Rotary Club of Issaquah seeks host families for youth exchange program

December 11, 2012

Amanda Strombom, Doug Strombom, Perrine Moser and Emma Strombom (from left) pose for a picture at Seattle’s Volunteer Park. The Stromboms hosted Perrine, from Switzerland, through the Rotary Club of Issaquah’s Youth Exchange program last year. Contributed

To travel around the world and experience different cultures, it takes hours upon hours of travel time, thousands of dollars and months of planning.

While nothing may be able to replace the actual experience of visiting a foreign country, there is a more local alternative that allows residents to experience different cultures from the comfort of their own Issaquah home.

The Rotary Club of Issaquah’s Youth Exchange gives local families a chance to host students from around the world, bringing diverse cultures into community homes and schools.

Doug and Amanda Strombom, as well as their teenage daughter Emma, hosted a student from Switzerland in their Issaquah home last year.

The three-month visit was a beneficial one for his family, Doug Strombom said. He particularly enjoyed discussing and understanding the differences between Swiss and American cultures.

“I think it makes our life more interesting to have a visitor here, and especially one who has something to say and has been someplace different,” he said. “I think cultures are fascinating. They are infinitely deep. You just have to explore and take some conversation to understand someone else’s culture.”

Through the program, the foreign exchange student is placed with three different local families throughout the year in an attempt to provide separate scenes of the American culture.

Read more

The Hot List

November 27, 2012

Samantha Garrard
Issaquah High School

Music: “Red,” by Taylor Swift

‘Red’

Taylor Swift’s much-anticipated album, “Red,” debuted Oct. 22. Her album features chart-topping hits such as “We Will Never Ever Get Back Together” and “Red.” The country star also dove into a dub step-like rhythm with her song “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Like in any of her past albums, Swift continues to bash, praise and reminisce about her past romances, a feature that resonates with many fans. CNN gave the album a solid B+, and Swift continues to be consistent.

Movie: “Breaking Dawn: Part 2”

‘Breaking Dawn: Part 2′

On Nov. 16, Team Jacob and Team Edward united in theaters to watch the end to the Twilight Trilogy, “Breaking Dawn: Part 2.” The movie features an attractive cast including Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson and Ashley Greene. The final movie has an estimated budget of $131.5 million, a cost that will hopefully diminish with ticket sales as fans rush to the theaters to see how the romance concludes.

Yum-E Yogurt

Hotspot: Yum-e Yogurt & Espresso Bar

Downtown Issaquah is now officially part of the frozen yogurt craze. Yum-e Yogurt & Espresso Bar is next to Confetti Cupcakes on Front Street. The restaurant features a cool atmosphere complete with comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi and a fireplace. Yum-e Yogurt & Espresso Bar will be a hangout spot for all ages, especially for high school students needing a new lunch spot during school. Check it out!

Mason, Sophia rank as most popular baby names in Washington

June 26, 2012

Mason and Sophia ranked as the most-popular baby names in Washington last year — a reflection of popular baby names nationwide.

The data comes from the U.S. Social Security Administration’s annual ranking of baby names in the United States. In Washington, parents named 444 infant boys Mason and 440 infant girls Sophia.

The agency released the data May 14.

Liam ranked No. 2 on the list of names for boys. Olivia filled the slot on the list of names for girls. Alexander and Emma came in at No. 3.

Jacob, No. 4 on the list of top names for boys, rose in recent years due to a character in the mega-popular “Twilight” saga. Isabella ranked as the No. 4 name for girls.

Ethan and Emily nabbed the No. 5 slots.

Jacob, Mason, William, Jayden and Noah filled the top slots nationwide among names for boys. Sophia, Isabella, Emma, Olivia and Ava topped the list of names for girls.

Jacob, Sophia rank as most popular baby names

December 6, 2011

Washington parents caught a national trend last year.

The most popular names for babies born in the Evergreen State — Sophia for girls and Jacob for boys — reflect the No. 1 choices nationwide.

The state Department of Health released the information Nov. 29.

Jacob — buoyed in recent years for a tie to a character in the “Twilight” saga — has held the top spot nationwide for the past decade. Jacob claimed the top spot in Washington in all but three recent years. Alexander topped the list in 2009, and Ethan ranked No. 1 in 2008 and 2002.

The most popular names for girls change more frequently.

Statewide, four names filled out the top five for most of the decade: Olivia, Isabella, Emma and Emily.

Of the 44,247 boys born in Washington last year, parents picked the name Jacob for 416 babies. Of the 42,233 girls born statewide during the same period, parents selected Sophia for 474 babies.

“Naming a baby is an important decision that will last for the child’s whole life,” Dr. Maxine Hayes, state health officer and a pediatrician, said in a statement.

Jacob, Sophia rank as most popular baby names in Washington

November 30, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. Nov. 30, 2011

Washington parents caught a national trend last year. The most popular names for babies born in the Evergreen State — Sophia for girls and Jacob for boys — mirrored the No. 1 choices nationwide.

The state Department of Health released the information Tuesday.

Jacob — buoyed in recent years for a tie to a character in the “Twilight” saga — has held the top spot nationwide for the past decade. Jacob claimed the top spot in Washington in all but three recent years. Alexander topped the list in 2009, and Ethan ranked No. 1 in 2008 and 2002.

The most popular names for girls change more frequently.

Statewide, four names filled out the top five for most of the decade: Olivia, Isabella, Emma and Emily.

Read more

Hollywood debut awaits local author

August 2, 2011

Storyteller Sarah Gerdes is force behind upcoming films

By Greg Farrar Lucas Foster, Hollywood producer (left), and Sarah Gerdes, local author, discuss their collaboration as they prepare to transform her books into films.

Sarah Gerdes, author and mother to Conor, Porsche and Mercedes, balances motherhood and Hollywood.

The longtime local author is nearing a milestone in a lifelong effort to tell stories to the masses: films based on the books she spent years to create.

The lineup includes “The Kim Sisters” — a musical about a trio transplanted from Korea and hurtling to success in the United States — and adventures based on “Chambers” — a series about time-traveling teenagers. The initial e-book in the “Chambers” series came out in May.

“I am truly excited to see it come to film — and it’s not because of any financial gain, although that would be nice, not to be a starving author forever,” Gerdes said late last month. “It’s because I can’t wait to see it through somebody else’s eyes. I’ve written this work that has all of these characters. I have a theme and I know where it’s going.”

Lucas Foster — the producer behind “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and other action-packed films — refers to Gerdes as “the Terminator” for the perseverance and passion she delivers on each project. Foster’s Warp Entertainment is producing “The Kim Sisters” and “Chambers” films.

“The amount of money we spend to make a movie, and then market and distribute a movie, is colossal. So, we have to do some thinking about who our audience is very early on and who we’re trying to reach,” he said. “Are we capable of reaching them with whatever it is we’re building? I think Sarah — she doesn’t have to think that way — but I think she’s inclined to think that way as well.”

Read more

‘Deathly Hallows’ casts a spell over local Harry Potter fans

July 19, 2011

“It’s the end of our childhood,” said Rebecca Solem, 18, one of about 50 or so Harry Potter fans lined up outside the Regal Issaquah 9 Theatre on July 14.

Jamie Loudon (left) and Lauren Loudon dressed in 'Harry Potter' garb to await the opening of the final film in the series at midnight July 14 at the Issaquah 9 Theater. By Tom Corrigan

With a fancy hat and a shawl, Solem was one of many who showed up in costume for the occasion, the release of the last film of the “Harry Potter” movie franchise.

Solem’s spot on the sidewalk outside the movie house also was occupied by several other characters from the books and films, most notably Albus Dumbledore complete with wizard robes and long, flowing beard.

At least a few of the costumed crowd had arrived as early as 9 that morning to be among the first to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”

The movie started playing at 12:01 a.m. July 15.

“We all grew up on ‘Harry Potter,’” Solem continued, by way of explaining her initial comment, with which her six or seven cohorts agreed.

Solem noted the first “Potter” book was the first book she read on her own. Megan Winter, 18, said her father used to read her the first few books. Several others in the crowd quickly shook their heads in agreement, saying one parent or the other had initially hooked them on the tales of the young wizard.

Read more

Innovative strategy readies local author’s book for film debut

July 19, 2011

‘Chambers’ fans can score a walk-on role in films

The time-traveling teenagers in “Chambers” — a nascent e-book series from local author Sarah Gerdes — use a combination of textbook smarts and street savvy to navigate different epochs in history.

Sarah Gerdes

The team behind the novel is using a similar approach to promote “Chambers” as a multimedia experience. Before the e-book was released in May, plans for a film already materialized — due to a relentless pursuit by Gerdes and a chance to create a big-screen adaptation alongside “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” producer Lucas Foster.

The latest phase in the innovative book release is due to roll out July 22, as Gerdes and Foster host a series of events at area technology sellers. The top prize for attendees is a chance for a walk-on role in a film under development by Foster’s company, Warp Entertainment.

“I like the idea that you can have a cross-media experience,” he said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “You can read the book, see the movie, play the game, maybe even go to the live destination, and they’re all different experiences, and they add to each other in some manner.”

The effort to launch “Chambers” and offer walk-on film roles represents a marriage of content, retail and technology — a departure from traditional book and film releases.

“We’re now getting to do something that’s never been done before,” Gerdes said.

Read more

Learn about Northwest noir at the library

September 21, 2010

Susan Olds

The wild Pacific Northwest can pull at any artist’s imagination, whether that artist is a painter, writer, photographer or unsuspecting hiker.

The region’s gloomy winters, dense forests, rugged mountains and deep Puget Sound act as an ideal backdrop for mysteries, thrillers, UFO sightings and legends. Ask any “Twin Peaks” fan who has visited the Snoqualmie Valley, or any “Twilight” reader who has journeyed to Forks to see the setting of the novels detailing the lives of vampires and werewolves.

North Bend art historian Susan Olds will present “Northwest Noir: Mysteries, Legends and Landscapes” at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at Issaquah Library, 10 W. Sunset Way. Read more

Explore a national park and ‘Twilight’ mysteries on the Olympic Peninsula

August 3, 2010

A tree in the Hoh Rainforest forms an arch over a walking trail in the woods. Photo by Kristi Feder

Summer is road-trip time and a great weekend adventure is making a loop through the Olympic Peninsula, home to Olympic National Park, the fifth most-visited national park in the country.

Since one of our travel goals is to stay in all of the lodges featured in the PBS series, “Great Lodges of the National Parks,” this weekend jaunt was the perfect way to check two more off our list.

We headed out early on a gray and misty Friday afternoon to take the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston. A lot of other people obviously had the same idea, so there was a lengthy wait. The ferry to Bainbridge might be a better option, as the boats are larger and can accommodate more cars. Once we got to Sequim, however, the sun was out, which definitely reinforced the nickname the area has acquired as the “Banana Belt” due to its low rainfall and sunny weather.

Read more

Next Page »