The Lasagna Lady spreads Love

As a youth growing up in the Bay Area of California, Michelle Brenner enjoyed big, traditional Sunday dinners with family. When lasagna was served, it usually accompanied an occasion of sorts and brought back warm memories. When she witnessed people buying store-bought, commercially made lasagnas as part of their pandemic meals, the Gig Harbor resident felt compelled to make an incredible offer via Facebook: She would make a lasagna free of charge for anyone who wanted one.

Eight weeks later, Brenner has made over 1,060 lasagnas, surpassing her original goal of making 1,000 total in eight weeks. Her small gesture has grown into a regional phenomenon. People order lasagnas to be sent to hospitals, fire fighters, senior centers, essential retailers, and even prisons. While Brenner says her lasagna may be no better or worse than others’ homemade lasagna, it comes right from her heart. Each pan has a bit of a different journey to reach its happy recipient, and Brenner is equally happy to continue making them.

“The lasagna is really only a small part of the story. The biggest part of the story is the connections I am making between people during this situation,” Brenner said. While she makes all the lasagna alone, other people who want to help do so by buying and delivering her supplies. More and more people are offering their support and help as she continues to provide delicious lasagnas to the community. Recently, the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club even offered her use of their commercial kitchen, which has improved Brenner’s capabilities immensely.

With the ingredients for each lasagna estimated at $16-19, depending on how successful her shopping in bulk is accomplished, Brenner hopes to raise money now that she has reached her goal of making 1,000 lasagnas. And as long as supplies continue to hold out, she can be found in her kitchen, spreading lasagna love. “Maybe this was my true calling. Something I was always meant to do. It took an awful thing to open this door.”

LYNN CASTLE

The Lasagna Lady
facebook.com/michellebrenner

UPLIFT-ING Tacoma Through Art & Culture

Uplift Tacoma is a way to make creative lemonade out of adversity’s lemons. Sharing music, visual arts, performances and creative activities can offer inspiration and support in tough times.

That’s the goal of Tacoma’s Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality in launching an initiative labeled Uplift Tacoma, according to Amy McBride, arts administrator for the City of Tacoma. The multimedia platform is designed to help Tacoma residents access and share creative activities through social media, TV Tacoma and a centralized website.

Uplift Tacoma is designed to celebrate creative and inspirational practices and family fun. Maybe weeks of physical distancing offered a chance to revisit old skills or develop new ones. “Now it’s time to inspire others,” McBride said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of talent in this community,” McBride said. “Now people are dusting off the guitars they haven’t played for years. People will have developed different skills. They’re asking, ‘Where can I find support for areas I’m rediscovering.’”

Uplift Tacoma wants to be sure people can find connections. The program sets a platform to share the interesting creative experiences that are happening. It is a place to display talents and to enjoy the talents of others.

“Community isn’t canceled. Love isn’t canceled. Soul isn’t canceled,” McBride reminded. “Who knows what talents will be offered.”

McBride recommends logging on to TacomaCreates.org. The City-sponsored site lists dozens of arts organizations whose activities can inspire artists, ranging from the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Buffalo Soldiers Museum, Centro Latino, Hilltop Artists and Tacoma Youth Theatre to the city’s popular museums, Symphony Tacoma, jazz with the Kareem Kandi World Orchestra and literary arts with Write253.

Learn about Uplift Tacoma by watching a video produced by Darryl Crews. Go to TacomaCreates.org.

“We have a rich diversity of offerings in our community,” McBride added. “Uplift Tacoma offers support as we connect to healing and health and joy.”

EMILY HAPPY

Uplift Tacoma
TacomaCreates.org

Whidbey Island: A Welcome Escape

The perfect opportunity to escape is just over the water to Whidbey Island. As you drive onto the ferry from the mainland to the island, you are transported across the sound to a true adventure that is close to home but feels much farther away.  Start your journey with majestic outdoor activities, shopping and stay safe while enjoying the true beauty of Whidbey Island.

To start your journey, be sure to stop by the adorable artist town of Langley. There are plenty of local boutique shopping options in town, as well as places to grab a bite to eat, like Braeburn Cafe. This eclectic bistro offers vibrant food that is sure to please, and owner Lisa Carvey and her staff know how to make guests feel at home in the café.

After shopping downtown, make a stop at Sweet Mona’s for handmade chocolates, caramels and truffles. Sweets are made in-house, and the owner invites visitors to try her artistic creations. 

Don’t forget to grab breakfast at Sunshine Drip in Coopeville before heading off for the day! This adorable breakfast and lunch spot serves delicious food and and has a cool vibe with plenty of fresh breakfast options and outdoor seating. 

Image by Morgan Lucas

Enjoy shopping and galleries along front street, followed by lunch at the Oyster Catcher. This restaurant serves up savory, sustainable, farm to table dining options created by owners Chef Tyler and Sara Hansen. The Oyster Catcher also produces in-house breads made from local wheat, which are then featured at their sister location, the Little Red Hen House.

For a creative way to relax, try your artistic hand at Marbley, where you can create your own silk scarf with water marbling. It’s an intuitive, fun, grounding, and mesmerizing art form where you float colors on water and move them with a comb or stylus. Then, when you have a pattern you want to save, you capture it on a silk scarf to take home.

After stopping for lunch, hike Ebey’s Landing Bluff Trail, a beautiful nature preserve trail with varying lengths that take you out on a bluff and along the beach. 

There are plenty of fantastic dining options on Whidbey Island, and if Italian food is on your wishlist, check out Ciao during your vacation time. This family owned business offers handmade local Italian cuisine made with finesse by Mark Laska and the entire Ciao family. They create wonderful meals for take out or delivery. 

For a day excursion, travel to Oak Harbor for a mouth-watering seafood lunch from the Seaboldt’s Smoke House. At Seaboldt’s, seafood is smoked and processed daily in the open-air kitchen for a wonderful smell and fresh taste. 

This escape would not be complete without exploring the trails and beaches at Deception State Park where beautiful vistas and beaches await you.

Looking for an easy escape that is safe and has a multitude of options for food, art, shopping and outdoor activities and a laid back vibe. Whidbey Island is just a short drive away.

For Additional Information: Visit whidbeycamanoislands.com

Braeburn Cafe 197 2nd Street Langley 360-221-3211 braeburnlangley.com

Sweet Mona’s   221 2nd St Ste 16 Langley sweetmonas.com

Roberts Bluff 781 Roberts Bluff Rd, Cooperville Robert Bluff

Sunshine Drip  306 North Main Street, Coopville   Sunshine Drip 

Oyster Catcher 902 Grace Street, Coopville Oyster Catcher

Marbley 7 front street., Coupeville Marbley

Image by Cheryl Smith

Ciao 701 N Main St, Coupeville Ciao

Seaboldt’s Smoke House 31640 Sr 20, Oak Harbor Seaboldt’s Smoke House

Blue Fox Drive 1403 Monroe Landing Rd, Oak Harbor 360-675-5667 reservations required Blue Fox Drive

Wine & Spirits Tasting whidbeyislandvintners.org

Talking Cedar: Brews, Distilling, and Food

Looking for a unique new restaurant and brewery to try this fall? Talking Cedar is a brand new distillery, brewery, and restaurant in Grand Mound. This beautiful facility encompasses 35,000 square feet and is owned and maintained by the Chehalis Tribe.

Talking Cedar has partnered with Heritage Distilling Company, a highly awarded craft distillery in North America (based in Gig Harbor), to provide customers a 15,000 square-foot tasting room and distillery with eight fermentation tanks for the production spirits. Talking Cedar Brewing also has a six-barrel production floor to create specialty craft brews on site. All of the brews are crafted from the aquifer that runs beneath the facility. “Using this fresh local water makes it extra special and the water is important to us,” says Managing Director Chris Richards.

The new restaurant welcomes visitors in to enjoy delicious and upscale pub-style appetizers and entrees with locally sourced ingredients, along with their artisan drinks. “You won’t find fresh fish and chips caught locally like this at many other places, Richards says” Some of the other savory dishes on the menu include mouthwatering options like the Bacon Blue Burger, house-made mac ‘n cheese, and pork schnitzel. 

Visitors can view take a self-guided tour of the distillery and brewery, which includes some key historical information. “We are most excited to offer visitors tours that are a hands-on experience. “Engaging and being a part of the craft beverage experience is special and we want to share it,” says  Richards. 

Gatherings at Talking Cedar are unique and offered in a beautiful new facility. Whether you want to share stories over drinks, taste some local favorites or simply enjoy good company, Talking Cedar offers a craft experience to be enjoyed. By Leah Grout

Visit the Talking Cedar website to find out more.

Fitness: Workout Classes to Stream Online

Keep up your fitness routine while at home during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) time with thanks to these local workouts locations. 

Barre Classes, Olympia

Define Barre is offering online virtual Barre Classes. Join  alone or bring a friend.  Sign Up below with FIRST Class FREE through the Online Store.

https://definefitnessbarre.com/barre

Yoga and Thi Chi, Tacoma Wa 

Join classes on-line stream classes. Relieve stress, increase flexibility and energy, and make your joints feel better. Try a live online group class or a 1-on-1 private session for $15

https://www.bodynbrain.com/tacoma

Ruby Soul Yoga, Lacey Wa  

Yoga classes offered such great health benefits. Ruby soul slowly re-open under Phase II with limited hours and services beginning June 5. Check out their in-studio & virtual class schedule online. 

https://www.rubysoulyoga.com/covid19

Private Education Planning Guide

Tacoma

Annie Wright School
827 N Tacoma Ave
253.272.2216
Aw.org

Bellarmine Preparatory School
2300 S Washington St
253.752.7701
bellarmineprep.org

Charles Wright Academy
7723 Chambers Creek Rd W
253.620.8300
charleswright.org

Life Christian School
1717 S Union Ave
253.756.5317
wherelifehappens.org

Puyallup

All Saints Catholic School
504 2nd Street SW
253.845.5025
allsaintspuyallup.org

Cascade Christian Schools
811 21st St E
253.841.1776
Cascadechristian.org

Northwest Christian Academy
904 Shaw Rd
253.845.5722
Nwchristianschool.org

Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor Academy
6830 32nd St. NW
253.265.2150
Gigharboracademy.org

Harbor Montessori School
5414 Comte Dr NW
253.851.5722
Harbormontessori.org

Lighthouse Christian School
3008 36th St. NW
253.858.5962
lcschool.org

Lacey/Olympia

Olympia Community School
114 20th Ave SE
360-866-8047
OlympiaCommunitySchool.org

Northwest Christian Academy
4710 Park Center Ave E
360.491.2966
ncslacey.org

Nova Middle School
2020 22nd Ave SE
360.491.7097
novaschool.org

Tumwater Eye Center’s New Facility

At the new location of Tumwater Eye Center, Dr. Douglas Jeske and his wife, Karen, have created a distinctive look and customer experience for their patients. This new facility, located at 6510 Capitol Boulevard SE, features state-of-the-art eye care technology and equipment.

With the help of Orca Construction, Quincy Home Interior Design, and Tovani Hart Architecture, the Jeskes turned a 1950’s home office into a classic, yet contemporary eye clinic. On the exterior of the building there are large overhanging eaves, created with sustainable hardwood and composite siding materials, creating a uniquely Northwestern style which adds depth and character to the building. Upon entering, you are greeted by the warm, welcoming open-design entry featuring vaulted ceilings and extensive windows that flood the space with natural light. The optical display cabinets use beautiful LED illumination and textured laminates to enhance the international frame collection. Noted elements of the design feature budding birch cabinetry harvested from sustainable crops, sliding office door enclosures, and natural linens encased in a recyclable resin.

Beyond the beauty of the location, Tumwater Eye Center features extensive use of technology to create a unique patient experience. Dr. Jeske uses premium computerized refracting equipment to create precise vision corrections. The vision concerns of patients are solved using the most current contacts and progressive lens designs and materials, including blue light blocking lenses. Qualified and compassionate staff help patients through state-of-the-art digital and infra-red retinal imaging and dark adaptation testing to allow early diagnosis of eye disease. Computer monitors in each exam room allow patients to observe images of their own eyes as Dr. Jeske offers practical education on eye health. The practice is also on the cutting edge of telemedicine, which allows remote patient examination with the simplicity of FaceTime.

For Additional Information

Visit their new location at 6510 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater or online at tumwatereye.com.

LYNN CASTLE

Women on the Waterway

Thea Foss had a mind of her own, and the pioneer Norwegian immigrant became the model for dozens of women who work on the Tacoma waterway that bears her name.

Thea, born in 1857, arrived first in Minnesota, where she and Andrew married. By 1889 both had moved to Tacoma, where Andrew worked as a carpenter.

While Andrew was out of town on a job, Thea changed her life. She bought a boat for $5 from a disgruntled fisherman, repainted it and sold it for a profit. That was the start of her waterfront fleet of more than 200 rowboats and the genesis of Foss Launch and Tug, now known as Foss Maritime, one of the largest maritime enterprises in the Western United States.

Clare Petrich descended from a family of boatbuilders and marine enthusiasts in the Adriatic. In Tacoma, her father started Petrich Marine on the Thea Foss Waterway. Was Clare, the daughter of the family, invited to participate in the business? Not a chance.

When her father died, Clare returned to Tacoma from living in India, West Africa and Asia to help her mother.

“I knew nothing about the business,” she explained. “It was off-limits to girls.” But Clare had been a Sea Scout on the “Curtis,” and she was a determined learner. She met people on the waterfront, learned to work with the fishermen and got involved.

She wasn’t appointed to a vacancy on the port commission because she was a woman, and “that made me mad!” She ran for a spot on the commission in 1995 and was elected the first woman to serve in the position.

Julia Berg, Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Foss Waterway Seaport museum, came from a sailing family in Seattle, racing sailboats as a child—and usually the only female in the race. She always wanted to be a marine biologist and learned even with a master’s degree that creativity is a major factor in the job. She has lived, studied, and worked around the world and has found supportive women in the marine community as she fosters innovative marine science education at the museum.

Monique Valenzuela: Being first is a similar story theme for other women who work on the Waterway. In its 96 years of existence, Monique Valenzuela is the first woman director of the Tacoma Youth Marine Foundation on the Waterway. She didn’t grow up in a boating family but looked out on Commencement Bay and wondered how she could have access.

“The maritime industry was not a pathway open to me, not something I thought possible to a young woman—let alone one who is less than 5 ft. 4 in. tall!” she exclaimed. Now she serves up to 900 students a year—half young women—and delights in empowering the girls and watching them “find their own voice” as they work on the “Curtis” and the “Odyssey.”

These professionals in the marine industry offer encouragement to young women:

“Never give up. Find mentors. Make connections with people who are doing what you want to do. Volunteer.”

Julia Berg

“You don’t have to be tall and muscular. Use what you got! Women can use their smaller bodies as an advantage. On the sea we are all equal. The sea recognizes hard work, responsibility and dedication.”

Monique Valenzuela

“Get involved. Lots of opportunities exist in marketing, logistics, shipping. Want a good-paying job and variety? Take the challenging road to be part of the maritime industry.”

Clare Petrich

For Additional Information

fosswaterwayseaport.org

foss.com/about-us/history

youthmarinefoundation.org

EMILY HAPPY

The Lurana: Olympia’s New Development

Water views have a calming effect on the human psyche. Living in the Puget Sound affords us many opportunities to live with views of the water and now there will be one more in the heart of Olympia. Located on .6 acres at Percival Landing, one of Olympia’s three waterfront parks, the Lurana will be a welcome addition to the community.

Designed by Thomas Architecture Studios, the new mixed-use building was named for an early Olympia pioneer, Lurana Percival who, along with her husband Samuel, built the Percival Mansion in 1874. The new Lurana project will be home to a restaurant, ROW Seafood, and retail spaces with terraces extending to the boardwalk. The project will accommodate a large outdoor plaza adjacent to the boardwalk with extensive restaurant seating. Retailers will include Bittersweet Chocolate as well as office spaces.

Forty-four apartments, consisting of ten studios, twenty-eight 1-bedrooms and six 2-bedrooms are available at the Lurana for lease. With waterfront views of Budd Bay, the Olympic Mountains and the State’s Capitol Dome, this property is an excellent location for those wanting to be near a hub for gatherings and social interactions while being near the central business district of Olympia. Percival Landing includes a 0.9-mile boardwalk extending along the eastern shoreline of West Bay from the Fourth Avenue Bridge to Thurston Avenue making the area bustling and vibrant.

Developed by Urban Olympia LLC and its owner Walker John, the Lurana will join other recently completed projects from this same group in the downtown including 321 Lofts, Franklin Lofts, and Annie’s Flats. The developer currently has Westman Mill and Market Flats under construction in the area as well.

LYN CASTLE

Chic Farmhouse Design for Dash Point Home

When Terry and Kathy Kleeberger decided to upgrade their Dash Point home, they envisioned a lighter, brighter space. “We loved the rustic, cozy feel of the house but wanted to update and brighten up the kitchen,” say the Kleebergers.

The project began in January 2019 and was completed that June. The homeowners brought in the experts at Signature Design and Cabinetry to help with the design. “We wanted to keep it cozy and inviting, creating a comfortable place for friends and family while incorporating some chic farmhouse charm,” say the Kleebergers. The couple also envisioned a space with tools and equipment for plenty of ongoing entertaining both indoor and outside.

“Remodels can be difficult and typically take longer than expected, but it all came together beautifully,” say the Kleebergers. “The cabinet design, ordering and installation was seamless. In the end, we have tons of storage and love the new pantry and wine cooler. Entertaining is so much easier with an indoor and outdoor kitchen, too. We now have an expanded space for people to enjoy in and around the kitchen.”

For Additional Information

Signature Design & Cabinetry

signaturedesignandcabinetry.com

Images by: Denise Knudson Photography