Recent local blog posts

Choosing The Right Upholstery Fabric for Your Home

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/05/2014 - 2:11pm



Submitted by Furniture Works

An attractive baize loveseat.  (Coaster Furniture,  $480)

An attractive baize loveseat. (Coaster Furniture, $480)

Microfiber is used in blends and mimic fabrics every day in the furniture industry. It’s an amazing material – softer than silk, with stain and insect repellent qualities. Many types of microfiber are available that now stand in for traditional fabrics like linen, silk and velvet. It’s now the standard for durability and pest control. One thing that many people don’t know is that it is a much finer fabric than silk. The standard for microfiber is that it must be less than 1 denier in diameter, smaller than a strand of silk. That’s why it feels softer. Because it’s a synthetic, it doesn’t stain or react so badly to chemicals like silk. It’s also so small dust mites and other pests can’t live in it, as their feet get caught and they die before having a chance to set up a home. This makes it perfect for allergy sufferers.  Many other fabric choices are often made out of microfiber.


Baize was introduced to England in 1525. It is a coarse cross-weave cloth, sometimes worsted, sometimes slightly fuzzy. Originally it was made from wool and cotton, but today it is also made from synthetic microfibers.  It is used for pocket billiards, blackjack and other gaming tables. Baize was often used to cover doors to separate servant quarters in upper class homes. It was also widely used in upholstery during the mid 1900’s, especially on modern designs. It is a little rough but wears well and holds its shape, so it is best suited to sleek, linear designs.

Top Grain Leather, Bicast Leather, Bonded Leather

What is the difference between these three types of leather? All of them are real leather,  but only one of them has all of the qualities that make leather one of the most desirable fabrics available: top grain.

The hide of an animal is thick and is not usually used whole. It can be split into two or three horizontal slices. The side with the hair attached is called top grain. Top grain is the strongest, most beautiful part of the hide. It is very expensive in comparison to every other type of leather cut. It grows more beautiful with age when properly cleaned and conditioned on a regular basis. It is also biodegradable if discarded.

Bicast leather is made from the cheaper inner layers of a hide and is bonded with a layer of polyurethane.  You are touching plastic when you sit in a bicast leather piece, but it is durable enough. It doesn’t have the luxurious aging properties of top grain, nor does it feel quite as soft.

Bonded leather is very durable, and it is a leather-fabric composite material. It’s cheaper than either bicast or top grain and is a remarkable fabric. Cheap bonded leather can peel or crack, so make sure you are buying from a reputable brand if you choose to go with bonded leather. It has a soft look vinyl can’t match. If you looking for the lowest cost, vinyl can be the best way to go as synthetics are underrated for strength and durability.


A faille sofa. Up close, the lines and soft ribbing can both be seen and felt. (Porter International Designs – call for current pricing)

A faille sofa. Up close, the lines and soft ribbing can both be seen and felt. (Porter International Designs – call for current pricing)

Synthetics have been with us for over 100 years and have shown time and time again that they are with us to stay. Vinyl is no exception, and although it leaves many wishing for more comfort, it is weatherproof, child and pet resistant, and gives the sleek look of leather for a fraction of the cost. Plastics have come a long way since the 70’s, and what fabric manufacturers know about the chemistry of plastic today aids them in developing extremely durable and attractive fabrics. As far as the difference between most leather pieces and vinyl is concerned – there isn’t one. Most low to mid range leather is coated with vinyl to protect it from common rips in cheaper grain anyway.  A heavy duty vinyl is strong and warmer than leather.


Faille is another cloth often made from microfiber. One will sometimes hear the comment “It sort of resembles corduroy” when someone tries to describe faille’s very thin lines.  It was made from silk originally and it gives off a bright sheen, which makes it especially attractive  when it is used with lighter colors. Timeless and elegant, many sofas come through Furniture Works with faille fabric, in particular the raspberry colored “Emma” design from Porter International Designs, shown below.


Big fluffy piles of microfiber make up many of the corduroy couches on the market today, and it makes for a cozy and comfortable statement. It’s not common but it is available from most manufacturers in some form or another. It looks good with Western or Country style décor but blends in lighter shades with elegant and sophisticated Transitional settings.


It’s very rare to find a sofa made out of genuine suede, as it is very difficult to properly take care of. Microfiber suede is wildly popular, and many sofas come in a sueded microfiber. It leaves “marks” just like real suede, which makes it attractive to many people as they like the interesting effect. If this drives you nuts, stay away from sueded microfiber, and go with vinyl, baize or chenille instead.

A corduroy sectional with thick luxurious microfiber fuzz. (Porter International Designs, Approximately $1315, call for availability)

A corduroy sectional with thick luxurious microfiber fuzz. (Porter International Designs, Approximately $1315, call for availability)


This wonderful heavy fabric has a knitted appearance and is very durable. Depending on the pile, it may be sleek and fashionable, or plush and comfortable. This is a very common and popular fabric on a sofa and comes in many varieties. It is sometimes worsted and blended with multiple colors for a fantastic effect. It is warm, soft, and inviting, with an interesting texture that stands up to wear. Due to the accessible loops, it is not recommended for pets that dig or scratch.


Few upholstery pieces are made from pure linen today, but it is available as a microfiber blend. Linen is strong, holds its shape and has been valued for many thousands of years. It makes for a slick modern sofa with a softer feel than baize.

Miscellaneous other fabrics

Mohair, cotton duck, brocade, silk, velveteen, goatskin, wool and other fabrics have been used in upholstery for a many years  but they are usually not seen today in new pieces. When hunting for a vintage sofa or chair, be careful to examine it carefully for stains or insects, which can be hard to remove.  Because microfiber can replicate almost every type of fabric from the past, it is often worth it to recover a collectible piece.

Furniture Works

402 Washington Street NE
Olympia, WA 98501

Saint Martin’s Kristyn Ross Has the Grades To Go Along with the Game in Volleyball

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/05/2014 - 6:48am



By Gail Wood

tagsAs a four-year starter who was named her conference’s freshman of the year, Saint Martin University’s Kristyn Ross has always been a go-to-player.

Need a game-winning spike? Go to Ross. Need help with your homework? Go to Ross.

saint martins volleyball

Kristyn Ross prepares to serve during a Saint Martin’s University volleyball practice. Photo credit: Saint Martin’s University

Whether on the court or in the classroom, Ross has had the answer.

“She’s a battler,” said Kara Peterson, SMU’s head volleyball coach. “She’s always been someone we can rely on.”

Even as a freshman, Ross was already one of SMU’s top players. She averaged 3.83 kills per set, ranking her 41st nationally. She is SMU’s first conference freshman of the year winner in volleyball in school history. She was fourth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference that year in kills with 340.

After leading her team in kills every season since her freshman season, Ross holds the school’s all-time record with 1,046 kill shots with just a few matches remaining. Her 28 kills at Montana State Billings earlier this season set a school record for one match, earning her SMU’s athlete of the week honors.

With a 3.7 GPA and with a knack for the spike at the net, Ross is a brainiac who is also an athlete. At Capital High School, Ross was a two-time 3A Narrows League MVP. With her knack for delivering in the clutch, Ross had the reputation in high school for being the hardest hitter in the area, if not the state.

saint martins volleyball

Saint Martin’s volleyball team preps for a match. Photo credit: Saint Martin’s University

Back in high school, Ross led the Cougars in kills, digs and aces, helping Capital win their fifth straight league title her senior year. She’s the all-time leader in kills at Capital, too. Her high school coach, Natalie Zukowski, called Ross a “once-in-a-lifetime player.”

“I love volleyball,” Ross said. “It’s been a big part of my life.”

She began playing volleyball in the fourth grade at the South Sound YMCA. At 5’10″, Ross was also an outstanding basketball player in high school. She loves the team aspect of volleyball. Naturally, the mental challenge of the sport appeals to Ross, who is the true definition of a student-athlete.

“You have to think about it a lot. It’s really strategic,” Ross said about volleyball. “It’s a lot more complicated than people think it is. People think all you have to do is get up and spike the ball. There’s so much more to it.”

There’s the serving, which is individual.

 Saint Martin's University

Saint Martin’s Volleyball Team
Photo credit: Saint Martin’s University

“That’s all on you,” Ross said “But you can’t touch the ball three times. In basketball you can dribble the ball down the court and shoot it. In volleyball, you can’t touch it twice in a row. So you have to rely on your team a lot.”

All along, from the days she a fourth grader playing volleyball and basketball, she’s also had two huge fans – her parents, Kim and John Ross. Even after moving to the Las Vegas area last June, Kim and John have been in the stands at SMU’s home matches, cheering for their daughter.

“She likes hanging out with her family,” Peterson said. “I think her family is a big source of protection and inspiration.”

With just a few matches left in her college career, Ross knows her days of leaping and slamming the ball to the floor to end another rally are nearing an end.

“I try not to think about it,” Ross said. “A lot of people ask me how I feel about this being my senior year. Well, I just don’t want to think about it. It makes me sad thinking about it. Volleyball has been my whole life. It’s weird to think not having volleyball around.”

saint martins volleyball

Kristyn Ross (in pink on the floor) poses for a team photo during a Halloween practice.

Actually, volleyball hasn’t been Ross’ “whole” life. There’s been chemistry. Peterson chuckled as she told a story of Ross meeting a high school recruit last spring that was visiting on campus. Ross came to the school’s lunchroom to meet the recruit all excited, wearing a T-shirt she had just gotten from her chemistry class.

“She comes flying in and she’s wearing this T-shirt,” Peterson said, laughing at the memory. “She said, ‘Look at what I got in bio club.’ It was a T-shirt with DNA all over it. And she said, ‘Look, isn’t this cool.’”

That’s Ross being Ross. With ambitions to be a medical doctor, Ross is hardly a dumb jock, going to college just to play sports. She’s a student first, athlete second. She’s the president of her school’s biology club.

“She loves chemistry,” Peterson said. “She’s very academic.”

A year ago as a junior, Ross, wanting to graduate early, loaded up her class load with some challenging, upper-level chemistry and physics classes. Worried she was going to get a B in one of her classes, the work load weighed heavy.

“That sent her into a tailspin,” Peterson said. “She took all very hard classes during the volleyball season. It was a challenge. But she handled it very well.”

But that, Peterson will tell you, is just how Ross does things – to the best of her abilities.


Movember – Grow Your Moustache, Beard and Pay Attention

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/05/2014 - 6:03am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

It’s No-Shave November or “Movember,” a month to bring awareness to prostate cancer and prostate health. Jim Kiefert already has a beard and moustache. He also already has prostate cancer. He’s been raising his awareness of everything prostate for over 25 years. It’s time to join him. As a woman I don’t have a prostate gland, but I do have dear men in my life. Knowing about prostate cancer is everyone’s business.

prostate cancer awareness

Jim Kiefert has beat the odds against prostate cancer.

For local resident Jim Kiefert, the journey began when he was having a routine physical exam. There was a newer test available called a PSA, which stands for Prostate-Specific Antigen. His wife, Mo, encouraged him to do it. The results were startling, as his level was high (30 instead of 4). Further tests uncovered prostate cancer. Though the doctor told him he had one to three years to live, Kiefert was enough of a mathematician to know that short side of a bell curve included survivors. “Somebody has to populate the mean,” he thought confidently.

His attitudes, life style and treatments have carried him far. Kiefert recently celebrated his 25th anniversary since being diagnosed. That is a third of his life. He’s still going strong.

The cancer diagnosis propelled Kiefert, a life-long educator, on a journey that continues to take him across the globe from Australia to Paris to Brussels and back across the U.S. He testifies in Washington, D.C. for the FDA as a patient representative. He works with the Department of Defense research team and is part of a special consortium dedicated to measuring health outcomes for men with advanced prostate cancer. Kiefert also leads an Us TOO education and support group. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Here are couple myths about prostate cancer:

Myth: Only old men get prostate cancer.

As with many myths, there can be grains of truth. Yes, old men do get it, but Kiefert knew a local man who died at 52. Though unusual, one man died at 18. Kiefert was diagnosed at age 50, but had he been tested 5 years sooner, it’s likely that that the earlier treatment would have left him cancer free. Options and outcomes are better the sooner the cancer is identified. Some men don’t do anything until they have bone pain. By then the cancer has dangerously advanced.

Myth: If I’m a man and I live long enough I’ll get prostate cancer, so why get a PSA test?

The PSA is a biomarker. It does not tell you have cancer or not. It’s suggested to have your first test done when you are 45 (or 40 if you have a family history or are African American). This provides you with a base line number to compare with subsequent to as you age. The number has significance, but more importantly it’s the progression or acceleration of the number.

At the time the PSA is measured, the doctor can also do a digital rectal exam (DRE). Yes, people make lots of jokes about this to dispel the discomfort. However, it allows the doctor to actually touch one side of the gland through the rectal tissue. Important information – I can understand that men aren’t clamoring for this examination, but these 2-3 minutes can save your life.

jim kiefert

Jim Kiefert, along with his wife Mo, are focused on awareness and education surrounding prostate cancer.

So – what’s the shaving/no shaving about?

When it all started in Australia, it was about people collecting sponsors to pay to shave off moustaches. The money went to prostate cancer research. As the idea moved across the world, it was still about raising money, but in certain places it was about growing the most magnificent moustache. For some, it’s just about leaving the razor in the drawer for a month. With regard to facial hair – you can do whatever you want.

What else can you do?

  • Get yourself or the men in your life signed up for their check up. You can get your cholesterol checked at the same time, as well as your blood pressure. These are all important numbers to know.
  • Choose fresh whole fruits and vegetables. Eats lots of them.
  • Move your body.
  • Notice your thoughts. Replace a few negative thoughts with positive one. Cultivate a profound attitude of gratitude. Optimistic people remain healthier longer and recover more quickly.
  • Manage your stress. Walk, meditate, practice yoga, pay your bills, clear up your spaces, speak positive affirmations, and breath deeply. Read Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine and Miracles. Kiefert spends time in his gardens, reads, rows his dingy around Lake St. Claire and spends time with grandchildren. Rumor has it he’s been known to share a Dairy Queen with his grandson. Have fun.
  • Grow love in your life and make connections with others.

See how many bushy beards and marvelous moustaches you find this November. Become more prostate aware. Our college-aged son joined the beard-growers three Novembers ago and my husband also put his razor aside. It was a furry month. My husband still sports a handsome, nicely trimmed beard. We all learned about prostate health. To learn more about Us TOO nationally, click here.

Eat Well – Be Well


Olympia’s Jen Valdenegro Spends a Day as a Celebrity Chef on the Today Show

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/05/2014 - 5:53am



By Katie Hurley

creative officeWhen Olympia resident Jen Valdenegro submitted a recipe to a Today Show “Too Good to be Healthy” apple recipe contest, she knew the winners would be flown to New York to appear on the Today Show on the same day she was scheduled to leave on a trip to Hawaii. “But what are the chances?” she asked herself. When they called to tell her they were considering her recipe and to confirm that she was available to come to New York if selected, she said yes, still thinking, “But what are the chances?”

Apparently her chances were better than she thought. A week later, just 5 days before she was scheduled to leave for Hawaii, she got the call from the Today Show. Her Chicken and Apple Meatballs in Onion Apple Gravy recipe was a winner and she would be leaving for New York in a few days.

today show recipe contest

Jen Valdenegro (right) and Today Show Nutrition Editor Joy Bauer stand behind Valdenegro’s winning recipe.

Valdenegro, who graduated from Seattle’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Program in 2013, created the recipe as a healthier version of one of her childhood favorites. The recipe features flavorful meatballs made with ground chicken and grated apple in a creamy gravy that is thickened with pureed apple. When the recipe got a thumbs up from her fiancé, Valdenegro submitted her recipe on the last day of the contest.

“It was a fabulous experience,” says Valdenegro of her appearance on the show. “Everyone was so helpful and nice, and they made it so easy.” Food stylists prepared her recipe while she was in hair and makeup and then in the green room mingling with other guests including Paula Abdul.

Joy Bauer, a nutritionist and the Today Show’s Nutrition and Fitness Editor, was impressed by Valdenegro’s light recipe. “This dish is only about 300 calories per serving,” says Bauer, “Is this unbelievable?!” After tasting the recipe, Today show co-host Tamron Hall declared, “This is amazing!” and Willie Geist called Valdenegro’s fiancé “a lucky man!”

After a quick 36-hour trip to New York, Valdenegro was able to continue on to Hawaii just a day later than originally planned. Just a regular day in the life of a celebrity chef.


Sub Pop U.S.A.!

K Records - Wed, 11/05/2014 - 12:09am
Cheri Knight (and goat), John Foster, Steve Fisk and Bruce Pavitt in an alley, downtown Olympia, 1982. Photog by David Rauh. In 1980 Bruce Pavitt began printing up a fanzine in Olympia, Washington called Subterranean Pop that explored the neglected new music underground of the Midwest and Northwest, including future K anti-heroes Beakers, Blackouts and […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment


Mojourner Truth - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 8:41pm
Republicans gain control of the Senate!

Um. I think that happened years ago. Seriously, did the Democratic senators do anything for the past six years?

All Your Friend’s Friends: Smoke M2D6 Freestyle

K Records - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 7:13pm
Freestylin’ in the kitchen beneath the Dub Narcotic Studio at the K office in Olympia, Washington, Smoke M2D6 representing the new NW hip hop compilation All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255]. Besides producing the album Smoke also appears on the songs “3D Monocle”, “Dancefloor on the Warpath” and “Welcome to Forever”. All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Girl Trouble at the Olympia Film Festival!

K Records - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 2:43pm
People. Rock’n'roll will never die, and it sure is getting gruesome. Fortunately, we’ve got Girl Trouble to kick it in the pants! This weekend you will have two opportunities to experience the Girl Trouble esthetic at the Capitol Theater in downtown Olympia. On Friday (Nov. 7) Girl Trouble play opening night of the Olympia Film […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Answering the Call at The Crisis Clinic

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 12:42pm



By Kathryn Millhorn

oly fed sponsorThis time of year can be overwhelming.  The start of school, the death of summer, holidays, meetings, flu season, and winter darkness all weigh us down.  This often reduces our world to a smaller, more manageable size.  It’s tempting to let our burdens overshadow those who may need help but Desmond Tutu once said, “do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

The Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties does just that, one phone call at a time.  As their mission states, “we strive to empower people, especially those in crisis, through telephone intervention, and information and referral, every hour of the year.  We strengthen the community by training Clinic volunteers and educating community groups in crisis intervention skills.”

crisis clinic

Volunteers share at the DSHS Combined Fund Drive Charity Fair in Lacey’s Huntamer Park.

Their dedicated volunteers staff phone lines 24 hours a day, all year round, for almost any need.  Youth calls are answered seven days a week from 4:00 p.m. – midnight by youth volunteers; peers trained to offer help and guidance.  In 2013 almost 8,000 calls were answered dealing with the painful issues of stress, frustration, fear, anxiety, and difficult decision-making.

Board President Kelly Olson remembers that the Clinic “answered our first call on December 20, 1972 in a dorm room at The Evergreen State College.  The Crisis Clinic was a combining of several other community resources to create one place someone could call who was experiencing a mental or emotional crisis, as well as get information and referrals to community resources, such as assistance with food, shelter, medical, dental and other items.”

“Often when I think of our callers, I think of those that are struggling to just meet their basic needs on any given day, and for many callers that is true,” Olson continues.  “However, this year in particular we have been painfully reminded of how mental illness and addiction crosses all social and economic boundaries.  We recently saw our calls increase as we watched the whole world mourn for the loss of Robin Williams to suicide.  Earlier this year we lost another talented individual, Philip Seymour Hoffman to the baffling disease of addiction.  Our callers may not be Hollywood A-Listers, but their daily struggles are no different when we are talking about mental illness and addiction.”

The Clinic is much more than simply a suicide hotline, though that is very much a part of their scope.  Says Olson, “the key service is providing immediate anonymous crisis intervention, helping a caller to de-escalate before their crisis escalates to something more serious.  We provide a non-judgmental listening ear to those who need to talk, and we hold space for whatever it is they are going through.  We also provide referrals to other agencies, such as emergency shelter, the food banks and where hot meals or served, low or free mental and medical assistance.  Just about anything you can think of.  We also recognize that there are very limited resources in the community and will talk with callers about the reality that there might not be a place for them to sleep tonight.  We provided 3,338 referrals to 359 different community agencies/programs.”

crisis clinic

Crisis Clinic volunteers reach out to service-members at JBLM supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Not only are the staffers volunteers, the Board are as well.  Olson explained that in 2013 their volunteers logged 14,926 hours of service.  One dedicated volunteer is CB Bowers. “I have been a volunteer in other organizations over the past years and I have always believed in giving something back.  I decided I would be a good fit at the Crisis Clinic and started volunteering 16 years ago,” explains Bowers.  “I was amazed at the abundance of resources available in the counties.  I quickly learned that the Crisis Clinic offers not only resources, but support without judgment.  I offer my ear and a caring voice and try to give the caller confirmation that they matter without giving advice.  Sometimes it is difficult because I feel like I have the answers, however I have learned it is not my call; it is the callers.  I enjoy my weekly shift and feel as though I have made a difference in someone’s life.”

Off the phones, the Clinic provides presentations to local middle and high schools, passes out informational literature at community events, and trains state agencies, organizations, and local businesses in communication skill-building.  They have shared at the Olympia Farmers Market, Saint Martin’s University, Olympic College in Shelton, and many other locations.

How can you help?  The Crisis Clinic team offers a multitude of options.  On Friday November 14 they will be hosting their annual “Answer the Call” dinner and auction.  Tickets are available online or by calling 360-586-2888 ext 108.  This event will feature guest speakers, a salmon dinner, and fundraising auction.

Volunteers are also needed for the phone lines or to serve on the Clinic’s Board.  Inquiries for this should be directed to staff director Nanci LaMusga at 360-586-2888 ext 103 or  Other opportunities exist for event organizers, retirees, or community outreach as well.

Follow the Crisis Clinic on Facebook or their website at

Those in need of help can call the hotline 24/7: 360-586-2800.  The youth help line is: 360-586-2777.  Share these numbers; you never know who will thank you for it someday.


Drees – Engaging the Senses for 85 Years

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 6:40am



By Natasha Ashenhurst

drees olympia

At Drees, customers use their senses to find the perfect gift (large or small).

Online shopping is convenient, relatively inexpensive and you can order those Christmas gifts in less than an hour while wearing your pajamas.

Take one step into Drees of Olympia and you’ll quickly discover what online shopping lacks: Drees engages the senses. It is both a destination and an experience. You can smell those amazing hand-milled French soaps; take a seat on a beautiful, custom-made couch while browsing through a stack of books you’re not likely to find anywhere else. You can feel the difference between the hand-towels or mix and match dinnerware patterns until you find a place-setting that is uniquely you. Chances are, if you browse long enough you’ll be offered a taste of fudge or a sample of what is considered the best olive oil produced in the United States.

Every product has a story and every product was chosen with extreme care.

And if you think that Drees is only for shoppers with an unlimited budget, read on. Drees has something for everyone, whether it is a wonderful bar of soap, candle, children’s book or a towel that will last for twenty years. Drees is especially helpful when you need a gift for someone that is difficult to buy for and loves quality over quantity.

“I will never buy an item for the store that I have not seen. I can’t trust a photo to show a product’s quality. I believe there are many products that people cannot make a good buying decision about without first seeing, sitting, smelling or feeling. They need to engage the senses to make a good decision,” said Ruthann Goularte, owner of Drees.

Ruthann is careful to hire staff who can help anyone find what they are looking for. Long-time customers know they can turn to Drees to help ‘wardrobe a table,’ find just the right piece for an awkward corner of the home, or find the perfect serving dish for an upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

drees olympia

Ruthann Goularte bought Drees, a downtown Olympia shop, in 1976.

Ruthann loves helping brides create their registry. “When I register a bride, I advise them not to buy a set of anything. Instead, I tell them to imagine you have a cupboard full of things you love every time you open it  Everything in there works together, but not one element is the same. Rather it works due to a common color, shape or pattern,” she said.

“My intention is that we provide products that people want to keep. Something that will endure,” Ruthann continues.

It is the Drees commitment to quality, beauty and excellent service that has helped Drees thrive in Olympia for 85 years. And it is this wisdom that keeps customers coming back year after year. The things they buy at Drees last and delight over and over again.

An 85-Year Legacy in Olympia

In 1929 Jimmy Drees bought the Art and Paint store, adding framing, gifts and wallpaper. In fact, there are some homes in the South Capitol neighborhood that still boast Jimmy Drees paper on the walls, according to Ruthann.

In 1965 he sold the store to the John Cowan family, but after Mrs. Cowan became ill they looked for a buyer. Enter Ruthann.

Ruthann grew up in Olympia. She attended Saint Michael’s, and walked to her father’s shop, Panowicz Jewelers, every day after school. “I would visit shops as I walked to my dad’s, and my favorite shop was Drees,” she said.

Ruthann left Olympia to attend college and study fine arts, and ended up in Washington D.C. working as an aide at the Hirshhorn Museum. “One day my dad told me that Drees might be closing. He knew how much I loved the store. My dad asked me if I was interested in buying it,” she said.

drees olympia

Beautifully patterned linens are displayed at Drees in downtown Olympia.

Ruthann returned to Olympia and met with Cowan’s daughter. “It was one of those time and place situations where you know it is the right thing. I purchased the store in 1976,” she said.

At that time, Drees was located on 5th Avenue, where Radiance now operates. Under Ruthann’s ownership the store went through several transformations, including offering one of the first espresso counters in the region. “We drove to Seattle every other weekend and purchased Starbucks from the original store. We taught cooking classes. We sold a lot of kitchenware. Eventually we decided that we needed a larger space,” she recounted.

They moved to their present location at the corner of Legion and Washington in 1986, and Ruthann concentrated the business on what she loved best: gifts and furnishings. In 2010 Ruthann’s husband, David Bettencourt Goularte, a well-known interior designer with more than 40 years of experience, opened an interior design studio adjacent to Drees.

Secret of Success

For the past 38 years Ruthann has worked tirelessly, often not leaving the store until midnight, to make Drees the success that it is today. In the beginning, she would meet with Jimmy Drees every week to learn everything that she could from him about running the store. She said, “We both shared a love of the store. I thought he was magic because he knew so much. Jimmy would say, ‘You’ve gotta have merchant blood. You have to love the work that comes with it. You have to enjoy the people.’ I grew up in retail. You learn to create a life around your work. This is my livelihood. This work is my contribution to the community. I truly believe in the value of creating unique, creative endeavors that help make Olympia the jewel that it is.”

Join Drees on Thursday, Nov 6, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. for an evening soiree celebrating 85 years. The celebration will continue with their Annual Holiday Open House Nov. 7 – 9.


drees olympia

Drees’ expert staff and well-stocked retail store is the perfect stop while shopping downtown Olympia.

Drees of Olympia

524 Washington Street SE in downtown Olympia


Hours: Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Navigating Grief through the Holidays

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 6:00am



listening quote navigating griefAs the leaves begin to fall in earnest and the temperatures drop we enter into a season marked by holiday celebrations and gatherings.  For many, this is a joyous season.  But for those who are struggling through the life lived in grief, the impending holidays can loom threatening on the horizon.

People ask, “Are you ready for the holidays?” meaning, are the presents wrapped, the cookies baked?  But when you are navigating the holiday season without someone you love with you for the first or fourth time, this question means something entirely different.

Joan Hitchens of Olympia-based Navigating Grief shares that the holidays present a special challenge for those who have experienced a loss.  “There is an unfolding of loss throughout the season as holidays and traditions are observed throughout the fall and into the New Year,” explains Hitchens.  Gathering to “give thanks” when you feel far from thankful or celebrating with others who embody the holiday word “merry” is difficult when all you feel is the great, giant hole in your life left by the person you have lost.

There are, however, ways to manage the holidays even while working through the grieving process.  First, you must identify if you just want to be alone, or if wrapping others around you like a warm blanket is what you seek.  It’s ok to need space and solace to find your way.  But also accept that being around happy celebrations and cheerful families is ok as well.

Hitchens also encourages you consider to “retire” traditions that underscore the absence of someone who is gone.  If your husband always carved the Christmas Eve Prime Rib, serve lasagna instead. If the gathering place was always at her house, let someone else host, or pick a brand new location. If your traditions bring you comfort, then by all means, keep them! Look at what works for you to maintain health, memories and your energy in each season. She also encourages a focus on self-care.  Taking the time for a massage, a short get-away, or regular exercise can make all the difference in a busy and emotional season.

And above all else, seek support when you need it.  Look for those whom you trust to share your emotions with.  Write in a journal or join a support group.  The challenge of the holidays is a universally difficulty for those dealing with loss and you need not go it alone.

For more ideas on Navigating Grief through the holidays, click here.


The Stardust Christmas Commotion

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 4:11pm
Event:  Fri, 11/28/2014 - 8:00pm - 10:30pm


It's mid-December 1958 and the Stardust club has been hired to host a hurry-up wedding reception for a mysterious couple. It’s a race to beat the clock, further complicated by the arrival of a social worker looking for a fugitive from a foster home. And she’s pretty sure she’s looking in the right place.


But the show must go on, and the gang sings and dances some of the greatest rat pack and rock’n’roll songs of the era in their search for holiday magic. This is the nineteenth year of the South Sound’s Stardust Christmas tradition!

WHEN: November 28th-December 31st, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00PM, Sundays at 2:00PM (plus a 2:00PM matinee on Christmas Eve, and a special 7:00PM performance on New Year's Eve)

PRICE: General: $39, Senior/Military: $35, Student/Youth: $25, Rush tickets available at Box Office ½ hour before curtain

DEALS: Pay What You Can Night: December 3rd, Ladies’ Night Out: December 5th, Pride Night:  December 12th logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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The Shivas Album Release Party Nov. 8!

K Records - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 3:49pm
This Saturday November 8 the Shivas will celebrate the release of their new album You Know What to Do [KLP252] at Bunkbar (1028 SE Water Ave. #130, 97214) in Portland, OR. It’s going to be a super-sized event with the likes of Moon by You and Jollapin Jasper blasting alongside the Shivas in a full […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Nerd Alert: Mic Pre Frequency Sweeps

K Records - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 10:10am
I’ve been using FuzzMeasure to tune the monitoring setup here, which has predictably led to me starting to obsessively run frequency sweeps on everything. The other night I stayed late and ran sweeps on all our microphone preamplifiers.  It was very interesting. When I talk with all the engineers we spend a lot of time […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment


OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 9:35am








NOVEMBER 9th at 9pm


FREE TO THE PUBLIC logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Sharon's Secret Art Opening

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 9:30am
Event:  Sun, 11/09/2014 - 8:00pm - 11:00pm





featuring the work of Alexis Dececco & Scott Young logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Sneaky’s Makes Snacking Nutritious

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 6:45am



By Jennifer Crain

uhlmann rvTish Watford had a nasty case of the flu. When a family friend heard about it, she suggested neem tea, referring to a common tree in the Virgin Islands, where Watford lived with her husband and their young son. Neem is in the mahogany family and is said, among other things, to be effective at bringing down a fever, settling stomach upset, and relieving loss of appetite.

Watford had never tried the tea before—she had only lived in St. Thomas for a couple of months—but she was willing to try anything if it made her feel better. Why not take advantage of local advice? She gathered the long, serrated leaves from a tree in her own yard and steeped them in boiling water.

The drink was so bitter it made her flinch. She forced down a mug of it anyway.

sneakys popcorn

Tish Watford discovered the healing power of plants when she lived in the Virgin Islands. Photo credit: Jennifer Crain

The next morning, Watford was up and about, feeling less flu-like than she’d anticipated. Surprised and encouraged, she choked down a second cup, just to be sure.

“When I’ve had the flu in the U.S.,” she says, “it’s knocked me down for like five days.”

The experience, and others like it, got her thinking about food in a new way. In the Virgin Islands, Watford was in contact with people who valued the health benefits of the plants around them.

“It was always living closer to the ground and using foods as medicine,” she remembers. “I was in a community that was more natural…if you were having tummy problems, there were people who could tell you (about something that could help heal you).”

Watford loved the tropical plants and the weather that made them thrive. She smiles remembering that she always wore summer clothes.

But her time living “in the middle of paradise” ended abruptly when her husband, a chef and caterer, fell ill at the age of thirty-three. Two weeks later, he died of still unidentified causes. Her husband was from the islands, but the two and their young son had only lived there as a family for a number of months.

sneaky popcorn

Sneaky’s spirulina popcorn is a high-nutrient snack made in Olympia. Photo credit: Jennifer Crain.

Stunned, Watford and her son moved back to the States in the spring of 2012, to Alabama, where she could be near her college-aged daughter. It was a safe place to absorb the shock and to try and reassemble her life.

Surrounding herself with family, she eventually visited Olympia to help her sister settle in and later decided to make the move herself. In October 2013, she and her son moved to the area.

As she considered what to do next, Watford reflected on the food lessons she learned on the island. She also kept experimenting with nutritional powders and supplements, though she found that some of them tasted pretty awful, like the neem tea. After wrecking her share of smoothies, she started to think about ways to sneak “super foods” into snacks that tasted good. So she experimented with (what else?) chocolate.

If she mixed beetroot into dark chocolate and drizzled it over popcorn, she discovered, no one would know the difference. That’s what happened when she sold her popcorn at a couple of local festivals: people gobbled it up without so much as an eyelid twitch. This was looking like a viable business idea.

Soon she was researching, recipe testing, and brainstorming business names.

Highlighting the stealth appeal of her product for busy, health-conscious parents, particularly women, she settled on a name: Sneaky’s Super Snacks. Now it’s simply Sneaky’s.

Her business started to take shape as she identified her goals.

sneakys popcorn

Tish Watford’s spirulina popcorn is available at 6 locations in the greater Olympia area. Photo credit: Jennifer Crain.

“Okay, I know this tastes really good,” she would say to herself, “but does it have a function?” She thought there should be something beneficial for the body in every bite.

When Watford first considered packaging her product, the chocolate popcorn turned out to be too labor-intensive to make it worthwhile. So she turned to a favorite combination she learned from a friend on the island: popcorn dusted with nutrient-rich spirulina powder (made from a type of freshwater algae). She came up with her own version of the snack, using all organic and GMO-free ingredients. The final recipe is a gluten-free, vegan combination of nutritional yeast, coconut oil, spirulina (she’s careful with sourcing to be sure it’s free of heavy metals), garlic, onion, paprika, and sea salt over popcorn.

Here was an accessible, lick-you-fingers snack that was manageable enough to produce and package for retail and wholesale. And people really liked it. When she heard a child begging his mom for more than one bag, she knew she had reached a benchmark.

“He was pouting, ‘I want my Sneaky’s!’” Watford recalls. “And I thought, ‘Yes!’”

Watford is an accountant by training, so crunching numbers for a new business didn’t scare her off. But she knew she needed entrepreneurial guidance and help developing a solid business plan. So she sought out a position in Enterprise for Equity’s Business Training Program.

Sneakys popcorn

Watford launched her business with the help of Enterprise for Equity. Photo credit: Jennifer Crain

“Enterprise for Equity helped me identify my target audience,” she says. “That, and honing in on the numbers.” Watford is among 24 of the program’s most recent small-business graduates.

She began distributing her product in January at the Olympia Food Co-op. Since then she’s expanded and Sneaky’s popcorn is now available at Little General Food Shop, Farm Fresh Market, and the bookstore at The Evergreen State College, as well. She also sells at the Tumwater Farmers Market.

Watford will launch new packaging in November, replacing the pouch with a re-sealable chip bag. And she has a new product up her sleeve, a corn-free version of her snack made with popped sorghum. As the parent of a child with a long list of food allergies, she understands how careful many people have to be with their food and wants to be flexible and responsive to her customers.

“I want to do the experimenting for you,” she says. “I want to be that company that helps you eat super foods effortlessly.”

For more information about Sneaky’s snacks, contact Tish Watford at or 360-562-0411.


Lacey Fire’s All Female Crew Brings Awareness to Women in the Fire Service, Breast Cancer

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 6:45am



By Megan Conklin

Olympia Auto Mall sponsorIn an effort to heighten awareness regarding breast cancer prevention and finding a cure, Lacey Fire District 3 was awash in pink.  Everyone from firefighters to office professionals to the chief of the department, donned bright pink shirts in a rose colored show of solidarity during October.

But the women of Lacey Fire took things a step further.

lacey fire

The women of Lacey Fire staffed an all-female crew on October 16 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

On October 16, the career and volunteer women firefighters and firefighter/paramedics of the department staffed an all-female fire crew at Fire Station 34, in the northeast corner of the district.  While it is not unusual for women to be part of a crew at Lacey Fire District 3 – 12 percent of the District’s emergency responders are female – the women are typically spread among three shifts.  And considering that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 3.4 percent of the nation’s firefighters – Lacey’s 12 percent is fairly impressive.

Crystal Murphy is an eleven-year veteran of the fire service.  She was hired with Lacey Fire in 2008.  Murphy was one of the women who ran calls with the all-female crew last month. Murphy, who was inspired to pursue a career in the fire service after a stint in the Navy, found the experience both fun and different from a usual shift day. “It seemed like some of the pressure was lifted,” she mused. “And, it was really cool when female civilians or little kids would look at us and make a comment. There was just this non-verbal way of acknowledging that anyone is capable of anything. It was a really sweet feeling.”

lacey fire

Maggie Bean, the first female firefighter ever to be hired with Lacey Fire District 3, receives recognition at the Breast Cancer Awareness Event.

Murphy also noted that her thoughts that day, while serving the community alongside her fellow females in the fire service, often turned to the women who blazed the trail before her. “It meant a lot to us,” she acknowledge. “But it meant so much more to Rita and Maggie, and in ways we really can’t fathom.”

The women that Murphy is referring to are Rita Hutcheson, the first female fire chief in Rainier, Washington and Maggie Bean, the first female firefighter hired in Lacey.  Hutcheson retired as the chief of the Southeast Regional Thurston Fire Authority in 2011. Bean was hired in 1985 and retired in 2003.  On October 16, Bean came out of retirement to ride with the women of Lacey Fire. These women were pioneers in the fire service, and they have left a legacy in Thurston County that has empowered many others to pursue their dreams.

The all-female shift day culminated at Station 34 with a celebration and open house that coincided with a Fire Commissioners meeting. Members of the public, on and off duty firefighters, families, and the Puget Sound Firefighter’s Pipes and Drums band all celebrated the women, past and present, of Lacey Fire District 3.

lacey fire

Lacey Fire Chief, Steve Brooks, speaks of Lacey Fire’s proud tradition of women in the fire service.

The purpose of the all-female shift day was not only about honoring the hard work and dedication of women in the fire service, it was about breast cancer awareness as well. According to the American Cancer Society, about 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2014 – and this is a statistic that the men and women of Lacey Fire District 3 care deeply about.

“Do your regular check-ups and screenings,” Murphy urged. “Ask your doctor about mammograms even if you are under 40. I lost a family member two weeks before her 41st birthday to the disease.”

Repeatedly, the Lacey Fire females, participating in the event, expressed their gratitude for the support they have felt from the men of Lacey Fire. “I just kept thinking that I wanted to thank Chief Brooks for his outreach, support, and efforts to promote women in the fire service,” Murphy concluded.

And she has a few words for young women who might be interested in pursuing a career as a firefighter too: “Do it! Don’t shy away and doubt yourself. You are capable, you are worthy, and you most certainly are deserving.”


Washington Poll, "rest of Washington" and their lack of Partyism

Olympia Time - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 5:43am
In the most recent episode of the Slate Political Gabfest, the hosts discussed the recent phenomena of Partyism.

This would be a sort of prejudice or bigotry based on the political affiliation of someone. I assume this has been around for awhile (seeing how people didn't like Socialists or Communists going back 100 years or so), but apparently this has recently crept into mainstream politics. Republicans being partyist towards Democrats and vice versa.

David Plotz (at some point I think it was David) wondered where exactly this phenomena hasn't taken hold in American communities. Where the parties and partisanship hasn't warped politics and public discourse. Taking a look at the recent "Washington Poll," I think I have a local example.

The Washington Poll divided the state into three parts: Eastern Washington (beyond the Cascades), Puget Sound (self explanatory) and the rest of Washington. It is this "rest of Washington) category that I found fascinating. In most cases, Eastern Washington presented itself as the furtherest right wing, while Puget Sound served as its liberal foil. You'd assume "rest of Washington" would be somewhere stuck in the middle. And, you'd be right, for the most part.

While the poll isn't very clear, it seems like the "rest of state" category includes the counties on the west side that don't border Puget Sound. Basically the Olympic Peninsula and the Lower Columbia. Except for a few traditionally conservative and Republican counties towards the Oregon border on I-5, most of these counties are old-style Democrat timber communities.

They have voted Democratic since the Depression, while at the same time aren't pulled into the gravitational pull of liberal Seattle. They are Democratic on their own.

So, to start, these "rest of state" counties have a higher voter participation and seemingly deeper culture of civic engagement.

For just voter registration, we see better than average for the rest of state: 92.2 ROS compared to  88.0 for Puget Sound and   87.2  for Eastern Washington.

The same pattern holds for turning in your ballot this year: 20 percent compared to 17.7 or 16.5 for Puget Sound and Eastern Washington.

And, in terms of health of the community, rest of state was the only group over 50 percent on the question of right track/wrong track. Even though many of these places have unemployment higher than Puget Sound,  voters here still have faith in the future.

Also, they also have more faith in the process. Compared to Puget Sound and Eastern Washington, which neither could get above 38 percent favourably rating for the state legislature, rest of Washington rated their locally elected legislators at almost 50 percent very or somewhat favourable.

In terms of partisan ID, these communities are almost evenly split. While Democrats dominate Republicans by 20 percent in Puget Sound, and Republicans by 10 points in Eastern Washington, Republicans lead Dems by only about 3 percent in these other counties. And, the highest number of voters describe themselves as moderates in rest of Washington (a plurality).

And, lastly, even more than conservative Eastern Washington, rest of Washington is rooted in its present. It doesn't face the future, it faces the now. Question 34 "The America that you know and love isn’t changing too fast, and will never change" (as badly phrased as that is) illustrates this. Eastern Washington and Puget Sound both strongly or somewhat disagreed with this statement 65 percent of the time, while "rest of Washington" got over 70 percent.

While you'd assume "rest of Washington" would fall somewhere along the same lines as the other two, it actually showed itself to be more conservative. Or, at least, more rooted in what is going on their now.

"Rest of Washington" falls outside the right/left dualism that Puget Sound and Eastern Washington represent. It has higher civic participation, more faith in the process and thinks of itself as more moderate. It also isn't looking to the future for either doom or success. Right now, the way things are and the people who are here now as neighbours will have the answers.

There are a few reasons why this is the way things are out there:

1. These areas (except the Republican/conservative counties like Lewis and Clark along I-5) are out of the way counties. Counties like Pacific, Grays Harbor and Wahkiakum counties are literally geographically split off from anywhere else in Washington.

2. They represent a "way it used to be." While the decline of the logging industry overall has hit these counties hard, there is still a core element here that depend on resource extraction (anything like logging or fishing). And, this is the way it used to be in all of Washington. But, times have changed in places like Puget Sound, and the regional culture that you can still see in Aberdeen or Raymond is hard to find in Seattle or Everett.

3. We call them Democrats, but they're much more conservative than that. That label is pretty flexible. Take Tim Sheldon, a Democrat from Shelton in Mason County. He even went as far as caucusing with Republicans, but it isn't that uncommon for Democrats from the coast to vote against their Puget Sound party-mates. That still said, Democrats still dominate politics out there, it is hard for a Republican to get elected in any local office.

Calling All Murreleteers!

Maria Mudd Ruth - Sun, 11/02/2014 - 8:04am

Public comments needed! On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will be giving a presentation on the Long-term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet.

The meeting is open to the public and is being held at the Natural Resource Building in Olympia at 9 a.m.

Please consider attending the meeting to urge the Board of Natural Resources to protect the buffers around marbled murrelet nesting habitat--these buffers are the next targets for logging. Sign up to speak, be a warm body, write to the BNR to express your concern. E-mail

For more information on the meeting location, agenda, and to see the presentation Power Point, please go to the BNR website here. Scroll down past the 2011 calendar to the Board of Natural Resources Meeting Materials. Click on the link "Marbled Murrelet Long-Term Conservation Strategy Presentation" to download a pdf of the PowerPoint to be presented by the DNR.

Categories: Local Environment
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