Amp Your Health with Greens This Spring

As leaves begin to unfurl, spring can be a great reminder to take a moment to get reconnected with the natural world and recommit to personal self-care. One of the best ways to assist your health, and especially your immune system, is by being more mindful of your diet. Here in the South Sound, the abundance of farmers markets makes finding local, fresh, and whole foods incredibly easy.

Spring brings an explosion of green to the produce offered by farmers. The array of greens will include familiar favorites such as chard, kale, lettuce, sorrel, and spinach, but also the more unusual fiddleheads and nettles. Expand your use of greens from the salad and try some cooked greens. After eating them a few times, you will quickly find out why cooked greens are part of such a variety of cuisines from China to France to India. With a short cooking time, versatility, unique flavors and important nutritional benefits, greens can become a regular part of healthy eating either on their own or nestled in other dishes. Here are some ways to try spring greens:

  • Saute greens until tender in a large pot with olive oil, salt and garlic or onion. Add additional flavor with a dot of butter or cream along with seasonal herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Add sliced kale to soups and stews during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.
  • Toss some chopped fresh greens into a smoothie.
  • Increase the nutritional power in your breakfast by sautéing chopped greens and garlic before you add eggs for scrambling.

Farmers will also be offering leeks, potatoes, rhubarb, and sprouts among their spring bounty. Eating fresh whole foods can be cleansing and enlivening for your body after the limited choices of winter eating which often includes more processed foods. With an extensive history of family farming, the communities of the South Sound have been growing crops for decades. Today you can find markets throughout Tacoma, as well as in Puyallup, Lakewood, Gig Harbor, and Olympia. It can be a fun family outing to go visit a new farmers market to explore new vendors, neighborhoods, and parks. So don’t be deterred by the spring rains and plan a trip to a farmers market today.

For Additional Information
Lakewood Farmers Market | City of Lakewood

Olympia Farmers Market

Tacoma Farmers Markets

Gig Harbor Waterfront Farmers Market

Puyallup Farmers Market | Puyallup Main Street Association


The Importance of Play in Childhood Development

2020 has presented families with so many challenges. Parents are expected to work from home while taking care of their children, among other stressors. Early in the pandemic, daycares, activities, and playgrounds all shut down. Unfortunately, these events led to many children entertaining themselves with more screen time.

Let’s focus on the most important activity in their life: PLAY! Helping your child reach their full potential doesn’t require any fancy gadgets.

Types of Play

• Unstructured Play
Open-ended play with no specific learning goal has many benefits. It helps kids find their own outlets for creativity and physical energy. Unstructured play also fosters social and emotional growth.

• Traditional Toys
Research shows that traditional toys, like wooden blocks, increase language acquisition over electronic toys. Social development relies on facial expressions, gestures, speech, and tone of voice. Playing with toys like blocks and puzzles can also support fine motor skills. And problem-solving with traditional toys can promote spatial and early mathematics skills.

• Pretend Play
Pretending with toy characters and their related accessories encourages kids to tell stories. They use words to imitate, describe, and cope with actual circumstances and feelings. This kind of imaginative play promotes language development and symbolic thinking.

• Interactive Play: Building Connections
Playing with caregivers and peers is key to building thriving brains, bodies, and social bonds. Play supports the formation of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with caregivers. When parents join in child-driven play, they can view the world through their child’s eyes.

Less verbal children may be better able to express themselves and their frustrations through play. Distraction-free, relaxed play assures children that they have their parent’s full attention, leading to a stronger interpersonal connection.

Play also helps forge connections between children. Through play, children learn sharing, negotiation and how to resolve conflict.

• Physical Play
Physical play enhances children’s health by promoting active, healthy bodies. Medical studies show that physical activity decreases stress, fatigue, injury, and depression. It can also increase range of motion, agility, coordination, balance, and flexibility.

Healthy Minds

Playing enhances brain structure and promotes executive function, the set of mental skills that help children get things done. Play can help children plan, organize, get along with others, and regulate emotions.

In short, playtime is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being of children, beginning in early childhood.

Pediatrics Northwest

Health Starts Where We Live, Work and Play

Healthy choices should be convenient choices for everyone in Western Washington. That’s why Pierce County medical providers are helping families live healthier lives, through programs and services in medical clinics and hospitals throughout our communities.

Tacoma health care quality comes down to access, affordability and outcomes. Out of 39 counties in Washington, Pierce County ranks 24 for health outcomes, 26 for health factors, and 33 for healthy behaviors. Research indicates that a healthy lifestyle may prevent up to 70 percent of common life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

Since 2005, Pierce County Gets Fit & Healthy, a countywide initiative to promote the importance of healthy eating and active living, has provided tools to help everyone get fit and healthy. It is a major collaborative effort, led by the MultiCare Center for Healthy Living, the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. Best of all, it’s easy to participate. Whatever your health challenge, whatever your fitness goals, Pierce County Gets Fit & Healthy has something for you.

Sure, healthy living is a long-term commitment, but there are steps you can take right now that will make you healthier today than yesterday and pave the way for healthy living tomorrow. Since Pierce County has 50 park sites totaling over 4,200 acres, why not find a walking buddy and get out on one of many walking trails right away? Not sure where to start? Check out this handy walking guide for beginners.

Health Care Resources

  • YMCA
  • Hospitals
  • Medical Clinics
  • Emergency Services
  • Senior Centers/Resources
  • Caregiver Support
  • Parent Help 123
  • Maternal Child Outreach
  • Community Health Care
  • Children With Special Health Care Needs
  • Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department


The Harbor History Museum

Nestled on the Gig Harbor waterfront where Donkey Creek meets the bay, the Harbor History Museum is celebrating its 10th year of operation. Yet the Museum’s campus has a much deeper history, reflecting the site’s logging mill and power company past and includes the 1893 Midway Schoolhouse and 65-foot fishing boat, Shenandoah. Step through the Museum’s front doors, surrounded by massive logs reminiscent of the trees that were once milled here, and a whole world of culture and tradition welcomes you.

The Museum’s 7,500 square-foot permanent gallery takes you on a journey from the twisted remnants of “Galloping Gertie” (the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge) to the immigrant stories of boat builders, fishermen, farmers, and ferry operators. Look closely and find the first winners of Gig Harbor’s fabled Round Rock Contest and hear the clamor of the crowd as C.E. Shaw’s famous racing roosters take to the track. These roosters were so well known they were invited to Madison Square Garden in New York in 1936.

Fans of local boat building will delight in the Willits canoe, the giant wheel from the ferry Defiance, and a purse seiner’s power block—the 1950s invention that changed commercial fishing forever. Loved by many are the Norwegian and Croatian costumes on display from the days of Scandia Gaard, a 1970s local attraction where Nordic heritage was celebrated through music, dance, and folklore.

Visitors delight in the one-room schoolhouse, the last of its kind in the Gig Harbor area. Restored to 1915 standards, the schoolhouse is home to the popular Pioneer School Experience field trip program for third through fifth grade students. During this program, costumed school teachers lead students through lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The Shenandoah is 65 feet of wonder. Fished for some seven decades by local families and built in Gig Harbor at the Skansie Brothers Shipyard, the boat is undergoing complete restoration and will eventually be open for public tours.

Harbor History Museum
4121 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor


Changing Lives One Smile at a Time

Braces are a rite of passage that preteens and adolescents have endured for decades. Many of us have vivid memories of painful extractions, wires poking our inner cheeks and headgear worn in unflattering photos. Those traumas are a thing of the past for patients at Molen Orthodontics. The family business has created confident smiles in the South Sound for nearly 50 years.

“The way we do orthodontics is different,” says Aaron Molen, DDS. “We focus on the smile, in addition to the face and lips, to design more natural and curved smile arcs. Our patients receive the most beautiful and aesthetic smiles possible.”

Parents are encouraged to bring in their child at an early age for  an initial evaluation. “We like to see kids right after their seventh birthday. Few need treatment at this age, but it allows us to capture baseline records and monitor their growth to make more informed treatment decisions,” notes Dr. Aaron, as he’s known in the office, to avoid confusion between him and his brother Dr. Rick Molen or their father, Dr. Bruce Molen, who has been a pioneer in adopting innovative treatments, such as orthodontic expansion.

“Between the ages of eight and ten, we have a window of opportunity, before the suture in the roof of the mouth fuses closed, to gently work with nature to make the jaws wider,” explains Dr. Aaron. “This allows teeth to come in less crowded and also, research has shown, opens the airway, improving a child’s ability to breathe.” Better breathing, he says, results in better sleep at night and more alertness during the day.

Beyond the clinical side of treatment, the Molen Orthodontics team keeps patients motivated by making office visits fun. A rewards program lets patients earn prizes. Completed treatment plans are celebrated with cheers and red-carpet walks.“Rick and I grew up here and now we’re raising our own kids here. We’re passionate about caring for patients in this community,” says Dr. Aaron. “Our mission is to change lives one smile at a time.”

Molen Orthodontics
Offices in Auburn, Enumclaw and Sumner/Bonney Lake


Shopping Guide for Pierce County


Blitz & Co. Florist
Gifts & Home Décor
909 Pacific Ave

Brown & Haley
Candy & Confections
110 East 26th St

LeRoy Jewelers
940 Broadway

Selden’s Home Furnishings
Fine Furnishings & Home Decor
1802 62nd Ave E

Tacoma Mall
Clothing, Jewelry & Dining
4502 South Steele St

The Art Stop
Handcrafted Art, Jewelry & Clothing
940 Broadway

Furniture and Home Décor
2416 South C St
833.855.TREE (8733)

The Pacific Northwest Shop
“Made in the Pacific Northwest” Products
2702 North Proctor St


Purpose Boutique
Apparel & Jewelry
5105 North Main St

South Sound Running
Active Gear
5109 Grand Loop

Gig Harbor

Chalet In the Woods
Fine Clothing & Gifts
9406 74th Ave NW

The Garden Room
Gifts & Accessories
4729 Point Fosdick Dr NW

Tickled Pink
Gifts & Accessories
3026 Harborview Dr

Uptown Gig Harbor
Unique Shops & Dining
4701 Point Fosdick Dr NW

University Place

Naturepedic Organic Mattress Gallery
3550 Market Place W


Johnson Jewelers
103 South Meridian

South Hill Mall
Retail, Movies & Dining
3500 South Meridian

Sunrise Village
Dining, Shopping & Services
10305 156th St E

Watson’s Greenhouse & Nursery
Gift Shop & Nursery
6211 Pioneer Way E


A Picket Fence
Home Decor, Gifts & Jewelry
1006 Main St

Northlight Interiors
Home Décor & Design Services
1119 Main St

Off the Beaten Path
Antique Treasures
1109 Main St

Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse
Home Furnishings
13608 Valley Ave E

Upscale Children’s Boutique
926 Main St

Tacoma Mall Expands New Retailers

Long known as a community leader in shopping, dining, and entertainment, Tacoma Mall has recently announced plans to further elevate the shopping experience. In the near future, the Mall will introduce Nordstrom Rack, Ulta, and Marcus Theatres. These additions are expected to be the beginning of a larger redevelopment in the Tacoma Mall.

“We have a continued commitment to invest in the Tacoma community,” said Eric Sadi, Chief Operating Officer of Leasing. “Tacoma Mall is a lifestyle destination. Simon is leading the way with transformational projects in the state of Washington. We will bring a uniquely curated mix of retailers, entertainment, and dining options to Tacoma.”

Next in store for shoppers will be a charming urban village located on the north side of the mall. The intention is to engage visitors with a welcoming, community-friendly environment where shoppers can enjoy a variety of dining and entertainment.

Nordstrom Rack is renowned for fabulous style and great prices and shoppers can look forward to deals on clothing and shoes for women, men and children. This Tacoma location will be much more convenient for South Sound families and avoid a frustrating trip with I-5 traffic.

Ulta, soon to be featured in the mall, is well-known as a premier beauty destination for cosmetics, fragrance, skin care products, hair care products, and even salon services. Ulta carries more than 25,000 products from around 500 beauty brands and is your one-stop shop for cosmetic products and services.

Marcus Theatres will also be added as a trendsetting theatre for not only the Tacoma Mall, but for Washington State. Their first location in the state, Marcus Theatres is the fourth-largest theatre company in the United States and well-known in their Midwest markets. Theatre-goers can look forward to the latest amenities like cushy stadium seating, innovative food and beverage offerings, and 72-feet-wide UltraScreens.

Tacoma Mall proudly serves our neighbors in the communities of University Place, Gig Harbor, Lakewood, Puyallup, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Tacoma. With over 150 stores ranging from women’s apparel and children’s fashion to home electronics, Tacoma Mall is expanding it’s shopping offerings in Pierce County.

Tacoma Mall


Olympic Landscape – Heart for Community

Olympic Landscape has been designing, building and servicing outdoor residential and commercial spaces in the South Sound for more than 40 years. As an expert landscape contractor, the company creates beautiful outdoor living spaces, unique gathering spaces, and specially-themed gardens for homes and businesses. The owner and CEO, Joe Areyano, plans to continue that legacy. He also added new services and products that will carry Olympic forward for at least another 40 years.

“My family started a landscape company in 1980, so I’ve been around the industry for the majority of my life,” says Areyano. “At age 16, I started learning every division of the company, from landscape retaining walls to irrigation.” After about five years, he was promoted to field manager and continued to work his way into greater responsibilities. He’s now a certified landscape professional. This hands-on experience, he says, helps him ensure that customers receive the highest-quality service.

Since Areyano purchased Olympic Landscape from founder Neil Hedman, he has expanded the business. The company is growing into a regional leader, expanding its service area and the core services it offers. As a great landscape construction install company, Olympic offers both landscape design/build and landscape straight to construction. They now offer commercial maintenance and can accommodate snow and ice removal projects too. This is good news for local businesses and homeowners who need these services.

The growth of Olympic Landscape is good news for the larger community as the company increased the number of employees to about 57 in 2019. Additionally, Olympic supports local charities and non-profit events such as St. Francis House, which eases the hardships of those in need in east Pierce County. They also support the Emergency Food Network that supplies 3.9 million pounds of healthy, nutritious food annually to 76 food pantries, meal sites and shelters for distribution to families and individuals in need. Olympic partners with Adorned in Grace, a bridal boutique that uses its profit to teach and train individuals rescued from human trafficking. The company is particularly proud to support our neighbors and give back to complete the community circle.

Olympic Landscape


Living Loud in the Wake of a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic turned everyone’s world upside down and brought many businesses to a standstill, particularly those in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Anthem Coffee Company, a family-owned and operated small business headquartered in Puyallup, shut down their eight locations across the South Puget Sound for 40 days in the spring of 2020 to help flatten the curve. As hard as it was to shut their doors to their community and loyal customers, Bryan Reynolds, CEO and co-founder, says it gave him the opportunity to follow their motto of “Live Loud” and grow the business in new ways.

Anthem partnered with the Joe Coffee app to roll out an online and mobile ordering system to allow customers to order ahead for in-store or curbside pickup. They also launched an online store and ship their coffee free to customer’s homes. “Anthem At Your Door” offers their signature Live Loud blend, fair trade Live Organic, and decaf Live Chill in whole beans or a variety of grinds.

After reopening their lobbies—fondly referred to as “community living rooms”—for seating, Reynolds and his team continued to look for ways to fulfill their mission of “heroic hospitality.” This has always meant delivering exceptional service, an energetic atmosphere and pretty fabulous coffee. Now, it also means smiling with their eyes and speaking loudly while wearing masks, waving gloved hand to customers in greeting, and, above all, increased sanitization of surfaces, following strict hand-washing requirements, and utilizing single-use cups, plates, and utensils.

Along with a menu of espresso-based drinks, Anthem offers wine, beer on tap and an impressive food menu, including naan bread pizzas, gourmet sandwiches and appetizers like sweet potato fries. Their pastries are made in-house at their central bakery in their Point Ruston location.

“Without community, there is no business,” says Reynolds. “We are thankful for the belief in our brand. We are thankful for every day we get to serve people.”

Anthem Coffee Company


Giving Back in the 253

In any community, a sense of “community” is built on the connections made through unique groups of people that support one another. When I moved to Tacoma five years ago, I was wanting to know my neighbors, to feel that my community supported one another, and to find ways to give back. Quickly, I learned that the 253 has an abundance of opportunities for giving of time or financial resources. I encourage you to join me in this building of community.

If you are looking to give time, the South Sound region is filled with organizations that would love to have you as a volunteer. You can choose to focus on a wide range of interests: recreation, arts, social justice, health and education, to name a few. If you are passionate about education and the development of younger generations, a good place to start is in our schools. Outside of the schools, nonprofits often look for volunteers to do administrative tasks or provide program support.

Two good ways to find out about service opportunities are to join the Volunteers group on Facebook or visit the nonprofit websites listed on the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation page. When you feel your roots settling into the 253 and your heart is called to give back, but your time is limited, a monetary gift can provide hope and resources throughout the South Sound. “Philanthropy” is often misperceived as giving big financial gifts, but a gift of $20 a month goes a long way in creating a sustainable community. For Emergency Food Network, for example, every dollar you donate provides $12 worth of nutritious food for our neighbors in need. Philanthropy in any amount promotes the welfare of others. Your generous gift could change lives.

To find local organizations that qualify for tax-exempt giving, visit the nonprofit listing on the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation page.