Recent local blog posts

Garden to Gourmet Brings ‘Wow’ Factor to Yelm Dining

Thurston Talk - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 6:31am



By Heidi Smith

putnam lieb logoThe first time some people walk into Garden to Gourmet, they start stuttering. “You see in their eyes that they’re kind of stunned,” says Patrick Leblanc, the cafe’s manager. “The complex outside is pretty drab and generic, but when you open this door, there’s a whole new world in here. That ‘wow’ feeling is what I want people to have.”

Since opening at the end of 2014, the restaurant has been rapidly transitioning from Yelm’s best kept secret to a destination spot for both former urbanites longing for a touch of fine dining and locals who care about where their meals come from. Leblanc believes that the ‘wow’ factor is an appreciation of three characteristics rarely found in small rural town eateries: transparency, artistry and an emphasis on fresh, local food.

yelm restaurant

Garden to Gourmet manager Patrick Leblanc and his crew emphasize fresh, local and seasonal sources for all of their meals.

“Transparency is one of our big values,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons it’s an open kitchen concept where you can actually see the action, see what we’re doing. We’re not secretly putting in MSG on the side.” Chef Daniel Juarez adds, “We take that very seriously.” The open kitchen allows customers to feel good about what they’re eating, he says, because they can literally see where it came from.

Where it came from is often right down the road. “I prefer dealing with people directly,” says Leblanc. “I have owners delivering chicken here that they butchered two days before, and they’re fifteen miles away.” Taking the extra time to find local sources for everything from meat and eggs to produce and paper products is worth it, he says. “Where do I invest my money? Let’s help this community by where I put my dollars.”

Juarez says using fresh, local ingredients keeps him inspired to “see what I can do for the health and well-being” of everyone who comes through the door.

yelm restaurant

The open concept kitchen allows customers to literally see what goes into their meals.

Customers appreciate that level of dedication. “Patrick, Daniel, and the crew consistently blow me away with their dishes,” says Andrew Wright, a videographer who moved to Yelm from the San Francisco Bay Area ten years ago. “We’ve really been missing a good sit-down, hangout restaurant with top-quality, freshly prepared meals – nothing frozen, nothing packaged.” Renee Webb maintains it’s the quality, and taste of the food along with the ambiance that make her a regular customer.

Part of that ambiance is the artistry Leblanc referred to. “The plating is very important,” he explains. “Let’s do this with taste. It’s not just slapping food on a plate and giving it to you, it’s actually a little work of art. It’s all tied together with the environment.” Most restaurants in his price range ($10 – $14 a plate) don’t take the time to add those extra touches, he says.

Both Leblanc and Juarez have backgrounds in the food industry. Juarez trained under Virginia Dalbeck, runner-up on season two of the reality show Hell’s Kitchen and co-owner of the famous Cork & Pig Tavern in Texas. “That lady was a mentor to me. She taught me how to make everything from scratch, how to make your own vinaigrettes, your own sausage,” he says. “If you want customers to come back, you do it right.”

yelm restaurant

Chef Daniel Juarez (left) and manager Patrick Leblanc share a passion for healthy food and artistry.

Leblanc started out running nature programs for kids. “I would have them for three or four days. Guess who the cook was?” he laughs. “I would create menus that were not hot dogs and hamburgers. For example, the pizza had a mountain of vegetables on it.” After eight hours in the woods with all kinds of activities, “Sure enough, the kids ate everything,” he says. “At that moment, I knew that I loved cooking.”

He spent a few years as a line cook but upon moving to Washington State, switched to the construction industry for fifteen years. During a lull in 2013, he took a business planning class through the Thurston Economic Development Council and re-examined his passion for healthy food. Garden to Gourmet was born, with help from a small team of investors.

Although the restaurant is still in its beginning stages, Leblanc has big dreams for its potential impact down the road. “I would love to see the Garden to Gourmet model envelop little towns, not big cities,” he says. “A cafe can become a hub of showing that your food does not only come on a Styrofoam plate from a grocery store. There’s somebody behind it, and he’s probably your neighbor. If you pay him good money, that’s just going to bring money back to the community.”

In the meantime, locals appreciate the unique value the cafe brings to Yelm. “I love having a place where I can hang out for an hour, or two, or three while enjoying a coffee, a wonderful meal, and getting some work done either online or in person,” says Wright. “The environment is warm and comfortable, the internet is fast, and the food is fantastic. There really isn’t anywhere else in Yelm that offers that combination.”

yelm restaurant

Leblanc prepares a morning coffee for one of his regular customers.

Garden to Gourmet

9144 Burnett Rd SE #A-101

Yelm, WA 98597



Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Closed on Tuesday

Olympia High School’s Boys Swim Team Wins Academic State Championship Award

Thurston Talk - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 6:26am



By Gail Wood

providence medical group sponsorShow Mel Smith a good swimmer and he’ll show you a good student.

In his 38 years as a swim coach, Smith has found that the two go hand-in-hand. That was true of his Olympia High School’s boys swim team this season.

olympia swimming

As his boys swim team prepares for state, Coach Mel Smith shares exciting news about the team’s academic accomplishments.

With a line-up of “A” students, Smith’s team has won the academic state championship for 4A boys swimming. He figured his team’s combined GPA (which includes 13 varsity swimmers) had a combined 3.842 GPA, tops in the state for their classification. All 13 of those swimmers had a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

“My experience in coaching, and this is year 38, is that the athletes who come out for swimming tend to have a degree of commitment, which carries over to their studies because they only have so much time to do everything,” Smith said.

Two of Smith’s swimmers had perfect 4.0 GPAs. And four had 3.9s.

“That’s pretty solid,” said Smith, who didn’t want to name the 4.0 students because he didn’t want to embarrass them with recognition.

Besides the A grades in the classroom, Olympia also graded pretty well in the pool, too. Olympia placed sixth at the recent 4A West Central District III championships with 163 points.

Olympia qualified two relays and one individual for the state meet, which begins Friday at Federal Way’s King County Aquatic Center. Olympia’s Andrew Wright is going to state in two events. The junior and now three-time state qualifier won the 200 individual medley at districts with a 2:00.04 and was second in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:02.2, giving the Bears their top two finishes at district.

Olympia’s 200 medley relay placed fourth and the Bears’ 200 freestyle relay placed sixth with a 1:34.4, qualifying both relays for state.

olympia swimming

The Bears listen to their coach talk as they prepare for more laps. The Bears find time to swim laps and get the grades.

Like his teammates, Wright has the right stuff in the pool and in the classroom.

“If they’re like Andrew Wright, who is swimming three mornings with his club and then five afternoons with his high school team, you don’t have a lot of time to do a lot of stuff,” Smith said.

It’s the first time the Olympia boys team has won the state’s 4A academic championship. The Bears girls team won the academic title in back-to-back years beginning in 2009. Smith said the key to good grades is simple. A student has to stay focused, on task.

“You need to make sure when the teacher tells you in the last 12 minutes of class to do homework a lot of kids just start shooting the breeze and doing whatever,” Smith said. “I think most swimmers crack open that book for the last 12 minutes, so that’s 12 minutes they don’t have to give up in the evening.”

Procrastinating, putting homework off, is a contradiction to good grades.

At the start of the season, Smith talks to his teams about being accountable academically.

“We sit down with the kids right at the beginning of the season and we talk about not letting your team down and not letting yourself down by not being as prepared for school as we want you to be in the pool,” Smith said.

Smith also gave Olympia School District a high five for their high academic standards for athletes. To be eligible, a student-athlete has to be passing in all their classes.

“You have one failing grade and you’re ineligible to compete,” Smith said. “Which is a higher standard than even WIAA.”

Smith agreed that sports in general teaches students to push themselves. It teaches them discipline. In swimming, to get better you have to push yourself, you have to work hard at practice, doing lap after lap. The same principle applies in the classroom, Smith said. To get better grades, you have to study harder. There are no short cuts – in swimming or in academics.

“Turning out for swimming definitely does teach you discipline,” the Olympia coach said. “It also teaches you time management.”

But the Olympia coach said his team’s good grades go beyond the occasional reminders about grades.

“I think it’s good parenting,” Smith said. “It starts in the home.”


Jeremy Jay “Red Primary Afternoon”

K Records - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 12:33am
The real Jeremy Jay revealed: uninhibited, unrestrained, snappy, punchy, and always with an impeccable sense of style.   K Song of the Day: Jeremy Jay “Red Primary Afternoon”, from  Abandoned Apartments [KLP247]. The Jeremy Jay album Abandoned Apartments [KLP247] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Free Tax Services Available to Help Thurston County Residents Claim Their Full Refunds

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 5:41pm



Submitted by Thurston Asset Building Coalition

Workers could overlook important federal tax credits because they simply don’t know about them. They could miss out on up to $6,143 extra in their federal income tax refunds through the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC and as much as $1,000 per qualifying child for the Child Tax Credit or CTC.

“This money can make a real difference to workers and even lift someone out of poverty,” said Schelli Slaughter, Executive Director of the Family Support Center and Chair of the Thurston Asset Building Coalition. The Thurston Asset Building Coalition is partnering with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program to offer free tax preparation services to low- and moderate-income individuals and families at seven sites throughout Thurston County. There, individuals can get free help determining their EITC and CTC eligibility and claiming the credits.

The EITC is a refundable tax credit available to qualifying lower-wage workers and their families. Workers earning less than about $48,000 from wages, self-employment or farming in 2014 could qualify. Many people will qualify for the first time this year due to changes in their income, their marital status or parental status, according to the IRS. But the IRS estimates only four out of five eligible workers currently claim their EITC. The CTC is available to workers with children earning more than $3,000. A qualifying child must be under age 17. The EITC is one of the nation’s largest and most effective anti-poverty programs. In 2013, the EITC and CTC lifted more than 9 million people out of poverty, half of them children.

The Thurston Asset Building Coalition is a network of more than 60 social service providers, businesses, government agencies, health care agencies, economic and community developers, faith communities, funders, and financial institutions. “We are promoting these services because we want everyone who is eligible to take advantage of these tax credits,” said Slaughter. “Thanks to our many partner agencies and trained and certified volunteer tax counselors, we plan on assisting more than 2,000 people with their taxes this year.”

The Thurston Asset Building Coalition fosters strong partnerships to improve opportunities for people with limited incomes by coordinating information sharing, peer learning, improved referrals, greater awareness about community resources, and collaborative partnerships. United Way of Thurston County, Thurston County Food Bank, Enterprise for Equity, Department of Commerce, Timberland Regional Library, and AARP Foundation are just a few of the organizations involved in our free tax assistance outreach partnership.

The services are available at the following days, times and locations: Lacey Timberland Library, Thursday and Sundays, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Lacey Senior Center, Tuesdays and Thursdays; 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Olympia Community Center, Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Panorama, Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Rochester Community Center, by appointment, call (360) 273-6375; Tumwater Timberland Library, Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.; and the Yelm Adult Community Center, Fridays, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Services are first come first served and the waiting list can fill up quickly.

Those with incomes under $60,000 can also access free tax preparation services online at and search “free tax preparation.” Those interested in having their taxes prepared should bring income documents from all jobs worked throughout the year as well as their social security number and a valid photo ID.

A family’s tax refund also offers a chance to put some money into savings. To help families looking to save their tax refund for a rainy day, TABC also encourages those without bank accounts to sign up for a free or low-cost checking account to expedite their returns and encourage savings (more information at

For more information, call (360) 529-5281. You can also visit Thurston Asset Building Coalition’s website at

Lake Abiquiu

Judith Baumann - Play - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 4:31pm

For Memorial Day, the Tamarind Adventure Club went swimming at Lake Abiquiu, near Ghost Ranch. The lake is man made, and is one of the few lakes in New Mexico that allows motorized boating. The weather was gorgeous, the lake was calm, and the water was the perfect temperature.






Seattle Culinary Arts Academy

This past week’s RBB adventure was to the oldest culinary arts school west of the Mississippi:  Seattle Central College Culinary Arts Academy.  We were treated to a private dining area and wonderful food.  Everyone raved about their choice…AND everything was so beautiful!

Sara, SPSCC videographer, came along on the trip to film this adventure.

Thanks, Sara!

Categories: Local Environment

Saint Martin’s University to Host High School Students for Engineering Awareness Day

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 1:10pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

saint martins engineering

Engineering Awareness Day is hosted by Saint Martin’s University on February 26.

Without the innovations of engineers, our lives would be missing such crucial necessities as clean drinking water, solid infrastructure and refrigeration.

“Engineers are the unsung heroes of a world where technological advances are taken for granted,” says Richard Beer, Ph.D., interim dean of The Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering at Saint Martin’s University. “Engineering is now overshadowed by its own success and people often don’t realize anymore how much their quality of life is impacted by the inventiveness of those in the engineering field – but with technological advances also comes societal responsibility.”

That’s the message the dean wants to underscore for high-school students when they attend the University’s Engineering Awareness Day on Thursday, Feb. 26, on the Lacey campus. Students from River Ridge High School, Pope John Paul II High School and Timberline High School, as well as students from Olympia, Capital and Northwest Christian high schools, will be welcomed at 9:00 a.m. inside the new Father Richard Cebula, O.S.B. Hall. Cebula Hall, which houses the engineering program, gained national attention recently when it became the highest-rated, LEED-certified building in the Western Hemisphere after it was granted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Engineering Awareness Day is part of this year’s annual Engineers Week, or EWeek, founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers to ensure a diverse, well-educated, future engineering workforce by increasing the understanding of technology careers through various events designed for schools, businesses and community groups.

“Saint Martin’s University is committed to enhancing college aspirations among students, particularly those within our local region,” says Beer. “Engineering Awareness Day will inspire young minds and highlight a path toward high-caliber civil and mechanical engineering programs designed for the 21st century.”

During their visit to Cebula Hall, the high school students will be able to visit several classrooms to observe a series of demonstrations, presentations and discussions by faculty and engineering students on different aspects of engineering. These will include mechanical engineering senior design projects; various bridge designs; energy conservation; environmental engineering and the testing of engineering materials.

Beer will address the students with a talk on “What is Engineering?”

Liz Colon & Katie Sisson – Two Athletes, One Team, A Shared Dream

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 9:51am



Submitted by Chris Jenkins

north thurston volleyball

Katie Sisson (left) and Liz Colon are seniors at North Thurston High School. Both athletes will be playing college volleyball in the fall.

What does it take for high school athletes to break into the ranks of collegiate athletics? How about two athletes from the same team? Two volleyball players from North Thurston High School have the answer.

Elizabeth (“Liz”) Colón recently accepted the top merit scholarship and an athletic scholarship to play volleyball for Saint Martin’s University. Katie Sisson committed to play volleyball for Whitman College after receiving a generous financial aid package.

Is it a coincidence that two players from the same high school volleyball program broke into the college ranks? Not at all. In fact it was expected that both would achieve their dreams because their paths have been remarkably similar.

Katie and Liz have both been playing volleyball for years. Though only sophomores at the time, both were on the NTHS squad that made the historic run to the final round of the State tournament in 2012. And both finished their high school careers in the Elite Eight of the State tournament, bringing the 7th place trophy home to North Thurston.

That is just the first of many similarities.

Both Katie and Liz also play club volleyball. At times they were on the same team playing for the same coach. Other years they were across the net from each other playing on different teams with different clubs. Either way they were learning more about the game, perfecting their technique, and improving their volleyball skills.

“Playing club is a unique experience,” relates Liz. “Some club teams travel extensively to play in national qualifier tournaments. This gives you the opportunity to play against teams from all over. I’ve played against teams from Hawaii, California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and as far away as Texas because they all come to the national qualifiers.”

“It can be humbling sometimes,” adds Katie. “Some of these travelling teams are so tall, it’s hard to believe they’re in high school. But you learn a lot.”

Both of these college bound athletes also attended college volleyball camps during the summers. “Attending a resident volleyball camp is the best way to get a feel for what playing in college is like,” says Katie. “You live in the dorms, you eat the cafeteria food, you get up early and play volleyball all day. You break for dinner then go back to the gym to play some more. The college coaches are right there giving you world class feedback. The college players are also running the camp, so you can talk to them about what college and college sports are like.”

“I knew early on that I wanted to play volleyball in college,” adds Liz, “and my college camp experiences helped to reinforce that goal.”

It should be no surprise that physical fitness also played a major role in the success of these two athletes. “Volleyball at this level is physically demanding,” says Katie. “You’re a student first and foremost so that means you study and go to class just like everyone else. But you’re also in the gym practicing, sometime until 9:30 at night or later. During the season you’re also playing in tournaments so that means getting up very early if travel is involved.”

“Insanely early,” adds Liz. “If the tournament is in Everett and coach wants you there at 7:00 a.m. because the first match is at 8:00 a.m., well you do the math.”

katie sisson volleyball

North Thurston High School senior, Katie Sisson, signs her letter of intent to play volleyball at Whitman College. Her parents, Ron and Heather Sisson, look on. Photo credit: Chris Jenkins.

Katie adds, “If you don’t take care of yourself, your body will break down under that work load.”

That’s why it’s easy to find Katie and Liz in the gym working on strength and stamina training. In fact, both of them have been given rigorous work out regimes by their future college coaches because both are expected to report to campus next fall in the best shape of their lives.

Jokes Liz, “You might assume that it’s time to relax now that I’m a senior and have signed, but it’s just the opposite. I’ve got to put in some major hours at the gym between now and when I report.”

Whitman expects the same from Katie. Although she is already very strong with an insane vertical, her future coach wants her jumping higher and hitting harder when she reports. So Katie will be “more of a gym rat than I already am” between now and next fall.

“There was never any doubt in my mind that Katie and Liz would play in college,” says Jacqueline Meyer, Head Coach of the North Thurston volleyball program. “Both of these young ladies are committed to the point of being relentless. They both show up for every practice and every match ready to play.”

Coach Meyer goes on to say, “What I am most proud of is that they are team players. They know that volleyball is a team sport, and that you succeed when your team works as one unit. When you watch Ram volleyball, you’ll see that when one member of the team makes a great play, the team celebrates together. There is no ‘me’ with these girls, Ram volleyball is team volleyball.”

“But when the team is struggling, for whatever reason, I could always count on Katie and Liz to rally their teammates,” says Coach Meyer. “We came from behind to win several critical matches because these girls never give up. They are fighters and their grit and determination is infectious. That’s what I love and admire about them the most.”

The harsh reality is that the majority of high school athletes never break through to the next level. Too many good athletes with the talent and ability to play in college never get seen because college coaches and recruiters don’t have enough time to go to every tournament or watch every video clip of game highlights. In fact, just 6.2% of high school volleyball athletes in the 2013-2014 school year actually went on to play women’s volleyball in college, according to

Katie and Liz both understood that it was up to them to aggressively market themselves to prospective coaches.

“I was so impressed with Katie’s organization,” says her mother Heather. “She developed a spreadsheet to keep track of the coaches she contacted, when they would come to see her play, what additional information they requested.” Katie’s father Ron adds, “I’m not sure she realizes it, but she utilized classic project management tools to achieve her goal.”

north thurston volleyball

Coach Jacqueline Meyer is proud of the hard work and dedication devoted to academics and athletics by Liz Colon and Katie Sisson.

Liz’s father agrees. Rafael Colón works with professional sports programs on a daily basis. “Head coaches are insanely busy,” says Rafael. “Recruiting is only part of what they do, so it’s up to the athlete to provide them the information they want when they want it. Liz was on top of the process every step of the way, and that is why she was ready to sign her National Letter of Intent in November.”

Since both athletes had multiple choices, how did they select which college to attend? Once again, Liz and Katie are on the same sheet of music.

“I love the Saint Martin’s campus, it’s so beautiful” says Liz. “And I know that Coach Peterson will push me to become a better player.” Although Liz considered other prestigious schools in the area, Saint Martin’s was always at the top of her list because of its strong academics, small size, and close proximity to home.

Katie echoes those comments. “Whitman and Walla Walla are gorgeous, and I really connected with Coach Helm. I had other offers, but after visiting Whitman I just knew that’s where I wanted to go. When their offer came through I literally jumped up and down screaming.”

Now that they have achieved their goals, what advice do these two college bound players have for young athletes hoping to play in college? Again they are in sync. “Listen to your coach,” says Katie, as Liz nods in agreement. “Push yourself, play at the highest level, even if it means getting beat,” says Liz. “That’s right,” adds Katie. “You get better by playing against good athletes and good teams.”

Katie adds, “Work out and eat right because college athletes are bigger and stronger.”

“That’s right,” says Liz. “Take care of your body because injuries can derail even the best athlete.”

Katie insists, “Above all, keep your grades up. If you don’t have the grades, some doors won’t be open for you.”

“School comes first,” adds Liz. “If you want to play in college, you first have to be accepted. Strong academics are also important because college coaches want to know that a recruit will also be successful as a student.”

Sound advice from two North Thurston volleyball players who set goals, focused like laser beams on the objective, and achieved their dreams.

As their focus switches to playing in college, have they considered the inevitable? Although Saint Martin’s and Whitman are in different conferences, they will play each other in non-conference tournaments. That means that these former teammates, who have played together for so long, will soon be facing each other across the net as members of different teams.

“Can’t wait,” says Liz. “Go Saints!”

“Bring it on,” adds Katie. “Whitman rules!”

Tiny (Carbon) Footprint Communities

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 9:19am
Event:  Thu, 02/26/2015 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm

From today's inbox:

Tiny (Carbon) Footprint Communities
With Julie Rodwell
Thursday, February 26
6:30 – 8:30 pm, refreshments served at 6:30
Eastside Urban Farm & Garden Center
Upstairs Meeting Hall
2326 4th Ave E, Olympia
Please note new meeting location.

NWEBG member Julie Rodwell, will  talk about her forthcoming book: Tiny Footprints: Housing Ourselves Sustainably as We Grow and the Land Shrinks. 

Julie's theme is that part of our construction to accommodate growth and displaced people and businesses should be in new Tiny Carbon Footprint communities. In these places, just by living there, individual carbon footprints are much smaller. Such communities could be nestled in special areas inside city limits, or they could be on brand-new sites.

Tiny Footprint Communities are an essential, urgent part of the solution to the climate crisis. 

Julie F. Rodwell was born and educated in the U.K. (economics and urban planning).  She’s lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years. Her career has been spent in transportation and policy and includes aviation, bus, Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) and rail public transportation, national policy, freight mobility, and pipeline safety. She’s the author of two nationally-published books (one on aviation and the other on raw food.)

 She’s a founding member of Winslow Cohousing on Bainbridge Island (the first cohousing in North America) and served on its Board during the construction phase.

The upstairs meeting hall is not handicapped accessible. If you are interested in this presentation but are unable to climb the stairs, please contact Julie Rodwell at for info about upcoming presentations.

Questions? Contact Donna at 360-280-9413 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Timberland Regional Library Kicks Off Family Read & Sing Aloud Events

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 7:34am



Submitted by Timberland Regional Library

Nestled comfortably between two literary birthdays – a dual homage to Dr. Seuss (March 2) and Beverly Cleary (April 12) – Timberland Regional Library’s Family Read & Sing Aloud returns with a robust line-up of programs.

Families, teachers and child-care providers may pick up program materials at any Timberland library beginning Monday, March 2, enter a drawing for prizes, and start reading and singing in every nook and cranny of homes, classrooms and day care centers. Each library will draw a winner for a backpack filled with books.

“It’s no coincidence that we open the Read & Sing Aloud celebration with the birthday of Dr. Seuss and close on the birthday of Beverly Cleary. Characters from books written by these beloved authors have become part of cherished childhood memories for generations,” TRL’s Youth Services Coordinator Ellen Duffy said.

According to experts, singing not only helps with builds vocabulary, it helps develop spatial reasoning, pattern recognition and problem solving. Nancy Stewart, creator of “Sing with Our Kids” writes, “Simply singing with a child connects neural pathways, and increases the ability to retain information. Music builds a strong sense of rhythm, which leads to a better ability to understand and produce language.”

All programs at Timberland libraries are free and open to the public. Special thanks to the Friends of the Library groups in all five counties for the providing hundreds of books for this program.


Thurston County

Lacey Timberland Library

Thursday, April 2, 10:30-11 a.m., Bi-lingual Story Time: Spanish

Tuesday, April 7, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Egg Hunt

Thursday, April 9, 10:30-11 a.m., Bi-lingual Story Time: French

Thursday, April 9, 2-2:45 p.m., Book-It Theatre’s “STAT: Standing Tall and Talented”

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian


Olympia Timberland Library

Thursday, March 5, 10:15-11:10 a.m., Story Time with Nikki McClure

Saturday, March 7, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., PAWS to R.E.A.D.

Thursday, March 12, 10:15-11 a.m., The Chicken and the Dog Story Time

Thursday, March 25, 10:15-11 a.m., Sing Aloud with Caspar Babypants

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian


Tenino Timberland Library

Wednesday, March 11, 3-5 p.m., Dr Seuss Birthday Party

Tuesday, March 31, 4-6 p.m., Family Movie @ the Library

March 17-21, Read & Sing Guessing Jar

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian


Tumwater Timberland Library

Monday, March 2, 6-6:45 p.m., Stuffed Animal Sing-along Sleepover

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian


Yelm Timberland Library

Thursday, April 9, 11 a.m.-noon, Jeff Evans: Reading Magic

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian

WLFN Survey: Yakima Valley Farmers! Go Local!

Olympia Food Coop - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 6:55am

Hi folks,

We've been asked to participate in a survey by some local farmers to help them plan their crops and and their marketing.

It takes less than ten minutes and will provide great information for small independent Latino farmers in the Yakima Valley -- let's help them out!

The WLFN (Washington Latino Farmers Network), is a non-profit organization that is comprised of first-generation farmers in Yakima Valley, WA, who are exploring how they can build ongoing retail relationships with consumers in Western WA. This work is being funded by several grants from the USDA small farmers program. Click on the link to take the survey!

Thank You for your valuable input!

WLFN Survey Click Here

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Adopt-A-Pet – Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 6:36am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet

dog adoptionPretzel is a Chihuahua and possibly Terrier mix, about one year old.

Pretzel came to us a little cautious of new places and new people but he is quickly becoming a more confident and playful boy.

We are sure that with more socialization, he will continue to blossom. Pretzel enjoys playing with other dogs.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to join our crew.

Adopt-A-Pet dog shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton at or contact us at or (360) 432-3091.

Olympia School District Players Marks 20th Annual Show This Weekend

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 6:00am



By Laurie O’Brien

olympia furnitureDave Rorem almost has a perfect record. Except for 2009, the year he broke his pelvis in a bike accident and had to sit out, the veteran teacher has always participated as a member of the Olympia School District Players annual musical production. This year will mark the Players’ twentieth show and Rorem’s nineteenth. “I’m a little crazy, maybe,” he says. “I did the first one and just enjoyed it. Year after year, I just keep saying, yeah, let’s do it!”

He’s not alone. Every year, up to 80 OSD staff members and their family members participate as part of the Players. For some, it’s a chance to dust off their dancing shoes or stretch rusty singing muscles. For others, it’s a way to step outside their comfort zone – something they ask their students to do all the time. Still others use it as an opportunity to spend quality time with family members, doing an activity they all love. And for all, it’s a chance to have fun and learn on the stage.

osd players

Tiffany Braford (left) was motivated to participate in this year’s Olympia School District Players performance after receiving a letter from Dave Rorem.

Kathy Dorgan, the theater director at Olympia High School, has directed half of the Players’ 20 shows and serves as director for this year’s production, Magical Moments. The musical review will feature numbers from all past shows including Beauty and the Beast, Bye Bye Birdie, Peter Pan, and Guys and Dolls.

“We audition either in December (for a complicated show) or in January right after winter break,” explains Dorgan. The musical director for the show teaches a song to everyone who wants to participate. Then individuals are invited to sing alone if they want to be considered for a lead.

Rorem, who teaches at Washington Middle School, says that he didn’t have a performing background before his first OSD show, but now after so many years, he’s comfortable putting himself out there. He’s been rewarded with some fun parts, too. “I always say, put me wherever you want me.” Then when the cast list comes out, it’s always a nice surprise. A few years ago he played the Cat in the Hat in Sesusical, the Musical, and he’s had featured roles in a number of other shows.

“Sometimes people have a picture of a teacher in this box,” says Rorem. “But we have other lives,” he insists. Stepping outside that box and letting his students see him in a different role is important to him. Participation in the annual musical is one way he can do that.

osd players

The OSD Players is a family affair for the Anders family (from left Kate, Molly and Jennifer).

Tiffany Braford decided to participate this year after receiving a letter from Rorem, inviting other teachers to take part. A first year teacher at Hansen Elementary, Braford has been a musician and performer since she was a young child. She is thrilled that the Players gives her an opportunity to continue pursuing the activities she enjoyed when she was a student. “I don’t have to grow up,” she says with glee. “Plus, I’m getting to meet people I never would have otherwise. The networking aspect is great.”

For the Anders family being part of the OSD players is a family affair. Magical Moments will be the eleventh production for them. 14-year-old Molly was only three when she first appeared in Once Upon a Mattress.

“It has turned into a fun family tradition that we really look forward to,” says Jennifer Anders, a teacher at L.P. Brown Elementary. As a result of their Players’ experience, both Molly and her sister Kate, who is two years older, now participate in theater year round and both credit acting with helping them overcome shyness. “Their confidence and ability to work with adults and other kids … it’s given them a certain comfort level,” says their mother.

osd players

Julia Marzell, Simone Scolaro, Allison Temple and Lily Halvorson are all children of OSD employees. They all are participating in this year’s OSD Players’ Production.

Dorgan believes the rapport the OSD Players develop is important. “They meet people from all over the district. We’ve had teachers, principals, superintendents, support staff. Everyone is equal on the stage, and (they) get to know each other in a fun way,” she says.

“A play needs everyone working together to create an ensemble and put on a show. I think everyone gets a sense of being a part of something bigger than any one person. I also think performers and technicians gain confidence. You never know what you can do until you do it.”

The OSD Players, a theatrical group of teachers, staff, and students from the Olympia School District will perform Magical Moments at Olympia High School’s Performing Arts Center, February 19-22. Featuring hits from 20 years of fantastic musicals, this is definitely a performance that is sure to please audience members of all ages!

The OSD Players musical has been an annual event since 1993; since 2005 all proceeds from the play benefit the Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF). The Foundation is a non-profit IRS 501(c)(3) organization whose programs include classroom and tutoring grants, emergency funding for student needs, and outdoor education.

Tickets for the show are on sale now at Seat Yourself. Performance times are as follows:

Thursday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 22 at 2:00 p.m.


Pine Hill Haints “Lady Bug”

K Records - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:37am
The sound of the saw gets me weeping every time. This is Pine Hill Haints in their melancholy mood.   K Song of the Day: Pine Hill Haints “Lady Bug” from their The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] album. The Pine Hill Haints album The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] is […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Hiking the backcountry, BLM style

Judith Baumann - Play - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 6:48pm

On August 23, the Tamarind Adventure Club enjoyed its very first daring adventure: searching for a trail that I’m still pretty sure doesn’t actually exist, encountering wild horses, hiking into the BLM backcountry on a dirt road followed by a truck with rifles sticking out its window, climbing a gorgeous sandstone mesa in the scorching heat, and then getting the car stuck in the densest, reddest mud for what felt like an entire afternoon. These images document the beauty of that hike, complete with two lovely photogenic pooches.

What you unfortunately can’t see are the beautiful friendships being formed behind the lens.


















Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Judith Baumann - Play - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 7:27am

Back in August, before classes started, I drove down the Salt Missions Trail Scenic Byway through the middle of New Mexico. After six months of traversing the state, this route remains my favorite, and in my opinion, the most beautiful by far.  The Salt Missions Trail leads to the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, a sprawling circuit of three historical ruins 30 miles apart. This was an amazing initial immersion into the history of New Mexico, its first peoples, and their encounters with Spanish Missionaries beginning in the 17th century. That’s a lot of history. The three sites, Quarai, Abo, and Gran Quivira each have their own unique history, stories, peoples and architecture. I cannot recommend this monument enough. On that day in August, I was the only person at each of these monuments. The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument cemented my love affair with the beautiful state of New Mexico.

Gran Quivira is the most impressive of the three sites; well worth the extra 25 miles it tacks onto your visit (if approaching from the north). I visited this site first, arriving just as the morning sun was becoming hot enough to cause droplets of sweat to bead on my forehead. The adobe and rock used at this site was white, and against the color of sage and blue sky, the short walk up a hill to the ruin was awe inspiring.















The next site was Abo, and as a Pacific Northwesterner trying to shoot in late summer Southwest sun for the first time, the color is somewhat washed out. Abo was the most brilliant red of the three ruins; truly a site to behold.








Quarai is the smallest of the three ruins, and the mission that is most intact. Portions of this site were semi-rebuilt in the 1800s by later settlers in the area.








The Back Door Bakery: Lacey’s Cake and Pie Shangri-la

Thurston Talk - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 6:24am



By Kelli Samson

back door bakery

Alison Kloft’s family and customers send her their photographs of the interesting back doors they see on their travels, and she adds them to her gallery wall.

Let us begin with a question nearly as important as blood type, political affiliation, or how you like your eggs: are you a cake person or a pie person?

Got your answer? Good.

It was really a trick question. Either way, Alison Kloft’s bakery in Lacey has you covered.

The Back Door Bakery is for lovers of handmade desserts crafted with real butter, eggs, and lots of sugar. It’s for the sweet tooth that is ever-craving satisfaction. It’s for the people that miss the pies their grandmothers used to make or the birthday cakes their moms would bake.

Yes, whichever way your dessert loyalties lean, this dessert shop is for you.

The Back Door Bakery is for people who don’t bake, but need to bring a dessert to an event. It’s for couples looking for a treat after a well-earned date night and for students who want to study somewhere much more enticing than the library, as this dessert destination is open until 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. On Monday nights they close early.

As a little girl going to the grocery store, Kloft recalls, “I was the kid who would stand and watch the ladies decorate the cakes. In the town where I grew up, there was a shop that sold cake by the slice.” The foundation was set.

She went to college in Oregon, then, naturally, to culinary school. It was there that she met her husband. “We’re very much into food,” she chuckles. The couple now has four children.

Kloft began decorating cakes at Larry’s Markets in Seattle years ago. “That’s where I learned my primary decorating skills. A lot that I do here is a throw-back to what I learned back then,” she explains.

While she was a new mother living in Texas, she and a friend started the Back Door Bakery, baking breads that they would deliver to customers’ doors weekly.

back door bakery

The Back Door Bakery has a “Frequent Slicer Card,” which entitles the holder to a free slice of cake or pie after the purchase of nine.

Not long after Kloft and her family moved back to the Pacific Northwest, she opened her spacious, light-filled brick and mortar location, but dropped breads from the menu in favor of her true passions, cakes and pies.

Doing what she loves most gives Kloft the flexibility to be a successful working mother. Her hours reflect this. After getting her kids off to school in the morning, she comes in before the 11:00 a.m. opening to bake and prepare for the day. She closes on weekdays from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., which enables her to pick up her children from school. She then heads back to the bakery after her kids’ bedtime, staying until her 10:00 p.m. closing and, often, beyond. The bakery is closed on Sundays.

Kloft did this dance primarily solo for nearly a year after the Back Door Bakery’s November 2013 opening. She had a little help from friends and family who volunteered “mainly just to do the dishes and help prep,” acknowledges Kloft. She gets a little more time with her family now that she has hired an employee and also has an intern.

Employee Kiana Diaz “has pushed my custom cakes further than I ever would have gone on my own because she has a really great artistic talent,” relates Kloft. Intern Emily McGregor is just finishing up culinary school.

On any given day, Kloft has a wide variety of gorgeous cakes on domed stands. The Back Door Bakery also boasts little mini-pies, called “Cutie Pies,” which come in traditional and cream flavors.

The chocolate peanut butter cake is probably the best cake I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve tasted more than my fair share. I can also vouch for her 50/50 cake, which is a vanilla cake with orange curd sandwiched between the layers. Her cakes are eye-poppingly pleasant to behold, delightfully moist, and her frostings are light. Nothing is cloyingly sweet.

back door bakery

Part of the reason for the Back Door Bakery’s late hours is that Kloft and her husband noticed there weren’t many options for grabbing a slice of pie after a date.

It is clear she has honed her craft well. “When it comes to cakes, my mindset is very classic. I want to serve you what you’d get from Grandma or your mom,” remarks Kloft.

In fact, Kloft goes about her business with downright precision. “I do everything on my own terms,” she admits.

Quality is key. She does not put anything on her menu that she has not absolutely perfected first. She also does not bake anything that is gluten-free at this time, as she wants to go about doing so in a strict manner to ensure quality, taste, and zero gluten contaminants.

However, if you are gluten-free, she does sell the macarons made by Left Bank Pastries on Thursdays and Fridays. Be forewarned, though: they go quickly.

The Back Door Bakery certainly takes custom orders. They request that you give at least 48 hours’ notice.

And do you knit? There’s a knitting circle that meets here every Wednesday night from 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. and is open to everyone.

Kloft would love to see the bakery fill up with students during its later evening hours. It’s located close to Saint Martin’s University, and she’d thrill in serving them cake. “Come see us to study,” invites Kloft.

back door bakery

The Back Door Bakery is located at 4444 Lacey Boulevard SE, Suite B, in Lacey.

The Back Door Bakery would like to be the place where you wind down your evening. To that end, they invite you to bring your local dinner receipt or movie ticket stub in for 10% off your cake.

Or pie.

Or both.

Follow on Facebook (backdoorpies)

The Back Door Bakery

4444 Lacey Blvd. SE, Suite B in Lacey



Family Fun at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie

Thurston Talk - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 6:00am



golf hawks prairie

The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie strives to be a golf destination for families.

I remember my dad encouraged me to take up golf as a lifetime sport. As a child, I had no idea what he meant by a lifetime sport. At that age I felt like I could climb trees and play tag forever. I do still play tag upon my children’s request. Recently, I have noticed my dad, now a grandparent, opting out of the backyard game of chase. Yet he still plays golf nearly every day. Mostly he plays with his friends but given the opportunity, he would prefer to play with family – me, my sister, his sons-in-law and mostly his grandchildren. Passing on his love for the sport is gratifying but the real reward is spending time with family in a shared activity.

My dad’s philosophy to teach me an activity that I would be able to enjoy throughout my lifetime is the same goal that the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie espouses to the community. Kevin Myers, former General Manger and Head Golf Professional of the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie and currently at Indian Summer Golf and Country Club, both of which are Oki Golf courses, shares “we want to be THE gathering place for families in the community. We want families to consider us the place to go for family golf, junior golf programs and of course even beginning adults, especially women.”

The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie has noticed a considerable increase in its participation from junior players, women and beginning adults in the last year. Myers contributes this increase to the focus they have placed on new programs targeted towards these players as well as the new family homes being built along the Woodlands course. The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie consists of two distinct, public 18-hole golf courses, the Woodlands which is distinguished by fairways winding through a dense forest and the Links which boasts spectacular views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier. Both courses are just minutes north of downtown Olympia.

Myers explains, “Oki Golf, in general, and the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie, specifically, are changing its programming to make golf more accessible to more people.” Last year, PGA Professional Trent Henning created a Four Hole Ladies Club at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie to include a half-hour of instruction by one of the golf professionals followed by playing golf with the pro and receiving instruction on specific skills. According to Myers, the female golfers loved this program, as it created an opportunity to play in a non-intimidating setting and in a manageable amount of time.

golf hawks prairie

The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie adapted the Links course with a family set of tees so that it can be played shorter for youth.

Additionally, encouraging youth to play golf has been an important effort by the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie. A traditional golf course is not set up to be conducive to families enjoying the game together because most of the regulation golf holes are too long for kids and beginners. The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie adapted the Links course with a family set of tees, meaning the golf course can be played shorter.

Kids can tee off from 150 yards or closer from the forward tees. The junior links course is designed to inspire play by kids and make the golf experience more inviting and fun for the whole family. Shorter course yardages reward improvement and reduce frustration that inevitably occurs with a beginning golfer. “We really want to make golf fun and affordable for the entire family. Last year we added a community golf pass to lower green fees during the week as well as a family golf club pass with discounted fees. Families continually commented on what a great value it was for the amount of entertainment together out on the course,” Myers comments.

The instructors and courses at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie want families to hit the links together and provide different programs to learn and play the game in a structured yet casual atmosphere. The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie is providing an affordable opportunity for new players with limited or no golf experience to access some of the finest playing conditions in the area.

Oki Golf is a collection of eleven premiere Puget Sound golf courses, including the local Thurston County courses of the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie and Indian Summer Golf and Country Club.

The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie

8383 Vicwood Lane

Lacey, Washington 98516



Happy Presidents Day. By the way, Jospeph Lane did not go quietly into that good night

Olympia Time - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 5:32am
Joseph Lane is one of the most regrettable characters of Cascadian history. During the debates on how slavery should be treated in Oregon during that state's founding days, Lane was on the hard pro-slavery side. There were a few hard anti-slavery sorts to balance him out. But, most of the state had a pox on both their houses sort of sentiment. They neither liked slaves nor the sort of economics that slavery represented.

But, there sat Lane, one of the state's original U.S. Senators. During the presidential election leading up to the Civil War, Lane was the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party ticket that represented the South. His ticket of course lost, which according to a 30,000 foot reading of history, shot Lane quickly out of politics. 
Even if that didn't, his debate with Andrew Johnson on the Senate floor in 1861 certainly should have.

On that day, Jo. Lane, made a traitorous speech in favor of secession, in which he was personally abusive of Senator Johnson of Tennessee. Mr. Johnson replied. The galleries were crowded to excess. Mr. Johnson opened up by a dissertation on personalities—withering and caustic to his assailant. Johnson turned and looking him in the eye, said, “no gentleman would insult me, and no other person can, and without making any boast of personal courage, I say here that this eye never looked upon the man that this heart feared.” The galleries burst into applause, which was promptly suppressed with an intimation from the Chairman, Mr. Polk, that a repetition would be followed by an order to clear the gentlemen’s gallery.But, even if Lane did not join the rebel cause, didn't migrate to the south, he kept the fight going on his return to Oregon.

He campaigned for Democratic candidates, he campaigned for his son who was running for Congress. Lane was criticized loudly by Republican newspapers, but he stood firm publicly to his convictions:
Once again in 1866 the aging politician campaigned for the Democratic ticket. Personal abuse from the press and threat of punishment had not dampened his adore for the southern cause, which he championed when he could. During the campaign he declared that if Jefferson Davis were elected to Congress by the people of Mississippi, that body would have no choice but to admit him. Being ignored and made fun of by the political establishment, carving out a hole for yourself as a loud political crank, is not the same as retiring quietly from public life.

At one point, he even talked about how Lincoln had offered him a generalship in the Union Army. And, that if he'd taken that position (instead of coming back to Oregon), he would have beaten General Grant to the top of Army of the Potomac, and then there would've been no President Grant.

I'm most intrigued by Lane's run for State Senate in 1880. Only one year before his death, an apparently with the furor of secession finally dying down, Lane ran one last time for office. I found some old newspaper stories about his continued involvement in Democratic politics. How he was elected chair of the party convention that year. But, no story of a race or election involving him. I wonder if its really true, and if so, why he ran.

Local Roller Derby Team Celebrates Heart Awareness Month with Hard-Hitting Event

Thurston Talk - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 9:50pm



Submitted by Rain City Roller Dolls

  Regularman Photography

Photo Credit: Regularman Photography

February is American Heart Month, and the women of Centralia’s Roller Derby Team, the Rainy City Roller Dolls, know about the importance of heart health.  “This is an intense sport,” says Rainy City president Rebecca Parvin, who goes by the alias “Ivanna Pop a Tart” during the team’s matches. “We want to give our audience an exciting bout to watch, and we spend a lot of hours training to be physically able to do it.”

The skaters, women ranging in age from 20 to 50, spend 4-6 hours a week on skates at the Centralia Rollerdrome, giving and taking body-jarring hits with their hips, shoulders, and chests.  Most spend additional time outside of practices lifting weights, doing yoga, Zumba, boxing, running stairs – “Anything that makes you breathe hard and your heart pound,” says Parvin, “Cardio conditioning is vital to roller derby.”

For team captain Katie Lewis, who goes by Cleo Katra while playing derby, Heart Awareness Month has special meaning.  Her eight year old daughter Lillian Denney was born with a hole in her heart. Lillian had surgery when she was 18 months old at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Her family has recently discovered that a second surgery will be needed to close a cleft near a valve in her heart as soon as Summer 2015. Through her several appointments and diagnostic testing, Lillian has faced the news with a strength even some derby girls lack. Lillian is ready to move forward with the procedure as soon as possible.

  Regularman Photography

Photo Credit: Regularman Photography

In honor of Lillian, the Rainy City Roller Dolls plan to donate a portion of the proceeds from their upcoming home bout to the American Heart Association.  Their first home bout of the season, Hits from the Heart, is on Saturday February 21, 2015 at 7:00pm at the Rollerdrome at 216 W Maple in Centralia, WA. Tickets can be purchased online at or from a league member in advance for $10 or at the door for $15. The doors open at 6:30 and the bout begins at 7:00pm. There will be a beer garden for those 21 and older.  More information is available here.

The Rainy City Roller Dolls is non-profit, skater-ran organization that was established in 2007 and has continued to fulfill their mission of advancing the sport of roller derby by encouraging athletic development of its members. The league is dedicated to assisting their local community and offers a welcoming environment for women of all backgrounds to participate in the sport of roller derby.

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