It is that time of year when the fruits of our labors begin filling up not only our dinner plates but also become an integral part of beautifying the spaces around us. You guessed it, we are talking about SQUASH.
If you are anything like some of these green thumb agents, you have spent the past several months pouring your heart and soul into your garden prepping to produce these beautiful and tasty gems. But it is quite possible that you now have so many you do not know what to do with them. If that is the case keep reading for places you can donate your extras…. like my office.
Perhaps you are more like those of us that take advantage of the local Farm to Table programs our local farm community has to offer. You may have begun to receive these tasty treats in your special boxes. Keep reading to discover one of my favorite recipes.
BUT….maybe your most like me and you are… “Growing them…well… in the grocery store”. Let’s be honest autumn is my favorite time of year, but I wasn’t blessed with a green thumb. I am more like a big kid eagerly waiting for Shermans Farm to open so I can enjoy the full experience of finding the perfect squash for tonight’s dinner. I like sipping my warm cup of cider while riding on the tractor taking in the beautiful Whidbey farm views and snapping pictures of my kids next to the biggest pumpkins they can find.
Regardless of who you are, there is one thing we all have in common this season. We will all come into contact with SQUASH!
The majority of people will likely only use them as decorations, and that is ok. There is no denying these power-packed veggies are beautiful and studies show that sprucing up the space around you will make you feel happier. So, first things first…
Let’s Get Crafty:
It can take as little or as much creativity as you desire. Place a variety of squash together with some leaves, flowers, candles, or acorns to spruce up your gathering space. For more inspiration follow one of our favorites local to our area: Erin Benzakein, founder of Floret. Floret is a Skagit Valley family-owned farm and seed company and New York Times Best Selling Author of A Year in Flowers for tutorials on arrangements.
OVERSIZED ACORN WITH ACORN SQUASH
Supplies you will need:
- Hot Glue Gun
- Hot Glue
- Acorn Squash
Begin by placing a dab of glue at the top of your squash. Make a loop in the twine and attach the top of your squash. Place glue around the top ¼ of the squash and being laying your twine in a circular motion starting at the stem and continuing down to a ¼ of the squash, carefully laying each layer of twine up against the last.
For the Tummy:
Most importantly, squash provides a plethora of nutrients for our bodies. It is quite literally called a power-pack veggie. They are high in Vitamin A, B6, and C, folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium.
The best thing about squash is that there are so many ways to eat it. I love it SO MUCH I am attaching one of my simple favorites.
BAKED ACORN SQUASH WITH BUTTER & BROWN SUGAR
Serves: 2-4 | Preparation: 10min | Cooking: 1 HR 15 min
- 1 Acorn squash
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
- Dash of Salt
Uplift the Community with Your Extras:
With all joking aside, if you have been blessed with having too much squash this year, the North Whidbey Help House in Oak Harbor, and Good Cheer Food Bank in Langley would love to have your donations.
Stay blessed. Have a favorite squash recipe or idea you want to share? Let us know in the comments below.
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Many people are starting to realize that racism is a lot more widespread and day to day than most realized…
One of the first questions people are asking themselves is What can I do? What should I think?
At Windermere on Whidbey Island, we know that knowledge is empowering and clarifying when times are stressful and people are confused. It sounds like it’s almost too easy but it’s absolutely true that one of the best things you can do is listen, read, and watch with a heart to learn more. This is a shortlist of high-quality talks, videos, animations, and articles we think will help to get you started. There are thousands more. If you have a recommendation please leave it in the comments below. Thank you for showing up to this issue.
Why what has happened recently is such a big deal…
Trevor Noah on current events (18:12) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4amCfVbA_c
For those with young kids this short video may help explain racism…
Book reading of “Something Happened in Our Town” (8:50) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcOhOFGcWm8
Why being color blind is not a good thing…
TEDx Fighting to be Seen in a Colorblind World by Traci Ellis (14:34) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqvZRO2LPmw&t=101s
What does white privilege mean…
Sociology Live explanation (4:09) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLgbw_A1mLI
A talk about Charlottesville by Brene Brown (12-32 min) answer begins around 3:30 https://www.facebook.com/brenebrown/videos/1778878652127236
What is systemic racism…
Explanation of how our systems have been built in a racist way (4:23) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrHIQIO_bdQ
Help in understanding the big picture with racism by academic Robin DiAngelo…
How the Real Estate industry has contributed to racism…
Explained, Racial Wealth Gap (16:12) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mqrhn8khGLM&t=34s
The Disturbing History of the Suburbs (6:19) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETR9qrVS17g&t=7s
Real Estate Investigation: Testing the Divide (41:17) https://projects.newsday.com/long-island/real-estate-investigation-videos/
How a Real Estate brokerage should be talking about racism https://www.redfin.com/blog/its-not-enough/
How to Beat Cabin Fever
As our country and community marches on in the fight against COVID19, it has been amazing to see people stepping up and reinventing their lives to help stop the spread. Although social distancing is by far the most effective way of protecting yourself and your loved ones, I think we can all agree it is getting a bit dull.
Cabin fever is hard enough to deal with in the cold darkness of the winter but in the middle of this beautiful spring?! It’s understandable to be restless and eager to get out.
To help you fight the Quarantine Cabin Fever we have developed a list of 5 things to keep up your spirits.
Pull Out a Good Book (or 2)
Almost everyone has that list of books they keep saying they are going to read someday. Today is the day! With the normal busyness of day to day life placed on hold, what better time to dig into the pages of that novel or self-betterment book?
Need a suggestion on a good book? Try reading something by local author Robert Elmer! His stories are packed full of history, adventure, and action. The perfect thing to entertain you for hours on end!
Start Spring Cleaning
We know, not the most exciting activity. However, it is probably the one future you will appreciate the most. Post quarantine you aren’t going to want to spend MORE time secluded in your home getting it ready for summertime entertaining. So get a jumpstart on the game and start cleaning/decluttering now.
Not sure where to start? Download this FREE Printable Decluttering Checklist by Making Lemonade to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Call Friends and Family
Sometimes when we’re down in the dumps we can forget there are so many in the same boat (especially right now). This time of isolation is the perfect opportunity to reach out to friends and family you might not have talked to in a while – especially grandparents! If you’re wanting a little more than just to hear their voice; below is a list of video calling apps you can connect with others on.
Take a Free Online Course
Maybe for you, this time away from others is actually just an opportunity for personal growth! Personal growth could be emotional, spiritual, or intellectual. Right now might just be the perfect time to pick up an online course or two.
Don’t have the funds for tuition? Corsera is an online educational facility partnering with world-class instructors to make online learning more accessible. They have hundreds of free courses you can sign up for TODAY.
We personally suggest signing up for Dr. Laurie Santos’ course on The Science of Well-Being.
To be clear, this does NOT mean meeting up with your friends for a picnic at the park or joining a group on a hike. Getting outside is extremely important right now to help fight off the depression that can happen from being cooped up; however, outside isolation should still include social distancing. Going on a solitary walk down the street or a stroll to the beach might be just the thing you need to keep your spirits up. However, if you see a neighbor, friend, or any other person be sure to keep the 6-feet-rule.
Not sure what 6 feet really looks like? This CNN article has some helpful and amusing images that could help!
You might also be interested in community resources available to you during this time:
Valentine’s Day with Kids
The way we celebrate Valentine’s Day changes so much once kids enter the picture! Suddenly it becomes about finding ways to incorporate kid-friendly activities into what used to be a romantic night out. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun! Here are a few ideas to make Valentine’s Day special for you and your little ones:
DIY your Valentine’s cards
Find a cute homemade Valentine’s card craft that your kids can do with you, like these sweet owl cards or these heart buddies. If you have babies or very young toddlers, this heart fingerprint card could make a great gift for relatives! Need something a little less crafty for those large elementary school classes? You can find tons of free printables online that you can pair with a few sweets, like this Tic Tac Toe Valentine!
Bake something yummy
Kids love getting messy in the kitchen, and there are so many yummy Valentine’s Day themed treats you can make together! Cookies are always a good option, especially ones you can bake and then decorate! Want something with less baking? Buy some pink, red, and white candy melts and sprinkles and yummy treats to dip in them, like pretzels or wafer cookies.
If you’re new to baking with your little ones, 3 Scoops of Sugar has some great tips for making it more fun for everyone!
Hire a babysitter or have an at-home date night
After a day filled with baking and crafting, let the kids relax at home with a favorite babysitter, library books and some coloring pages while you and your Significant Other enjoy some quality time! You can even set up some baking or crafting activities for the sitter to do with your kids so it’s still a special time for them too.
Babysitter and going out not in the budget this month? Wait until the little ones are in bed, or settle them with a good movie so the adults can have some quality time together. Play a game together, snuggle up for a favorite Rom-Com, cook a meal together…the important thing isn’t flowers and chocolates and candle-lit restaurants. It’s all about just being together!
How does your family celebrate Valentine’s Day?
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Whidbey Island Wineries & Distilleries
“With intriguing accents of spice and musty earth [and] a gripping mouthful of tannins dance on the lengthy finish.”
These are the words used to describe Spoiled Dog Winery’s Estate Pinot Noir. If you are a fancy wine connoisseur, you probably knew what all of those words meant. Or maybe that entire sentence was gibberish to you.
Luckily, expertise is not a requirement for enjoyment when it comes to wine. This is evident annually with the “Autumn on Whidbey Tour” when people from all over and with all levels of wine knowledge flood the tasting rooms of local wineries to make memories. The tour is filled with friends having fun, amazing wine, and local art displayed in every tasting room.
Hosted by the Whidbey Island Vintners and Distillers Association, this year’s Autumn on Whidbey tour is widening it’s horizons by also including some local spirits! This expansion helps to include individuals interested in participating, but not really interested in wine. It also provides recognition and traffic to some pretty great local distilleries.
Below are some of the Wineries and Distilleries participating in this year’s tour that we had the pleasure of visiting:
Holmes Harbor Cellars
When you think of vineyards and wine tours, do you think of gorgeous Italian villas overlooking expansive acres of grape vines? If so, Holmes Harbor is the place for you! This locally owned winery opened its doors in 2008 with the hope of blending art and science to create some of the most incredible wines on Whidbey. This blend is evident both in their wine and in their tasting room which has the facade of a beautiful authentic villa while proudly displaying their fermentation tanks within. You can’t help but feel like you are about to have the best weekend of your life when you enter this incredible space.
Mutiny Bay Distillery
You are going to LOVE this mom, pop, and son distillery. After retiring as pharmacists Rod and Kathy Stallman utilized their deep understanding of chemistry to create spirits that ignite your imagination. With the engineering innovations of their son Scott, this trio created what can only be described as a dream line of liquor distilled from almost exclusively local ingredients. Their love and passion for their craft is evident from the moment you enter the tasting room. They love walking people through their selection of spirits and their process. You do not want to miss this stop on the tour!
Spoiled Dog Winery
As one of the most established and favorited wineries on the island, Spoiled Dog is without doubt a real treat to visit. Approaching the property guests are enveloped in trees that open suddenly to acres of vineyards and one of the most charming farm style buildings on Whidbey. Walking in one is immediately met by friendly tasting room staff standing in front of countless barrels of aging wine. The staff are knowledgeable and eager to help. Their selection is incredible and nothing beats the view of the vineyard with tall evergreens in the background.
This year’s Autumn on Whidbey Tour is November 9-10. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $25 or $30 day of the event. You can purchase yours here!
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Hygge: The Key to Cozy Living
It’s that moment when your toes find themselves slipping gently into the folds of your softest blanket. The warm beverage within your palms lifts up a scent that mixes and mingles with the crackling candle in the corner to create an aroma pleasant and settling. In a moment your breath leaves you in a long, rested sigh and you find contentment.
That is Hygge.
For those not aware of this booming cultural phenomena; Hygge is a Danish word not truly translatable into the English language but still well known. The Cambridge Dictionary defines Hygge as “a quality of coziness that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.” With a definition like that it’s easy to see why this lifestyle focused on small luxuries and finding gratitude in the day to day has taken the world by storm.
In the coming months, as we watch the sky grow darker and feel the crisp air begin to chill, this lifestyle of comfort and contentment becomes even more desirable to us. To assist you in cultivating this, we’ve created a list of 6 ways to bring Hygge into your home.
1. Set the Mood with Some Music
It’s no secret to anyone that our moods and energies are all greatly influenced by the sounds we hear; particularly when it comes to music. In the same way that you might play Eye Of The Tiger before a big work presentation or a “Top 40s” playlist before going out on the town, you also want to prepare yourself for relaxation. Although everyone’s preferences are unique, most find themselves at a point of relaxation when listening to the soft sounds and slow beats of instrumental or acoustic music. Our personal favorite is a Spotify playlist called “Afternoon Acoustic.” Give it a listen and tell us what you think!
2. Get Lit
Candle-Lit, that is. Much like music, our disposition can be altered by aspects of our environment such as lighting and scent. Have you ever tried to relax in a room with bright lights and a foul odor? How did that go? Probably not well. Lighting candles in a room can help to achieve a Hygge environment by softening the harsh lights we usually see all day and providing a pleasant aroma that draws us into the present.
If you aren’t sure where to find some good candles, we suggest starting with Utopia Farm Candles! They are a locally owned company specializing in hand-poured natural soy wax candles which smell AMAZING!!
3. Bake Something Amazing
Nothing says comfort and tranquility quite like a freshly baked warm pastry. Before you slip into the cracks of the pillows on your couch, you might want to try baking some of these delicious Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies by A Farmgirl’s Dabbles.
4. Get Yourself a Cuppa
What is a relaxing night without a warm drink nestled within the grips of your hands? Many would argue that a warm beverage is nothing short of quintessential to the entire Hygge experience. There is something about sipping a warm inviting drink that draws the comfort and serenity of a room deep into your spirit until it finds rest at your core. Everyone has their own beverage that does this for them whether it’s hot cocoa, mulled wine, spiced cider, or a nice glass of tea.
Our favorite drink of choice is a warm mug of Organic JennyBean Coffee. Locally owned and operated on Whidbey; JennyBean Coffee is a small micro-roaster that is dedicated to “doing it right” in terms of coffee. This is why all the coffee JennyBean roasts is Certified Organic and why they offer options such as creating your own personal roast to make sure what you purchase is really what you wanted. We cannot recommend them enough!
5. Put on Your Favorite Movie
Isn’t there just something to be said about an evening curled up on the couch watching your favorite movie? For the purpose of Hygge it’s best if that movie is not one of excitement or angst, but instead focused on deep interpersonal connection that speaks profoundly to us. What can make it even better is if the movie has a personal connection to you or your family.
One movie we HIGHLY recommend (especially for the month of October) is Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. This movie, about the magical bond of sisterhood, is an all-time classic and was primarily filmed right here on Whidbey Island in downtown Coupeville.
6. Cuddle Up in Something Cozy
With music playing, coffee made, and candles lit you are all ready to curl up on the couch in your coziest blanket or scarf and lose yourself in the moment. There’s something almost magical about the moments we spend with our family on the living room couches curled up in fuzzy fabrics. If there was an image for contentment it would be just that: family and fuzzy blankets.
If you’ve been on the lookout for that perfect couch throw or even maybe just a warm winter scarf, you might consider making your way down to the Star Store in Langley! Filled with fun mercantile ranging from food to fashion, we are sure you will find something to love in this hundred year-old store.
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Dun dun. Dun dun. Dun dun…. They’re here…..
It’s Spider Season!
It comes without fail every year. In what feels like a blink of an eye every tree, bush, and building corner are covered in shiny interwoven silk with a beady eyed creature lurking somewhere nearby.
If you’re like most people, this is probably your least favorite time of the year. The occurrence of these little eight-legged animals provokes feelings ranging from mild disgust to outlandish fear. A lot of this fear comes from misinformation we’ve been given for a long time. So, let’s debunk some of these myths, shall we?
Myth #1 – “Spiders have dangerous venom that could kill.”
Although it is true all spiders have venom (yes, ALL spiders); only a VERY small number have the ability to harm humans, and of those, few are fatal. Even a bite from the most notorious arachnid, the Black Widow, is mostly non-life-threatening for healthy adults. Thanks to modern medicine our access to antivenom has increased dramatically.
Myth #2 – “We have Brown Recluses and Black Widows on Whidbey Island.”
No, you did not see a Brown Recluse in your bathtub and the black spider on the bush outside is not a Black Widow. Although these spiders do live in Washington State, the vast majority of them live on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Sightings of these spiders in western Washington is very rare and practically unheard of for Whidbey Island.
So, what is the “scary” brown spider in your bathtub? We’re glad you asked! Here are 3 of the most common spiders to see on Whidbey:
The Common House Spider
Yes, there is a spider called the Common House Spider. Although there are several subspecies, they are all harmless but enjoy dry, warmer areas. You’ll often spot these spiders in the unused corners of your house hanging out and waiting for a fly to make its way towards them.
This was probably the spider is the bathtub! Also called a Wood Spider, these little eight-legged friends are plentiful on the island and admittedly a little intimidating. To an untrained eye these guys look a lot like a Brown Recluse; however, they are actually a little bigger and 100% harmless. You’ll find them mostly outside on the ground as they are not the best climbers and typically don’t build webs.
European Cross Spider
Probably the most majestic of our Whidbey Island spiders, you can thank these large rear-ended arachnids for the early Halloween decorations you find in your trees and bushes. Found almost exclusively outside, these beauties are the kings of webmaking. They are one of the few spider species who weave circular webs. Although mildly annoying, you can’t help but admire their workmanship.
So, there you have it. No need to take a torch to that tree this fall or scream when you see the tiny brown friend hiding in the corner. Just scoop them up and take them outside! Spiders are actually a great help when it comes to getting rid of actual pests like mosquitos or termites, and with any luck they might just do the Halloween decorating for you this year.
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3 Apple Things You Need to Know if You Live on Whidbey
Fall has officially found its way back to our little island on the sound. The evidence of this is prevalent in the sounds of geese flying overhead, the return of long yellow busses escorting our children to and from school, and the ever-cooling weather that seems to drop one-degree cooler each day. This season marks the welcomed return of so many things including comfort and routine.
One returning theme of this season that we hold particularly dear to our hearts is apple season! Few things speak to the hearts of fall loving Washingtonians quite like the crisp red fruit that grows from so many branches here in the evergreen state. Whether it’s apple pies, apple cider, or apple scented – something about the fruit just feels like home. Below are 3 things you should know about apples if you live on Whidbey Island:
#1 Has to do with Apple Pie
Probably the most obvious apple topic to be obsessed with is Apple Pie. Possibly one of the best baked goods to grace this earth, there is one pie on Whidbey Island that is simply a slice above the rest:
Words cannot describe the beauty found in this Whidbey Pie creation. Simply one of the best apple pies on the island and worth a trip to their Greenbank Farm Café or if they have any in stock at the 3 Sisters Market in Coupeville.
#2 Changes at the Red Apple Market
Residents of Coupeville and Clinton are well acquainted with the “Red Apple Market”. However, some Clinton residents may be surprised to learn there has been some changes to the ownership of their local store. In spring of this year Tom Brierley, or “Tom the Butcher” as he’s commonly called, gained ownership of the store after the previous owners decided to sell. Although he’s known for being a quieter, more behind-the-scenes man, Tom has big plans for improving the South Island grocery and we can’t wait to see where he takes the shop!
#3 This Recipe!
Few things in this world are as delicious as apples and cinnamon. If you’ve been to Whidbey Coffee recently and tried their Apple Walnut Cinnamon Roll, you know this well. We are so obsessed with this culinary masterpiece that we found a copycat recipe and it is simply THE BEST thing you could cook this fall. Let us know how it goes!
Apple Walnut Cinnamon Rolls
Buttery sweet cinnamon rolls full of apples and walnuts!
Keyword apple walnut cinnamon rolls, cinnamon rolls
Servings 15 rolls
Calories 487 kcal
For the Cinnamon Rolls
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup milk warmed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
For the Filling
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp apple pie spice
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup apples diced
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
For the Cream Cheese Icing
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Warm milk (105-110 degrees F.) and add packet of yeast. Add a pinch of sugar, stir to combine, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Yeast should froth slightly.
- Add sugar, butter, and eggs to bowl of electric mixer. Mix until combined. Add salt and flour. Combine. Pour in milk/yeast mixture and switch to dough hook of mixture. If not using mixer, hand knead. Mix (or hand knead) for 5-10 minutes. Dough will be sticky.
- Place dough in an oiled or buttered bowl. Cover and place in a warm location (such as oven with light on). Allow to rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size). Punch down and allow to rise for additional 15 minutes.
- Roll out dough on a floured surface (to approximately 18″ x 12″). Combine butter with sugars and spices. Spread evenly across dough. Sprinkle with apples and walnuts.
- Rolling from the long edge, carefully roll dough up tightly. Use a sharp knife to cut cinnamon rolls (about 1 1/2″ thick) and place in an oiled or buttered 9×13 dish. Cover and allow to rise again for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and bake for 20 minutes. Don’t over-bake.
- In a mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and salt until smooth. Pour over warm cinnamon rolls. Optional: garnish with diced walnuts.
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How the Whidbey Working Artists Began:
In the early 2000s Whidbey Island was a community buzzing with potential and truly coming into its unique identity as an island full of diversity. During this time a small group of North Whidbey artists decided to band together to draw attention to the island’s ever-growing artist community. Thus Whidbey Working Artists was born!
Since 2004 these artists have been opening their studios once or twice a year for the general public to come, explore, and learn about the process of creating beauty. As these tours gained in popularity more and more artists have been included on their roster and today the tour now spans across the whole of Whidbey! Today, Whidbey Working Artists includes over 70 artists working across multiple mediums.
But why open their studios? Their website says it best:
As an organization we believe that opening our studios offers visitors the opportunity to share in the process of how art is created and a glimpse of how artists inhabit their creative space. This shared experience between artists and visitors provides a stimulating creative conversation that enhances the arts while also educating and developing an appreciation for the handcrafted.
This year’s summer tours are scheduled for August 24th & 25th from 10 AM to 5 PM. Come watch as painters manipulate the pigments on their canvas to just the perfect shade of purple, or welders bend metals into shape you never dreamed they could, or watch craftsmen reveal a magnificent creature from beneath the bark of a tree stump.
See below for an interactive tour of each artist’s studio!
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