Have you been outside lately? There has not been a coatless day in WEEKS and the trees downtown are one harsh wind away from officially being bare.
The point is…it’s cold.
We all know the drill here. We put away our summertime flip flops in exchange for wool socks and thick boots. Our tank tops get pushed to the backs of our closets as sweaters emerge. Winter is coming and we are preparing our closets accordingly.
But how are you preparing your home?
It’s hard to imagine failing to maintain the greatest investment we’ve ever made yet every year a shocking number of homeowners fail to do basic winterization tasks. Some don’t even know that they should! To lend a helping hand here are the Top 5 Winterization Tasks you should do every year.
Clean out the gutters
Those beautiful fall leaves we’ve been watching descend so gracefully from the sky are the same ones descending into your gutters. Although that might not mean much now, when the temperature dips down to freezing it can mean a whole lot. Water unable to escape the drains due to fallen leaves expand as it freezes. This can cause gutters to become damaged or pull away from the house. Eventually these become overhead hazards that threaten to fall from above.
Cleaning your gutters may not be fun, but it is vital and pretty easy. Simply grab a ladder, some work gloves, a trash bag, ang get to work! You’ll probably find it goes faster than you ever imagined.
Flush irrigation systems
If you have a sprinkler system for your home, it is of the utmost importance to have the lines professionally blown out before the cold hits! As we talked about with the gutters above, when water freezes it expands. This is bad news for those underground pipes! Frozen water that expands within irrigation pipes can cause pipes to crack or burst destroying your system and your yard. Below are some local companies certified to service irrigation systems:
Precision Plumbing and Backflow Testing | 360-914-0321
Everflow Irrigation | 360-840-4793
GCF Backflow Services | 360-320-9871
Evergreen Landscape & Maintenance | 360-679-2363
King Water Company | 360-678-5336
Cover outside faucets
Going hand in hand with blowing out that sprinkler system is covering ALL outside spigots. BURSTING PIPES! It’s a very real issue that can cause thousands of dollars in property damage. Luckily, covering your pipes can be as easy as going to your local hardware store and picking up one of the below faucet covers. They are extremely easy to install and if you are even a little concerned we have found a helpful video to guide you through!
Fertilize the lawn
Winter months seem to only to bring with them frost and death. Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the story for your lawn. Winter fertilizer helps your grass recover from minerals lost in the scorching summer sun and stock up on the nutrition it needs to withstand the cold winter months. This will prevent it from dying away when spring hits.
However, living on an island brings with it special considerations when it comes to fertilizing your lawn. Traditional fertilizers often contain high amounts of hazardous chemicals such as zinc, lead, cadmium, chromium or sometimes even arsenic. The risk of these chemicals is only elevated with the addition concern of their runoff into the Puget Sound. Living on Whidbey increases this risk drastically even for the most centrally located island properties. That’s why we highly suggest using eco-friendly fertilizers such as Milorganite’s Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizer which you can pick up Home Depot today!
Replace weather stripping
Every year countless sums of money are spent on the excess heating required to keep our homes warm in the winter months. But is all that money necessary? You’d be shocked to learn all the different ways in which the sacred warm air inside escapes from your home. Although some of these issues require big solutions like reinstalling insulation in your roof or switching to a better heating system altogether; quite a lot can be done in simply replacing some of your weather stripping around the house!
How long has the weather stripping along your exterior doors been there? Since you’ve moved in, right? Well every time that door opens and closes there is a little more wear to the stripping and after a few hundred passages it’s no wonder it starts to give way.
Replacing weather stripping is easy and relatively cheap! Check it out:
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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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QR Codes Connecting Us to History
It’s of no surprise to anyone that Whidbey Island is home to some fascinating and wonderful towns each with their own history and culture. Perhaps the most intriguing is Whidbey’s oldest town and home of the first Whidbey Island settlement, Coupeville.
Coupeville is an adorable waterfront community rich in history and culture. In 1850 Issac Ebey became the first official Whidbey Island settler when he applied for the first land claim on the island. Claiming over 600 acres of what is now Ebey’s Landing, Ebey was soon to be followed by his nephew and many others. By 1854 there were 29 settlement claims in Coupeville alone and in 1881 it officially became the Island County seat.
Although all of Whidbey is covered in fascinating history, Coupeville is unique in its preservation. Where many of the original buildings of Oak Harbor and Langley have been torn down or decimated by historic fires, downtown Coupeville’s original buildings remain intact and in use. In fact, the town of Coupeville has more historic buildings in a condensed area than anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.
To celebrate this fact and educate people on these beautiful historic buildings, Island County’s 4-H club took on the project of using modern technology to connect us to the past. Next time you’re in downtown Coupeville, take a closer look at those historic store windows. You might just see one of these:
Scattered down Front Street are tons of these QR codes leading to the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association website developed by the 4-H club in 2012. This website is full of information gathered from the Island County Historical Society, City Records, and over 100 personal interviews with people recounting memories and stories of the historic downtown. Each building’s QR code will lead you directly to that building’s history: when it was built, it’s original purpose, and the different stores that have occupied the space.
So, the next time you are strolling down Font Street whip out that smartphone of yours and learn a little bit of history along the way.
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What would a million dollars buy you in today’s market?
Has the thought ever crossed your mind, “if I had a million dollars, what would I do with it?” What about if you had a million dollars to spend on just your house? What would it look like? What kind of area would you like to live in? What would a million dollars even get you these days? Just for fun, we want to show you just what a million-ish dollar home looks like in this current market in three very different places – Whidbey Island, Sequim, and Seattle!
Let’s start right here at home on Whidbey Island!
1585 West Beach Rd, Oak Harbor – “Island Retreat”
Not far from the hustle and bustle of town, but far enough away to enjoy the calm, cool breeze of the Puget Sound is a real Island Retreat. Listed for $1,050,000, this home combines the simplicity of nature with a modern flare. Here you can enjoy your very private beachfront views from your living room, kitchen, bedroom or deck. Take a walk with Fido down the beach, relax with a steamy cup of coffee on your patio, enjoy views of the Olympic mountains, and soak in a romantic sunset with your special someone right from your own backyard. Now doesn’t that sound heavenly?
8260 Coho Way, Clinton – “Island Paradise”
Clinton is known for breathtaking homes with stunning views, and this Island Paradise doesn’t disappoint. For $1,598,000 you can call this little piece of paradise your own! Stay warm and cozy by your stone fireplace, and still enjoy a colorful sunset from your large living room windows. Soak in your very own jetted tub, entertain guests from your wrap deck with built in BBQ, play catch with the kids in your spacious yard, or cook a family favorite in your generously sized kitchen. You won’t ever want to leave home!
Moving on to Sequim, and a totally different housing market…
110 Flying Cloud, Sequim – “The Heavenly Abode”
This home may not have you literally flying on clouds, but you will feel like you found a little piece of heaven! At $1,178,950, this heavenly abode boasts a modern and chic atmosphere, custom features and finishes, generously sized rooms, and breathtaking views. Lose yourself in your favorite novel while sitting in your very own library, immerse yourself in views of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Cascade Mountains while you soak in your oversized master bathtub, sip a glass of wine and breathe in fresh mountain air on your patio, work on a project in your walkout basement, or work from home in your spacious office. Who knew a little piece of heaven landed right here in Washington?
342 Schoolhouse Point Lane, Sequim – “Waterfront Mansion”
A waterfront mansion is what comes to mind when looking at this two-story home with waterfront views. Listed at $1,385,000 this home not only provides you with ample space for your family, but also a separate guest house! Your fenced in yard is perfect for the kids and dog to play, a heated shop with boat and RV storage will give you all the space you need for those projects you’ve been longing to do, host Sunday brunch on your patio overlooking Sequim Bay, snooze in your favorite armchair in your reading nook with large windows and beautiful views, keep an array of plants in your greenhouse year round, or soak up some sun on your private beach area. You’ll find a little bit of everything on this paradise property.
We’ve seen Whidbey Island and Sequim, but what does a million dollars in Seattle look like?
1758 NW 62nd St, Seattle – “The Tetris House”
It may not seem like much, but this Seattle home is modern and way more technologically up-to-date than Tetris. “The Tetris House” is listed at $1,084,900 and its modern flair makes for a unique appearance inside and out. Entertain guests with a home-cooked meal created in your gourmet kitchen, turn your lights on and off with the sound of your voice, read a book in the sun on your rooftop deck, relax sore muscles in your oversized shower, unwind at the end of the day with dinner in front of your fireplace, or go for a short drive to enjoy downtown Seattle nightlife. This stylish, and smart home will be the envy of all your friends.
7748 32nd Ave NE, Seattle – “A Modern Oasis”
So new that you can still enjoy that new house smell! This Modern Oasis offers comfort and style in the heart of Seattle. For $1,550,000 you can be the first to occupy this home. Sit and enjoy the sound of rain on your covered patio, host family movie night in your spacious living room and lay out an array of snacks on your extra long kitchen island, relax in your master bath soaking tub, build a fort with the kids in your fenced in yard, and worry no more about dirt being tracked inside thanks to your conveniently located mud room off the front door. This home is a blank slate for your imagination to run with and make your very own!
Can you imagine yourself living in one of these unique homes? Maybe you aren’t in the million-dollar market for your next home, it can still be fun to daydream a little!
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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?