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Local sisters join forces to open new floral design business

  • Written by Deborah Stone

Sister_my_Sister_one
Staff Photo/Deborah Stone Hannah and Olen Greig, local sisters who recently opened Sister My Sister Floral Design & Boutique in the Old Maltby Schoolhouse.
The Old Maltby Schoolhouse has long been a place for eclectic businesses to reside.

Most of them are owned and operated by women, who sell everything from local honeys and beeswax craft to natural soaps and skin products. Newly established in this historic building is Sister My Sister Floral Design & Boutique, a creative venture of two local women who, yes, just happen to be sisters.

Olen and Hannah Greig are homegrown Woodinville gals who attended Leota Jr. High and Woodinville High School.

Olen, the older of the two, left the area to go to a college in Colorado and subsequently spent a number of years working in the ski industry.

Hannah graduated from UW in 2011. Both spent many summers helping their aunt, Megan Mary Olander, a noted Seattle florist, at her shop in Pioneer Square and later on Capitol Hill.

“Our love of flowers was instilled at a young age,” says Olen. “We logged lots of hours surrounded by flowers and learned to create blooms with my aunt and her team.”

Hannah adds, “It’s such rewarding work, so gratifying to make someone’s day special.” The sisters decided to go into business together shortly before Hannah graduated from college.

They had been doing flower arrangements for friends’ weddings on an informal basis, but when the requests began to increase in number, they decided to take the next step and open their own place.

For the first year, the women worked out of a warehouse, with the goal of eventually getting retail space.

“It was luck that we found this spot,” comments Olen. “We were at the Maltby Café next door and saw a ‘for rent’ sign in this building. When we got inside to check it out, we were immediately sold. It was perfect. It was simply meant to be.”

Sister My Sister officially opened its doors in late October and the women are delighted with the response they’ve had in such a short time.

“This is such a great community,” says Hannah. “Everyone is so nice and friendly, and welcoming. There are a number of creative people who have interesting businesses here and I think we fit right in.”

She adds, “We have a steady stream of people coming by who have eaten at the Café and then we have others who see our work on our website or learn about us via Facebook. And then, of course, we have family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors and classmates who are helping to spread the word. We are fortunate to have such great support from everyone.” The sisters pride themselves on creating one-of-a-kind floral designs for any occasion, from modest to lavish and intimate to extravagant. They buy their flowers fresh each day and strive to get most of them from local growers. “We want to keep it home base,” explains Olen, “because we want to support the farmers in this area.” In addition to providing flower arrangements for weddings and special events, they do daily orders, cash and carry and deliveries around the greater Eastside and Snohomish areas. Their shop is also a boutique with an array of potted plants in interesting containers surrounded by unique décor and gift items, many made from local artists. “Our potted plants are our hottest sellers,” says Olen. “I think people are drawn to them because they have an earthy and natural feel to them, and they’re different than what you might be accustomed to finding elsewhere.”

Each of the women contributes a different skill set to the business. Hannah notes that Olen has her own style and is very creative in an out-of-the-box way.

“She loves to create and uses all these textures, colors and crazy containers,” says Hannah, “and she just pulls it altogether so well.” As for Hannah, Olen notes that her sister is the stable, “grounding one” and the “glue” of the business. She is also the marketing guru. “I’m the wild one and Hannah keeps me in line,” Olen adds with a laugh.

As for working together, the sisters both agree that their yin-yang personalities are well-suited for a partnership. They respect and appreciate each other’s strengths and never hesitate to exchange opinions.

“It’s nice to have two points of view,” comments Olen, “and to know that we can tell each other anything.” The women are confident that their business will be successful, as they feel they have the necessary ingredients to make a name for themselves in the industry.

“We’re young, vibrant and fun,” says Hannah. “We have lots of energy, we’re willing to work the long hours that this business demands and we have fresh, creative ideas. We’re very interested in building lasting relationships with our customers - not just filling orders and moving on. People are important to us and we want them to be happy, to be fully satisfied. We take the time to really connect because the personal touch is something we want to be known for.”

Both women extol the virtues and advantages of being situated in this community.

They point to the beautiful venues in the area for weddings, as well as the fact that Woodinville is now widely known as the Wine Country. “We see great potential for our business to grow as the need is there,” comments Olen.

“We’re already almost completely booked on weekends for next summer with all the weddings. That’s very exciting and it tells us that we’re on the right track.”

Hannah adds, “We are so very blessed to be in this community and we want to thank everyone for their support.”

Sister My Sister Floral Design & Boutique is located upstairs in the Old Maltby Schoolhouse, across from the Maltby Café. For more information: 425-420-5455 or www.smsfloral.com.

Guided snowshoe walks explore winter beauty

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

DSC_0935 v2Get outdoors and learn about winter ecology snowshoeing on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest January through March. No experience is necessary and the Forest Service provides snowshoes. Participants should wear layered and insulated clothing, hats and gloves with sturdy, waterproof shoes or boots, hats and gloves. To offset the costs of the program a donation is requested.

SNOQUALMIE PASS

Make reservations at (425) 434-6111.

Trips for special events and school groups can also be scheduled. Meet 15 minutes early at the visitor’s center off I-90, exit 52 on Snoqualmie Pass. Office hours are Thursday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. A donation is suggested of $15 for adults, $10 for youth 16 and under, and $25 per person for the half-day hikes and photography outings. Reservations are required for all programs.

• 90-Minute Trek

Sat. Sun. 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m.

Learn about the winter ecosystem, wildlife and safety on this one-mile loop walk through opulent old-growth forest.Group size 20

• Half-Day Hikes

Fri. Sat. Sun. 9 a.m.

Experience Commonwealth Basin in the winter surrounded by the Cascade crest peaks. Bring a lunch, you will be out four to five hours.

• Winter Photography Outings

Jan. 19, Feb. 2, 16, March 2, 16, 31, 9:30 a.m.

Geared for photography enthusiasts of all abilities. Commonwealth Creek offers intriguing image possibilities with ice falls, cool vapors and swirling dark waters. Your guide will discuss light, composition and exposure. Bring lunch, this outing lasts four to five hours.

• “Kids in the Snow”

Starting Jan.12, Saturdays, 1 p.m.

Earn a Junior Ranger Snow membership and patch! Learn about tracking, crawl into a snow cave and check out a snow crystal with a magnifier on this approximately 90-minute walk.

• Guided Nordic Ski Trip

Jan. 12, 19, 26 and Feb. 2, 9, 16, 10-11:30 a.m.

Begin at Grand Junction on the Mt. Catherine Loop. Purchase a ski ticket, ride the ski lift and meet the group at the hut. You will ski from there making stops to learn about the area’s history, forest and wildlife.

• Day in the Snow

Jan. 19, 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Take off on one of three different one-mile loop outings and learn about the history and stories of the region. Your host is from the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

 

STEVENS PASS

Make reservations Jan. 12-Feb. 24 at Skykomish Ranger District,(360) 677-2414. Meet at the Forest Service Guard Station by Parking Lot A at Stevens Pass. Sultan Shuttle offers transportation from Sultan to the resort. Check http://www.stevenspass.com/Stevens/the-mountain/sultan-shuttle.aspx  for fees and schedules. A donation is suggested of $15 for adults and $10 for youth 16 and under.

•  Introductory Snowshoeing

Sat. Sun. 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Learn about the history of the area, the winter ecosystem and wildlife on this beginning90-minute walk.

Reservations recommended but drop-ins are welcome.Group size: 20

• Junior Snow Ranger

Sat. Sun. 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Earn a Junior Ranger Snow membership and patch! Children ages 6-12 learn about the winter ecosystem and wildlife while snowshoeing on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Reservations are required.Group size: 20

 

MT. BAKER RANGER DISTRICT

Make reservations at (360)599-9572, weekends 9 a.m.–3 p.m. or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Meet at the Glacier Public Service Center, milepost 34 Mt. Baker Hwy., State Route 542. Group will leave from there to the snowshoe walk location along the Hannegan Road, Heather Meadows or another setting in the Mt. Baker District area. A donation is suggested of $15 for adults and $10 for youth 16 and under. Reservations are required.

• Ranger Guided Snowshoe Walk

Sundays: 10 a.m. Jan. 13, 27; Feb. 3, 10, 24; Fridays: 10 a.m. Jan. 18; Feb. 15

Learn about the winter in the national forest.Group size: 15

 

DARRINGTON RANGER DISTRICT

Make reservations by calling Darrington Ranger District at (360) 436-1155. Meet at Verlot Public Service Center for orientation then on to  Deer Creek to begin the four-mile, approximately five hour round-trip snowshoe hike. Participants should be age 16 or older and in good shape. A $20 donation is suggested.

• Big Four Ice Cave Snowshoe Walk

Feb. 2-March 2, Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.

Learn about the winter in the national forest.Group size: 18.

Local teen working to make the world better

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Nica
Courtesy Photo Christopher, Maykol, Justin (in front) and Jonathon with Alex Eppenauer
Alex Eppenauer is trying to make the world a better place, and to the people in Leon, Nicaragua, her efforts are creating life changes, one step at a time.

The 16-year-old junior at Bear Creek School first visited this Central American country last Christmas when she and her father embarked on a mission trip with Eastlake Church.

The goal was to build a roof, floor and door for a neighborhood church in a very poor, crime-ridden area of Leon.

In addition, the group also held Vacation Bible School sessions and events for the local children.

The experience made a deep impression on the teen and before she left for home, she was already planning a return visit.

“The love I experienced there inspired me and the way there is so much beauty in such an awful place gave me so much happiness and hope,” says Eppenauer. “Also, the relationship I developed with the families and people down there really made me want to return.”

Six months later, the teen flew back to Leon, this time with her mother, Jamie, and a group of people from Florida, via an organization called Twelve Churches.

The trip was a gift for Eppenauer’s 16th birthday from her parents.

Before the Woodinville teen left the U.S., however, she made a video and sent out a letter to raise money to buy shoes for the children of Leon, who typically run around in the dirt and trash barefoot.

She raised enough money to bring several suitcases full of shoes and supplies, and present a $1500 donation to the church to build a community restroom.

“The conditions in this neighborhood are devastating,” comments Eppenauer. “Drug abuse is rampant and the ‘houses’ are made out of sticks and tarp if they’re lucky. One area I went to broke my heart. The people there literally lived in a dump. They got their food from the garbage, lived in the garbage and hardly had houses at all.”

Eppenauer comments that the recipients of the gifts she brought were incredibly happy and so very appreciative of the items.

She notes that most of the people never had anything new to wear before and they were overjoyed with the brand new shoes and clothes.

“They were very grateful, but I was also grateful for the support my friends and family at home showed me by being so responsive and generous in their contributions,” adds the teen.

During the June trip, Eppenauer established an even closer relationship with two particular families.

One family, consisting of a mom, dad and six children, had been homeless for several years after the promise of a job in Costa Rica for the father failed to pan out.

The father, Pedro, who was born by the sea, went to work fishing and  was able to save to buy the land he and his family currently live on, but it is in the worst part of Leon, which is rampant with drugs and violence.

The family’s house is a small structure made of scrap metal and garbage bags.

A few months ago, the father got a hernia doing heavy labor and so he is now unemployed once again.

The mother has been supporting the family by selling tortillas, but the smoke from cooking over the open fire has given her asthma.

Eppenauer first met one of the family’s sons, Maykol, when she made her initial trip to Nicaragua.

She kept in touch with him and his two brothers, Jonathan and Justin, through Facebook.

Over Thanksgiving, she and her family traveled to Leon, where they bought a gas stove for Maykol’s mother to enable her to continue selling tortillas without damaging her health.

They also built a house for the Killian family, who live in deplorable conditions.

The father is gone, leaving mom to support her five kids by tending to the chickens and pigs and toiling in the fields picking peanuts.

“My family paid to build them a house,” comments Eppenauer. “A house is only about $1500 to $2000 in Nicaragua.”

The teen plans to return to the country and people she has come to love, hopefully in the coming year.

She strongly believes she is making a difference in the lives of the residents of Leon, emphasizing that it’s not all about material goods.

She says, “Knowing that there is someone out there who loves them and is praying for them gives the people hope.”

She adds, “Sure, I can only do so much financially to help them, but even a little goes a long way there. Walking back to Maykol’s house, I know so many kids who come up and hug me and say my name along the way. Knowing that there are a bunch of kids in Nicaragua who are praying for me has changed my life, too.”

Eppenauer is looking toward the future with an aim of continuing to help the people of Nicaragua. She says, “I would love to be able to start my own foundation someday and spend my life helping and loving them. I wish I could live there now!”

Woodinville facility prides itself on being environmentally-friendly

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Waste Management truckWaste Management North Sound Hauling District in Woodinville is celebrating its one-year anniversary.  The facility was created to combine two hauling districts in one larger and centrally located site, allowing the company to serve its customers in a more efficient and effective manner.

Robin Freedman, who heads up communications for Waste Management, explains that the company wanted to build an infrastructure and fueling site for its compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.

She says, “We invest significantly in innovative solutions that reduce our carbon footprint. One way we do this is by powering our trucks with CNG, increasing air quality and reducing greenhouse gases. Our engines are quieter, too.”

She adds, “We also wanted to have a state-of-the-art container repair and paint facility. The new facility allows us to use advanced water-based paints.”

North Sound has a number of environmentally-friendly aspects, with the priority being to protect Little Bear Creek, which is located near the site. To this aim, the company has created a multi-million dollar high-tech storm water drainage system.

According to Freedman, it is one of the most advanced water systems in the Little Bear Creek watershed.

She says, “The system is self-contained and holds the rainwater from our vehicles, parking lot and entire facility. After we collect the water, it goes through an extensive process that actually separates and cleans the water.”

She continues to explain that the process involves three steps. First, the runoff is collected and any oil residue is separated. Then the water goes through four swales (small valleys that slope and provide proper drainage). The swales also contain native vegetation that removes impurities from the traveling water.Finally, the water flows into a self-contained cement vault underneath the facility. This vault is shaped like a V so that all the muddy and murky water flows to the bottom, allowing the clean water to flow through the vault into Little Bear Creek.

“It is a fascinating, modern process and Waste Management is one of the first companies to create a hauling site that has a state-of-the-art drainage system,” comments Freedman. The company services residential and commercial customers out of its North Sound location, collecting recycling, garbage, and food and yard waste.

Drivers take all the recycling materials down the road to the Waste Management Cascade Recycling Center.

Although the hauling site is not open to the public, it runs 24-7.

Some of the commercial drivers begin their jobs at 4 a.m. and there are operations staff working until late at night, doing repairs and preparing the vehicles for the next day. Freedman notes there are 230 employees and 40 CNG vehicles at the facility.

Overall, Waste Management in the Pacific Northwest has 2,400 employees, 55 operations, 24 collection districts, 10 transfer stations, five  recycling facilities, seven  landfills and two renewable energy plants. The company provides services to 773,000 residential, 84,000 commercial/multifamily and 4,000 school and university customers.

Recycling tips for the holidays courtesy of Waste Management:

• Most wrapping paper can be recycled in your home recycling container. A little tape is fine, but remove the big pieces. Consider saving reusable wrapping paper, along with ribbons and bows. Glittery paper and ribbons you can’t use again should go in the garbage.

• Recycle electronics at a Take it Back Network location, such as Bartell Drugs or McLendon’s Hardware. Such locations will take back computers, T.V.s, cellphones and certain other household electronics. You can also recycle computers, monitors, T.V.s and e-readers for free at E-Cycle Washington locations.

General Biodiesel offers cooking oil recycling locations (i.e. Sammamish Safeway, Central Market in Shoreline, North Kirkland Community Center and Crossroads Par 3 Golf in Bellevue) around King County during the holiday season.

If you buy new energy-efficient holiday lights, ask your retailer if it will accept your old lights or visit recycling locations such as McLendon’s Hardware (all six Puget Sound stores).

By recycling your Christmas tree, you’ll give it new life as wood chips or compost. Place the tree on the curb for collection with your regular yard waste or check to see if your city has any sponsored tree recycling events.

For more information: www.wmnorthwest.com.

Studio 1 welcomes home professional dancer and actor KC Monnie

  • Written by Deborah Stone
KC_MonnieKC Monnie was 9 years old when he first started dancing at Studio 1 in Woodinville.

The Bothell boy was motivated to take classes because a close friend of his was a student at the studio and encouraged him to try it.

Before long, he was hooked and continued to pursue his newfound passion with dedication and zeal.

“He was a student here for five years,” says Beth Ith, co-director of Studio 1, which is owned by Ith’s mother, longtime local resident, Sue Warter.

“He took classes in tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and ballet, and he was on our competition dance team for three years. Studio 1 was where he got his start in dance from teachers such as Christi McNeil (jazz and lyrical) Xavier Vandermay (jazz and lyrical) and Tesee George (ballet).”

Ith adds, “I was his tap teacher.”

It didn’t take long before Ith noticed that Monnie had talent, along with energy and dedication.

He also had very relaxed feet, which, according to Ith, is an asset in tap dance and highly unusual to find in young kids.

She also saw that he picked up steps and movements quickly and began to surpass the other, more veteran students, in terms of technique.

“He was a perfectionist,” adds Ith, “always wanting to do the steps right and working on them until he was fully satisfied. And he was very good at showmanship. When he went on stage, everyone looked at him. He had a gift. He was a born performer.”

Ith comments that Monnie amassed many awards at competitions and attracted the attention of numerous judges and dance professionals, who spotted him at master classes.

At age14, he left Studio 1 to study at another dance school and then after graduating from high school, he headed to Los Angeles on a full scholarship to EDGE Performing Arts Center.

Now a professional dancer and actor with several credits to his name, Monnie is living the dream.

His resume lists appearances in the movies “Fame,” “No Strings Attached” and “GLEE Live 3-D,” as well as performances on “Dancing with the Stars” and a reoccurring role on the T.V. show, “GLEE,” as a “Warbler.”

He has also been in various commercials and is on the faculty for West Coast Dance Explosion and Tremaine Dance.

Monnie’s roots are still here in Bothell and he plans on coming home for the holidays to see his family.

During his visit, he will  conduct two master classes at Studio 1 for intermediate and advanced students.

“He is excited to come back and share his talent with local students,” explains Ith. “And it will be great to see him, as I haven’t seen him since he left the Seattle area.”

Ith adds, “I’m very proud of him and his success brings me joy. It’s rare when a student makes it as a professional dancer. He is the most successful of my students. The majority don’t pursue dance as a career. A few go on to study it in college and a few actually end up teaching it. And then there’s one or two that end up dancing in a professional dance company.”

Ith views her job as training and educating students about dance and passing on her love of the art form to others.

She is thrilled that she will be able to introduce her students to Monnie, as she feels the experience of taking a class with him will be very rewarding on several levels.

“It’s great for their technique, but it’s also important that they see a past student of Studio 1 who has made his dream come true.”


KC Monnie will offer two master classes on December 26 at Studio 1 in Woodinville:
Intermediate Jazz: 5 – 6:30 p.m. (ages 10 and older)
Advanced Lyrical/Contemporary: 6:30 -8:30 p.m. (ages 13 and older)
For more information and to register for one of the sessions, call 425-489-0861
Registration is limited.