Recent local blog posts

Chekov's "The Cherry Orchard" at Evergreen

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 8:22pm
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John Bash offered Tumwater School District Superintendent Contract

Thurston Talk - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 5:05pm



Submitted by the Tumwater School District Board of Directors

Mr. John Bash, Deputy Superintendent for North Thurston Public Schools

Mr. John Bash, former Deputy Superintendent for North Thurston Public Schools, has been offered the position of Tumwater Schools Superintendent.

The Tumwater School District Board of Directors met this evening in executive session to review each superintendent finalist’s experience, training and information gathered during interviews, site visits and public forums. Following a review of all the relevant information, the School Board met in regular session to discuss the qualities of the applicants. By motion, the Board unanimously agreed to offer a contract for the position of Tumwater Schools Superintendent to Mr. John Bash beginning July 1, 2015.

The School Board wishes to express appreciation to the staff and community for their valuable input into the process and in making all of the applicants feel welcome.


Naomi Punk, PC Worship, Mother Tongue and Broken Water

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 5:00pm


Welcome Naomi Punk back from their European Tour and send them off again w/ PC Worship down the west coast. Also playing is Mother Tongue from Rhode Island. with support from local favorites Broken Water. ?

“Also, the Homie, Shane Yee, and I will be doing an installation”- Scott Young

Show really starts at 8pm sharp :)

Facebook Invite


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Providence Health eXpress Brings the Doctor’s Visit to You

Thurston Talk - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 4:52pm



Submitted by Providence Health and Services

A new Providence service now lets you see a doctor when you want, wherever you want, without having to leave your home or workplace. Providence Health eXpress brings the doctor or nurse practitioner to you for a live video visit through your computer, smart phone or tablet.

As a Providence service, Health eXpress connects you with physicians and nurse practitioners, and send follow-up reports to your primary care provider if you approve. It’s safe, secure and confidential, just like a regular doctor’s visit..

To add to the convenience:

  • Health eXpress offers extended weekday and weekend hours: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • No appointment is needed. Just connect when it’s convenient.
  • Wait times are generally less than five minutes.

Health eXpress is not intended to replace your regular primary care visits. If you need to be seen for an ongoing chronic condition or for your annual checkup, your primary care provider is still the best person to see. But it’s a great alternative when you can’t get in to your doctor’s office or immediate care center, or when you’re too sick or busy to drive to an appointment. Providence Health eXpress providers can make diagnoses, recommend treatments and write prescriptions for common conditions like colds, the flu, allergies, bladder infections and rashes. Click here for more information on common conditions.

Each online visit costs a flat, up-front fee of $39 which may save money if you have a high-deductible health plan or a high out-of-pocket copayment. If you are a Providence Health Plan member, Health eXpress will bill the plan for you. If not, check with your insurance company – many now reimburse for telehealth visits. Click here for more details on costs.

Ready to start?

It costs nothing to sign up for Health eXpress. Don’t wait until the next time you’re juggling three kids and a cough, or dealing with a sore throat on a busy workday; create an account today and you’ll be good to go – whenever and wherever you need to see a doctor.

Create an account and be ready when sick happens. Download the Health eXpress app or register online here.


See How it works or go to our frequently asked questions page.


Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 4:28pm



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet

Adopt-a-Pet Dog of the Week, Dexter

Adopt-a-Pet Dog of the Week, Dexter

Meet Dexter, a Brindle Chow Chow who is as gentle as a lamb. He was found as a stray and was very cautious when he first arrived at the shelter but with time and patience from all the volunteers, he is learning to walk on a leash and is more confident every day.  This older big boy loves everyone he meets and is looking for someone to scratch his ears and give him loving belly rubs. In return he’ll lavish you with sloppy kisses and his undying loyalty.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to help them. Contact Adopt-A-Pet dog shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton at or contact us at or (360) 432-3091.

Bayview Catering is Ready for Wedding Season with Top-Notch Food and Service

Thurston Talk - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 2:09pm



By Gale Hemmann

wedding caterer olympia

With professional service and top-notch presentation, the staff at Bayview Catering consistently wows clients, handling the big day with finesse. Photo credit: Bayview Catering

Food is an important part of a wedding. Whether your wedding is large or intimate, casual or formal, celebrating by dining and toasting with your guests is a time-honored tradition. While your guests are there to celebrate your big day, everyone will remember a wedding where the food and service were exceptional. And providing great food and beverages ensures that everyone will have plenty of energy to enjoy the reception.

Equally important to food quality is professional service. On your big day, you want to enjoy yourself and spend time with your guests. You want to rest assured that the catering staff are experienced and will provide excellent support. In short, on such a busy day with so many details to attend to, you want to make sure that you have a solid caterer to count on.

With over 30 years of experience, Bayview Catering is ready to handle your every need. Since 1982, they’ve been the area’s “go-to” wedding caterers (read some customer reviews here). I spoke with Kelley Young, Catering Manager at Bayview, to learn more about what they offer. As we talked in the beautiful waterfront dining area above Bayview Thriftway, where their catering services are headquartered, she told me more about what makes them unique. “We offer one-stop shopping for your wedding reception needs,” says Young.

olympia wedding caterer

For Bayview Wedding Catering clients, Ralph’s Thriftway meets all your cake and pastry needs with their beautiful creations. Photo courtesy: Ralph’s Thriftway.

I asked Young why so many couples choose Bayview. While they earn rave reviews all around, customers especially like the high quality of food, artful presentation, and professionalism of the staff. They also appreciate Bayview’s ability to create custom menus based on any wedding theme (from Hawaiian to classic Hollywood themes, they can do just about anything).

For your reception, you can choose either a standard buffet-style spread or the Bride’s Choice Dinner, for a sit-down dining experience. (View their wedding menus here.) Bayview will work with you to create an elegant dining experience that fits your event size, location, and budget. They offer several different price points, as well as nearly endless options for customization.

Young says the Bride’s Choice Dinner menu is one of the most popular options. Brides get to select an entrée and side dishes, along with fresh-baked breads to be served.

Another area where Bayview wins rave reviews is their staff. Young notes the catering staff at Bayview are selected and trained to be top-notch customer service professionals. Even at the busiest reception, they are always courteous, helpful, and ready to meet any need that arises. Reading customer reviews, one repeatedly finds comments like “your staff are exceptional,” “the staff you chose did an excellent job,” and “we were very impressed with the organization and promptness.”

Bayview partners with Ralph’s Thriftway to bake all their cakes and pastries. They also partner with Celebrations and can help coordinate your event rentals. Together, they’ll work with you to create the “total vision” of what you want.

Every couple’s vision of a perfect wedding reception is different. That’s why Bayview offers a full range of services, so you can select what best fits your theme, location, and budget. They offer full bartending services as well as meat-carving stations as two possible options.

olympia wedding caterer

Bayview Catering can help you create the custom wedding reception or dinner of your dreams, such as this Hawaiian-themed reception. Photo credit: Bayview Catering.

Young notes that Bayview Catering can also work with clients to accommodate any special dietary needs they may have. Whether you are vegetarian, have to eat gluten-free, or have another special need, they can come up with some creative and tasty options that will please everyone.

One more tip from Kelly? Plan ahead. If you’re thinking about a summer or autumn wedding, book now with Bayview Catering to reserve your date. Their catering services are in-demand around South Sound, especially during wedding season, so you’ll ensure a top-notch caterer is in place and enjoy peace of mind by booking far ahead of time.

Bayview Catering offers the best of both worlds: their experience means they’ve successfully catered hundreds of weddings, and their commitment to making your wedding unique and customizing the details means you’ll have a one-of-a-kind day.

They also offer a complimentary consultation, so you can discuss your overall desires, food support needs, and budget as you plan the event.

olympia wedding caterer

Working with sister business Ralph’s Thriftway to bake your dream cake, Bayview Catering will work with you to cater the wedding reception of your dreams. Photo credit: Bayview Catering.

Bayview and Ralphs Thriftway stores have been serving Olympia since 1956. They are family-owned and a vital part of the local community. Choosing Bayview Catering for your wedding needs is also a great way to “shop local.”

To check out more about Bayview Wedding Catering, visit their website and find them on Facebook. You can also call them at (360) 357-8016 or email They are happy to talk with you about how to make your wedding vision into a reality.

Fish Brewing Company’s Over and Out Oatmeal Stout Is Not Just for Drinking

Thurston Talk - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 1:38pm



By Kelli Samson

thurston solid wasteI am well-versed in borrowing a cup of sugar or a bit of flour from a neighbor for a recipe, but some stout beer? This was a first.

When I told Fish Brewing Company’s events manager, Max DeJarnatt, that I wanted to feature a St. Patrick’s-themed cake using one of their stouts, he didn’t let the fact that it wasn’t quite done brewing yet stop them from being neighborly. Since the cake’s success doesn’t depend on the carbonation of the beer, he invited me down to the brew house. Head brewer Paul Pearson opened the vat and cheerfully sent me home with enough for a few cakes.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take some free beer – flat or not – over a cup of sugar any day.

fish brewing

Paul Pearson, head brewer at Fish Brewing, taps into a vat of Over and Out Oatmeal Stout.

Fish Brewing’s Over and Out Oatmeal Stout fittingly debuts on St. Patrick’s Day this year at the Fish Tale Brew Pub. In addition to this rich, chocolate-y spring seasonal, there will be a special menu served for the evening. After the holiday, it will take about a week for this new stout to make its way to the stores.

I’ve certainly celebrated more than one birthday at the Fish Tale. Being a St. Patrick’s Day baby, it’s a given that I love this unique holiday. After all, what’s better than everyone dressing in green, pinching one another, and boisterously drinking black and tans in what feels like your honor? I could do without all of the St. Patrick’s Day-themed gifts I have managed to receive over the years, but it’s not a bad trade off.

This year I thought I’d give back by sharing one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes. It’s one that incorporates that holiest of Irish beers – the stout. The combination of the beer, chocolate, brown sugar, and cacao nibs adds a complex depth of flavor to this treat, while the presence of sour cream makes it perfectly moist.

I highly recommend waiting for the Fish Tale Over and Out Oatmeal Stout to arrive in stores later this month, but, if that’s just not possible, another stout will do.

This cake perfectly serves twelve, and it’s particularly indulgent when served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

May the road always rise up to meet you, the wind always be at your back, and all that jazz.


Chocolate Bundt Cake with Over and Out Oatmeal Stout


1 cup salted butter (plus extra for greasing the pan)

1/4 cup cocoa powder (for greasing the pan)

chocolate stout cake recipe

Guests at your home on or near St. Patrick’s Day will consider themselves lucky to enjoy a slice of this beauty.

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 cup Fish Brewing’s Over and Out Oatmeal Stout

12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup cacao nibs (Theo Chocolate makes the best. These can be found at the Thriftway stores in the bulk section and at both Olympia Co-op locations)

1/2 cup heavy cream



  1. chocolate stout cake recipe

    The cake’s depth of flavor comes from the Fish Brewing Company’s spring seasonal, Over and Out Oatmeal Stout.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.

  2. Generously grease a bundt pan with softened butter, then coat with cocoa powder. Tap out the excess powder.
  3. Whisk together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Melt the butter with the stout in a small pan on the stove. Once melted, remove from heat and add eight ounces of the chocolate chips, whisking until smooth. Set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugars together until fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture and sour cream, continuing to beat until combined.
  6. Reduce speed to low. Slowly mix in the flour mixture and cacao nibs until combined.
  7. Pour batter into bundt pan. Bake 45-55 minutes, until few crumbs show on a toothpick.
  8. Let cake cool in pan for 30 minutes. Then release the cake onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  9. Once cake is cool, make the glaze. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small pan. Remove from heat and add the remaining four ounces of chocolate chips. Let the mixture sit for five minutes, then whisk until smooth. Set some waxed paper on your counter beneath the cooling rack, because this will be messy. Pour the glaze over the cake. Let set.


The Fish Tale Brew Pub can be followed on Facebook.

515 Jefferson St. SE

Olympia, WA


All Your Friend’s Friends at Treefort!

K Records - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 12:48pm
If you be heading to Treefort Music Festival in Boise, ID. next month (and aren’t you?) dunt miss out on two All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] live-on-the-mic events Saturday, Mar. 28 and Sunday, March 29. It’s gonna be the biggest, baddest All Your Friend’s Friends happening in the West. Inspired by the D.I.Y. ethics and […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Laughter on the 23rd Floor at Harlequin

South Sound Arts - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 8:56am

Heidi Rider and Nathan Rice
I was told by someone whose opinions about theater I respect that Laughter on the 23rd Floor is Neil Simon’s funniest play. I don’t know if I would go that far, but I will say it accurately captures the Rat Pack-style sophistication and the snappy, Borscht Belt one-liners of the ’50s in-crowd. Plus it exposes the corporatization of popular media with its resultant dumbing down of content and the “red-scare” milieu of the times. Laughter on the 23rd Floor is Simon’s most autobiographical play. It is based on his experience as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. The play is set in the writer’s room for Max Prince’s variety show, with Prince (Jason Haws) based on Caesar. The writers are Brian (Jimmy Blackmon); Val (Christian Doyle), an immigrant from Russia; Ira (Xander Layden), possibly the most severe hypochondriac ever but also one of the best writers in the room; Carol (Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe), the only female writer on staff; Kenny (Gabriel McClelland); Milt (Nathan Rice); and Lucas (Mark Alford), a thinly disguised Neil Simon avatar who periodically addresses the audience as a narrator. And there’s a seemingly ditzy but actually smart secretary named Helen (Heidi Rider).Jason Haws. In background from left: Christin Doyle. Gabriel McClelland, Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Mark Alford
Lucas is a new intern who hopes to be accepted by Max and hired as a staff writer. Wise-cracking Milt is always “on”—relying on attention-getting hats and suits and snappy one-liners to win favor with Max and his fellow writers (for all the writers it’s always about pleasing Max). Brian is convinced Hollywood is going to buy his script or some TV mogul is going to give him his own show. Kenny is a cynic and the only one in the room who can stand up to Max. In front: Xander Layden; around table: Christin Doyle. Gabriel McClelland, Jimmy Blackmon and Mark Alford; standing: Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe
The network thinks the show is too intellectual for the broad audience they want to attract, and the writers have heard rumors that one or more of them is going to be fired—possibly even the whole team. While they all obsess with keeping their jobs, Carol is upset about Joseph McCarthy’s red baiting. The ensemble cast does a good job. I was particularly impressed with McClelland for his measured approach combining common sense and humor, and with Layden, who is emerging as a first rate comic actor (witness his recent outstanding acting in TAO’s The Head That Wouldn’t Die). Rider was stylish and funny as the secretary. Doyle does a standup job in his portrayal of Val, but understanding his Russian accent was not easy.Once again Jason Haws owns the stage. There’s little I can say about his acting without gushing like a fan after a Frank Sinatra concert in 1953. I defy you to look away when he’s on stage. I loved Darren Mills’ period costumes. The hats, the suits, and Max’s garters make these writers look like 1950s versions of today’s geeks and nerds. Marko Bujeaud’s video projections of city scenes outside the window lend class and verisimilitude to the set. I suspect that many audience members will be so caught up in the comedy they’ll forget they’re watching an accurate depiction of an important part of entertainment history and of a crucial part of American politics.
WHEN: Thursdays through Saturdays, 8p.m., Sundays 2 p.m. through Oct. 28WHERE: State Theater, 202 E. 4th Ave., OlympiaTICKETS: prices vary, call for detailsINFORMATION: 360-786-0151;

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Live It Up at the Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel Beer and Wine Festival

Thurston Talk - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 6:00am



lucky eagle

Dick’s Brewing Company is one of the vendors at the March 14 Beer and Wine Festival at Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel.

“You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred,” said Woody Allen. But on Saturday, March 14, sacrifice a week or two for a taste of the finer things at the first annual Beer and Wine Festival at the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel in nearby Rochester.

No matter the occasion, a good festival is a true delight. A recent study celebrated the many benefits of such local, community-based events. “Festivals promote community pride by celebrating things that make a town special and evoke good feelings…Whatever a festival’s theme, it’s bound to be instructional and visitors are bound to learn from it. Of course, education (including greater awareness and new knowledge) is another social benefit of festivals. But this isn’t learning from a book or in a classroom—this is hands-on, experiential learning offered in the fun context of celebration.”

This event is sure to accomplish all of those through the medium of regional craft beers and wines and the wealth of knowledge of those who make them. Lucky Eagle Promotions and Events Coordinator Jessica Brooks promises that even though “this is our first event, it will be an intimate experience for our guests to be able take their time and enjoy the tasting without being overwhelmed by crowds.”

Lucky Eagle Casino

A $20 advance ticket earns you a commemorative pint or wine glass plus eight tickets to sample beer and wine from a variety of vendors during Lucky Eagle’s Beer and Wine Festival.

With more than a dozen vendors offering themed crafts and Lucky Eagle’s Sidewalk Deli providing on-site food, the highlight of the afternoon will be award-winning wine and beer from around the area. Visitors purchase a commemorative logo pint beer or wine glass and 8 drink tickets for either $20 in advance or $25 at the door. These tickets can be exchanged for samples from Dick’s Brewing Company, Scatter Creek Winery, Northwest Mountain Winery, Mill Lane Winery, Mt. St. Helens Cellars, Hi-Fi Brewery, and many more.

The Lucky Eagle has long been a proud, active force in our region. Their sponsorship of this festival and so many others echoes the study findings mentioned earlier. “A third social benefit of festival sponsorship is stronger relationships within a community…the benefits last well beyond the event, as people bring their connections and collective knowledge and skills to improve the community. Connections are the ‘glue’ that hold communities together; without them, a community stagnates and the quality of life declines. Experts call this glue social capital, so viewed through this lens— festival sponsorship increases the social capital that makes for healthy communities.”

With the gorgeous, lengthening days of Spring, make time to simply revel in the beauty around you, the people you love, and all the reasons you’ll make living to 100 a true party.

The Beer and Wine Festival will run from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. on March 14 and tickets are available online through the Lucky Eagle’s website here or by calling 1-800-720-1788. If you plan on visiting one of the casino’s many dining, gaming, or event options beforehand, stop by the Players Club window for tickets.

Visit the Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel at 12888 188th Avenue Southwest in Rochester.

Estuaries are so ugly part 1 and 2 (Olyblogosphere for March 9, 2015)

Olympia Time - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 5:27am
1. Estuaries are so ugly part 1: Oyster beds, Nisqually Delta

2. Estuaries are so ugly part 2: The endless boarwalk

3. Wilder and White vs. nature. At least spiritually.

4. Yes. Olympia is Magical.

5. The cruelty that is an Olympia spring garden.

Halo Benders “Lonesome Sundown”

K Records - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 1:07am
“Black River flows so slowly, there’s no knowing it’s direction…”   K Song of the Day: Halo Benders “Lonesome Sundown”, from  The Rebels not in [KLP081]. The Halo Benders album The Rebels not in [KLP081] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Rocket Mass Heater, Part 3

Small Blue Planet - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 7:44pm
Got our bricks. Thank you to Shawn and Amanda for taking a drive to Eugene to pick these up These are not the dense heavy firebricks that I was expecting, but the lighter insulating firebrick.  These are supposed to be easy to cut with chisel or hacksaw.  I am going to need to do a … Continue reading Rocket Mass Heater, Part 3 →

Tumwater High School Equestrian Team Readies for Another Winning Season

Thurston Talk - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 4:25pm



By Taylor Tryon, Tumwater High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

Junior team member Alyson Hill is all focus in competition. Photo by Sierra Breeze Photography

Junior team member Alyson Hill is all focus in competition. Photo by Sierra Breeze Photography

Tumwater High School has always been known for its sports programs, most notably the “winning” football team with their five state titles. However there is another sports group at THS that deserves equal recognition despite being far less well known.

The Tumwater High School Equestrian Team boasts eight state championship titles and only one district loss since their establishment, all while maintaining a 3.4 team average GPA, an impressive record for any athletic team.

While they are known as the Tumwater High School Equestrian team, the team actually consists of girls from schools throughout Thurston County including Black Hills High School, Olympia High School, and Rainier High School. The team competes with WAHSET (Washington High School Equestrian Teams) against other teams from all over Washington State.   These are split into six districts and compete in many different subsets.

THSET’s most successful subset is the drill team. Equestrian drill teams compete by completing choreographed routines to music that showcase skills in certain maneuvers, showmanship, and teamwork. Last year the drill team competed in the PNWIC (Pacific Northwest Invitational Championship) which includes the top five teams from Oregon’s program (OHSET) and the top five from Washington. The drill girls took home the championship title and hope to do so again in the future.

Now Junior, Mady Mcaferty during the first meet of the 2014 season.  Photo by Sierra Breeze Photography

Now a junior, Mady Mcaferty is pictured here during the first meet of the 2014 season. Photo by Sierra Breeze Photography

The 2014-15 season is well under way with the most recent meet held over Valentine’s Day weekend in Spanaway.  The Tumwater Equestrian Team was very successful with riders placing in the top ten in nearly every category. Three riders took top ten in dressage, four in Hunt Seat with Marisa Moysuik taking first.

All of the teams jumpers place in the top ten and Katelyn Drake took second place. Additionally, three riders placed top ten in trail, four in reining, two in saddle seat, and the list goes on. Most Tumwater riders placed in the top five in one of their events.

This meet also saw yet another first place trophy for the drill team.  But this is only the beginning for the 2015 season. The team will face two more district meets before heading to the State Competition in May and Regional Championships in June.

Sophomore rider Meredith Knowlton atop her horse at a 2014 meet. Photo by Sierra Breeze Photography

Sophomore rider Meredith Knowlton atop her horse at a 2014 meet. Photo by Sierra Breeze Photography

The Tumwater Equestrian program emphasizes hard work and team work.  These two combined have been a driving force in their continued success. The team practices multiple times per week for their respective events. Performance practices are held on Tuesdays alternating with gaming practices where those who participate in timed events run through their patterns.  Monday is reserved for cow practices, and Sunday the drill team practices.

In addition to their skill, the team’s success comes from the heart all of the girls have for their sport. Participation in the Equestrian Team is a large time commitment for high school students and their families but it is all well worth it to the girls. The love for the activity pushes them to do their very best at every opportunity and their dedication shows with each victory.



Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 4:23pm



Submitted by Sara Hollar, Olympia High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

Our Australian foreign exchange student Leah and I take a picture with the George Washington bust in the Olympia Capitol building.

Our Australian foreign exchange student Leah and I take a picture with the George Washington bust in the Olympia Capitol building.

For ten days in January my household gained a new member – foreign exchange student Leah from Australia. Leah was our fourth exchange student in three years, preceded by Guillaume from France, Jorge from Spain and another Australian, Larissa. Over the years we’ve gained some insight on what to do with a visiting teen in Olympia, from the sights to the entertainment to the food. With a little creativity it’s easy to give your foreign exchange student a fantastic time during their stay in the United States.


Taking foreign exchange students sight-seeing around Olympia is a fun opportunity to play tourist in your own town. We’ve showed all of our exchange students around the Capitol campus. It’s a chance to show off not only our most impressive architecture, but also explain some of the history of Washington State and a bit about how our government operates. The gift shop is great for buying souvenirs for exchange students to bring back to their families. Taking a picture with George Washington’s bust (and rubbing his nose for good luck) is likewise a necessity. Outside the buildings, the campus provides a beautiful view of Capitol Lake and the Puget Sound.

If the weather is nice, it’s also fun to walk along the Percival Landing boardwalk and look at the sculptures or visit the Heritage Park fountain. While we’re downtown I love taking exchange students to the small boutiques and shops that line the streets. My favorite is Archibald Sisters because we always find something entertaining and very “Olympia” for our students to take home.

The other main attraction is Capital Mall. To understand an American teenager, it is required to spend some time at a mall. Our students come in search of clothing and shoes that are wildly more expensive in their home countries. The mall is also our destination for an American cinema experience and food court cuisine. A good bet with exchange students is to explore a mix of classic Olympia landmarks as well as local favorites.


My friend Katie, Leah and I attend OHS's Mystery Theatre.

My friend Katie, Leah and I attend OHS’s Mystery Theatre.

Entertainment in Olympia for teenagers is easy to find when you know where to look, especially when school is in session. Leah and her classmates from Australia really enjoyed going to the basketball games at Olympia High School to cheer on the team. Sports aren’t as much of a focus in Australia as they are here, so the idea of a pep band and cheerleaders was foreign to them. They loved learning the school cheers and taking picture with our mascot, Pepper. I told Leah that she would have to visit again in the fall for the infamous Spaghetti Bowl. Whichever sport is in season, exchange students love to be a part of the American custom of high school sports.

While Leah was here we also got the lucky chance to support the OHS drama program. We attended the Mystery Theatre that students organized. This production was particularly exciting because of the interactive nature but really any OHS play or concert is a great experience.

Outside of the local high schools, other amazing entertainment awaits. There’s so much to pick from but my family looks for endeavors that feel uniquely American. When our French exchange student Guillaume was with us, we attended Harlequin Productions’ “Set in the ‘70s”. The play was a look at quintessential American rock and Guillaume, an avid music lover, even recognized some of the songs.  Good entertainment for foreign exchange students is simply accessible, American fun.


One of my favorite things about hosting foreign exchange students is the excuse to eat out all the time. My friends and I welcomed the opportunity to frequent our usual favorites under the guise of showing them to our student. We visited King Solomon’s Reef for milkshakes and fries and Bonsai Wok for teriyaki. Sharing my favorite restaurants really felt like sharing a piece of my life, considering how much time I spend at these places.

Leah sports her new Olympia gear with my brother Devan and I during her last day with us.

Leah sports her new Olympia gear with my brother Devan and I during her last day with us.

And then there were the places that I don’t visit as often but were still very important for the foreign exchange experience, the fast food joints. Leah and I made a little game of ticking them off a list, from Dairy Queen to Taco Bell. We were both surprised at how much food we could buy for such little money. For Leah it was a lot of fun to try food she’d heard about before and then telling her friends back at home what it was like.

One of the most surprising hits for food was actually a simple trip to the grocery store. Our student Jorge liked going grocery shopping with my mom because our Safeway was so vastly different than the fresh fruit markets and butcher shops that he had in Spain.

During Leah’s last weekend with us, we went to the grocery store and picked out the most “American teenager” food we could find. We bought Pizza Rolls, Bagel Bites, mini egg rolls, cheese fries, Twinkies and Hot Pockets. Then we invited some friends over and ate all of it in one night. Safeway’s frozen section may have provided our favorite food episode. In the end, dining with an exchange student is a lot more about the new experience than the actual food.

I’ve loved the opportunity to show my hometown to these exchange students and they’ve also taught me so much about their cultures. Hosting a foreign exchange student is richly rewarding and simple to do with a little insight on how to give a teenager the full American adventure.


Left Bank Pastry: Baker Gary Potter Brings Paris to Your Sweet Tooth

Thurston Talk - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

greene realtyFor me, it was love at first bite.

When I first tasted one of Left Bank Pastry’s apricot croissants, or “oranais” in French, it was like my surroundings shape-shifted. Suddenly, my taste buds transported me to the front stoop of a patisserie in Colmar, France, where I once stood out of the rain during a sudden summer storm, un-daintily shoving an apricot tart into my mouth.

left bank pastry

Owner Gary Potter bakes out of the commercial kitchen he built next door to his home in Olympia.

If you found a way to teleport yourself to a happy memory, you would, right? I feel very fortunate that, at least once a week, I experience a tasty flashback to this exquisite moment just by eating one of Gary Potter’s pastries. I swear he somehow bakes all that is enchanting about France right into the dough.

When I mentioned to others that I was going to meet the man behind this culinary magic, I got intriguing responses. Erica Kinsel, the French teacher at Capital High School, wondered if she could tag along. “Please tell him that I developed a bit of an afternoon almond croissant habit at the end of my pregnancy,” she begged. “But what I really love are Left Bank’s kouihn amanns. They are buttery, salty-sweet deliciousness. Olympia Coffee Roasters usually sells out quickly, so it’s a good day when there’s one left in the case.”

Alison Kloft of the Back Door Bakery and Michael Elvin of Bar Francis both told me what a great guy Potter is, that he really cares about quality, and that he can be, well, mysterious.

My interest was further piqued because Left Bank Pastry has had no internet presence during the four years since it opened, though this will change in the coming months.

And did I mention that Gary Potter has never before granted an interview?

The pressure is on.

Foodies, allow me to introduce you to Gary Potter.

He is very tall.

You have likely tasted his fine pastries at establishments such as both the East and West-side Olympia Co-ops, Bar Francis, Olympia Coffee Roasters, Mud Bay Coffee, the Back Door Bakery, and, recently, Lacey’s Schoolhouse Coffee. These are merely a few of the places to which he supplies delectable treats.

We may love every bite of everything he makes, but what’s the scoop on Left Bank Pastry?

left bank pastry

Employee Tristen Eastin is just finishing up culinary school at South Puget Sound Community College. She is one of three bakers who now works steadily along with Potter, who worked solo prior to hiring them over the past six months. When asked to describe Potter, she says, “best boss ever!”

Originally from Eastern Washington, Potter attended college at Western Washington University. It was there that he became friends with someone who taught him how to make baguettes. Baking bread became a bit of an obsession for him as he worked on his psychology degree, giving him a creative outlet and enabling him to work with his hands. “I totally romanticized it,” he admits. “This is a labor of love.”

He continued to bake at home while he worked as a teacher at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla for nine years. After honeymooning in Paris with his wife and Left Bank Pastry co-owner Rochelle, Potter decided he wanted to bake full-time. But he didn’t want merely to bake, he wanted to bake like a Parisian. There is a difference.

This took a lot of advanced planning. And, during our interview, I learned that Potter is a master of advanced planning. He is of the “slow and steady wins the race” mindset. My dad would say he measures twice and cuts once. He is careful.

For two years, he took French classes. “I was planning my exit from the prison, kind of like Shawshank Redemption,” recalls Potter with a smile.

He moved with his wife and then-two-year-old daughter to Paris for two years while attending Le Cordon Bleu. His typical day at the acclaimed school was intense. “You could hear a pin drop during the three hours of lecture, then it was on to three hours in the kitchen,” shares Potter. “There were no machines. We had to do everything by hand.”

The original plan was to remain in Paris, working for a bakery, but the French have very high rates of unemployment. It was difficult for an American to find a job, even with appropriate documentation. Potter was understanding. “If there was a job, the bakeries were giving it to someone they cared about, like I would do.”

left bank pastry

Freshly-baked Madeleines have a tender crumb and a sweet dusting of powdered sugar.

His family returned to Washington, where Olympia reminded Potter of Bellingham. They settled here, and he worked at local bakeries like the Bread Peddler and San Francisco Street Bakery. He built his own kitchen with the intention of selling his goodies at the Olympia Farmers Market, but that has been a waiting game.

In 2011, Left Bank Pastry officially got under way and the accounts with local businesses began to roll in. And the name? “I really like the Left Bank in Paris. It’s the bohemian part where all the great philosophers are from,” he explains.

Over the years, even without a website or Facebook page or any kind of advertising, Potter has grown his business methodically and on his own terms. He is known for his commitment to perfectionism in his authentic Parisian baked goods. “Quality is key over everything else,” he says. Most recently, Bayview Thriftway became the latest place to get your Left Bank fix.

With two small children, Potter’s life is undeniably full. He fits baking in around his other duties, sometimes staying awake in the kitchen on his property until 3:00 a.m., baking to fill the next day’s orders.

Potter is still plotting and planning out how to fulfill his ultimate goals: having a stall at the Olympia Farmers Market and owning a custom cake shop. “I’m going to go fancy,” he says.

He may work one step at a time, quietly and mostly behind the scenes, but do not underestimate the persistence of Gary Potter.

Afterall, anyone who can take me to France for the price of a pastry has got a little something up his sleeves.


Jeremy Jay “Covered in Ivy”

K Records - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 1:15am
Yeah! Jeremy Jay at his luscious best. View the “Covered in Ivy” video HERE. K Song of the Day: Jeremy Jay “Covered in Ivy”, from  Abandoned Apartments [KLP247]. The Jeremy Jay album Abandoned Apartments [KLP247] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Rocket Mass Heater, Part 2

Small Blue Planet - Sat, 03/07/2015 - 7:54pm
We want to keep as much heat from the mass heater in the house as possible.  One of the ideas with the rocket stove is that we will be able to dispose of trash wood, prunings, etc more easily than we can now, but another idea is that we want to extract the heat from … Continue reading Rocket Mass Heater, Part 2 →

Rocket Stove Mass Heater Preparation

Small Blue Planet - Sat, 03/07/2015 - 7:21pm
Ok, time to build the rocket stove mass heater.  We have been thinking about it long enough.  These things look amazing and they don’t look like they are too hard to build, but we will find out about that. Here is the setup: Took out the two windows.  Sills were rotting out.  Reframed those for … Continue reading Rocket Stove Mass Heater Preparation →

Walking Side by Side to End Homelessness

Thurston Talk - Sat, 03/07/2015 - 8:53am



By Lisa Herrick

oly fed sponsorImagine 172 people in our community moved off the streets, out of shelters and into permanent housing in less than six months. Consider one benefit dinner raising $50,000 to help people escape homelessness. Envision five staff and nearly sixty volunteers dedicated to the pursuit of ending homelessness in Thurston County. This is SideWalk, a local organization with a mission to eliminate homelessness in our community.

The largely volunteer operated program was started nearly three years ago by Phil Owen, SideWalk Director. In the first full year of operation, Owen claims the community experienced a 36% drop in chronic homelessness. That means those who were considered repeatedly homeless or over a long-term were brought off the streets and out of shelters into permanent housing. Since its inception, SideWalk has consistently transitioned single adults out of homeless situations and into housing.

sidewalk olympia

SideWalk Director, Phil Owen stands in front of the real-time data whiteboard tracking successful housing outcomes of the chronic and non-chronic homeless clients. SideWalk recently completed an ambitious six month campaign moving 172 clients into permanent housing.

A key factor to SideWalk’s success is the rapid rehousing approach, which focuses on immediate solutions to move clients into housing by providing a small amount of financial assistance followed up by more intensive case management. Owen comments, “People think that homelessness is too big of a problem and it is an insurmountable issue. Homelessness has not always been with us. There is no need for people to sleep outdoors. This is a solvable problem.”

There are a myriad of factors that may lead one to homelessness but typically what keeps someone homeless are basic economic factors such as the lack of affordable housing. Barriers to paying for a place to live can be overcome through the assistance of a rent subsidy. It is a shift of thinking to approach the issue of homelessness by looking at economic factors such accessible, affordable housing.

SideWalk addresses homelessness as a housing crisis backed up by evidence based practices, intensive community engagement and rigorous data-driven methods. Modeled after cutting-edge strategies in the corporate world, SideWalk implements real time data to be responsive to current conditions. SideWalk reports that the average cost to move a person off the streets into permanent housing is $1,200. Owen emphasizes that moving clients into private market housing is a great solution as it is faster and cheaper than continually using shelter beds and provides a permanent remedy.

Consider Dave, a recent SideWalk client who shares his story on a SideWalk video. Dave simply needed to get past the hurdles of large rental deposits and the challenge of being awarded disability pay. SideWalk’s rapid rehousing program provided Dave the needed rental subsidy and case management services, which enabled Dave to find housing and return to work. Now back in a more stable living and employment situation, Dave is positioned to buy his own home.

sidewalk olympia

Fred, a SideWalk Volunteer Advocate, has assisted dozens of clients like Dave (right) move from homelessness into permanent housing.

Dave fell into a homeless predicament after suffering cardiac arrest during work on a day labor job. “I am so thankful for SideWalk’s help. I know that I could not have done it without them. They not only assisted me in renting a room but so much good has happened in my life since SideWalk – my disability has been approved, my teeth have been fixed, my surgery was successful and now I am looking to buy my own home. I used to frown on them (homeless), until it happened to me. Now I want to help others out. I am able to do just little things now, like cooking a pot of chili or baking cookies. Once I get more established, I will start volunteering at SideWalk. In my heart, I know what they are going through.”

SideWalk relies upon intensive community engagement to achieve its mission. They have effectively brought together the committed service work within the faith community and the outreach efforts of the business community. Businesses such as Olympia Federal Savings have supported SideWalk since its very first event. The next growth phase for SideWalk focuses on engaging neighborhood associations through house parties and community events such as the SideWalk Benefit Party sponsored by The Washington Center for the Performing Arts and the Olympia Downtown Association on March 25. Tickets are free and available here.

House parties are a more intimate way to enjoy friends and learn more about SideWalk.

Owen reports that recent house parties have averaged $1,900 in donations. Just think if SideWalk could cover the costs of moving a few people off the streets through each of the house parties. Or imagine how many people could be assisted through the rapid rehousing program by funds raised at a community party held at the Washington Center on March 25. Owen comments, “We can’t end homelessness fast enough.”

Join your neighbors and SideWalk at The Washington Center or plan a house party. Click here to learn more about SideWalk.


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