O’ Christmas Tree, O’ Christmas Tree how ever did you come to be?
Every year around this time families all over America participate in the annual ritual of putting up the Christmas Tree. Laughter, joy, wonder (and sometimes a little fighting) ensue as we pack ourselves into the car and drive to our nearest tree farm (or store) to find the perfect tree. Have you ever looked at the gleaming lights against those evergreen needles and wonder why we do this?
The truth is humans have been decorating their homes with evergreens for as long as historians can tell. It’s believed the evergreen pine’s ability to survive the coldest of winters served as a reminder that one day spring would come and the world would be green again. The custom was especially resilient in Germany where many continued to decorate their homes with these trees well into and past the renaissance era. It is even believed that the Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, was the first to place lit candles on this winter tree.
The Christmas Tree, as it’s known today, really gained popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria. Victoria’s German husband, Albert, brought the tradition of the evergreen tree into Buckingham Palace and caught the attention of the entire world. Soon there was not a home in all of Europe or America without a Christmas tree donned with ornaments and lights.
Want to know where you can get that perfect tree? Below is a list of local farms and stores that can help!
Pacific Wind Tree Farms – 2870 N Torpedo Road, Oak Harbor
Ready for some family fun? Pacific Winds Farms has been beloved local Christmas Tree farm for generations. You have the option between looking through precut trees place conveniently close to the entrance or you can brave the forest, saw in hand, and put those high school woodshop skills to work! While friendly staff help to bind your tree, feel free to visit the gift shop and sip on some fresh hot coco and cider. They will be open Tuesday – Sunday from 10am – 6pm.
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A Knot in Thyme – 4233 DeGraff Road, Oak Harbor
When you drive up to A Knot in Thyme you might just feel like you fell into history. The gift shop’s vintage green farm building has a warm rustic charm and the horse drawn wagon adds a romantic feel to exploring the 60-year-old groves. Be sure to ask the store clerk about their “Kissing Balls” and grab an ornament or two to go on your brand-new tree! They are open Monday – Saturday from 9am – 5pm.
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Oak Harbor Lion’s Club – 32630 WA-20, Oak Harbor
You may notice every year, directly after Thanksgiving, the patch of forest next to the Chamber of Commerce gains a few more trees. That is because Oak Harbor’s Lions club pitches up tent there every year to sell Christmas trees! The club sells trees of all kinds from to the public through their pop-up shop and all their proceeds go to their non-profit. It’s a great way to get a tree and give back this holiday season! They will sell every day from 10am – 7pm until every tree has a home.
Hennrich Tree Farm – 1650 Hastie Lake Road, Oak Harbor
Want a winter weekend adventure? The surrounding forestry at Hennrich Tree Farms makes your tree hunt feel an adventurous nature walk. Breathe in the fresh air and let your wild side out as you forage for your perfect tree. Hennrich opens their doors December 1st and are open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 5pm while supplies last.
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There is nothing that will make you appreciate delicious berries more than the sweat and work that goes into picking them. Working for those juicy goodies will only make them taste even better, and that’s why we love the opportunity to visit local farms for their U-Pick berry events. There are several farms on Whidbey Island that give you the chance to take the family and pick your own strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries!
Bell’s Farms: 892 West Beach Rd, Coupeville.
Bell’s Farms is practically famous on Whidbey Island for their plump and juicy strawberries. They host the annual Strawberry Daze Festival where you can not only pick strawberries, but also enjoy a glass of strawberry lemonade and other delicious strawberry treats while you are there. Bring the kids they have a petting zoo and fun activities too! UPick strawberry season can vary so follow their Facebook page for real time updates. https://www.facebook.com/Bells-Farm-164501900234634/
Bonnie’s Blueberries: 4414 N Jones Rd, Oak Harbor.
Boasting of 75+ year old blueberry bushes, Bonnie’s Blueberries is the perfect place to pick your own fresh Rubels, Atlantic, and Jersey blueberries. This small, mother and son run business is a favorite in Oak Harbor due to their welcoming personalities and of course the delicious blueberries! Their blueberry season typically runs somewhere around July 1st through September 31st, however the blueberry crop is totally dependent on mother nature. For updates on Blueberries and when they will be ready, call 360-679-3600. If you just can’t’ wait that long Bonnie’s Blueberries offers frozen berries year-round, just call to place your order!
Hunter’s Moon Farm: 935 Bunch Lane, Oak Harbor.
Hunter’s Moon Farm, a certified organic blueberry farm, provides the chance to pick a variety of late season blueberries. The farm is open Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10-4pm and the blueberry season is expected to begin the end of July and run through the middle of September. To stay up to date on their season and other happenings around the farm, you can sign up for their mailing list here: http://huntersmoonorganics.com/ . Hunter’s Moon is also known for their blueberry honey, snack bars, syrup, and jam which you can grab while you are there for your blueberry picking adventure! You can also follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Hunters-Moon-Farm-764648210260935/
Crescent Harbor Blueberry Farm: 2726 Laurel Lane, Oak Harbor.
If you’re looking for more of a “private” blueberry picking experience. Crescent Harbor Blueberry Farm is the place to go, and they don’t stop at blueberries! This small, family farm also offers raspberries, Marion berries, tayberries, and boysenberries. U-Pick berries at Crescent Harbor are available by appointment only. To make your appointment and get updates on the crop availability, give them a call at 360-679-4210.
K&R Farms The Stand: 36699 SR 20, Oak Harbor.
Previously known as Dugualla Bay Farm, K&R Farm “The Stand” is making its presence known in Oak Harbor. Stop by for a U-pick strawberry and raspberry experience, then reward your hard work with a hearty serving of ice cream! The Stand has not released their U-Pick days just yet, so you will want to follow their Facebook page for updates on their crop, and hours of operation as it changes from week to week. https://www.facebook.com/KandRFarmsLLC/
Map of UPick Berry Farms:
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Whidbey Island Pop-up Flower Stands
Summer on Whidbey is a magical time for many reasons but one of the most idyllic reasons is the beautiful little flower stands that pop-up all over the Island as the ground warms up. They’re almost all honesty stands, which speaks to the culture we enjoy in this community and they are run by individuals who operate them almost as a labor of love! If you don’t drive past one on your daily “commute” you may not even know they exist or how many are out there so we created a map for you! This shows the most well-known stands in the Oak Harbor and Coupeville area. We would love to add more! If you know of any additional stands please send us pictures, a specific location, what they typically offer, cost, etc. and we will add it to the map!
Whidbey Island Pop-up Flower Stand Map
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Summer Programs for Kids
With only a few weeks left in the school year, the thought of having the kids home all day is probably on the forefront of your mind. What will you do to keep the kids busy this summer and keep their little minds engaged? A perk of living on Whidbey in the summer time is that there are plenty of opportunities for the kids to get outside and play. On top of the longer play hours and beautiful weather, Whidbey offers a variety of programs the kids can get involved with throughout the summer.
- Sailing Camps are offered for kids ages 9-15 by Oak Harbor Youth Sailing. These week-long camps begin June 25 and run through July 30 from 11:00AM – 4:30PM. See https://www.oakharboryouthsailing.org/registration-information for more information on registration and pricing.
- The Camp Casey Pool is open to the public on June 16th and is open every day (except for Sundays) from 12-5pm. Admission is only $5 per person, with the option to purchase a punch card for frequent visitors. The Camp Casey Pool also offers American Red Cross swim lessons for ages 4 and up. Click here for swim lesson dates and prices : http://spu.edu/depts/casey/Recreation/swim-lessons.asp .
- The Whidbey Playhouse will host their 4th annual Youth Summer Theater Workshop July 9th through August 2nd. This workshop is a great place for young actors and actresses to learn new skills and get comfortable on the stage. For more information on the course, pricing, and registration click here: https://www.whidbeyplayhouse.com/summer-camp .
- The Whidbey Children’s Theatre in Langley is a great place for kids to get involved in theatre, participate in shows of their own, and take classes to work on their skills. Classes are offered for kids as young as 4 up to 19 years. For more information on how your kids can get involved, check out their website here: http://wctmagic.org/ .
- Summer Dance Camps are offered through Leaps & Bounds Dance and Tumbling Center for children ages 3-5. Week-long camps begin on June 5th with the last camp beginning on July 24th. Each week has a different theme, perfect for those who want to continue past their one-week camp. For more information regarding registration and pricing, click here: http://danceoakharbor.com/summer_camps .
- Sno-Isle Libraries offer some really fun summer reading programs and activities in both Coupeville and Oak Harbor. Their annual “Explore Summer” program for kids begins on June 1st, along with a variety of other reading activities throughout the summer. This is a great way to keep your kids fresh on their reading skills and continue learning during those months away from school. For more information visit their website at https://www.sno-isle.org/summerteens/ .
- Sign your kids up for the Kids Bowl Free program! Oak Bowl in Oak Harbor participates in this program, where kids can bowl up to 2 games per day for FREE. Find out more information and get your kids signed up by clicking here: https://www.kidsbowlfree.com/index.php .
- Create your very own glass art at Callahan’s Firehouse in Langley! Callahan’s Firehouse offers the unique experience of glassblowing and the opportunity to make your very own creation. Ages 5 and up can participate by choosing their own colors for their art and be guided through each step to creating their very own masterpiece! Visit their website to schedule your appointment and read up on important information before your visit. https://callahansfirehouse.com/schedule-glassblowing/ .
- You can never go wrong with a trip to the Blue Fox Drive-In. With an arcade, go-karts, and a huge selection of yummy snacks, the Drive-In is a treat for the whole family. The longer daylight hours will make for a late start on the movie, but just think of the sleeping in that will be happening the next day! Check out their website to see what’s playing each week, along with their weekly concession deal. http://www.bluefoxdrivein.com/ .
- For military families, take advantage of the Youth Activities Center and the wide variety of programs to take place throughout the summer. The Youth Center is available to kids ages 12-18 of active and retired military, DOD civilians, and DOD contractors. Different programs are available for different interests (art, team sports, video games, etc.) as well as volunteer opportunities and field trips to different places. Learn more by clicking here: https://whidbey.navylifepnw.com/programs/92723cd7-11c2-4e97-9e22-1f663d448a94 .
As you can see, there is no shortage of things to keep the kids occupied this summer. What are some summer activities your family enjoys?
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Where to Donate in Oak Harbor
Does anyone else breathe a huge sigh of relief when you’ve purged your home off all the extra stuff that has been cluttering up your house? It’s that time of the year again, Spring cleaning season is here! It can be a bit daunting to think of all the things you need to need to get rid of and where to take them… SO we’ve made that part easy for you! Here are a few of the great places where you can donate your old items for a new lease on life.
Garage of Blessings
The “Free” store of Oak Harbor, the Garage of Blessings is an excellent place to donate your gently used items. In 2012, Kristina Miller opened her garage doors at her home and invited people to come and take what they needed free of charge. Now, with help from Mike Rowe (Dirty jobs, deadliest catch… yeah that Mike Rowe!) and his team, the store has grown from its original location in Miller’s garage to its current 6,000 square feet location on Goldie Rd. Check out the video of his visit here… http://www.americastube.com/video/46qi7229tnp7?the-garage-of-blessings—returning-the-favor-with-mike-rowe . Anytime the Garage’s doors are open you can bring in your donations of gently used housewares, clothing, electronics, books, baby items, hardware, emergency food, crafts, and more.
Island Thrift is open for donations Monday through Saturday from 9am to 4pm. They accept a variety of gently used items such as clothing, toys, books, baby items, housewares, furniture, and more! (For a list of items not accepted visit their website here: https://www.islandthriftoakharbor.org/donations/ ) Island Thrift is also a non-profit organization with a purpose “to enhance the quality of life in Island County.” Island Thrift’s sales fund programs such as the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Island County, Boys and Girls Club of Oak Harbor and Coupeville, Oak Harbor Music Festival, Oak Harbor Senior Activity Center, Compass Health, Wildcats Robotics Team, and so much more!
WAIF Thrift Store
The Whidbey Animal’s Improvement Foundation was founded in 1990 as a “place to care for pets and their people.” You are probably familiar with their adoption center in Coupeville and Cat adoption center in Oak Harbor, but did you know that they support and offer a wide variety of other community outreach programs? (For a full list check out their website here: https://waifanimals.org/programs/ ) You can donate your gently used items at the WAIF thrift store and help keep the WAIF adoption centers up and running, as well as support their other community programs. WAIF accepts household items, clothing, linens, jewelry, collectibles, furniture, and more!
The Soroptimist International is a “global volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.” Upscale Resale is a thrift shop that helps support the mission of the Soroptimist International program, as well as supports their scholarship and grant programs. They are open for donations of clothing, shoes, jewelry, glassware, books, tools, luggage, lamps, and more from 11am to 5pm, Wednesday through Saturday. To see a full list of items they accept visit their website here: https://www.sioakharbor.org/upscale-resale/ )
Habitat for Humanity Used Furniture Store
If you’re not sure where to take your large furniture items or appliances, Habitat for Humanity is happy to take them off your hands. You can drop off your useable items directly at the store or schedule a pick up at your home. (Call them at 360-675-8733 to schedule your pick up!) Habitat for Humanity is a “community of members who recognize the need for affordable housing” and by donating your items to the Habitat store, you are helping this organization continue to provide affordable housing and help “families achieve the strength, stability, and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves.”
So while you’re busy cleaning out all that extra clutter, why not make a difference in the lives of others at the same time by donating those items to one of these great organizations?
A historical living landscape
You may have heard of, or even spent an afternoon hiking the bluff on Ebey’s Reserve. It’s spectacular landscape, and unparalleled views of Admiralty Inlet and the Olympic mountains are a treat for the eyes and refreshing to the soul. But, while you are busy soaking it all in, you may not realize how Ebey’s Reserve is a preservation of not just human history but a preservation of how humans interact with the land and nature.
As Early as 1300, Western explores began inhabiting central Whidbey because of the abundance of natural resources from both land and sea. However, it wasn’t until 1851, by suggestion of his friend Samuel Crockett, that Colonel Isaac Neff Ebey claimed land on Central Whidbey. Ebey was delighted with the area and wrote home urging his family to join him. Soon after hearing about the paradise Ebey described, they emigrated to and settled on the island, making the Ebey family one of the first permanent settlers on the Island.
During your visit, you can still view the home of Colonel Isaac’s father, Jacob Ebey, and his blockhouse that was built to protect and defend his claim of the island from Indians. The house sits overlooking the prairie that is now known as Ebey’s landing and stands as a memoir to the beginning of life on Whidbey Island.
But, the story doesn’t end there! In addition to farmers, central Whidbey attracted sea captains and merchants because of the protection Penn Cove offers and the high value timber for shipbuilding. One of the many settlers that made their way to Whidbey was the daring Captain Thomas Coupe, who astonished his fellow seafarers when he sailed through Deception Pass in a full-rigged ship, a risk very few were willing to take. Coupe then claimed 320 acres of land on Central Whidbey, that later became our beloved town of Coupeville.
Protected by the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978, Ebey’s Reserve stands as a historical living landscape that promises the same experience for generations to come. It is a place to enjoy the unchanged views, celebrate and honor the history of the area, and preserve the natural resources that attracted so many here in the first place. Ebey’s Reserve is a true treasure of Whidbey Island, no matter how many times you visit you will always return feeling like it’s the first time.
Our favorite hike in Ebey’s Reserve is the “bluff trail” https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/ebeys-landing-trail
To learn more about life on Whidbey in the past visit the Museum
For ways to get involved, attend events or support the Reserve http://www.friendsofebeys.org/events.html
For more about Ebey’s Landing visit them on the web http://www.nps.gov/ebla
Follow Ebey’s Landing on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ebeyslanding_nhr/?hl=en
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Skagit Day Trip
Finally, after what has seemed like the never-ending winter, spring has made an appearance! The sun is shining, the air is cool and crisp, birds are singing, and we are eagerly waiting for the first opportunity to get out and explore. If you haven’t started planning already, we have a great day trip already planned for you in Skagit County! Skagit is packed with great shops, restaurants, and places to explore, and here are a few of our favorite spring-time activities.
Tweets Café- Bow Edison, WA
What’s a day trip without filling up on a great breakfast or brunch to fuel you for a day packed with activity? Don’t let this little establishment fool you, Tweets is known for a breakfast and lunch menu filled with flavor that seems too big to fit into such a small space. Serving an array of seasonal dishes, Tweets uses local and organic ingredients to give them a unique and special touch. As soon as you walk in the door
you will feel like family. The owners have created a light and comfortable atmosphere as they welcome you inside and make you feel like you’ve known them forever.
Something that makes Tweets Café so charming is that they are only open Friday through Sunday from 9am-4pm. So, since you can’t just head over whenever, it makes it an extra special weekend treat. (Think of it like visiting your grandma on the weekend and so looking forward to those giant cookies she always bakes!) You will leave feeling full of delicious food, energized for your next adventure, and excited for the next weekend visit! Tweets Café only accepts cash, so make sure you drop by an ATM before heading that way!
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival- Mt. Vernon, WA
If you’ve been in the area for any length of time, you are sure to have heard of the Tulip Festival. April 1-30th people will travel from all over to experience the sea of color made up by thousands of tulips. When visiting the festival, you will find every type of tulip you can imagine, and the sight of it is truly breathtaking. For an up-close experience, you will want to pay a visit to Tulip Town or RoozenGaarde. Maybe even both, as they both offer a completely different experience.
Tulip Town features huge fields with tulips as far as you can see, enormous and colorful kites flying, as well as their infamous windmill. After you’ve wandered the tulip fields and absorbed all its beauty you can make you way into the barn where you will find information on the different types of tulips, artwork by local artists, and fresh stems and bulbs for sale. Tulip Town is open from 9-5pm, 7 days a week for your enjoyment!
RoozenGaarde also gives you the experience of the tulip fields, but their specialty is the landscaped gardens you will stroll through. Every year, the gardens are landscaped differently, and hundreds of species of tulips are featured. You will find some different shops where you can purchase tulip bulbs, fresh cut stems, local artwork, concessions, and different types of souvenirs to commemorate your visit. RoozenGaarde is open 7 days a week throughout the festival from 9-7pm.
Nasty Jacks Antiques- LaConner, WA
A dose of nostalgia is the best way to describe Nasty Jacks Antiques. Here you will find coin operated rides, a Zoltar machine, reproduced vintage signs, furniture, toys and so much more. There really is “something for everyone”! You can spend hours sorting through their huge, and constantly growing inventory. In fact, Nasty Jacks is home to one of the largest inventories of collectable LIFE and Saturday Evening Post magazines you’ve ever seen.
Being one of the largest antique stores in the region it is nice to know that Nasty Jacks is still owned and operated by the original founding family who will share with you the story of Nasty Jack and how the name came to be. (You must be curious by now!) The friendly service, and the original family is one the biggest things that make Nasty Jacks so charming and fun to visit. Take your time to really dig in and find that one item that speaks to you. A visit to Nasty Jacks will have you driving home and sharing all your childhood memories with your lucky passengers.
These are just a few of the places you can check out in Skagit, as there are so many great places to check out. What are some of your favorite places to visit this time of year?
Before & After – The Importance of Staging
By: Annie Cash
You love your home and all your stuff. You should, you live there. But what about when it’s time to move, and more importantly, sell? You want your home to appeal to buyers in a way that they could envision themselves living there.
The goal of staging is to make the home speak to everyone else, in a compelling and positive way. You don’t want your stuff distracting your buyers from the amazing features that will make your home sell.
WATCH THE VIDEO FOR MORE HELPFUL TIPS ON WHY STAGING YOUR HOME IS SO IMPORTANT
Stacks of papers —> buyer’s think there’s not enough storage
Kitchen counters covered —> buyer’s think there’s not enough cabinets
Master closet filled to the brim —> buyer’s think the closet is too small
Bedrooms with too much furniture —> buyer’s think the room is cramped and too small
When your home is clean, clutter-free, and/or staged. you are telling potential buyers that you take good care of your home, while giving them a clean slate to imagine themselves living there.
81% of Realtors said staging helps buyers visualize the property as a future home, while 46% said it makes prospective buyers more willing to walk through a home they saw online.
So, you can either be the “house with the beautiful granite counters and fantastic views” or the “house with the National Geographic collection where the dinning table is supposed to be.”
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From Their Farm to Your Table
Just like most things nostalgic, many of us can recall our parents or grandparents growing something tasty in a small veggie garden. Remember those little cherry tomatoes that grow and develop into vibrant, juicy, delectable, red balls of happiness that burst in your mouth and send a tingle all the way down to your toes. If you have not been lucky enough to experience this taste and feeling you need to put that on your to do list this summer!
There is just something extra yummy about fresh out of the ground, sun-warmed produce.
You may be a little challenged in the gardening department or more likely just too busy to tend a garden. You may be wishing you could grow your own fresh produce instead of digging through bins at the store for an acceptable looking vegetable from halfway across the world.
If this is you, a farm share may be the perfect solution and an experience that every Whidbey resident should have at least once!
Wait a minute, what on earth is a farm share? (Don’t worry, many say the same thing when they first learned about them!)
A farm share allows you to purchase a weekly “share” from a local farm’s crop. We are so lucky here on Whidbey to have agriculture and amazing produce farms just minutes away.
Check it out! Some things you should know about how important and special farm shares are…
#1 Eating seasonally tastes better! When you purchase fresh-grown produce, you are receiving crops that change with seasons. Unlike the grocery store, where everything is available most of the year, farm shares are providing you with produce that grows and ripens at different times of the year. Naturally ripened food that doesn’t have to travel far tastes different, better…
#2 Get creative & adventurous in the kitchen! With trying new produce comes trying new recipes, experimenting with your new-found veggies, and learning how to cook with the seasons. This is an excellent chance to experience produce you have never tried or may have never heard of before. You may end up with things like arugula, green garlic, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, chard, pears, apples, strawberries… the list goes on and on!
#3 Support the rural/agricultural feel of Whidbey by supporting our local farmers! By participating in a farm share, you are not only enjoying fresh produce each week, you are supporting a local farmer and the local economy. Farms shares cut out the middle man. Instead of being sent off for packaging and delivery, produce is harvested and put together in a box, basket, or bag for you to take home and enjoy. By paying for your share upfront, the farmer can use that money to purchase seeds, bulbs, and other necessities to keep their farm running, and provide you with high quality produce. Another bonus: knowing how much crop they need helps farmers plan better for the growing season, resulting in less waste!
So, where on Whidbey Island can you participate in a farm share? Several farms in Coupeville, Freeland, Langley, and Clinton participate in Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA). The growing season typically runs the end of March through November/September, and prices range from $200-$800 a growing season, depending on how large of a selection you want each week. Some of these farms offer fresh eggs, poultry, and pork as well. Each farm has a different process for sign up, payment, and pick up so be sure to check out their website to find out how you can get involved in your very own farm share.
Prairie Bottom Farm- Coupeville
Wilbur & Julieanna Purdue
Rosehip Farm & Garden- Coupeville
Linda Bartlett & Valerie Reuther
Deep Harvest Farm- Freeland
Annie Jesperson & Nathaniel Talbot
12 Birches Farm- Langley
Ebb Tide Produce- Langley
Blake & Bobbie Mennella
Jack Baars, Whitney Heitzman
Full Cycle Farm- Langley
Britt & Eric Conn
SkyRoot Farm- Clinton
Beth Wheat & Arwen Norman