact, he has recently decided to pursue his passion for music full-time.

In addition to music, Landers is also a full-time pastor and a father of six kids. I caught up with the busy Olympia local to learn more about his music and his upcoming transition.

Andrew Landers: Soul-Stirring Songs for the Real World  

andrew landers

After two decades of combining music and the ministry, Andrew Landers is going after a career in music full-time.

Landers’ music and life are rooted in a deep Christian faith. He has been active in the ministry for over twenty years. He has been a popular pastor at Evergreen Christian Church in Olympia, where he currently serves as Creative Arts Pastor.

He currently plays with the band Andrew Landers and Mainstreet Struggleville. He has released eight albums, and his music has been heard internationally. His band has played many shows and festivals, including at the Seattle Hard Rock Café, to name just one well-known spot. You can view videos of their performances on his YouTube channel and learn more about his music on his ReverbNation page.

Landers identifies his work as American Roots acoustic folk. Listening to one of his original songs, such as “Circle K Song” or the eponymous “Mainstreet Struggleville,” one can clearly hear the simple, emotional resonance that draws people in. I could hear echoes of Landers’ influences David Wilcox, Dave Matthews, and the legendary Johnny Cash. He says the back-up band has a rotating line-up, pulling from a pool of talented musician friends depending on the type of song he’s recording.

Andrew and his wife, Melinda, are also the proud parents of six children (including twins adopted from Sierra Leone). The family moved here from Portland four years ago, and they absolutely love the area. Landers says he likes the town’s laid-back vibe and the way so many locals care about issues that are important to him: this seems a perfect fit for his music and spirit. You can find the family driving around Olympia in Andrew’s beloved 1972 Volkswagen bus.

Landers also plays in musical therapy programs at hospitals and at senior homes. He tells me he especially likes playing for the elderly. “They are at such a powerful point in their life narrative, and it is so great to be able to spend time with them and listen to their stories,” he says. Fans say he has an immensely positive and calming effect on patients. As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu says, “Music in the soul can be heard throughout the universe.”

Answering the Call of the Music

andrew landers

Landers cites his children as an inspiration in his decision to pursue his dream full-time.

For many years, Landers’ career and music have existed side-by-side. Now, with the support of his family and all those who know him, Landers is embarking on pursuing his musical dreams full-tilt. He is planning to leave his full-time position at the church to focus solely on his musical career.

The way he and his family are making this transition happen is through a Kickstarter campaign. They are asking family, friends and community members who have been touched by Landers’ music to consider contributing to helping Landers realize his dream. The funds are earmarked for equipment and business costs for Andrew, and will enable his family to stay in their rental home in Olympia while Andrew travels. The one-year time window funded by the campaign would allow Andrew to get a focused start on his career, and the family is grateful for the support they’ve received so far.

Landers’ work wins raves from both critics and his fan base. The best way to get a sense of its power is to listen to a few songs. There is a presence, a core, in his music that will touch nearly every listener. And he is known for putting on a heartfelt live show. As Rick Palmer, a theater executive, notes, “From the moment the curtain rises, you will encounter a night of music that is both healing and provoking. A masterful storyteller.”

andrew landers

Originally from Portland, the Landers family loves traversing Olympia in their 1972 VW bus.

People who know him say Landers has not just the skill to pull off this dream, but the character to do so as well. Dawn Kero, a ThurstonTalk reader, says of him, “Andrew Landers is one of a kind – very compassionate, loving, funny, and a devoted father.”

In fact, it is Landers’ kids that are part of his inspiration for this journey. He says he realized he wanted to teach them to follow their dreams and pursue what they are passionate about in life.

So how will Landers spend the year? Totally immersed in music, he says. He will be “knocking on every door,” building networking connections in the music industry, playing shows, and seeking as much music-related business as he can. After two decades of sharing his music with others, he will finally have the time to see how far he can go with it.

Landers notes he’s been developing in a niche in writing special songs for events and advertising jingles. As long as he’s writing music and supporting his family, Landers is happy. He says this year would “give him a runway.” Clearly, this talented musician is ready to run.

How You Can Support Mainstreet Struggleville

andrew landers

Landers hopes to bring his contemplative, soul-stirring musical style to even bigger audiences.

To learn more about Landers’ project, you can check out his Kickstarter page. On the page, you’ll find moving video by Andrew and Melinda about the project and their mutual belief in Andrew’s future potential as a musician.

In talking with Landers and listening to his lyrics, you can definitely hear the sound of something big. It brings to mind a quote by one of Landers’ muses, Dave Matthews: “Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.” With the support of his family and the community behind him, Andrew Landers is poised to do just that.

To learn more about Mainstreet Struggleville and find upcoming show dates, visit their website or follow them on Facebook. You can also follow Andrew Landers on Twitter at @msstruggleville.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 7:28am



Fall was truly in the air this week.  And although the official first day of the autumn season isn’t until Monday, September 22, I could feel it in the cool of the mornings and evenings.  This weekend, though, sees us returning to temperatures over 80 degrees.  My family will be squeezing every last moment of fun out of these final three days of summer and I hope yours will too. And, luckily, the calendar is still full of great things to do and see – check out the highlights below. To see everything that’s going on, visit our full events calendar or navigate to our outdoor activities section for tons of ideas on how to soak up that last bit of sun.

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.


YouthBuild: Building Skills and Strength in Thurston County Youth

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 6:44am



By Barb Lally

greene realtySkipping class, dropping out, hanging out in the street. Low self-esteem, no positive personal vision, no one to help. It is a recipe for a dismal future for youth who have fallen through the cracks from lack of support and guidance in school and in life.

Change all that to earning a high school diploma, hands-on training in the construction trades, earning a paycheck and receiving guidance from dedicated mentors that encourages a youth’s best qualities.


YouthBuild Program Director Sarah Wilkins with participant Diamonique at her graduation.

It is a transformation that is possible with YouthBuild, a program that has made a difference for nearly 180 of Thurston County’s young people ages 17 to 20 since the program began here in 2009.

Community Youth Services of Thurston County partners locally with New Market Skills Center to run YouthBuild helping youth who haven’t made it in the traditional school system find purpose for their education as well as real-life training in the construction trades that helps develop their job skills

But even greater, the program builds in its students—those aging out of foster care, low-income youth or those with disabilities, youth offenders, children of an incarcerated parent or migrant youth—a greater capacity to believe in themselves.

“I am fueled by being an adult in YouthBuilders’ lives who tells them they can achieve anything and that someone does believe in their capabilities,” says Sarah Wilkins, the program director for the YouthBuild Program. “We help them change the things they tell themselves into positive, life-giving messages.”

Sarah’s staff of five others with two construction instructors, a program supervisor and two case workers are all inspired by a passion for their mission.

“It is beyond a paycheck for the staff,” says Sarah about her team. “It is about helping individuals reach their full potential.”

Diamonique in the Rough

youth build

Diamonique has landed her first job and received praise for her work ethic.

Diamonique was a street-involved youth in California who lost her mother at the age of 12 and became the caretaker for her younger brother. She and her brother moved often seeking a place where they could be taken care of. Unfortunately, the places she found were usually surrounded by bad neighborhoods where she got into her own trouble with the law trying to survive.

Eventually, Diamonique moved to Washington to be with extended family, but she did not do well in school, fighting regularly and often skipping class.

Diamonique’s probation officer connected her with YouthBuild and it transformed her life.

“Her old habits were hard to overcome,” says Wilkins. “But when faced with a tough choice, she chose to be honest and open, and started the YouthBuild program with a real commitment.”

Diamonique has since earned her high school diploma and just secured her first job, a full-time, permanent position at Target. She is already being praised at the local store for her immediate success in a company promotion.

When asked today about her vision for the future, she is quick to reply, “I want to train to be a juvenile counselor because I know what it takes to get real help and I want to do that for others.”

Andre Gets a New Vision

Instead of attending school, Andre would hang out with friends or find other things that actually interested him.


Andre excelled at Youthbuild’s construction work and now wants to start his own company.

Once in YouthBuild’s program he excelled at the construction work with an impeccable work ethic and he challenged himself to rethink everything he knew to be true, including his history as a student who didn’t go to school.

“Through YouthBuild, Andre realized that though he had never thought of himself as a person that could do big things, or even finish high school, he now believes he is capable and aspires to go to college, something he never thought was possible,” says Wilkins.

Today, Andre is successfully working in an apprenticeship program in the construction trades.

“YouthBuild helped me become a teachable problem solver who works well with others,” says Andre who is now saving his earnings to open his own construction company.

The Program

The program begins with Mental Toughness, an intensive three-week orientation including team building, basic construction lessons, and academic assessment—all to determine if the applicants are a fit for the program.

Once accepted in the program, YouthBuild students participate in a half day of academics, taught by New Market staff. The other half of the day is spent on construction projects. All of it helps them earn credits towards their high school diploma.

YouthBuild construction projects include helping local non-profits like South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity and Homes First! remodel and build homes for low-income families, providing students with experience while making a difference in the community.

The second phase of the program is critical because it is a year of working with the students to help them implement all they have learned from the work accomplished in their first year.

“YouthBuild truly works because the students invest and make it work,” says Wilkins. “The program gives our students the opportunity to reclaim the power in their lives, not just temporarily in the YouthBuild program, but for a lifetime.”

For more information about YouthBuild, click here.


Debra Daniels Offers Insurance Advice When Moving to a New Home or Apartment

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 6:27am



olympia insuranceLet’s face it, moving to a new home or apartment can be daunting.  No matter what the circumstances behind the transition, things get forgotten, overlooked, and left until the last minute.

The seasoned professionals at the Debra Daniels Insurance Agency are a wealth of information for times just like these.  One tip Debbie shared was simple: call your insurance agent.  While it’s not mandatory to do so ahead of time, she suggests reaching out 30 days before the actual move.  A few minutes on the phone can insure your homeowners or renters policy transitions smoothly from one onto the next.

New policy seekers are also able to get a free quote online and rental policies are usually only a few dollars a month.  By chatting in person or on the phone, the agent can ascertain the best possible policy to protect your residence, belongings, and peace of mind.  Should problems arise, as they often do, you can file a claim via their State Farm website as well.

With more than 20 years of experience, Debbie and her State Farm team are a tremendous source of knowledge.  As a life-long resident of Western Washington, she knows what to expect when you may not.  Office hours are from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. but they’re willing to stay late with convenient after hours appointments as needed.

Moves are like Christmas; we make a list and check it twice – twice an hour, more often than not.  Give yourself a break and check something simple off your list by calling Debbie and her staff as soon as possible.

The Debbie Daniels Insurance Agency can be found at 8765 Tallon Lane NE, Lacey, two blocks pass Costco on Martin Way;  or by calling 360-493-8284.  Look for the most current tips, advice, and frequently asked questions on their Facebook page as well; you can never have too much good information!


Olympia Family Theater Presents Busytown

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 2:43pm


Submitted by Olympia Family Theater Produced with permission from Plays for Young Audiences.  Dinea de Photo

OFT’s Lowly puppet was designed and created by Jamie Jenson. Photo Credit: Dinea de Photo

Busytown is always buzzing with activity. Just like the beloved and busy books of Richard Scarry, Busytown the Musical gets at the question on everyone’s mind: “What do people do all day?”

That’s where Huckle Cat comes in—he’ll take us on a tour of his great neighborhood while Huckle’s best friend Lowly the Worm has his own adventure. Not over the river and through the woods but rather; to the post office, hospital, airport, aboard Captain Salty’s pirate-y ship, and on a railroad journey with the help of the audience and Train the Dog, until finally reaching Grandma’s house. This musical radiates with simple, silly joy while bringing to life the impossible physics and interspecies harmony of Richard Scarry’s world. In this bustling musical, your favorite Busytown characters will sing and dance the answer, as we follow Huckle the Cat and Lowly through the winding maze of bakers, farmers, grocers, police officers, fire fighters, cars and trucks and things that go, and so much more! The busyness starts September 26. This musical is recommended for 3 & up. Special Dates:
  • Thursday Oct. 2 at 7pm Thrifty Thursdays  (Pay What You Can Tickets available day of show at box office starting at 1pm, cash or check only)
  • Friday Oct. 3 from 5-9pm No Show! Fall Arts Walk Preview Party & Kid Disco
Single tickets are available from our website.  Full and Partial Season Subscriptions also available. Ticket Prices:
  • Adults: $19.00
  • Senior/Student/Military: $16.00
  • Kids (Under 12): $13.00

Capital’s Payton McGuin Leads By Actions and Encouraging Words

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 2:23pm



By Gail Wood

little caesars logoPayton McGuin was surprised by the teammate’s compliment and didn’t know what to say.

Her teammate had called her an inspiration.

“I don’t really think of myself in that way,” said McGuin, a senior and team captain on Capital High School’s girls cross-country team. “I just feel like I’m on the team.”

She’s a modest leader. McGuin and Lauren Pierson, Capital’s top two returning runners off a team that placed second in state last year, are the Cougars team captains. With that title comes responsibility. They can’t just be self-absorbed, focused only on their times.

capital cross country

Capital High School senior, Payton McGuin, is called an inspiration by her teammates.

“They’re both amazing,” said Lauren Frasier, a sophomore at Capital who is turning out for cross country for the first time. “They really help. They’re always making sure we’re doing good and they’re always encouraging you.”

McGuin has reinvented herself as a runner since she first turned out for cross country as a sophomore. After growing up playing basketball, McGuin got her first taste of running her freshman year when she turned out for track.

“I ran sprints,” McGuin said.

On the advice of her coach, Kevin Wright, she ran a “distance” event – the 400 meters. Showing promise – she ran it in 62 seconds – she showed up at cross country practice that fall. And she discovered that running, which is usually punishment in other sports when you do something wrong, was actually fun.

“She’s not a super star in anything,” said Wright, who is also Capital’s girls cross country coach. “But she’s great in everything.”

Whether that’s in the classroom, where McGuin has a 3.7 GPA, or turning out for cross country or track, McGuin has a give-it-your-best-shot approach. That attitude is why McGuin knocked a minute off her time her sophomore year. And it’s why she’s grown into being Capital’s No. 2 runner this season. She was her team’s No. 5 runner last year on a team that placed third in state for the second year in a row.

capital cross country

Cross country runners from Capital High School and Olympia High School join together before the Capital Invite race this month.

“Last year, as a junior, you could see that she was way tougher,” Wright said. “Way stronger. Way more confident in herself.”

By her junior year, McGuin had made a startling discovery. She could finish a race keeping a fast pace.

But despite all her success, McGuin nearly didn’t turn out for cross country this season. That’s because her mother, Sheri, died of an illness in August at age 51. With some prodding by her coach and teammates, McGuin showed up for the first day of practice. She’s found being around friends, laughing and talking with them, working hard at a workout, pushing herself in practice, setting goals and trying to make it to state again to be good medicine.

“For me, at first it was a little hard for me to turn out,” McGuin said. “But it’s been really helpful. It helps a lot.”

McGuin’s heart, her hard work at practice, her encouraging words to teammates, are even more inspirational for her teammates under the circumstances.

While McGuin gets satisfaction from dropping her times, getting a personal best in a 3.2-mile race, it’s doesn’t trump the experience of being on a team.

“That’s the one thing I really like about the Capital team,” McGuin said. “Your own times are important, but in the big scheme of things it is nice to be able to encourage your team and have that team push you and be behind you.”

McGuin isn’t just the encourager. She’s also the encouraged.  “If you’re having a bad race, there’s going to be somebody on the course cheering for you,” she said.

capital cross country

Payton McGuin, wearing #4232, lines up at the starting line for the Capital Invite cross country race.

McGuin and Pierson are the veteran returners for the Cougars.  After finishing third last year at state as a team and after McGuin finished 25th, the expectations are big for this season as Capital has 18 runners returning and there are 40 turning out.

But McGuin isn’t getting caught up with this having to be her best ever season. She’s not obsessed with dropping her times, and she’s not fretting about great expectations.

“For me, this season is more about just enjoying it,” McGuin said. “I’m still going to try to do my best and get PRs. But for me it’s just making sure I have a good time.”

At the recent Capital Invite, which drew 38 schools and an all-time high of 1,500 runners, McGuin and her teammates were on target. The Capital girls had a number of top 10 finishers. In the girls freshman race, Sarah Paquet placed 10th with a time of 15:37, just behind Olympia’s Ariel Wilhite, who placed ninth in 15:33. Mountain View’s Savanna Craig won in 14:05.

In the girls senior race, Pierson finished fourth in 13:57, just 16 seconds out of first place. Henry Jackson’s Brooke Kingma won in 13:41. McGuin placed 11th with a time of 15:05.

On the boys side, North Thurston’s Peter Allegre had the area’s fastest time as he placed second in the junior race with a time of 11:58. Olympia’s Kyle Rapacz placed third in the boys senior race with a time of 12:11 and teammate Ben Parke was sixth in 12:24. North Thurston’s Tyler Reece was seventh in 12:27.

Northwest Christian’s Luke Schilter won the boys sophomore race in 12:03 and Tumwater’s Evan Groat finished fifth in 12:53.


Olympia’s Gingerbread Village coming to Downtown for the Holidays 2014

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 2:05pm



Submitted by Mary Ann Thompson

gingerbread house photoBack by popular demand is the Gingerbread House Extravaganza.  In Cooperation with Olympia Downtown Association, Washington Center for the Performing Arts and SideWalk – the houses are back!

This year’s gingerbread cottages and castles will be on display at the newly renovated Washington Center for Performing Arts as part of the “Downtown for the Holidays” celebration on November 29 and 30.

Your visit to the Gingerbread Village this year will benefit SideWalk of Olympia.  SideWalk is a successful grassroots organization with a mission to end homelessness in Thurston County. The proceeds from this event will help 100 homeless adults find housing and the support needed to stay off the streets.

Have some fun by becoming a baker, contractor, and architect all at once.  You can even eat your mistakes! Register now to build a house.

You can sponsor a cottage or castle and feature your business as a prominent part of the village as well

Call Kelly Thompson at 360-402-9999  or email to register and answer your questions.

Northwest Christian High School Announces Changes for the 2014-2015 School Year

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 1:49pm



Submitted by Northwest Christian High School

NCHS Hall chatNorthwest Christian High School has had another successful start to the school year and staff and students alike are excited by the many changes for 2014-2015.  Highlighted below are some examples of the progressive, rigorous and in-depth educational advances happening at NCHS.

AP Courses and STEM: New Advanced Placement (AP) courses in biology, chemistry, math, and US history. We are planning more STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related course work as well. Read an in-depth review of STEM offerings here.

Concurrent Credits Available: Did you know that NCHS offers classes that not only earn credits toward a student’s high school diploma, but also credits at Northwest Nazarene University? Your student could graduate from NCHS with a diploma and a transcript from NNU to apply to nearly any college they choose to attend.

College Scholarships: Beginning with the graduating Class of 2015, Northwest Nazarene University is offering a scholarship established at $5,000 per year for every year a student attends NCHS full time between grades 9 and 12. The student must also graduate from NCHS with a cumulative 3.0 GPA and be in good academic standing at the time of graduation.

Grand Canyon University: Northwest Christian students who are accepted to attend GCU will receive a $5,000 (on-campus housing) or $2,500 (off-campus housing) scholarship at GCU per year for each year of attendance at NCHS (students must also meet the eligibility requirements).
Both of these scholarships could save students up to $20,000 on college tuition over the course of four years.

Career Center: To equip our students to reach their God-given potential, NCHS is in the process of researching, developing, and implementing a Career Center that will help students NCHS COmputer studentsidentify their talents/calling and assist them to establish a career path. We will also work with them to strengthen ACT & SAT skills by offering training, support, and practice exams. Stay tuned for more information about our new innovative career center—especially in the area of financial planning and potential scholarships for college.

Robotics Club: Dr. Norm Neilsen is forming a new robotics club at NCHS. Dr. Nielsen taught robotics last year and is expanding his teaching to a new innovative robotics club this school year.

New Staff members: NCHS welcomes several new teachers this year. National board certified teacher Mrs. Michelle Whittaker joins regional science teacher of the year Dr. Norm Nielsen in our science department. Mrs. Whittaker is a published scientist with several years of successful teaching and industry experience.

Mr. Josh Burdick is teaching Bible and Public Speaking this year at NCHS. Mr. Burdick holds a Master’s degree in Theology and a Master’s degree in Strategic Communication from Liberty University in Virginia. Mrs. Lauren Hendrickson is teaching an array of subjects including English and Academic Proficiency. Mrs. Hendrickson earned her degree in English and History from Seattle Pacific University. Our new technology teacher Pam Summers is a graduate of Humboldt State University in Computer Science and spent over a decade in industry as a successful computer programmer and consultant.

You can learn more about Northwest Christian High School in Lacey at our website or feel free to call us at (360) 491-2966.

TCTV Opens High Definition Studio

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 1:41pm



Submitted by Thurston Community Television

Thurston Community Television (TCTV) has spent the past six months renovating and upgrading the community media center it operates in Thurston County.  A state-of-the-art High Definition television studio is now available for use by community members to make video programs that are aired on the TCTV channels and shared through the Internet.   The new facility will be unveiled to the community during an open house on Saturday, September 27, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

“We’re very excited about the opportunities this new facility offers,“ says Deborah Vinsel, TCTV CEO.   “Our community can now create beautiful high definition video programs in our studio.  The graphics (titles and credits) are beautiful.   We can stream programming from the studio directly onto the Internet and import media from web services (like SKYPE) to include participants from other places.  It’s an exceptional facility and it’s available to anyone who wants to become a member and take our classes. “

The TCTV studio is located at 440 Yauger Way SW, Suite C, Olympia, in the same building as Comcast Cable on Olympia’s west side.   There are lots of hands-on activities planned for the September 27 Open House.  Attendees can take a tour, make an animation, shoot a video message, or record a voice-over to name a few.  There will also be refreshments and door prizes.  At 3:00 PM there will be a brief program in the studio to officially re-dedicate the facility.

TCTV has been managing the public, educational, and governmental cable access channels and production facilities since 1986.   The resources are made possible through service contracts between TCTV and Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County.   TCTV services include video production training classes, studio and editing facilities, and portable equipment that can be checked-out by TCTV members.  Membership is open to any individual, nonprofit organization, government agency or school.   Members have access to low-cost classes and can gain unlimited access to the equipment and facilities by paying a small annual fee.

Programming created through the TCTV facilities is seen on four local cable channels on the Comcast Cable system in greater Thurston County and on three channels on Fairpoint Cable system serving the area around Yelm.    More than 20,000 hours of programming is scheduled by TCTV on these channels each year.  Programming is also available through the TCTV website,

TCTV is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

Saint Martin’s University Fosters Student Exchange between Washington and Brazil

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 1:35pm


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

brazil exchange studentsSaint Martin’s University will be hosting an international conference designed to promote student exchange for the first time between Washington and Brazil.

“The Washington State and Rio de Janeiro Conference on U.S. and Brazilian Student Exchange” will be held November 17-21, during International Education Week, on the University’s Lacey campus.

The conference is being planned in response to President Barack Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” signature education initiative that was launched in January. The goal of 100,000 Strong is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000, as well as boosting the number of Latin American and Caribbean students studying in the U.S. to 100,000.

“By 2060, the  population in the Americas is projected to be greater than that of China, and more deeply linked to the U.S. by trade, culture and family ties than any other region,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Department of State when 100,000 Strong was introduced. “Against this future landscape, 100,000 Strong will deepen relationships across the hemisphere, enabling young people to understand and navigate the rich tapestry of shared values and culture, and lead the process of greater commercial and social integration that is key to our region’s long-term security and prosperity.”

The Brazilian government has also launched an initiative to send its students to higher-education institutions in the U.S. to study for STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) professions. Saint Martin’s has been hosting its first cohort of 28 Brazilian students since last summer as a result of the STEM initiative and through the Institute of International Education and the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. The BSMP provides scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students from Brazil for study in the STEM fields at colleges and universities in the U.S.

“I’m pleased that the conference is finally happening,” says Josephine Yung, vice president of International Programs and Development at Saint Martin’s.  “The outcomes of the conference will undoubtedly strengthen the social, economic and cultural ties between our two regions.  Active student exchanges with our neighboring countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are long overdue.”

“Presently, the number of Washington students studying abroad in Brazil is very low. Similarly, the number of Brazilian students studying at Washington State higher educational institutions is equally low,” Yung says. “We hope our conference will change that.”

Representatives from 11 Brazilian universities so far plan to attend the conference. To date, delegates from 15 Washington state colleges and universities plan to attend, including Pacific Lutheran University, Seattle Pacific University, University of Puget Sound, University of Washington Bothell, University of Washington Tacoma, Western Washington University and The Evergreen State College. The state’s two-year colleges have also been invited to be part in the conference.

Brazilian dignitaries who plan to attend the conference include Cristina Russi, professor at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, and president of a network of 11 universities of Rio de Janeiro known as REARI-RJ; Pedro Augusto Leite Costa, honorary consul of Brazil in Seattle, and Marco Aurello M. Casimiro, chief advisor for international cooperation for the Executive Office of the Governor of Rio de Janeiro.

State Sen. Karen Fraser, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and Schuyler Hoss, director of International Relations and Protocol for Washington, will be among the Washington dignitaries attending the event.

“The conference will provide an opportunity for representatives from both regions to learn about each other’s institutions and to discuss the possibility of establishing student exchange partnerships,” says Yung.

During the conference, government representatives from the states of Washington and Rio de Janeiro will be invited to sign a “State-to-State Student Exchange” agreement to cement the fostering of the Washington/Brazilian student exchange and educational cooperation between higher educational institutions of both regions.

The conference will kick off with a presentation about the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program by representatives from the BSMP and the Institute of International Education.

Other activities and events to be held during the conference include panel discussions addressing topics such as understanding Brazilian culture; understanding U.S. academics; how to address limited Portuguese language skills for students studying in Brazil and opportunities in Brazil for faculty-led, study abroad programs.

In addition, a Washington universities expo will be held during the conference, as well as a presentation by REARI-RJ.


Nicaraguan-Native Dana Creswell Starts a Swing Dancing Club at Olympia High School

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 7:30am



By Tali Haller

dairy queenEvery Tuesday and Sunday, the Eagles Ballroom hosts a Swing Dancing Night, where adventurous Olympians come and lose themselves in the 1920’s-like atmosphere of lively music and old-fashioned spins, dips, and two-steps.

The evening starts with a quick Beginning Swing Dance Lesson at 7:00 p.m., hosted by Christine Corey, with dancing following from 7:30 – 10:30pm.

swing dancing olympia

Always a fan of dancing, Dana plans to start a swing dancing club at Olympia High School.

Dana Creswell, a senior at Olympia High School and a regular at the Eagles Ballroom, hopes to grow the youth attendance at these events by starting a swing dancing club. “I absolutely love swing dancing,” Dana exclaimed. “It’s a part of America’s culture that many teens aren’t familiar with. I think it will be fun to show people what real dancing is like. Plus, when people recognize how fun this type of dancing can be, it might help with some of the inappropriate dancing at Homecoming and Prom.” A

lready she’s been talking with the Eagles Ballroom staff, who plan to cut the club a group deal from the regular $5 admission since they want to increase the number of young people who attend.

Along with the actual nights of swing dancing, the OHS club will also practice dancing together during the Wednesday morning “school club” hours. “Hopefully the club will host our own dances as fundraisers,” said Dana. But recognizing that the club isn’t officially formed yet, she doesn’t want to get too far ahead. Instead, she’s leaving the intense brainstorming to club meetings where all the members can contribute ideas.

Fortunately for the club, Dana has plenty of experience with event planning and organizing dances. As of this year, she is officially one of three hosts who run non-school-related dances for the students in the greater Olympia area.

dana creswell

Dana moved to Olympia, Washington when she was 13 and fell in love with the independence this country has to offer.

She first got into the dances her sophomore year. “I thought they were super fun and it was great to see everyone from school come out and let loose a little,” she said. This past year, as a junior, she helped the two previous hosts run the music, even DJ-ing on stage from time to time. When it came time for the previous hosts to pass down the responsibility of running the dances, Dana was an obvious choice.

“My main job is to make all the arrangements: I book the venue, handle the money, greet people at the door, etc.” explained Dana. Not only is she making a nice profit (admission is $5 to $7 depending on the venue), she’s also acquiring a myriad of skills, ranging from managing a small business to customer service and public relations – all while having fun among friends. Read about one of the other hosts, Levi Bisonn, who handles the technology, lights, and sound here.

Dana’s love for dancing stems from her rich cultural history. Born and raised in Nicaragua, Dana moved to Olympia just over four years ago when her family relocated. “Nicaragua and the United States have very different cultures,” she said. “One of my favorite things about the States is being independent. Down in Nicaragua, I would never be able to drive my own car, have my own job, or be able to spend time by myself. It’s very dangerous there so you spend every single second of your life with somebody, whether it’s your maid, your parents, or your friends.”

Coming from a well-off family, she often felt as though she was treated as royalty. “We had drivers, maids, guards, and you never did anything by yourself or for yourself. If you were hungry, someone would cook for you. But the difference between the classes was ginormous. Some people had houses that were washed down by the rain each year because they didn’t have the materials to build a sustainable home,” Dana explained.

dana creswell

Dana (middle) still makes the occasional trip to her home country Nicaragua.

All of this has contributed to her outlook on life today. “I feel like some people complain too much about their conditions and they don’t realize how lucky they are. My family used to be very poor. We used to live in this tiny little house together and struggled to make ends meet. I never had toys when I was little. I remember I used to go out and play with the lime tree, or the sticks, or the rocks. You just had to make do with what you had. But that’s all you knew so you were perfectly fine,” Dana emphasized.

Despite the constant threat of violence, Nicaraguans manage to be some of the happiest people Dana has ever come across. “Down there, people will just pop on some music, put out a lawn chair, and sit outside without a worry in the world,” she said with a smile. “The thing I absolutely hate about here is how stressed out everyone seems to be. It’s almost like you feel guilty if you’re not doing something, if you’re not working for money or going for a run.”

Although Dana wasn’t born in America, she’s quickly adopted our “always-busy” attitude. Aside from running the dances and starting a swing dancing club, Dana is on the Budd Bay Rugby Team, maintains a rigorous academic schedule, and holds down a part-time job with the Department of Revenue. Working as an office assistant, Dana writes up fraud reports and does other secretarial tasks. What’s more, this job is preparation for a future in which she plans to be an accountant. “Accounting is definitely not my biggest passion but I definitely enjoy doing it,” said Dana. “I’ve always had this urge to organize things – even though on the outside, I may seem like a messy person (just look at my room) – and accounting satisfies that feeling. Plus I like being precise and I like money,” she said with a smile.

With all these activities, Dana is extremely busy. But rather than complain, she immediately sought out a solution, one that may even seem overly simple: she bought a planner. “It’s the planner and sleep that I owe my sanity to,” she confessed with a laugh.


Thrifty Thurston Eats Out (On the Cheap) with Kids

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 7:20am



By Megan Conklin

duncan sponsorAs the parents of four small, but decidedly hungry children, my husband and I make the decision to take the family out to dinner very rarely. In addition to the incendiary chaos my brood tends to bring to any dining establishment, it is usually too expensive.

But there are those nights. The ones where I feel compelled to leave home at night simply to avoid my inevitable laundry “situation.” The ones where the idea of other people preparing and serving food to my family, and cleaning up afterwards, feels almost too good to be true.

Fortunately, here in Thurston County we have a variety of delightful restaurants that cater to families by hosting either a “kids eat free” or a “kids eat cheap” night during the week.  Check out the following five, super kid friendly eateries.  A few are ones my family has enjoyed of late and a few are ones we hope to try soon.


cheap family restaurant olympia

The wood fire in Farrelli’s pizza ovens has been burning continuously for over sixteen years.

Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza – Kids eat free on Mondays with every $10 spent by a paying adult.

While our kids were already big fans of Farrelli’s Thursday night Balloon Man (he can craft an Ariel from The Little Mermaid that will blow your mind), their Monday night’s Kids Eat Free event was new to us.  The added benefit of the Monday night deal are the pizza artisans who venture out from behind the ovens to help kids toss and shape their own do-it-yourself pies.  The wood fire pizza oven at Farrelli’s on Yelm Highway has literally been burning for 16 years. It doesn’t go out – ever. And they have used the coals from this same, original fire to light the pizza ovens at their additional six locations around Western Washington. Farrelli’s Monday night extravaganza was very entertaining and interactive – well worth the time and money spent.

Peppers Mexican Restaurant – Kids Eat free on Sundays (one kid meal for each adult meal purchased).

Peppers is a locally owned Mexican restaurant that has been an institution in Olympia for many years. Peppers has always been our family’s go to take-out and delivery option – we virtually lived on their food throughout the course of our kitchen remodel a few years ago. But, what we didn’t know was that, at Peppers, kids eat free every Sunday evening with the purchase of an adult entrée item. This offer is dine in only, but the amazing salsa bar – that my children manage to visit at least twenty times throughout the course of the meal – makes the dine in experience more than worth it.

The Mayan – Kids eat for $1.49 on Tuesdays and Sundays.

cheap family restaurant olympia

Kids and The Mayan Mexican Restaurant go together like rice and beans.

When my family visited the Mayan for their “Kids Eat for $1.49” Tuesday night special, we received exceptional service and didn’t even get dirty looks when my boys made several trips to the candy/toy machines at the front of the restaurant. While this is not a true kid freebie night, The Mayan’s “kids eat cheap” night proved to be even less expensive that most “kids eat free” options. This was due to the fact that any number of children can eat for $1.49 at the Mayan on Tuesday and Sunday nights.  Most establishments have a one free kid meal to one adult meal ratio, which works well for families with two adults and two children, but not as well for larger families, like ours. My kids loved The Mayan’s “Little Amigos” menu choices and we had very few leftovers to tote home.

Dickey’s BBQ – Kids eat free on Sundays (one kid meal for each adult meal purchased) – Free Ice Cream Every Day!

If your family has a hankerin’ for BBQ, Dickey’s in West Olympia is the place to go. Dickey’s has a plethora of tasty food options such as pulled pork, beef brisket, and ribs. The many traditional BBQ side dishes like coleslaw, mac-n-cheese, beans, and fried okra round out an indulgent and comforting family meal. In addition to feeding kids for free on Sundays, Dickey’s serves free ice cream with meals every day.

The Ram – Kids eat for $1 per adult entrée ordered on Mondays.

If your family is having a case of The Mondays, try the kids eat for a dollar menu available at The Ram in Lacey.  The options are plentiful and the atmosphere casual and fun. Additionally, The Ram has a Kids’ Birthday Club for youngsters and a monthly drawing that your youngsters can enter to win a free bike.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.


Body and Mind: How Massage Connects Both

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 6:00am



olympia massage

Relax and escape to paradise during a massage at In Touch Therapy.

Does it ever feel like your mind and body are in a state of disconnect? Founder and Clinic Director of Olympia’s In Touch Therapy, Kenton Stuth, says this is a common problem that many people experience. “The body speaks to the mind using two languages: pain and pleasure,” says Stuth.

If you’ve just been in a bad accident, your mind and body may not be as trusting of one another as they were previously. Enter In Touch Therapy. Stuth and his experienced team of massage therapists work hard to bring the mind and body back together so that the body can start trusting the mind, and you can start feeling like yourself again.

So how exactly does massage therapy repair this state of disconnect? “During massage we work on a muscle group or a specific muscle and put it in a slightly painful, yet controlled, position,” says Stuth. “Because the position is controlled, the body knows it’s safe. This then forces the brain to pause what it’s doing so that it can correspond with that muscle,” he explains.

“The brain is busy with other stuff. It’s not thinking about a specific muscle or organ,” says Stuth. But, by applying controlled pain to a muscle or muscle group, the brain is forced to acknowledge the activated muscle. Stuth says that this is where the mind and body start to come back together again. “We force the brain to connect to a muscle. Once the mind acknowledges that muscle, it starts thinking of ways to make it better,” he explains.

Stuth calls this the mind taking the body on a date. “The disconnect between the mind and body is like a bad relationship. The body wants to have a good relationship with the mind, so the mind has to start taking the body out on dates. After a while, the body starts to trust the mind again,” Stuth says.

In Touch Therapy can help connect the mind and body through facilitating recovery, providing clients with simple exercises to try at home, and working with the client’s health care provider. “Once we get the body back into a nice balanced structure, the body will intuitively start to heal and repair itself,” says Stuth. Sometimes the mind and body just need a little nudge in the right direction.

For more information about the restorative powers of massage therapy, visit In Touch Therapy’s website here, or contact In Touch Therapy’s Office Coordinator, Shannon Monahan, at 360-866-8940, to schedule an appointment.


Bake Bread with Pat Hains at Her Olympia Farmstead

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 7:37am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

van dorm sponsorFor Pat Hains, life revolves around bread. Step into the kitchen of her farmstead in south Olympia, and you’ll be embraced by the warm aromas of classic baguettes browning in the oven. Inhale once and you’re ready to eat. Inhale twice and you’ll never want to leave.

Bread is one of the simple miracles of life. It’s mostly flour and water, but baking bread is an art. Hains, a bread artist, owns and operates Hains House, a bed and breakfast, where those miracles happen. Learn how to cook pizza in the outside wood fired oven or why soaking towels in a bowl in the bottom of your oven are essential to creating the golden-domed crusts.

bread cooking class

Pat Hains bakes bread at her south Olympia farmstead.

Settle into one of four bedrooms, such as the Llama Room, which overlooks the backfields. If you imagine stepping into a page of Country Living, you’re getting close.

The cooking class that Hains took in Italy not only inspired her baking, but also opened her eyes to the value of restoring her home with its country charm intact. Instead of gutting the house to make way for an ultra modern design, she kept much of the original wood flooring and lathe and plaster, updated elements and reinforced the rustic comfort. Now it’s a homey abode.

Hains, who finds traveling the world to her liking, took an extended trip to Weinheim (near Heidelberg), Germany. She attended the Akademie des deutschen Bäckerhandwerk. It was “the most amazing experience of my life time,” exclaims Hains. Fourteen people from eleven countries made 300 bread recipes in two months.

Now you can reap the benefits of her education during a weekend of bread baking where you will get up to your elbows in at least nine different kinds. Possibilities include 100% whole wheat, sourdough, bagels, pretzel, brioche, rustic with walnuts and cranberries or savory with rosemary and garlic, sweet dough and traditional baguettes. You will make friends with the wood fired oven in the back yard. However, don’t expect to linger over coffee in the dining room – you’ll be too busy baking for too much relaxing. That will have to happen on another weekend.

Hains House makes a peaceful retreat or a marvelous place for a party, reception or other event. Daughter Sally Henry is the Event Planner and can tell you all about the barn and surrounding property. How about hosting a family pizza making party? Now that would be a memorable birthday.

hains houseLooking for a casual wedding in a barn? Overnight guests will enjoy a full breakfast with eggs, seasonal fruit, potatoes, roasted vegetables, sausage and the favored lemon scones. And, you’ll have time with Pat Hains.

For a woman that works full time for the State of Washington, runs a bed and breakfast, works part time as a baker at Mom’s Bakery, raises chickens, has fields to mow and property to manage, I’d think she’d be crazy.

But spending time with Pat Hains over a cup of iced tea and a plate of bread was soothing. She told me, “I’m having fun.” I believe her. She also told me that all the people that come to visit are “really nice and really fun.” You, too, can partake of these simple miracles.

Visit the website by clicking here or call 360-791-8928 for more information. Hains House is also listed at airbnb.

olympia cooking class

Stop in for a bread making class or spend the night at the B&B.

Hains House

2525 Beaver Creek Drive SW

Olympia, WA 98512