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

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.”