In the case of ‘hot sauce versus law school,’ hot sauce wins

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Rooster Sauce Owners
John de Mars, the founder and CEO of de Mars’s Rooster Sauce, is flanked by his partners Cully Wakelin and Mike Boroughs (WHS class of 2004). Courtesy photo.
Most fulltime students in their first year of law school are constantly under a time crunch.

They rarely have extra hours in their day to do anything else besides hit the books and cram for one exam after another.

Not so for John de Mars. In between studying for his classes, the WHS alum (2005) began doing research aimed at one of his personal interests —  entrepreneurship.

He eventually found himself deep into market data and immersed into the world of spices.

“I enjoyed law school,” says de Mars, “but the thought of starting my own business seemed far more rewarding at the time, not to mention that I have always had a lot of energy towards the entrepreneurial side of life.”

He adds, “When I conducted the market research, I found the spice market to be one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. and the world. I saw a low barrier to entry, little overhead required and a market growing at 5-8 percent a year.”

The local man, who admits he loves to cook almost as much as he loves to eat, began tinkering with hot sauce recipes to see if he could come up with something more novel and unique than the ubiquitous Tabasco he was accustomed to using on much of his food.

“I wanted something different,” he explains, “something that I could eat a lot of and feel okay about eating a lot of, and there just wasn’t too much variety out there when it came to hot sauces.”

With the help of other like-minded spice devotees, de Mars developed what is now de Mars’s Rooster Sauce.

It’s an all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, locally sourced, gourmet hot sauce made from fresh habaneros, jalapenos, garlic, organic curry, cider vinegar, black pepper, tomato paste, cayenne powder and a touch of organic cane sugar.

An olive oil base gives the sauce a creamy consistency. “We got lucky with the flavor,” comments de Mars, “and sales started to take off. I found a solid team of bright people (Mike Boroughs, a 2004 WHS grad,  and Cully Wakelin, a current student at Evergreen State College) to take on as partners and bid adieu to the law school grind.”

The local man emphasizes that Rooster Sauce is a “good product,” one that is delicious and packs a “worldly flavor of heat,” as well as promotes a healthy lifestyle.

The company, which was formed last summer, is located in Olympia, but its production factory is in Gold Bar.

As de Mars explains: Rooster Sauce is primarily a web-based company, however the product can now be found in about three dozen grocery stores and restaurants between Olympia and Seattle.

In discussing the company’s current and future goals, the local entrepreneur says, “First and foremost, we want to keep our fantastic customers in awe by our quality of product and customer service. As for growth, we want to grow to 50 clients in the greater Seattle/Eastside area by the end of this year and continue to expand our online sales and in-store/restaurant sales on an international level. In the future, our aim is to get Rooster Sauce in every military MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) and on the first manned mission to Mars. We’ve already sent samples to NASA. We also want to make de Mars’s Rooster Sauce a household name in China.”

According to de Mars, the response to the product has been overwhelmingly positive.

He believes it’s due to the sauce’s flavor, heat and versatility, making it ideal for a wide range of food, from eggs and potatoes to pizza, sandwiches and steamed veggies.

It can also be used as a rub on chicken, fish or various types of meat.

“Basically, you can put it on anything you want for a boost of flavor and heat,” he adds. Several Seattle restaurants such as Local 360 and Portage Bay have begun featuring the sauce tableside and de Mars is seeing online orders come in daily from all over the country. “It’s rewarding to look at how we have grown in one year and very exciting to think about where we will be as a company one year from now,” he comments. “Also, it’s satisfying to know that we are directly contributing to people’s healthy eating choices by offering an all-natural, locally-sourced product.”

For more information about de Mars’s Rooster Sauce:

Local competitive bodybuilders win big

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Bodybuilders are a dime a dozen in many communities.

Seriously competitive bodybuilders, however, are few and far between.

In Woodinville, for example, there are perhaps just a handful of individuals who opt to put their hard work and efforts to the true test.

They seek the limelight for the opportunity to be judged and evaluated, assessed by others who will examine their bodies’ symmetry, shape, size and overall aesthetic appearance.

Competitive bodybuilding is not a pursuit for the fainthearted.

It takes immense commitment, discipline and focus, as well as the ability to make difficult sacrifices.


Bodybuilder Michaelson
Julie Michaelson. Courtesy photo.
“You have to be extremely perseverant,” says Julie Michaelson, “and you have to be very strong-willed.”

The local woman should know.

She’s competed in 12 shows over the past several years.

Recently, at the Washington State Fitness and Figure Bodybuilding competition in Auburn, Michaelson won her class, “Open Figure Tall,” and came in fifth overall.

She also entered the Women’s Bikini Masters competition and took fourth out of 13 participants.

“I’ve placed in the top five, all but a few times,” adds Michaelson, “in shows like the Washington Ironman, Empire Classic, Emerald Cup and the Northern Classic.”

The Woodinville woman’s passion for bodybuilding began back in 2008, when as a stay at home with two-year-old twins, she started spending more time in the gym due to its affordable daycare rates.

“I basically fell in love with the sport,” she says, “but it was more about the journey than the actual competition. For me, it’s all about personal growth and self-improvement through the dedication and the drive. I am competitive, but when I compete, I compete against myself. It gives me a great outlet and satisfies this need.”

Michaelson owns Julie Michaelson Training in Woodinville, where she specializes in small group training, boot camp classes and nutritional coaching.

“I see myself more as a coach than a trainer,” she comments. “My goal is to get inside my client’s head and motivate them beyond simply counting reps. I take a holistic approach to helping others change their lives that takes into account not only the physical, but the mental and emotional aspects of the process.”

Michaelson emphasizes that nutrition and ideas about food are at the core of her program.

She adds, “Nutrition is 80 percent responsible for getting the results you want. I get people to eat right and to get away from the concept of dieting — to view food as fuel. And it gives me great satisfaction to see my clients have that ‘aha’ moment.”

When training for a competition, the local woman follows a strict regimen for the 16 weeks leading up to the show.

Her day starts at 4 a.m. when she gets up to do her first round of cardio.

After getting her four kids ready for school, she heads to work to train her clients.

In the evening, she lifts weights and does more cardio.

“The challenge in doing this is time management and finding the right life balance,” comments Michaelson. “I’m a single mom and a business owner. I don’t have a social life. The gym is my haven. The gym is for me. It makes me feel good.”

By the end of this year, Michaelson will have done seven shows.

She is currently qualified at the national level and her goal for 2013 is to compete in a national event.

“All I want to do each time I compete is to get on that stage knowing that I have prepared well,” she says. “If I have done that, then I have already won.”


Bodybuilder Semenza
Dominic Semenza. Courtesy photo.
Dominic Semenza is another Woodinville resident who takes bodybuilding very seriously.

To date, he has competed in five shows.

At the recent Washington State Fitness and Figure Bodybuilding competition in Auburn, he, like Michaelson, took first in his class (“Light Heavy”) and was runner-up for the overall award.

In 2008, he won as a middle weight and qualified for nationals for the first time.

Semenza entered the national competition in Fort Lauderdale in 2010 and placed 16th out of a field of 34 participants.

He took some time off in the interim, but with his recent win, he is back in business.

“I’m going to nationals in Atlanta in November,” he says, “and my goal is to try and get my pro card. That’s what I’m after.”

Semenza has been a personal trainer since 2002, but has spent most of his life involved in fitness and sports.

He finds great satisfaction in applying hard work and the principles of proper nutrition to his body.

“I have a visualization of the physique I want,” he explains, “and I plan how I will progress towards that ideal.”

The local man notes he competes to win, but that continual improvement is the driving force.

The sport of competitive bodybuilding encompasses qualities he esteems, including discipline and determination.

“You have to have a strong mindset,” he adds. “You need to push yourself, physically and mentally, if you want to experience success. It’s a battle against yourself. And staying focused is so important because there are so many ways to get distracted and it’s so easy to self-sabotage.”

Semenza views his recent win as impetus to continue competing.

He says the award justifies all of his effort and sacrifice and he is very proud of his accomplishment. Likewise, when he sees his clients make significant changes, he is equally proud.

“It’s very rewarding for me to help my clients achieve their own personal goals and change the way they view their bodies,” he adds. “To see that mindset change makes it all worthwhile.”

Quick fixes for a swift home sale

  • Written by ARA

16254287_webFirst impressions are everything when it comes to selling a home, and peeling paint, stained carpets and unpleasant odors can be an instant turn-off for buyers. Fortunately, you can take simple and inexpensive steps to prep your home for a quick, top-dollar sale.

Freshen up:

Paint is an easy, cost-effective way to improve any interior, and a new coat can make all the difference in selling your home. Cracked or peeling paint will repel potential buyers, and faded or boring walls can create a lackluster overall appearance.

Make your home stand out with a fresh coat in a vibrant color, such as those found in Dutch Boy’s Crayola palette. Perfect for showcasing a finished basement, kids’ room or accent wall anywhere in the home, these bright shades will make any space “pop.” With 96 colors to choose from – from Marshmallow and Ice Pop, to Wild Strawberry and Inch Worm – you’re sure to find a shade to help make your home memorable. And as you are updating walls with new color, use a paint that not only adds beauty but also reduces odors. Along with the exceptional coverage Dutch Boy is known for, Refresh features Arm & Hammer Odor Eliminating Technology to rid your home of unwanted odors, leaving your home smelling clean and inviting. Available for walls, trim and ceilings, use Refresh throughout the home to create a pleasant walk-through experience. Add a few scented candles or potpourri to make the home even more appealing to buyers’ noses.

Little fixes:

The little things can make a big difference when it comes to the appearance of your home. Many buyers are looking to make as few improvements as possible, and even tiny cosmetic repairs can seem like a huge project. The more move-in-ready your house appears, the faster it will sell, and more likely buyers will be willing to pay the asking price. Some easy fixes include replacing broken counter and floor tiles, patching holes in any surfaces, making sure all lights work properly and doors open and close smoothly.

Organize and de-personalize:

To give your home a spacious showroom feel, take time to remove any superfluous “stuff.” Show off your kitchen countertops by storing unnecessary appliances, clear the sink and dishwashing machine, and organize refrigerator contents. Keep the bathroom vanity clear of personal items, neatly fold or hang clean towels, and clear or cover clothing hampers. Organize your cupboards, closets and drawers to maximize the appearance of your home’s storage capabilities.

Clearing your home of visible clutter will not only make it seem more spacious but also make it easier for potential buyers to picture it as their own. Minimize family photos and personal items to help visitors more easily see themselves – and their things – in your home.

Curb appeal:

First impressions can make a world of difference, so don’t neglect your home’s exterior as you prepare to sell. The mailbox should be in good condition and the house number easily visible from the street. Keep exterior doors, including garage doors, free of flaking or fading paint and freshen the trim around windows and shutters. A fresh coat of paint on the front door can add to your home’s curb appeal and affixing a seasonal display of flowers or a festive wreath on the front door also makes a warm, welcoming statement.

Affordable decorating tips to take your home from ho-hum to high style

  • Written by ARA

16031696_webFeeling uninspired in your space? Updating the decor in your home is an easy way to add more color, style and personality to rejuvenate your residence. Whether you’re making a few updates, like new artwork or wall colors, or renovating an entire room with a completely new look, decorating should be fun, not stressful. With a few simple tips, you can up the design ante in your home without breaking the bank.

Decorative painting for design

Painting can consist of much more than simple strokes of one color. Take things to the next level with decorative painting. Create different patterns on your walls with textured rollers to achieve an artistic design. Sponge and fabric paint rollers provide unique patterns to give your walls a one-of-a-kind look. Low in price and high in design, using textured rollers is a great option for redecorating on a budget.

Painting stripes in your room is a refreshing way to update your current color scheme. A sequence of wide and narrow stripes in complementing colors is a stylish option.

To achieve crisp, clean lines between each stripe, FrogTape brand painter’s tape will get the job done. The patented PaintBlock Technology applied to the edges of FrogTape helps prevent paint bleed, leaving precise lines and keeping the transition between your colors looking sharp.

A plethora of plates

Artwork is a great way to change things up and give any room a boost. Expensive traditional framed pieces of artwork aren’t your only option anymore. Instead, create an eclectic art piece with plates you already own, or find them at garage sales and antique stores. Opt for various sizes and shapes and attach each one to your wall with plate hooks. You can cover an entire wall, or focus on a smaller area - but before you get started, be sure to lay out your design on the floor first. This way, you’ll achieve your desired look, without extra nail holes on the wall from hanging as you go.

Perk-up hallways with runners; rooms with rugs

While re-energizing your home, the hallways may seem a little drab.

Add a pick-me-up to your walkway by hanging portraits with funky frames along the walls. Add a runner along the length of the floor for a touch of pizzazz. Runners come in a multitude of lengths, patterns and colors – not to mention price ranges. Updating the flooring will keep your feet cozy and help to diminish the sound of footsteps during the night.

If you have a space you want to update, but a full room makeover isn’t in your budget, consider an area rug to spruce things up. If the color in your room is dull, the rug can add visual interest and a pop of color, serving as an aesthetically pleasing addition. Area rugs also help to break up the space of a larger room and can add grandeur to a small space. A new rug will also protect your pre-existing carpet, vinyl and hardwood floors, keeping them looking newer, longer.

Opt for accents as design elements

No home redecorating project is complete without a few perfectly placed accents. These interesting items stand out from your primary colors and furniture pieces, offering a fresh look to any space. Accent pieces – like chairs, frames or vases – will spice up a monotonous color scheme, while harmonizing with everything else you may already have in a room. Consider a bright beanbag chair for your child’s bedroom, a bold lawn chair on your patio to enthrall while entertaining or a lamp base in a complementary color on your console. Keep in mind accents are meant to speak for themselves; so there’s no need to have another elaborate piece in the room to pair with an accent piece. Just one affordable piece is all it takes.

When the redecorating bug bites, embrace the opportunity to freshen up your home inexpensively. With a pinch of creativity and a dash of design inspiration, you can easily make over any space into one that’s perfect for you.

Beer, it's my opinion! Sept. 3, 2012

  • Written by Toren Heald, Beer Lover and Owner, Wedgewood Realty

Had the opportunity to visit with family that lives in Las Vegas a couple of months ago.  By the way Honey, thanks for finding my tasting notes.  During our stay, I decided to take the family to the Hoover Dam (only about 40 minutes from the strip) to show off the engineering masterpiece to my 4-year-old.

Heading back toward Las Vegas, we travel through Boulder City, Nevada, a very picturesque little community, and what does my wife spot: Boulder Dam Brewing Company. I was planning to just keep driving, but my wonderful wife asked me if I wanted to stop for a beer. I thought about this for a nano second, then locked the brakes up, turned the wheel left and came screeching into a parking spot outside this dam brewery. Looked at my bride and said, “Sure.”

Comfortable atmosphere and a friendly server greeted us at the door to offer us a place to take a load off after our previous adventures.   Once seated I decided to order up a couple root beers for the wife and kid, and the Six Shooter sampler tray for myself. My lineup consisted of:

POWDER MONKEY PILSNER — Named for the Hoover Dam workers who packed all the explosives, this beer is flavorful and refreshing. It is light, malty character and straw color. 4.7% abv / 41 IBU

BOULDER BEAN ESPRESSO STOUT — This ruby black beer has a perfectly balanced hop character.  They get a deep coffee flavor that comes from the dark roasted malts and 500 freshly-brewed shots of espresso. 5% abv / 49 IBU

HIGH SCALER IPA — The name comes from the dam workers that dangled from ropes 700 feet above the canyon floor to blast off the face of the cliffs. Even though the beer is light in the IBUs it makes it up in flavor and aroma.  I’m sure my hop head friends would like this one.  6.5% abv / 32 IBU

HELL’S HOLE HEFEWEIZEN — Malty, light and delicious as a hefe should be. I must confess: I did put an orange slice in the brew. I know, Man Law: “no fruit in beer.” There are however hints of banana and clove from Bavarian yeast. 4.8% abv / 16 IBU

STRAWBERRY BLONDE —This blonde is beautiful with her pale, cloudy strawberry blonde color. Nice and crisp to battle the dry desert heat.  No strawberry extracts on this one; they put 84 pounds of fresh berries in this brew.  6.0% ABV / 21 IBU

SHANDY — Curiosity got me to try this concoction.  Their Powder Monkey Pilsner is mixed in with lemonade.  It’s a bit weird but it is apparently a British thing —  who knew?

RATTLESNAKE BITE –After the Shandy I obviously had to try this craziness.  Once again the Powder Monkey Pilsner is mixed with a dry, hard cider, strangely different and surprisingly good. Dam good!

I recommend everyone make the venture to Boulder City next time you are in Las Vegas, but wait a few more months because it is about 1000 degrees down there this time of year. For more information about this great pub, you can look them up on their website:

“Blessing of your heart you brew good ale.” - Shakespeare