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Volkswagen of Olympia Service Manager, Roy Fowler, Services Cars, Serves the Community

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 5:08pm


Roy Fowler got his first glimpse of the auto industry at age 15, although he enjoyed spending time behind the wheel long before that.

A competitive motocross racer since age 10, Roy has always found himself behind the wheel. Even before he was old enough to get a driver’s license, a career in the automotive industry always made sense to him.

volkswagen olympiaRoy Fowler joined Volkswagen of Olympia in 2013. He says that his favorite part of his job is the customers.

After landing his first automotive job, Roy spent 11 years working his way up the chain of command, eventually finding his niche as a service consultant.

Moving from dealership to dealership, Roy found himself at home at the Olympia Auto Mall, where he has been for more than 15 years. In 2013, Roy landed his current position at Volkswagen of Olympia, I-5 Cars’ newest dealership.

With Roy’s extensive knowledge of the industry and his previous eight years of experience working at another Volkswagen dealership, bringing Roy aboard was an obvious choice for Volkswagen of Olympia, and it is a decision Roy could not be happier about.

“My experience with coming to Volkswagen of Olympia is hard to describe,” Roy said. “You know the feeling you get when you come home to your family and you’re greeted with warm hugs and kisses? Well, that’s how my experience has been since day one. It’s just a good feeling.”

“I honestly feel like I am at home every day I come to work,” Roy said adding that his coworkers and customers are like a second family.

“What I enjoy most about my job are the customers,” Roy said. This is a sentiment that is shared among all Volkswagen of Olympia employees. For Roy specifically, being able to help customers with repairs on their vehicles is his expertise. “It’s what we here at Volkswagen of Olympia know best, and it’s what I have been doing for years,” he said.

volkswagen olympiaTest drive a new Volkswagen during the week of Thanksgiving and Volkswagen of Olympia will donate $25 to Lacey-based non-profit Homeless Backpacks. Photo courtesy: Volkswagen of Olympia.

For Roy and all the staff at Volkswagen of Olympia, taking care of customers extends beyond service and sales — it is about the total experience, which is why Volkswagen of Olympia has spent the past two years building a state-of-the-art facility for customer, staff and the community to enjoy.

After operating out of a single-wide trailer for nearly two years, Volkswagen of Olympia is excited to unveil its new facility with a grand opening celebration taking place later this month.

“The new facility is beautiful,” Roy said. “I love it — and I’m pretty sure our customers are going to love every inch of it.”

The white-frame concept creates a bright environment where customers can escape the gray, soggy skies that are made all too familiar in the Pacific Northwest. High ceilings and lots of windows also open up the space, providing plenty of room for customers and staff to walk about the showroom.

In addition to the beautiful facility, the new design also comes with some added features, including Service Express, which will expedite customers for oil changes and other small jobs — a bonus for anyone with a busy schedule.

 Volkswagen of Olympia.For Volkswagen of Olympia Service Manager, Roy Fowler, it is all about the customers. Photo courtesy: Volkswagen of Olympia.

“We have now made it more convenient for servicing with extended hours, Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., for the Express Service items,” Roy added.

With a shiny new facility and a staff eager to help customers find their next vehicles or service their existing ones, Volkswagen of Olympia is proud to be the only Volkswagen dealer in Thurston County. Interested in seeing Volkswagen of Olympia’s new facility firsthand? There is no better time to visit the dealership than now.

During the week of Thanksgiving, test drive any new Volkswagen, and Volkswagen of Olympia will donate $25 to Lacey-based non-profit Homeless Backpacks.

Also, be sure to visit Volkswagen of Olympia on Black Friday, November 27, and claim a free oil change for all Volkswagen owners, courtesy of Volkswagen of Olympia.

You can learn more about Volkswagen of Olympia by visiting its website or following the dealership’s Facebook page for all the latest updates.

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 4:45pm


Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton

Ava is a chocolate brown and white, spayed female terrier. Chase is a light brown and white, neutered male terrier.  They came to Adopt-A-Pet together and if you have room in your home and heart, would like to be adopted together. Ava is about 5 years old and Chase about 8 years old.   Both walk well on a leash, know basic obedience commands, are crate trained and dog door trained. They are very sweet and excellent with other dogs, cats, birds, rabbits. They love children though Ava would do better with older children over the age of 8 and is a little slower to warm up to new people.

We have many great dogs and always need volunteers.  To see all our current dogs, visit , our Facebook at “Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton Washington” or at the shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton.  Our contact information is or contact us at or (360) 432-3091.

Westport Winery Garden Resort Earns Best NW Winery

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 4:32pm


Submitted by Westport Winery Garden Resort

On November 21, it was announced that Westport Winery Garden Resort earned the title Best Northwest Winery from King 5 Evening Magazine. Director of Winemaking, Dana Roberts, said, “We have seen great local community support in this competition. More importantly, their participation has increased recognition for many other local enterprises. Every time we win this honor we see new visitors to the area who were introduced to us on Evening Magazine and Northwest Backroads.”

Westport WineryDungeoness Crab Cakes showcase local seafood in the Farm to Fork restaurant at Westport Winery Garden Resort.

As part of their ongoing commitment to the community the Roberts family is expanding their resort’s daily hours of operation. Beginning Friday, November 27, the tasting room, gift shop, restaurant, bakery, nursery and gardens will be open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (with the last dinner seating at 6:30 p.m. daily).

At the same time the business has added a host of new dining and bakery selections either to enjoy in the restaurant or to go.

Winery co-owner, Blain Roberts said, “With several prominent local restaurants closing in the past few months, and many more on limited winter schedules, we want to make sure our community members and beach visitors have the opportunity to enjoy fresh, homemade fare daily.”

Westport Winery grape harvestRoberts’ wife Kim said, “It’s a big stretch for our team to make this change, but we believe that our community needs to have more than a seasonal economy. The only way to achieve that is to join others is offering more amenities year round.”

According to the company’s General Manager Carrie Roberts, “As part of this effort in creating a year round destination we have been converting the 68-acre estate into what we hope will become the Butchart Gardens of Washington.” The property currently has 15-acres of public display gardens featuring over forty sculpture by local artists. There is no charge to enjoy this destination resort.

In addition to their efforts to support the community by providing more than a seasonal enterprise, this family business has provided over $300,000 in donations to local charitable organizations since it was founded in 2008.

Westport Winery Garden Resort is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. For more information contact Westport Winery Garden Resort at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at

Greening The Holidays

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 2:53pm


Submitted by Thurston County Solid Waste

We all know the holidays are about family and spending time with loved ones. Sometimes though, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture amidst the holiday shopping scramble, hosting relatives from near and far, and the desire to please even the most Grinch-like of guests. Added to all of the holiday stress is the fact that Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than they do during any other time of the year. The added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper and decorations add up to an additional 1 million tons of waste each week. That’s a lot of trash. There is another way.

star wars jostpruGive the gift of an experience, such as tickets or a season pass to a local theater. Photo courtesy Karen Crooks.

Consider doing something a little different for the holidays this year by going green with these alternative gift ideas. They will help you generate less waste, connect with your community, and they may even spark your creativity.

The gift of time or experience. Gifts of time and experience are a chance for the recipient to try something new and make memories that will last longer than a new pair of running shoes.

  • Purchase a gift certificate to a new restaurant, or tickets to a sporting event, live music, or theater production.
  • Offer up your time and share a skill such as canning, crafting, gardening, or music lessons.
  • Sign someone up for a class they have been wanting to try, such as pottery, an instrument, or learning a new language.
jars of jamHomemade preserves are a gift from the heart that is sure to be appreciated (and consumed).

Make it homemade. From food to crafts, homemade gifts are an affordable and creative way to add a personal touch to any gift.

  • Homemade preserves are a delicious gift.
  • Put together a cookbook full of family recipes.
  • Make a special calendar with important family dates to remember and decorate with personal photos.
  • Make and decorate a coupon book for services you can provide, such as babysitting or washing a car.

Go with recycled or reusable gifts. For those friends and family who don’t mind re-gifting, the possibilities are endless!

  • Pass along your favorite book.
  • Shop at thrift stores for one-of-a-kind finds.
  • Give a travel mug, reusable water bottle, or cloth sandwich bags that will help reduce future waste.

Donate to a cause. Although there are plenty of things we all want, many of us are lucky enough to already have everything we need. Talk with your loved one to find a cause they care about and donate in their name.

Creative, recycled or reusable gift wrap help reduce waste during the holidays.Creative, recycled or reusable gift wrap help reduce waste during the holidays.

Alternative gift wrap. Ribbons and many wrapping papers aren’t recyclable. Instead consider these alternatives:

  • Use newspaper or the comics page for an added touch of humor.
  • Reuse gift boxes or bags from previous years.
  • Make the wrapping a part of the gift by using a flower pot, basket, scarf, or cloth napkins.
  • Skip the ribbons and use natural materials like dried flowers, tree boughs, or small pine cones.

For even MORE information on greening your holidays, including green decorating ideas, tree recycling, and what to do with all of your holiday waste, visit our Waste-Free Holidays website at

Rochester School District Refinances Bonds

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 2:28pm



Submitted by Rochester School District

Rochester School District recently refinanced its 2006 bonds in order to take advantage of lower interest rates. The refinancing will save District taxpayers a total of over $250,000 during the next 5 years.

The savings flow directly to taxpayers through reduced tax levies and are not available for District expenses, according to Superintendent Kim Fry. “The refinancing provides direct savings to community members in the form of taxes they expected, but will not have to pay,” emphasized Fry.

The Rochester School Board approved the bond refinancing at its meeting on October 28, 2015. “The refinancing is part of our ongoing effort to be good stewards of the resources provided to our District,” shared School Board Chair Glen Morgan. “We appreciate the community’s generous and ongoing support of our students and our schools.”
The District had been actively monitoring bond market conditions. The new bonds’ interest rates average 1.73% compared to 4.00% on the old debt.

Rochester School District provides rigorous academic programs to more 2200 students, preparing them for lifelong learning, rewarding careers and productive citizenship. The district’s students and staff have received numerous state awards, including being named a 2013 and 2014 Washington State “School of Distinction.”

Celebrate Community at Olympia’s Downtown for the Holidays on November 29

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 6:00am



In our family, we celebrate the falling of the final leaves of the season along with the final collapse of our front-porch pumpkins. Why? These milestones signal the start of the holiday season and give me the “green-light” to begin my holiday decorating, shopping and general festive spirit. We celebrate Christmas in our family and I admit it’s my favorite time of the year. The lights, parties, decorations, family and yes, the baking, are all part of what I look forward to. And in the midst of it all is the generosity of spirit, accompanied by an easy smile, found throughout my community.

downtown olympiaThe Holiday Parade starts at the Olympia Farmers Market and proceeds up Capitol Way, ending at Sylvester Park.

To kick off the season, the Olympia Downtown Association (ODA) has hosted Downtown for the Holidays for 27 years. Started in 1988 by Janis Dean, owner of downtown gift shop, The Popinjay, the event was originally organized by a volunteer army of downtown merchants. In 1998, the ODA took over the event’s organization and helped grow it to the event it is now.

This community celebration marks the beginning of the holidays and is a highlight for many families, bringing residents to the independent shops and restaurants throughout our downtown core. Events are scheduled on Sunday, November 29 and offer something for everyone.

“The ODA’s mission is ‘to preserve, promote and enhance the downtown Olympia community,’” shares Vida Zvirzdys-Farler, Executive Director of the Olympia Downtown Association. “Downtown for the Holidays celebration fits right in, inviting everyone to come downtown and share in the community’s excitement by kicking off the holiday season with fun. Nearly all of the merchants and restaurants have their shops decorated for the season showing off their holiday spirit.”

downtown olympiaThe Sylvester Park Tree Lighting is the culminating event for the November 29 Downtown for the Holidays festivities.

Events kick off at noon on Sunday, November 29 and culminate in the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Sylvester Park at 4:30 p.m. Arrive early for rides in a traditional horse-drawn carriage around downtown or opt for an electric trolley ride throughout the streets. Swing into The Washington Center for the Performing Arts to view their Gingerbread House display from noon to 3:30 p.m. The displays are created by local teams of bakers and builders all to benefit SideWalk and their mission to end homelessness.

Live music begins in the Sylvester Park gazebo at 1:00 p.m. with Kids in Concert sharing vocal holiday favorites the Alleluia! Hand Bell Ensemble and the Singing, Ringing Chime Choir from First Christian Church begin their performance at 1:15 p.m. at Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters on Capitol Way.

All activities come to a halt at 3:00 p.m. for the highlight of the afternoon – the Holiday Parade. The route begins at The Olympia Farmers Market and proceeds up Capitol Way, ending at Sylvester Park. The parade draws people from across Thurston County as well as Lewis County and Grays Harbor County. “Participants in the Holiday parade include the Future Farmers of America Club at North Thurston High School, the Grays Harbor Mounted Posse Indoor Pro Rodeo Court, the Tumwater Fire Department’s vintage fire truck, the Tenino Motorcycle Drill Team and the Capital High School Marching Band to name a few,” shares Zvirzdys-Farler.

downtown olympiaStop by the New Caldonia Building on 5th Avenue to snap a photo with Santa during Downtown for the Holidays.  Photo credit: Dinea de Photo.

After the parade, warm up with a hot-chocolate or coffee from a downtown coffee shop and head back to the Sylvester Park gazebo for a fantastic show at 4:00 p.m. by the Olympia Highlanders Pipes and Drums followed by Olympia’s own singer/songwriter/producer (and past Glee cast member), Derik Nelson sharing some of his holiday favorites.

The tree is lit to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the crowd around at 4:30 p.m.

Throughout the entire day (with a break for the parade) families can stop into the New Caldonia Building on 5th Avenue for photos with Santa.

Throughout downtown Olympia, visitors will enjoy creative and festive window displays as part of Twinklefest 2015, a friendly holiday décor contest sponsored by the Parking & Business Improvement Area. Each business donates a gift certificate of at least $25 to their shop or restaurant. Visitors to downtown can vote online for their favorite display from November 27 through December 20. Several times throughout the voting period, winners will be selected at random from those who have voted to receive a prize of four to five donated gift certificates – perfect for stocking stuffers or treating yourself!

downtown olympiaKeep your eyes out for wagon rides offered throughout downtown.

If you feel that familiar stirring of holiday excitement as I do at this time of year and are itching to hang the lights and make some fudge, join your neighbors in kicking off the start of the season. The downtown Olympia community wants to share the holiday spirit, a love of Olympia, and a sense of community unity with you on November 29.

Downtown for the Holidays is made possible by the generous support of downtown businesses, sponsors donations, and through the tremendous help of volunteers. If you’d like to get involved, opportunities to volunteer are still available. Contact the ODA at for more details.


Synergy HomeCare Hospice Services: Caring Hands for End of Life

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 6:00am



Hospice. That’s not a word anyone wants to hear. But, for people living with terminal illness, hospice care can be a much more comforting option than some other end of life alternatives. One reason for this is because hospice care often means getting to spend the last days or weeks of life where you belong — at home surrounded by loved ones.

When the time comes to decide whether or not hospice care is right for your loved one, the experienced, compassionate team at Olympia’s Synergy HomeCare is ready to provide comfort to your loved one. Synergy HomeCare hires experienced CNA’s and Home Care Aids, who are trained and experienced in end of life care.

Offering everything from hourly service to around-the-clock care, Synergy HomeCare partners with home health and hospice healthcare organizations, to ensure your loved one is comfortable and in good hands. Synergy HomeCare works closely with Home Health RN nurses — the eyes and ears of the doctor — so their clients can receive the care they need in the comfort of their home.

Synergy HomeCare General Manager, Brad Rossman, says for most families planning end of life care is not a well-traveled path. Sometimes this care is not expected and is frightening. Working with Synergy HomeCare, an organization that specializes in end of life care, can make a world of difference. “It is often very comforting for the family and the client to stay home or come home during this time. It is often honoring a final request,” says Rossman. “We have assisted clients who have come home out of rehab centers and hospitals to pass comfortably in their own home.

For more information about Synergy HomeCare’s hospice care services, visit Synergy HomeCare online at or call Synergy HomeCare at 360-338-0837.


Thurston Chamber Announces 2015 Boss of the Year Honorees

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 5:07pm



Submitted by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce

The Thurston County Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the sixth annual Boss of the Year honorees.  Co-sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, this award recognizes outstanding individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership in the workplace through innovation, communication, vision, and performance.

The 2015 honorees are: Ron Bruchet, GHB Insurance; Melissa Jenkins, The Olympian; and Meagan Darrow, TOGETHER!

Honorable mentions include: Ed Schilter, KMB designs group, inc.; Jim Haley, Thurston First Bank; and Dr. Gene Sharratt, Washington Student Achievement Council.

Over 20 bosses from non-profit organizations to state agencies to private sector companies were nominated by their employees.

Again this year, Saint Martin’s University business students played an important role in the selection process by interviewing finalists and gathering data for the selection committee.  “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet with exceptional business leaders in the community and to also learn more about what truly defines leadership in the workplace,” says Richard Beer, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business.

Bruchet, Jenkins, and Darrow join a group of past honorees, including:

Steve Hall, the City of Olympia
Dr. Yong Liu, State Department of Agriculture
Rae-Lynn Bidon, Olympia Orthopaedic Associates
Joseph Di Santo, Panorama
Heidi West, America’s Credit Union
Dr. Terrence Hess, Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates
Steve Brooks, Lacey Fire District 3
Jessica Jensen, Jessica Jensen Law PS
Joe Ingoglia, Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County
Mariella Cummings, Physicians of Southwest Washington
Robert Coit, Thurston County Food Bank
Mike Harbour, Intercity Transit
Mike Strub, LOTT Clean Water Alliance
Bruce Cramer, O Bee Credit Union
John Setterstrom, Lucky Eagle Casino

The recognition event will take place on Wednesday, December 9 at the Red Lion Hotel Olympia beginning at 11:30am with a lunch buffet and recognition program starting at 12pm.  To make a reservation to attend, register online at



Saint Martin’s University Receives Major Endowment from Saint Martin’s Abbey

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 3:22pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University 

Saint Martin’s Abbey has established an endowment worth more than $600,000 for student scholarships at Saint Martin’s University.

The amount of $601,965 marks the largest gift to date that the Abbey has bestowed on the institution, according to the Rt. Rev. Neal Roth, abbot of Saint Martin’s Abbey and University chancellor.

“Our monks are passionate about keeping this school flourishing – this is our Abbey mission,” Roth said, in announcing the creation of the Pohl-Wager Endowed Scholarship, which he said received very strong support from the Saint Martin’s Abbey Board of Directors when it recently approved the endowment.

“When the Abbey founded the school 120 years ago, the objective was to provide a school to teach academics but to also give students the morals and ethics to follow for the rest of their lives,” the abbot said.

The number of monks in residence at the Benedictine Abbey is fewer than in years past, said Roth, “but we still want to continue to make an impact on the university – and this scholarship endowment is one way we can do that.”

The abbot said the endowment should provide $24,000 annually for Saint Martin’s students.

Funds for the endowment are a combination of monies received from the estates of the families of two monks who are deceased – Father Thaddeus Arledge, who died in April, and Father Terence Wager, who died in 2010. The Abbey also contributed some of its own funds to the endowment.

“In every conversation I have with alumni, it is the monks who have given the alumni their greatest memories of Saint Martin’s University and this gift is another example of the Abbey’s love for our students and their potential,” said Cecelia Loveless, vice president of Institutional Advancement. “I really believe this gift is the heart and soul of how we came to be and where we plan to go.”


The Washington Center for the Performing Arts Showcases Community Partnership during Downtown for the Holidays

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 12:52pm



washington center downtown holidaysSnowfall outside the Washington Center, sponsored by local businesses, creates magical holiday memories for visitors. Photo courtesy: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

Since 1985, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts has been a hub of artistic and cultural expression in the South Sound. Not only is it the largest performing arts center in the region for touring, professional performances, but it provides a venue for over 25 community partner organizations to affordably showcase their artistic endeavors in a professional stage setting.

The Washington Center shines as a successful example of public/private partnership benefiting an entire region. The Washington Center structure is owned publicly by The City of Olympia while the daily operations, staff, and production work is accomplished by the not-for-profit organization tied to the facility. As a non-profit organization, the group works tirelessly to generate income through their big-name touring shows as well as with donor dollars through Friends of the Center memberships and their permanent Artistic Endowment. The income generated allows The Washington Center to fulfill its charge of providing a professional performance and display space for smaller, local groups to utilize for productions at significant discounts.

And, included in the outreach efforts of The Washington Center are events and experiences designed to welcome the greater community through their doors to experience live theater and engage with the wide variety of arts genres often offered for free.

One of the most beloved of these community events is Downtown For the Holidays. Held this year on Sunday November 29, this annual event is organized by the Olympia Downtown Association in partnership with merchants and businesses throughout downtown Olympia. Free activities are held all day long throughout the downtown core and include several unique family experiences at The Washington Center.

gingerbread village olympiaThoughtful details and whimsical touches are what make the handcrafted creations at the Gingerbread Village so special. Photo credit: Lucie Khadduri.

A highlight for young and old is the SideWalk Gingerbread Village. The spectacular, themed gingerbread houses are created by teams of local volunteer bakers and builders in an effort to raise funds for SideWalk and their mission to end homelessness in Thurston County. The Gingerbread Village is open Saturday, November 28 and Sunday, November 29 from noon to 4:30 p.m. in the Washington Center Black Box. Vote on your favorite for a $1 donation. The displays will all be auctioned off at Saturday night’s Gingerbread Social – a dessert and cocktail themed evening celebrating the holidays while supporting Sidewalk.

Throughout the day Sunday, families will wander the streets of downtown, sipping lattes and hot cocoa, enjoying live music at the Sylvester Park Gazebo, taking photos with Santa and cheering groups participating in the annual holiday parade starting at 3:00 p.m. Downtown for the Holidays is completely free and reflects the spirit of community unity and support that is a cornerstone for The Washington Center. “We are the community performing arts center in this region and we feel its important for people to come through our doors, see our decorations, and know we are open to the public and welcome them to come visit,” shares Washington Center Director of Marketing Anne Larsen Matheson.

After touring the Gingerbread Village, slip through the glass doors into The Washington Center lobby and be prepared to be amazed. Since 1997, the Washington Center has hosted a spectacular quilt show, decorating the walls and halls of The Center throughout the holiday season. The quilts showcase The Center’s commitment to all genres of art and their support of local arts group’s creative work. The quilts are the handiwork of Sew Many Stars quilting guild and feature the talents of some of the area’s best quilters. The quilts are already hung, signaling for Center staff the unofficial start to the holiday season. Quilts will be featured through January 4 with an artist’s reception to be held December 3 at 6:00 p.m.

washington center downtown holidaysThe lobby of The Washington Center will be open to visitors during Downtown for the Holidays featuring an exhibit by Sew Many Stars quilters guild. Photo courtesy: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

Cap off the evening with a Washington Center favorite – the annual free community movie Sing-Along. In years past, audiences have joined in the fun for The Sounds of Music, Grease, and the classic holiday movie, White Christmas. This year, channel your inner-hippie for a splash of 70’s fun with Mamma Mia! The Movie. Pre-performance, audience members will be led through a vocal warm-up by host Lauren O’Neill who will also cue you to chime in on each musical number. Free and open to the public, The Washington Center Sing Along is a perfect end to a day spent enjoying downtown Olympia.

Full details on the Olympia Downton Association’s Downtown for the Holidays can be found here. To learn more about the full line-up of holiday shows being featured at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, visit them online.

“We want to welcome people to downtown during the holiday season that might not otherwise come to The Washington Center or to downtown,” shares Matheson. “We really are the community’s theater and hope people come and enjoy the wide variety of events we are hosting throughout the season.”

olympia youth chorusThe Olympia Youth Choir is just one of the many community groups who uses The Washington Center throughout the holidays. Photo courtesy: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts

512 Washington St SE, Olympia

360-753-8585 / Box Office – 360-753-8586


Honoring the Caregivers with Garden Courte

Sun, 11/22/2015 - 6:00am



garden courte caregiver2015 Garden Courte Caregiver of the Year award winner Kristi Williams celebrates her win.

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community,” explains writer Anthony D’Angelo. This is especially true of the staff at Olympia’s Garden Courte Memory Care Community. In October, they honored one of their own with the 2015 Caregiver of the Year Award.

Kristi Williams was this year’s honored recipient. Both supervisor Katy Gordon and Activity Director Viki Engstrom praise her long-time dedication and caring. At the award ceremony, Kristi was presented with a plaque, gift certificate, and community-wide praise and thanks.

A student of social work, Kristi started with Garden Courte in 2003. She took a break to continue her education but has been back with the facility for three years after obtaining her degree. She has loved her time at Garden Courte and admits that “the residents are my favorite thing about working here.”

Nominations for this award are made by fellow staff, residents, or visiting family members. Viki Engstrom praises Williams as “a great caregiver who deserves the recognition.”

She continues, “Kristy is always pleasant with the residents, never cross or trying to hurry them along. She takes her time with each resident and meets them at their pace. She always has a smile on her face and this makes the residents happy as well. Also, her quiet, peaceful demeanor helps the residents feel calm and this reduces the agitation or anxiety they may be feeling at that moment.”

Aside from resident care, Williams also takes turns staffing the front desk and generally being a welcoming presence wherever and whenever needed.

garden courte caregiverKristi (left) has worked with Garden Courte since 2003 and considers its residents her favorite part of the job.

Kristi truly represents the care and support that embodies Garden Courte. They regularly host free or low-cost public events which feature caregiver support, educational Speaker Series lectures, and an informative newsletter. They also post frequent Senior Living blogs spotlighting emerging eldercare issues and trends.

Staff do more than care for on-site residents. Throughout the year they also raise money and donations for organizations across Thurston County. Their generous spirit means schoolchildren face the year with warm coats and full backpacks, while seniors can look forward to home cooking from freshly delivered Meals on Wheels.

Garden Courte’s next event will be their Annual Professional Holiday Open House. Occurring Thursday, December 10 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., the afternoon features food, music, and a silent auction benefitting Community Youth Services of Thurston County. The event is free and open to everyone. Make sure to RSVP by December 5 to 360-491-4435.

Follow Garden Courte on Facebook for informative articles, photos from recent activities and outings, and details on future classes or fund-drives. With questions about their services, specialties, or resources, drop by at 626 Lilly Road NE or call 360-491-4435. And while you’re at it, say an extra ‘thank you’ to caregivers like Kristi. She deserves it.

Kathy Underwood Bakes Holiday Magic with Mexican Snowflakes

Sun, 11/22/2015 - 6:00am



greene realtyKathy Underwood fuels her life with inspiration. At times there’s a dash of impulse thrown into the mix. Maybe that’s the reason one of the Olympia resident’s cookie recipes appears in the recently published book called the Barnes and Noble Cookie Bake-Off Contest featuring 75 winning recipes from around the country. Her spicy Mexican Snowflakes will warm the hearts of your holiday guests and please all your cookie monsters.

barnes noble cookie contestBaking is a celebratory part of holidays for many of us, including Kathy Underwood with her Mexican snowflake cookies.

Underwood is not new to cooking. At the age of twelve she taught herself, when her mom was busy with school and a career, which included attaining a law degree from Stanford and being a college professor. Her sisters also benefited from Kathy’s time in the kitchen. With a little help from home economics class at school and practice, she did the bulk of cooking and baking for the family. Underwood became an emancipated adult at sixteen and worked as a nanny. With an integrated heritage of German, Mexican and Irish, Kathy was willing to take her cooking in all directions. Her pretzels were popular. She especially liked the heat the certain spices like cayenne rendered.

One childhood memory is her mom buying Mexican breads such as pan dulce. Valentines Day meant gingerbread heart-shaped cookies. These images may have been swirling in the back of her mind the day she saw a contest flyer on the counter at Barnes and Noble. It was for a cookie bake-off. “I’m going to take one of these,” thought Kathy. The flyer sat around the apartment for a while, but late on the evening of December 31st last year, the final day to enter the contest, Underwood decided to go for it. She had a good feeling and began the process.

The judging would be based on creativity and originality (25%), great ingredients (25%), flavor profile (25%) and technique (25%). The entry process proved to be lengthy and complicated enough so that she was slowed down by numerous glitches. The clock was ticking. It was minutes before midnight. Kathy kept working to get everything downloaded and then suddenly – though she thought she was not quite finished – she got a note thanking her for her submission. Because there was only one entry per person – that was that!

barnes noble cookie contestMexican Snowflakes are richly spicy – perfect with hot cocoa or coffee.

Winners were to be announced in February. Winter passed and Kathy hadn’t heard a peep. But in May she received an email. Though not a grand prize winner, her recipe was one of 75 that had been selected from over 4,000 entries to be in a new cookbook. This fall, Underwood experienced a few minutes of fame the day she went to Barnes and Noble to sign books.

Her life in Thurston County is still in the settling in process. Kathy moved north from California a little over a year ago. She’s been taking time to get acquainted with the area, take stock of her options and allow the next phase of her life to unfold. In the past she has had great success supporting and training businesses to maximize their efforts and returns. She’s allowing her inspiration to flourish. I’m sure she’ll be cooking up some fantastic adventures.

You can get your copy of the Barnes and Noble Cookie Bake-Off Contest with 75 winning recipes from around the country online. Or you can visit our local store.

Eat Well – Be Well


Thurston County Holiday Bazaar – a Handcrafted Antidote to Black Friday

Sun, 11/22/2015 - 6:00am



thurston county holiday bazaarAll manner of handmade crafts and products will be available at the Holiday Bazaar on November 27th and 28th.

If the idea of facing bargain-hunting Black Friday crowds makes you want to crawl under the bed, consider a sustainable alternative to America’s biggest shopping day: the Holiday Bazaar at Thurston County Fairgrounds. Vendors will offer a variety of hand crafted, homemade products that you can’t find in any store. “You can enjoy the atmosphere and support your local craftsmen,” says event coordinator Kathy Bailey.

Now in its fourth year at the fairgrounds, the bazaar was originally held at Saint Martin’s University for over 20 years. “The word didn’t get out that it moved,” says Bailey. “My mom and I were vendors at Saint Martin’s for 17 years, and people will say to us, ‘I miss the bazaar.’ We’ll tell them, ‘It’s still here!’”  The event attracts between 3,500 and 5,000 people annually, depending on the weather. This year’s event is scheduled for Friday, November 27 from noon to 4:00 p.m. and on Saturday, November 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Visitors can look forward to a combination of local favorites and new vendors this year. “For a start, we’ll have artists that sell water colors, fudge, homemade caramel, holiday decor, stuffed snowmen, stuffed santas, glassware, candles, soaps, knitted and crocheted hats and scarves,” says Bailey. Seahawks fans will have plenty to choose from, including batik renditions of the logo.

thurston county holiday bazaarVendors have to submit photos of their items in advance to ensure that everything sold is handmade.

One popular booth sells handmade medieval-style board games. “They come on a leather board with stone and wooden pieces. They’re unique. You won’t find them in any store,” she says.

Bailey encourages young entrepreneurs to participate as well. “I’ve got one child who is ten or twelve that has figured out how to do whipped honey,” she says. “I actually met him because he sells his honey to raise donations for the animal shelter where I work. When he brought his donation into the shelter, I told him about the fair.” Several other children will be on hand with their products.

On the other hand, no national brands or network marketing groups are invited. “Every crafter has to submit photos,” says Bailey. “They have to be selling handcrafted items. I have turned vendors away who don’t meet that criteria.”

thurston county holiday bazaarIn addition to paintings and crafts, homemade fudge will also be available this year.

The Holiday Bazaar offers advantages for people shopping for multiple friends and relatives, or who are on a limited budget. “The prices are good,” says Bailey.  Her booth sells handmade holiday decorations, while her mother’s includes potholders and festive dog bones. “We sell a larger quantity because somebody will buy more of a small item versus something that’s priced at $20,” she says. “My mother sells hundreds of big dog bones with a ribbon on top for $3.50 every year. We get the same repeat customers. One lady comes in and buys 30 every year for the neighborhood dogs.”

After 17 years as a vendor, Bailey volunteered to help coordinate the event three years ago. “I go through all of the applications and I’m in charge of advertising this year,” she says. Along with the help of the Thurston County Fair board and other volunteers, she’ll prepare and decorate the fairgounds, then be on hand to oversee the event.

Her motivation is simple. “I love the bazaar,” she says.  “I think it’s a good way to showcase the fairgrounds and the buildings that are available during the rest of the year to rent. It’s a good way to bring people out and remind them that it’s there, not only during the fair season.”

thurston county holiday bazaarSwing by the Thurston County Fairgrounds this weekend.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to one thing:  “Come and shop!” says Bailey. “We can’t emphasize that enough.”

For more information about the Holiday Bazaar visit

Thurston County Holiday Bazaar

Friday, November 27 from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 28 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Local Entrepreneur Inspires People through Shen Zen Tea

Sat, 11/21/2015 - 6:00am



By Kathalina Hoffman, Northwest Christian High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

James Change is proud of the one-year anniversary of Shen Zen Tea Shop in the Capital Mall in Olympia. James Change is proud to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Shen Zen Tea Shop in the Capital Mall, Olympia.

Shen Zen Tea is an organic and artisan tea company seeking to inspire people through their tea. Founder and co-owner, James Chang, lets his philosophy about life shape his business.

“A lot of people drink tea day to day without thinking about it. It’s not contemplative, kind of like wallpaper – it’s not art. What we want is for people to stop and think about and be present with what they are doing. That’s my life philosophy. We not only sell tea – we sell people the opportunity to make tea.”

The name reflects this attitude as well.  Shen means “deep” or “holy” in Chinese and the ancient sage who discovered tea in China was named Shen Nong.  Zen means “spirit.”  The company’s tagline explains how these two meld together in a quality tea drinking experience:  “Discover the Spirit of Tea.”

James’s “go-getter” attitude has taken Shen Zen a long way. When he started out, almost five years ago, he and partner Neil Buckland sold only one variety of tea. They would go door-to-door selling their tea as well as at farmers markets where they would stack their tea into a pyramid to make it seem like they had more.

Now, Shen Zen Tea’s first brick and mortar shop, located in Olympia’s Capital Mall, is celebrating its one-year anniversary and James has more tea than his shelves can hold. The shop offers freshly brewed cups and pots to drink along with hand-packaged teas with names like Pumpkin Spice Chai, Herbal Zen Detox, and Peach Peony.  Shen Zen offers gift packs, delicious artisan syrups and as of this summer, hand-crafted kombucha. Sit and enjoy, take some to go, or sign up for a class to learn more about tea’s origins and brewing the perfect cup.

 Neil Buckland James inspects tea leaves at a rural farm in Taiwan during one of his trips to source quality ingredients. Photo Credit: Neil Buckland

Unlike most tea companies, James is both the manufacturer and the distributor of his teas. He has total control over every aspect and it shows. The tastes of the teas are not dictated by a big company, but rather by his own palate and hand.

James personally visits each farm where he sources his ingredients.  His travels have taken him from Italy to Brazil, South Africa to Argentina, and Madagascar to right here in Washington. Instead of answering the question, “Where do you get your ingredients from?” it is easier to say where he doesn’t go to get ingredients (answer: only Antarctica).

Each canister of Shen Zen Tea holds an assortment of dried leaves, buds, fruits, spices, and oils. Shen Zen Tea currently has over 80 different varieties with 40 currently offered in the store.  James always has a few “conceptual” teas under development.

James expresses his creativity through his teas, creating the flavors and blends himself. He also holds true to his promise that every tea is made with 100% organic, fair trade, and humanely grown ingredients, something he firmly believes in. The water used for brewing tea in the shop and at the farmers markets is brought from an artesian spring which he feels makes a superior tasting and better for you cup of tea.

 Neil BucklandEntrepreneur James Chang started selling his teas at various farmers’ markets. Shen Zen Tea is still sold in markets today throughout the Puget Sound region. Photo Credit: Neil Buckland

Another unique aspect of Shen Zen Tea is their labels. The logo was hand draw and painted by James and every canister sold includes three images: a picture of tea being poured, an image of “splashed” tea, and one of the dried tea inside. James calls it, “information in art.” Each picture highlights a few key attributes of the tea including intended color of the tea when brewed correctly and the viscosity or thickness of the tea. There is a certain detachment between product and consumer, James explains, when the person buying the product doesn’t clearly know what they are consuming or should be creating. Shen Zen Tea shop not only wants to give you an amazing cup of tea, but also wants you to experience and appreciate their product’s complexities and replicate the experience at home.

“Tea is a beverage that captures our human experience,” says James. “It is multi-faceted and covers many aspects of our lives.” Scientifically, there has been much research done on tea. It is not just a folk remedy anymore as studies have revealed certain teas are proven to fight cancer and diabetes. From a culinary perspective, there are whole arrays of flavors, pairing with different foods and opening up new cultural experiences.

James never let slow times during Shen Zen’s early years hold him back from doing what he loves. “I have something great, and I’m going to pursue it. I don’t let my circumstances control my outcomes. I create my own outcomes,” he shares. He has the true mind of an entrepreneur, something that Olympia welcomed with open arms.

James and Neil are excited about celebrating one year in their Capital Mall location. “Olympia really chose us,” James explains.  Visit the store Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. or Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For store updates, follow Shen Zen Tea on Facebook.

The Shen Zen Tea Shop’s friendly staff welcome every customer and help educate shoppers to find the perfect tea for them. “Every tea has a story, we just help tell it,” says Reggie Wyatt, Shen Zen Tea employee and tea enthusiast.  Reggie’s co-worker Allegra Radcliff agrees. “Our tea is delicious!”

Local Beer Businesses Reveal Their Favorite Holiday Pairings

Sat, 11/21/2015 - 6:00am



By Nikki McCoy

south sound trucksThe aroma of crisp, juicy turkey fills the house. Buttery, flaky rolls steam on the table. Plates of pastries and pies tantalize you from the counter, begging you to take a bite, or at least to lean in and smell the sweetness, warmth, and spice.

Now, what’s the perfect beer to wash it all down with?

With holiday feasts just around the corner, we’ve tapped into our local beer professionals to divulge their favorite holiday meal beer pairings.

Our first inquiry is to Gravity Beer Market. Employee Reid Corzatt is quick to suggest a classic holiday ale – Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewery.

beer pairing holiday mealGrab a traditional Christmas Ale at Gravity Beer Market near downtown Olympia. Photo credit: Reid Corzatt.

“That one is really nice with baked dessert, especially pie,” he says.

He goes on to recommend pairing more hoppy beers – like Powder Keg Winter Ale from Worthy Brewery – with outdoor winter activities.

“It’s crisp and hoppy and refreshing, not sweet like most winter ales. It’ll cool you off if you’ve been skiing or chopping wood,” he explains.

And after you’ve worked up an appetite?

“A really good, big imperial stout works really well with any roast or hearty meat,” he says, recommending the Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing “It has a really strong flavor and can overwhelm, but if you have a strong smoky meat dish it just complements instead.”

At Growler Garage, owner Bret Dodd has an ever-changing menu on hand, and he’s happy to pair beer with bird, starting with the German Hefeweissens, Maisels and Hacker-Pschoor.

“The classic German Hefei’s are a spice forward beer, with coriander, clove, and banana. Not hoppy, and won’t compete with your taste buds,” he explains.

He mentions Marzen, typically an Oktoberfest beer (though some good German types are still available) that has a “nice malty flavor with virtually no hops.”

Dealer’s choice for Dodd is a good citrusy IPA, like Loowit’s Shadow Ninja, or even a crisp pale, which he says, “helps cleanse the palate between turkey and gravy.”

beer pairing holidayForget the casserole, grab a growler for your next holiday party. Photo credit: Nikki McCoy.

Deschutes Jubelale is a great go-to for smoked turkey or duck, he says, and even pairs well with pecan pie, with a hint of caramelized sugar, along with some spice, and dark fruit notes.

Speaking of dessert, Sanrica Marquez of Oly Taproom, reminisces about a family favorite for the holidays—apple crisp.

“It’s so delicious and so comforting and so heart-warming. It makes me remember growing up,” she says, noting the dish isn’t complete without vanilla ice cream, “so that it’s all hot and oozing.”

“Most people would go with a cider, because it’s ripe, sparkling and effervescent,” she says. “But it’s also really sweet. So I like the juxtaposition of a really good stout. It has a great mouth feel with it. It’s warming, and has this great dark flavor that brings coffee and smoky and chocolate goodness on top of a beautiful mouthful of ice cream and crisp.”

Her favorite stout to pair with that is oatmeal stout, and she has two in mind. The first is a non-traditional oatmeal stout – Cavataca from Fort George. And the other is a crowd favorite right now – Campfire Stout from High Water Brewing. She fondly refers to this one as a gateway stout for the non-believers.

“Right now is the time of season to really exploit the great stouts coming out,” she says. “People are more open to exploring them.”

beer pairing holiday mealHot apple crisp and vanilla ice are the perfect holiday pair with Cavataca Oatmeal Stout from Fort George Brewery, which you can find at Oly Taproom. Photo credit: Nikki McCoy.

Just make sure it comes with a heaping side of hot apple crisp and vanilla ice cream.

Over at Rocky Top Homebrew, Larry Pendleton suggests strong ales like any winter warmer (profiled as big, having higher alcohol content for late autumn/early winter) to go with snacks such as nuts, cheese, and chocolate. And he swears by a rich porter or stout for strong cheeses or dark chocolates. He also encourages a barley wine for a totally different taste sensation.

Other suggestions include malty ambers or browns with light meats such as turkey, chicken, and ham, and a heavy porter or stout with grilled steak or roast beef.

And for dessert? A rich beer is dessert by itself, he says, but add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a sweet stout for a real treat.

However, Pendleton perhaps sums up the true spirit of holiday beer pairing with the following statement: “The fun part is that anyone can experiment with different beer and food pairings. In my opinion, if you like it, there really is no wrong combination.”


Capital High School’s DECA Chapter Succeeds Year after Year

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 11:19am



By Hali Ehresmann, Capital High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

Hometown logoAs an internationally recognized association of high school and college students, DECA is a great way to become more involved in your community and build relationships with students who have interests similar to yours. DECA stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America and is focused on educating students about management, marketing, and entrepreneurship in fields such as finance, business, and hospitality.

DECA at Capital High School prepares emerging leaders in the world of business and marketing, but is also a great club for nearly any student to join.

Capital High School's DECA students enjoy a seminar at the Fall Leadership Conference held every year in Seattle.Capital High School’s DECA students enjoy a seminar at the Fall Leadership Conference held every year in Seattle.

“I would describe DECA as a business and leadership club that prepares you for the future world, whatever that may mean to the individual,” says CHS senior Parker Dean who has been participating in the club since freshman year. “I would recommend it because it has a fit for every person no matter what’s important to them. If you like giving back to the community, there’s community service. If you like hands on experience, there’s competition. There really is something for everyone.” Dean is currently acting as the Area 8 President, serving DECA chapters in Thurston, south Pierce, Lewis and Grays Harbor Counties.

Community services is a big part of Capital DECA’s culture. Past community service projects include volunteering at the local food bank and hosting Miracle Minute fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House.

Currently, the CHS DECA officers are organizing a Goodwill “Fill-A-Truck” drive. If successful, Capital DECA will receive $500 to donate to the Olympia School District Education Foundation’s Principal’s Emergency Checkbook Fund, allowing principals to directly assist students and their families in the Olympia School District to buy clothes, food, or help pay rent and bills.

“I’ve been involved in DECA for over 20 years and I love seeing the spark it lights in so many students,” says advisor and alumni Jennifer Fabritius. “I love seeing alumni succeed in the business world, many becoming entrepreneurs themselves.  Many of them keep in touch and credit DECA with being the catalyst for their future success.  I also love seeing the impact a group of young people can have on our school and community.”

DECA students help sort donations at the Thurston County Food Bank.DECA students help sort donations at the Thurston County Food Bank.

An important part of DECA is competition. Students can choose from a variety of competitions, including live action role plays, chapter wide campaigns, long term projects, and virtual games. Coleman Johnson, a 2013 CHS graduate, took home a first place position at Nationals in his event, Professional Sales when he was a freshman. “[It] really inspired more students to compete,” shares Fabritius of Johnson’s success. She also credits that moment as one of her favorite memories as club advisor.

What attracts many students to competition is the prospect of traveling. Every year, students compete at a local area competition. If they place, they advance to the State Career Development Conference held each March in Bellevue. Winners at this level advance to the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) held in late April, this year in Nashville, Tennessee.

Students that have made the journey to ICDC describe it as a week full of “competing, learning, and exploring” and “quite the experience to create new friendships and meet people from all over the world.”

This year, senior Sydney Solis is competing in a Promotional Campaign. “We have to do three school outreach activities, three community outreach activities, and reach out to three DECA alumni who have been successful in the business world,” says Solis, an experienced DECA member.

In addition to taking on large projects, she serves as the Capital DECA chapter secretary, recording key points from meetings and planning DECA events with the other officers.

 Sydney SolisCHS DECA tudents enjoy watching a Sounder’s game during one of the group’s team outings. Photo credit: Sydney Solis.

What makes Capital’s DECA program so successful year after year?  “The advisors are both really good teachers and the students are motivated and hardworking,” explains junior Morgan Wheeler.

Fabritius adds, “We have a long standing tradition of excellence in leadership development, community service, and opportunities for students to learn about marketing outside the classroom with the many field trips, conference and activities.  We have great advisors and officers who are passionate about DECA and the opportunities it can provide students. DECA gives students an opportunity to broaden their knowledge beyond the classroom, make new friends, learn job skills and serve our community.  And it’s fun!”

Junior Jacob Loose agrees. “Three reasons why it’s successful are the members – people are really nice and there is a sense of friendship. Second, a lot of people love to compete and travel. Third, the advisors – Mrs. Fab and Mrs. Elam are super great!”

Senior Andy Martinez shares how the members make it successful. “Normally if an advisor asks their club who wants to help with some sort of event or community service project, not many kids will be willing to help. In DECA though, almost all the kids want to get involved.”

With a legacy of success, Capital DECA continues to increase member involvement and plans to bring several members to national competition this spring. With a rich history of participation, competition, and unity, Capital’s DECA chapter can’t wait for the future.


Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes: A Magical Mystery Tour of Sweetness

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 11:00am



miss moffetts cupcakesAfter starting her business, Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes, Rachel Young also appeared on the popular Food Network series “Cupcake Wars.” Photo courtesy: Shanna Paxton Photography.

When you were a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Rachel Young had dreams of being a rockstar one day and a ballerina the next. These, however, were not careers she found herself in as an adult.

Instead, four years ago, Rachel was commuting from Olympia to Seattle, working at a job she loathed. Rachel was an accountant and she hated her job.

“I would sit at my desk and be miserable,” she recalls. “I started to think about what I actually wanted to do, but I didn’t really have anything that I was passionate about.”

That is until she baked her first batch of cupcakes in 2011.

Rachel baked cupcakes for the first time after leaving her accounting job to be a stay at home mom. She was also pregnant at the time and craving her mother’s homemade black bottom cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Rachel had never made cupcakes from scratch before, but after asking her mother for the recipe and baking the cupcakes at home herself, she was hooked. “I wanted to turn everything into a cupcake,” she says.

Rachel baked batch after batch of cupcakes, concocting unique flavor combinations from all-natural ingredients. During her pregnancy, Rachel craved root beer floats, so she created a root beer float cupcake. She cooked beets to make dye-free red velvet cupcakes. She made blueberry cheesecake cupcakes, s’mores cupcakes, orange creamsicle cupcakes, and the list goes on.

miss moffetts cupcakesRachel Young turns to her tarot deck to help her name her creative confectionaries. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography.

“I was obsessed with cupcakes,” Rachel says.

While Rachel was busily baking in her kitchen and dreaming up her next cupcake creation, she says there were other forces helping to guide her journey. “It felt predestined,” she says.

Before ever baking her first batch of cupcakes, way back when she was still working as an accountant, Rachel started reading tarot cards. “The card I kept wanting to get was the Empress — the divine feminine,” she says.

That’s who Rachel says she channeled when she created her company, Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes. But the divine feminine came to her in more ways than one.

During this time, Rachel also found inspiration from another muse — her great grandmother and namesake, Rachel Moffett.

However, more than just her great grandmother, Rachel Moffett was also a passionate baker. She even owned a café in Hillsboro, Texas where she would bake jelly-filled cupcakes for patrons, family and friends.

“Somehow her spirit touched my soul,” Rachel says. “I can’t really explain how it happened. All I know is that at some point during the early stages of my newly found baking hobby, I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea for Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes.”

miss moffetts cupcakesWhile pregnant, Rachel Young was craving her mother’s black bottom cupcakes. After making her first batch of homemade cupcakes, she was hooked. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography.

While the journey has been nothing short of magical, it didn’t come without its fair share of challenges.

Rachel sold cupcakes at downtown Olympia’s Paprika Café by day and rented the café’s commercial kitchen to bake cupcakes by night. Rachel desperately needed more customers if her business was going to be successful.

With the help of her mother, Rachel delivered package after package of cupcakes to local businesses, hoping someone would hire her as a vendor. With only a few businesses wholesaling Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes, Rachel feared her business would fail. That is until Picasso Brother’s Espresso and Café in Centralia began ordering Rachel’s cupcakes by the dozens.

With an upswing in business, Rachel was inspired to keep going, and she applied to be on “Cupcake Wars.”

With buzz about her episode of “Cupcake Wars,” Rachel hoped to see business increase, but it didn’t.

miss moffetts cupcakesMiss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes has three sweet locations across Thurston County. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography.

“I was on ‘Cupcake Wars,’ but I wasn’t selling cupcakes. I couldn’t get a bank loan, and no investor would back me,” Rachel explains. “I felt like I was throwing in the towel.”

But then Rachel received an email from Sweet Charley B’s Cupcakery owner, Amanda Beers, asking if she would be interested in taking over her downtown Olympia lease. Amanda was even willing to throw in all of her cupcake making equipment on a payment plan. This was the opportunity Rachel had been waiting for.

In 2013, Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes transitioned from being an online wholesaler of cupcakes to a retail store across from the Olympia Farmers Market. In the two years that have followed, two additional locations — in Capital Mall and, most recently, Lacey — have opened.

“The universe continues to open up doors,” Rachel says, noting that in the future she will continue to give back to her community, empower women, and help those less fortunate. She even has her vision set on creating a Miss Moffett’s franchise.

Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes offers a wide selection of tarot card-inspired cupcakes, including dairy-free, sugar-free and gluten-free varieties, for those with dietary restrictions.

Everything is made in-house, by hand, from scratch, under the watchful gaze of great grandmother Rachel Moffett’s photograph, which hangs proudly near the front of the store.

For more information, visit any one of the three Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes locations across Thurston County, or visit Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes online.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 8:06am



Let’s talk turkey.  Or rather, how about stuffing and potatoes and PIE!  I’m in the throes of menu planning, delegating duties to my family members and organizing enough space for everyone to have a place to lie their heads.  If you are staying in town for Thanksgiving weekend, we are going to have *loads* of fresh content to help you entertain your out-of-town visitors (or even the feisty ones in town).

In the meantime, here are ideas on what to do this weekend, leading up to Thanksgiving, around Olympia.  Cheers!

Submit an event for our calendar here.

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

Canvas Works Knits a Welcoming Community

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 6:00am



By Lynn West

meconis logoCanvas Works, downtown Olympia’s knitting shop, on the corner of Columbia and Fifth, is a much-loved venue for local knitters and seamstresses. Nothing says fall and winter more than a circle of knitters enjoying each other’s company. Every Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., a casual group of knitters gather with their patterns and projects. The woolen hats, gloves, socks or wraps they are working on will be most welcome on the cold days ahead.

On a recent cold and rainy fall Saturday, a group of eight knitters, surrounded by shelves of richly colored yarn, welcomed me into their circle. Diane Nelson, who had recently returned to Olympia, was perhaps the most seasoned knitter, but new to the group. “Even after 25 years of knitting off and on, I enjoy the camaraderie and advice these Saturday mornings provide.” She added that knitting has become a form of meditation for her.

canvas worksAmy Chartrey is usually the first person to greet you or offer assistance when you shop at Canvas Works.

Deidre Ferguson, who has been knitting for 17 years, agreed. “Knitting is my therapy.” She held up a pair of beautiful, multi-colored socks, and said, “I call these fraternal socks because they aren’t exactly twins, but they are cozy, so I think my daughter will like them.” She recently taught her eight-year-old son to knit.

Not all knitters were old-timers. “How long have you been knitting?” I asked Nancy Vander Linden. “Exactly a week,” she said. “A friend gave me a gift certificate, and I took the Basic Knitting Class last week. Today, I am finishing my hat,” which she then modeled for us.

Just as I was leaving the group, Amy Chartrey walked over from the centrally located sales desk to help one of the women who had gone off track with her stitches. Amy is usually the first person who greets customers, and she is always ready to help.

Asked how long she had worked at Canvas Works, Amy replied, “Since first grade!” Her father, Gary Graybeal, who co-owns the store with his wife, Nancy, agreed. “She has been part of the store since we opened the original Canvas Manufacturing in 1979 down in the red brick building which is now the Wine Loft.” Gary, who often works behind the popular coffee bar, continued to give me a bit of a history lesson about the store.

“My wife began the first store focusing on marine fabrics and made sails, boat covers, awnings, and outdoor furniture covers,” he said. “We are pretty much out of that part of the business now, but Nancy still makes kites, windsocks and canvas bags,” he said.

canvas worksA group in a recent knitting class held on the second floor of Canvas Work is concentrating on the stitches.

Janey Koester was one of their earliest customers. She recalls that her late husband, Tim, first went to Canvas Works to have a cover made for a helicopter. “We have been good friends ever since. I remember when they bought the building where they are now and have watched the business grow over the years,” she recalled.

Amy added to the history, “This building was built shortly after the turn of the 20th century and has so much history itself,” she said. Amy pointed to the ceiling in the back of the store. “I think it is fascinating that part of that ceiling came from the Galloping Gertie, the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge that collapsed 75 years ago.”

Next time you are weaving through the rounders of fabric or using one of the sewing machines they provide for a nominal fee, look up.

Many Canvas Works’ customers appreciate the idea of having a gathering place while others only have a few minutes to “browse and buy.” Recently, I saw my neighbor quickly leaving the store with her purchase. Later, Kathleen Rubido told me, “I would love to spend time there. I grab and go. I only make one thing – stocking hats for my son because they have the blend he likes. I really enjoy chatting with Amy though. She is great.”

canvas worksNancy Vander Linden models her newly completed project, a warm winter hat.

Kathleen sometimes joins a knitting group in our neighborhood when she has time. Another neighbor, Kim Phillips, who has been shopping at Canvas Works since the early 90s, is in that group. “I love Canvas Works because they have high quality yarn, the needles I need, great fabric, and they will always order anything I want.” Kim is a generational knitter. “I began as a young teenager. My mom taught me after having learned from her mom, and now my daughter knits as well.”

If you are new to knitting, check the Canvas Works website for a class. If you want a fun afternoon, invite friends to join you there for a coffee and a couple of hours of knitting as Janey Koester often does. However, if you are too busy to stay, but need yarn, fabric or notions, then just wander around and shop as long as you wish.

Just think of the warm sense of satisfaction you will have when you put on those new socks or mittens. When complimented, you can say, “I knit them myself!”

Canvas Works

525 Columbia Street NW

Olympia, WA 98501


Thrifty Thurston Showcases Holiday Happenings around Olympia

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 6:00am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

volkswagenThe holiday season is in full swing and Thurston County is bustling with an array of holiday events. With so many to choose from, it is hard to narrow it down to just a few possibilities. Not only are these season happenings in our area family friendly but they are also absolutely free!

studio westStudio West Dance Academy will host a Nutcracker themed party at Barnes & Noble in Olympia on November 28. Photo credit: Studio West Dance Academy.

If your children are thrilled with costumes and ballerinas, check out the Studio West Dance Academy’s Nutcracker Party at Barnes and Noble. On November 28 from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., dancers will be dressed as characters from the classic ballet.  This event offers an abundance of thrilling holiday activities including face painting and story time with the main character from the show, Clara. Twirling attendees can also enjoy sugar plum cookies and fresh hot cocoa completely free of charge.

Downtown Olympia will kick off the season with their annual Downtown for the Holidays event on Sunday, November 29. Beginning at noon, families are invited to ride an electric trolley or horse drawn carriage through the city, view a gingerbread village, and listen to holiday music in Sylvester Park. The grand finale of the day includes a Holiday Parade down Capitol Way and the annual tree lighting ceremony. This free event is sure to bring cheer to any Thurston County family.

One of my favorite events to attend with my family growing up were bazaars. They are so much more than a place to buy seasonal items. These one-stop shops have everything needed for the holidays and they help to support our community. One of the bazaars you do not want to miss is the Hawks Holiday Happening Gift & Craft Fair on December 5. This annual event, hosted by the River Ridge High School band, funds uniforms, field trips, and competition entry fees. Beyond the 165 vendors to shop from, this craft fair also hosts entertainment all day long from throughout our region. Families can even have their pictures taken with Frosty the Snowman for free.

On the other side of town, Olympia Waldorf School will play host to their annual Winter Faire on December 5. The magic of the season will be celebrated all day long with a variety of vendors, food, and fun for all ages. These bazaars, along with many others, are an incredible opportunity to support our community and get into the holiday spirit. Be sure to check out our events calendar for a complete list of bazaars taking place between now and Christmas.

olympia toy runThe annual Olympia Toy Run rumbles through town carrying toys for children in need during the holidays.

If you and your family prefer a noisier entrance into the holidays, you won’t want to miss the annual Olympia Toy Run at 1:00 p.m. on December 5. Hundreds of motorcycles take the streets of Olympia carrying toys for needy children. The motorcycles and their riders are decked out in holiday decor rumbling down to Marathon Park to where the toys are collected. The roar of this parade is one you will never forget.

Sometimes, just being an audience member can help to transport you to a world of holiday magic. There are plenty of opportunities to do just that throughout our area. Timberland Regional Library has a calendar full of happenings to whisk your family away. A few of the highlights from this year’s calendar include building a literary gingerbread house on December 16 at the Lacey location and celebrating Christmas with the aloha spirit with a Hawaiian holiday celebration at the Tumwater location. For a full list of holiday library events near you, click here.

olympia holiday eventsOlympia’s Waldorf School becomes the center of a winter wonderland during their annual Winter Faire on December 5. Photo credit: Olympia Waldorf School.

Let it snow! At least, that’s what the plan is at the Hands On Children’s Museum on December 19. When was the last time we had a white Christmas? Well, not to worry, HOCM knows the importance of snow and the holidays so instead of waiting for the weather to cooperate, they are shipping in their own winter wonderland from White Pass Ski Resort. This is sure to be a snowball filled weekend downtown!

Rejoice in the season and take the whole family out to discover the many tidings of our community.

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