Tot Spot to become clubhouse for grown-ups

  • Written by Deborah Stone

Tot SpotWhen Kat Stremlau, owner of Tot Spot Café in Woodinville, announced she was closing her business in mid-August, many folks assumed the decision was economically-driven.

“Not true,” says Stremlau. “The business was doing fine and it definitely served its purpose well in the five years it has been open.”

She explains: “When I started it, my son Nate was six months old and I needed a clubhouse for moms and kids. Not finding one around here, I began my own. Now, Nate is going into fulltime kindergarten and it’s time for a new venture.”

Come December, Tot Spot Café will be transformed into The Collective on Tap, a pub featuring Washington craft beers, along with select Woodinville wines.

“We’re going to have 20 taps that’ll be the best of breed,” says Stremlau. “We’ll rotate the taps and bring in beers that people aren’t aware of, particularly some of those that are made in small batches and that are cask-conditioned. We’re going to try and stay within 50 miles with some exceptions, so as to keep it very local.”

On her proposed brewery list are such names as Airways Brewing, Dirty Bucket, Snoqualmie Falls Brewing, Foggy Noggin Brewing, Elysian, Lazy Boy, Reuben’s Brews and Skagit River Brewing, among others.

She adds, “As for the wines, we’re planning on offering six different local wines and rotating these as well.”

Stremlau notes that there isn’t anywhere in the area that focuses solely on Washington craft beers.

She comments that there are breweries promoting their own products, but she hasn’t found a place that has a collection of the best Washington beer under one roof.

Like the Tot Spot Café, The Collective on Tap will be a clubhouse of sorts, but for adults, 21 and over.

“Our idea is to make it a gathering place where people can connect with the community,” explains Stremlau. “And being in downtown Woodinville, and not in the tourist district, it’ll attract locals — people who live and work in the area.” In addition to libations, the establishment will also offer small plates of Italian-inspired food, such as meatballs, stuffed peppers and charcuterie.

Stremlau, who is Irish-Italian and hails from New York, will be heading up the kitchen along with her other management duties.

“I love to cook,” she admits. “And I want to give people good quality food at reasonable prices. One of the things we’re going to do is to have a daily $10 lunch that will include a sandwich, like a meatball sub for example, and homemade soup. We’ll switch it up every week, but the price will stay the same.”

Stremlau plans to have “meet the brewer” events and home brewing classes, as well as trivia nights, adding, “A lot of these small little breweries are very excited to be a part of this and they are eager to tell their stories and share their passion with others.”

Patrons can also expect to hear some live music from time to time, but Stremlau emphasizes that the tunes will be mellow.

“No loud stuff,” she adds. Eventually, she hopes to establish a brewing facility on site.

“My husband Chris is a hobby brewer, who makes five gallons at a time at home,” she comments. “We’d like to make and sell our own beer at The Collective on Tap and with a proper brewing facility on site, we’d be able to do this more easily.”

After the imminent closure of the Tot Spot, the local woman and her business partner, Jan Newton, will begin to remodel the space.

All of the toys will be sold, with the proceeds going to Charity Water, an organization that brings clean water to African towns.

When The Collective on Tap opens, it will seat 60 indoors. Next spring, there will be an outdoor patio, adding another40  seats to the establishment.

“This is our dream,” says Stremlau, “and we’re so excited to make it a reality.”

Head to Tacoma for some ‘camelsailing’

  • Written by Deborah Stone
camel rides at Pt. Defiance Zoo 008
Courtesy photo. Left to right: Julie Boselly and Deborah Stone take a camel ride at Pt. Defiance Zoo.
It’s hard to imagine what a country like Egypt would have in common with the city of Tacoma. They’re on opposite ends of the globe, with two entirely different cultures, topographies, languages and climates.

But, surprisingly, these two places share a unique activity they both offer —  camel rides! Yes, Tacoma’s Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is now in the business of giving camel rides to visitors on its two resident dromedaries, Bubbles and Picasso. The zoo has had camels for a while, however this is only the third summer that it has given visitors the opportunity to ride these unique hump-backed creatures.

“It’s been popular, especially with the kids,” says Derek Chapin, visitor services supervisor. “They get a kick out of it because it’s such a different experience and one that you’d never expect to have in this area, let alone this region of the world.”

Both of the zoo’s camels are males. Picasso weighs 1,600 pounds and Bubbles, the heavyweight, is around 1,800. They eat mostly grain and alfalfa at the zoo, but in the wild, they will consume most types of vegetation available to them.

According to Chandler Clarke, zoo staff member and camel attendant, the animals are even-tempered and relaxed much of the time.

He says, “They’re like big puppy dogs and they can be very affectionate when they know you. They’ll come up and nuzzle or shove their heads at you because they want some attention.”

Clarke comments that people often ask whether the camels spit a lot.

He responds, “They don’t naturally spit. Spitting is a learned behavior. And they really don’t bite either. These are misconceptions that often give camels a bad reputation.”

Clarke also explains that the camels enjoy exercising and that the rides they give each day provide them with opportunities to walk.

He adds, “In the wild, they will walk up to 40 miles a day.”

A special platform allows riders easy access getting on and off the camels, omitting the need for the animals to assume a prone position each time a new person boards them.

This is much more convenient, both for the rider and the camel. I speak from experience, having ridden a camel in Egypt several years ago, where the most awkward part of the process was the mount and dismount operation. The camel had to lower itself down and then rise up while you continued to try and maintain your balance. For those who have never been on these humpbacked creatures, it might feel a bit off-kilter initially. The camel’s gait is more like a waddle and it sways back and forth as it walks.

It’s not overly comfortable at first, but if you allow your body to go with the movement, as opposed to fighting it, you’ll soon be able to relax and fully enjoy the experience. You might even find yourself humming the theme to “Lawrence of Arabia!”

While you’re in Tacoma, make sure to also head over to the waterfront for more summertime fun. You can walk or bike for several miles along the picturesque pathway (soon to connect to the zoo), grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants on the bay, or even parasail if you’re in the mood for an adrenaline-boosting activity.

Woodinville Weekly staff writer Deborah Stone and publisher Julie Boselly were wowed recently with a parasailing adventure high above the waters of Commencement Bay in Tacoma with views of Mt. Rainier, Vashon Island and Browns Point, not to mention the ship and ferry traffic, sailboats and other pleasure craft. Most of all, though, the two enjoyed the cooler temperatures high above the bay. On their day trip to Tacoma. Stone and Boselly also visited Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium for a camel ride. Courtesy photo.
Pacific Parasail, which operates right behind the Ram Restaurant, will be glad to set you up for a ride to remember. You can choose to fly on your own, go tandem or triple, as you take to the skies from the back of a speedboat.

The family-run business, with Captain Doug Luthi at its helm, has been in operation for 10-plus years and has an impeccable safety record.

“Not even a stubbed toe,” says Luthi with pride. “We adhere closely to the parasail safety standards as published by the Professional Association of Parasail Operators, as well as the safety standards set by our parasail insurance provider. Safety is of utmost importance to us and we take it very seriously.”

Pacific Parasail offers flyers the opportunity to choose from two altitudes that are based on length of tow line.

For those who aren’t sure of heights, 600 feet of tow line is recommended. Otherwise, opt for 1,000 feet of tow line, which puts you at a vertical height of about 850 feet.

From that height, you can see the Space Needle in Seattle. No matter what option you select however, you’ll be wowed with the views of beautiful Commencement Bay, Mt. Rainier, Vashon Island and Browns Point, not to mention the ship and ferry traffic, sailboats and other pleasure craft dotting the waters below. You will marvel at how high you are and how tiny everything appears from your bird’s eye perspective.

Surprisingly, it’s amazingly quiet and peaceful once you’ve attained elevation, and the ride is gentle, though there is a definite heart-pumping thrill to the experience.

The only time you may feel any type of motion is if you encounter wind, which can sometimes occur when the boat turns toward the harbor.

If this is a bit unsettling to you, as it was for me, take a few deep calming breaths and know that the movement is natural and doesn’t usually last too long.

Upon descent, those who have requested a “toe dip” in advance will be lowered to allow their feet to skim the water. That’s the only time you’ll get wet. Otherwise, you take off and land smoothly on the flight deck of the boat without a splash. Before you know it, the ride’s over and you’re on terra firma, giving high fives all around.

If you go:

Camel rides for ages 3 and older are offered at Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium from late May through September and during the holiday Zoolights. Cost: $6 per ride.

For more information:

Pacific Parasail operates its flights from May through September. Kids 4-10 fly free with full fare adult ($79 - $89 depending on altitude).

For more information: (253) 272-3883 or www.

2012 Northshore Wall of Honor inductions

  • Written by Lucy DeYoung, Special to the Weekly

Three years ago a group of local volunteers, in order to recognize the rich history of outstanding achievements of Northshore School District alumni, personnel and volunteers who have made significant contributions to our community, state, nation or world.

One of the goals of the Wall of Honor is to inspire future generations by recognizing the accomplishments of former students and teachers.

Since the inception of the Wall of Honor, 32 deserving alumni, staff and volunteers have been recognized.

This year’s induction of 12 outstanding recipients, including Woodinville’s own Helen Anderson McMahon, class of 1936, will be held on August 16 at 6 p.m. at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell.

The inductees, who, as a result of their outstanding achievements and community service, have become an inspiration to our students, educators, and community.

Helen McMahon moved to Woodinville in 1923 when she was 5½. She has been very active in the community as an activist, historian and artist.  As a lifetime member of the Heritage Society she has drawn a wonderful 39-page coloring book of her life in Woodinville. Her coloring book is available through the Woodinville Heritage Society.  She and her husband John, now deceased, were probably best known for many years as Woodinville’s Mr. and Mrs. Claus and as such they brought joy to many children throughout the holidays.

This year’s inductees are:

Dr. David Anderson, BHS, 1961, veterinarian, civic/community leader and international humanitarian

Marilyn Eylar Conaway, NSD, 5 years, visionary teacher, founded mock UN conference and mock political convention

Dr. Darryl DesMarteau, BHS, 1958, renowned fluorine chemistry researcher and chemistry professor at Clemson University

Dr. William Fassett, BHS, 1964, outstanding Washington State University pharmacy professor and co-founder of Northshore troubled youth program

Dr. Ronald E. Frost, BHS, 1965, dentist, community leader, mentor and international humanitarian

Dr. Donald Granvold, BHS, 1961, researcher, provider of mental health services and University of Texas professor

David Aaron Hughes, BHS, 1956, U.S. Foreign Service, author and international humanitarian

Dr. Richard Lance, BHS, 1942, community doctor, team physician, health advocate and Northshore School District school board member

Helen Anderson McMahon, BHS, 1936, community leader and activist, historian, artist and local pioneer

Dr. Grant W. Sharpe, BHS, 1943. University of Washington forestry professor, wildlife management and recreation activist

Carroll “Si” Siverson, NSD, 30 yrs., beloved teacher and administrator, advocate for performing arts

Roy J. Wheat, Jr., BHS, 1946, pilot, aviation advocate for youth and selfless community activist

The Wall of Honor serves as a permanent reminder of Northshore’s rich history and tradition of excellence and service.

For more information, visit Pop Keeney Stadium is located at 18603 Bothell Way N.E., Bothell, WA 98011-1995.

Sisters’ music evokes feelings of homecoming, family nostalgia

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Douglas County oneFolks around here often ask sisters Emily Afanador and Mollie Ziegler, the duo that comprises the music group Douglas County Daughters, if they are from Douglas County, Wash., or Douglas County, Ore. It’s neither.

The women were actually born and raised in Douglas County, Neb.

“We joke that there must be a Douglas County in every state of the union,” says Ziegler, “but we’ve discovered there are just12.” The pair do have a local connection, however, as they both graduated from WHS – Ziegler in 1988 and Afanador in 1991.

Music has been a part of their lives since they were young girls.

“Our mom taught us to sing three-part harmony with our older sister Kelley during car vacations when we were crammed into the back seat,” explains Afanador. “I think she was trying to keep us from getting bored and picking on each other.” She adds, “There was always music going on in the house, practicing piano or band instruments or spontaneous breaking into song and when someone started singing a show tune or a Christmas carol, we all took different harmony parts.”

Both women became songwriters and performed in separate rock bands and recording groups during college. They were studio musicians and guest artists on each other’s stages and albums for years before starting Douglas County Daughters.

“The idea came at a time when neither of us was in performing groups,” says Afanador. “A gentleman approached me about opening the stage for his festival. As an ambitious working musician, I didn’t want to say no, so I told him that I would put something together. I immediately approached Mollie about doing a folk music set of traditional music in the public domain. Between a few of our original songs and a handful of roots songs, we cobbled together enough music to fulfill the contract. We haven’t stopped since.”

When performing, the sisters share vocals, while Ziegler plays the keyboard and guitar and Afanador takes on the drums and autoharp. The women were both informally and classically trained as musicians.

“We had a giant old upright piano in our house,” says Afanador, “and later a small apartment piano and I remember my big sisters teaching me chop-sticks, children’s songs and various duets. Mom also required all her daughters to take piano lessons from the time we were about five years old until we could pick up a piece of music and play it. That was an obscure enough deadline to keep us all in formal lessons through high school.”

Afanador went on to play percussion in the WHS symphonic band, piano in the jazz band and drums in the jazz choir.

She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in folklore and musicology.

Ziegler took up the French horn and was a drum major in high school, as well as a member of the concert and jazz choirs. She eventually earned a master of arts degree in music education at the UW and became a junior high and high school choral director

In describing the type of music the sisters play when performing as the Douglas County Daughters, Ziegler says it is a combination of several kinds of vintage American music, such as rockabilly, soul, country swing and rag. The women perform “lost treasures in dusty books,” as well as their own original compositions, which are written in old styles to suit their repertoire.

The collaboration process is unique because of the physical distance that separates them. Ziegler lives in Monroe, Wash., and Afanador resides in Eugene, Ore.

“We get together one weekend a month,” explains Ziegler, “alternating between the Eugene and Seattle areas, to play one or two shows. Most of the time we have a couple of hours to run through songs beforehand and if we are really lucky, we get time to explore new songs and collaborate. But most of our composing, arranging and collaborating happens states apart via the internet.”

Afanador shares her songs with Ziegler through YouTube, using a camera shot of her hands on the piano to show (how) she’d like her sister to play it. Ziegler uses the music recording programs Cubase and Garage Band to record multiple tracks for keys, drums, lead vocals and harmony vocals. Then she is able to create mp3s of different versions of the same song to help both her and her sister practice so that they can be as polished as possible on their respective parts.

As for working together, the sisters agree that their familiarity and bond with one another has helped them to easily work through challenges that have derailed other bands they’ve been in over the years. They try and stay open to each other’s ideas, share the workload and enjoy the highs, while persevering through any issues they come across. Both women feel incredibly fortunate to be able to play, write and perform music for others. They view it as a unique privilege and blessing to do what they love and pursue their passion. Each has a lengthy discography of recording from their various individual projects. The only Douglas County Daughters recordings they have at this time are of live performances.

The response to their music has been overwhelmingly positive. Afanador explains: “When we created Douglas County Daughters, we expected that our sisterhood would be an appeal both musically and visually, since our voices blend so well together and we look similar. We imagined people would find the concept attractive and unique. What surprised us was how our sisterhood brought audiences a feeling of homecoming and nostalgia for their own families. People have come up to us after shows to express sentiments of longing and warmth about their own siblings and families.” Douglas County Daughters will perform this summer at Country Village in Bothell August 17, at 1 p.m., followed by gigs at the Island County Fair in Langley (8/17 at 7 p.m.) and Evergreen State Fair (8/29 at 1:30 p.m.).

Cozy Cat opens in Woodinville

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Cozy Cat Ribbon Cutting

Courtesy Photo

Woodinville Mayor Bernie Talmas and Chamber Board Chair Mike Petryszak were on hand for the July 12 grand opening of Cozy Cat Boarding and Grooming Spa in Woodinville,  a new business from Dr. Hanna Ekström, owner of At Home Vet.

Cats, like dogs, get lonely and bored when their owners go on vacation without them.

The best case scenario is to have a pet sitter, someone to come in twice a day to play with the animal.When that isn’t possible, pet owners turn to board care for Fido and Fluffy. The problem for Fluffy is there are few cat-only boarding facilities.

Cozy Cat is a separate 1,000-square-foot house behind Ekström’s practice and is  decked out with everything a cat could need for a happy stay away from home — kind of like a bed and breakfast with spa facilities for the feline set.The business is also a full service grooming spa for cats, complete with a waiting area where owners can relax and have a cup of coffee while they wait. Cozy Cat is located at 12459 NE Woodinville Drive and can be reached at (425) 402-0187.