“Shade Grown, Organic Coffee Gives New Meaning to ‘Feeling Good,'” WestSound Home & Garden magazine

CoffeeDevoted coffee drinkers whose day doesn’t start until they get their first cup of brew know what it’s like to miss their morning ritual. Maybe yours entails sitting down on the sundeck, inhaling the addictive aroma and letting the particles slowly work their way through every molecule of your body. Maybe, as the java perks up your brain, you give your body a jolt by practicing your James Brown moves and belting out, “I Feel Good.” Or maybe you live by the motto, “So much to do, so little time,” and you get your fix at the corner coffee shop on your way to work.

No matter how you do it, imagine if you just sit there, peacefully indulging in your caffeine bliss, and at the same time helping make the world a better place. But don’t get all steamed up about it: You don’t even have to trade the time spent going to the PTA fund-raiser, watching “American Idol” or weeding your garden for any of that “save the world stuff” (though most people wouldn’t mind trading the weeding for it). Making a true difference in someone else’s life — and the life of our planet — is as simple as drinking the right cup of coffee.

Download article PDF

“Magical Places: Every Woman Needs a Playhouse,” WestSound Home & Garden magazine

Layout 1In an ordinary residential neighborhood in Bremerton, surrounded by mostly ordinary homes, there is a little magical house that may belong in a storybook rather than someone’s yard. You would almost expect to hear “Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho!” and see the Seven Dwarfs march out.

In spring and summer time, the little house is so overgrown with plants and colorful blooms, that it actually seems to blend in with the garden — a piece of garden art in its own right.

This little darling is called “Ms. Vicki’s Potting Shed,” and Ms. Vicki is really not Snow White in disguise — she’s the wife of Wally Carlson, who has been building the charming playhouses for a few years.

Download article PDF

“Girls’ Night Out with Bunco,” WestSound Home & Garden magazine

CenturyTemplateThey come from different backgrounds — homemakers, teachers, dentists, bankers, retirees. They come in all ages, sizes, and fashion senses. But they have one thing in common: They are bunco girls.

Where men have their poker nights, women have bunco nights — monthly affairs where no men are allowed, where good food, conversation and relaxation are the focus, and the game of bunco… well, bunco is mostly the excuse to get together.

Unlike poker, which requires strategy and decision making, bunco takes no brainpower. Winning is all about the luck of the draw (or rather, the dice), or perhaps about whose shoes are the luckiest that day.

Download article PDF

“Food for the Gods: Taking a Bite Out of the Mystery of Chocolate Making,” WestSound Home & Garden magazine

New Century Layout v8
From the early days of the Mayans, who called it “food of the gods,” through the 16th century when Europeans prescribed it as a drug for various ailments, and to today’s multibillion-dollar industry, chocolate has evolved into a universal extravagance. Equally effective for treating a grumpy mood, sending a sweet apology and — if we are to believe research — for getting a healthy doze of good-for-the-heart antioxidants, chocolate rules.

This seductive (some would say, addictive) indulgence has held various mysteries through the years. For example, why did the Aztecs find cacao beans so precious that they used them as currency? (One cacao bean could buy a tomato or an avocado, and a hundred beans were worth an entire turkey.) Why does chocolate literally melt in the mouth? What’s the secret to that sharp snapping sound? And is chocolate really an aphrodisiac?

Download article PDF

“The House the Community Built: Family Brings ‘Extreme Makeover’ Home Back to Life,” WestSound Home & Garden magazine

ExtremeMakeover-1When Kevin and Adele LaCombe first saw their Burley home on the market, they couldn’t help but feel sad. Just a few years prior to that, thousands of people rallied to have it built, in a nearly impossible feat — in five days, often in pouring rain and freezing temperatures.

The home had been built for a local family by the national television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in 2005. But three years later, the family had fallen on hard times, and their circumstances forced them to sell.

“It sat here and it sat here,” Adele LaCombe says. “It became an eyesore.”

Read complete story at


“Hugh’s Caboose: Ex-CIA Agent Follows Childhood Dream,” WestSound Home & Garden magazine

Layout 1Most people would hardly remember childhood promises made decades earlier, but Hugh McMillan never forgot one of his. He recalls being quite envious of his cousin, whose parents bought him an electric train toy. McMillan’s parents couldn’t afford such a toy, so he decided he’d take matters into his own hands.

“I said, ‘I’ll get me a train some day,’” he says.

It took him about 60 years, but he kept that pledge. McMillan got himself a train — a real one. For more than a decade, his yard has been home to a Northern Pacific Railway caboose. Car No. NP 1000, to be exact, the first all-steel caboose used by the company.

Download article PDF


Freelance journalist, writer, editor and multimedia producer Rodika Tollefson creates and plays near Seattle, Washington. She welcomes assignments from publication editors as well as work-for-hire from anyone who needs writing, editing, video or communications/media consulting work.

a little creative writing break: ‘writing tIme’

An impromptu unedited piece about writing

By Rodika Tollefson

All those writing books by seasoned professionals tell you: You must have morning pages. That’s when you get up 10 minutes early and before you go about your day, your first thoughts pour into the pages for 10 minutes. Write junk if you want to, the advice says. Complain. Make shopping lists. Plan your day. Write whatever comes to mind, just write.

I have resisted so far giving in to such advice. I plan my day all day long already. I have little time for shopping so the lists would just there, unspent. I get to write junk already plenty, being a paid writer with lots of assignments they call “fluff.”

It’s that fluff writing that pays the bills -- not those wonderful literary masterpieces that undoubtedly are waiting inside me, waiting to be discovered, waiting for me to become the next Hemingway. Well, maybe I could become famous posthumously; it seems a lot of writers die first before getting noticed.

Where were we? Oh yes, writing time.

No matter what they say, writing is still a lot about inspiration. Maybe good writers just learned to be inspired instantly as soon as they get a hold of the pen and paper. After many failures, they disciplined themselves to write beautiful prose instantly. But me, the average scribe, I need inspiration.

And I do get it at least once a day, but it’s usually in odd places. I’ll be driving one time, be in the middle of a deadline the next time, or in the middle of a book whose sole purpose is to inspire me -- which it does -- but I ignore its pleading to drop it and write. I’m too tired. Too busy. Too whatever -- the explanation changes each time.

And so those fleeting moments of inspiration take off from inside me, hover in the air as if making sure I don’t change my mind, and move on. Maybe to another writer, another universe, another day. With them goes my masterpiece, my brilliant piece of writing that instead will end up with another writer’s name on it -- a writer who was smarter than me, more disciplined. Maybe a writer who does morning pages as a self-exploration or an exercise to get all the junk out of the brain so he or she can move on to the more brilliant stuff.

Once in a while, I do get lucky. Those fleeting moments of inspiration take mercy and instead of flying away forever, they get tucked in back inside my soul. I do love them, for they are patient…knowing…hoping that some day I too will be smarter, more disciplined, more motivated to listen to them, give them freedom. They yearn to guide my pen toward that next wonderful story.

Writing time. Part inspiration, part luck, part the ability to ignore the outside world in the whirlwind of children needing help with homework, husband waiting for dinner, clients waiting for their collection of fluff, deadlines waiting to mess up what you’ve managed to have left of a social life, bills waiting to be paid. This outside world must be what writer’s hell is like -- that perpetual agony between snatching the inspiring thought and finding the time to make it fly and go for a ride. Writing time. Maybe it’s just a curse?