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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Did you know Whidbey Island gets half the rain of Seattle and about 30 additional days of sun? The island is one of the sunniest Washington areas west of the Cascades! Because of this extra boost of sunshine, we have a secret superpower. Or should I say Solar Power?
Residents all over Whidbey have been tapping into this natural resource and benefiting big. Granted, preserving our environment by investing in sustainable energy is already a great benefit to us and generations to come, but solar power has a lot more to offer consumers than the feel-good fuzzies from giving back.
Here’s 4 benefits/incentives to going solar:
Net Metering is a program set up to allow residential and commercial customers for energy services to store up credit with the company when they generate excess energy during the summer months from their solar panels. During the winter months, when the sun is less likely to come out and play, that credit can be applied to their account!
30% Federal Tax Credit (2019)
Individuals who purchase and install solar panels to their home or business by the end of 2019 are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit when filing. This amount will reduce to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. – Don’t let the sun go down on this great opportunity!!
Sales Tax Exemptions
Purchasers of solar panels are also eligible for sales tax exemptions! This can save some customers 8.7% of the upfront install cost. That’s a total of 38.7% in tax savings!
Increased Property Value
Finally, installing solar panels increases the value of your home. Homes that are energy efficient save owners hundreds if not thousand throughout the year and can greatly increase the value of your home when you go to resell.
To learn more about Solar Power you can visit Greenbank Farm’s Solar Fields where they dedicate one acre to solar panels and have helpful information for visitors to read!
Ready to take the leap? Contact Whidbey Sun and Wind! They are Whidbey Island’s experts on renewable energy and will have everything you need to make your home a little greener. They will provide a cost savings timeline which will demonstrate how many years it will take to profit from the up-front expense of installing solar power.
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Making a Memorable Home
Fresh out of college she had little desire to decorate or apply much effort to her home. She figured, “if it’s not functional, it’s not needed.” That all changed when her best friend, a former beauty queen, moved in with her. “Everything was moved! Books were realigned to look nice, plants popped up everywhere, and anything that didn’t look pretty found a discrete new home.” Although the first shock of everything shifting around her was a bit startling, she started to notice a big difference. “All of a sudden the people entering her home would look around and almost immediately compliment her on her ‘Pinterest’ home. She would overhear conversations about how great visiting her house was and when people did visit, they wanted to stay.”
This was the story of one of our agents and her journey in learning the power and positive impact that decorating can have on a home. We’ve all been at the start of this journey at one point or another. Fearful of making mistakes, we settle for what we have or even convince ourselves we like it better without the fancy decorations (even though we drool at Pottery Barn). Decorating can play a key role in turning that house you bought into a real home. It can transform plain space into a memorable oasis for all who enter.
In everyday life this is important but when selling a home, it is invaluable.
To ease your fears we’ve gathered some key interior design tips we hope will help you with your first steps to a new interior design.
5 Rules for Interior Design
Start with a Neutral Palette
Bright colors and bold accents go in and out of style rapidly. Neutrals are lasting and timeless. Start your room off with a neutral palette that will be consistent and lasting. Pops of color are easily achieved in replicable items such as books, floral arraignments, and accessories.
The 10-30-60 Rule
An easy way to decide when and where color should be added is using the 10-30-60 color rule for dominant, secondary, and accent colors. As the name suggests; your dominant color (a neutral) should cover about 60% of the room. Your secondary color, a little bolder, should be used repetitively without overpowering. Your boldest color, the accent, should be included sparingly and with intentionality.
Artwork, wall décor, and tall plants help to bring the eye up off the ground or coffee table. Also, storing items vertically on shelves or other creative options keeps them off the ground or on low areas, preventing the home from feeling cluttered.
The Rule of Threes
Styling surfaces can feel intimidating. Too few items can leave the space feeling sparse and awkward, but too many items can cause clutter. When in doubt, follow the rule of three. Odd number groupings are more appealing to the eye than even ones. Placing three cohesive items in a space can help to create this dynamic.
Everyone loves a good beach themed room but when everything is covered in is shells, sand, umbrellas, and flip flops it can start to look ridiculous. Keeps obvious references to a theme at a minimum with accent pieces and try to enhance the feel of the room over the theme.
Looking for some inspiration or a creative piece to get you started? Visit Seaside & Sylvan! They are a small furnishing boutique located at the historic Greenbank Farm. Their creative décor and helpful associates are sure to spark your style into action.
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Blonde Lawns on Whidbey Island
Hello Summer! Can you believe it’s here? That beautiful time of year filled with beach walks, swimming lessons, trips to Kapaws Iskreme and so much more! Here on Whidbey we have countless summer traditions we treasure greatly. From our Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration to the Whidbey Island Fair, there is so much to cherish about this time of year. One tradition you may be unaware of is actually more of a movement.
Through the course of the summer months you can watch the emerald grass of this evergreen island fade to a sandy shade. Before you know it, this rock will be rocking a brand new blonde look.
What’s with the lack luster lawns? Well, it all has to do with conservation.
It’s no surprise to anyone that Whidbey tends to be a rather environmentally conscious. We love taking the extra step to ensure the beauty and resources we enjoy today will be around for tomorrow. One of those resources we care deeply about are our aquifers.
Aquifers is the scientific term for ground water. Deep below the grass you walk on are pockets of “permeable” soil which store water that can then be tapped into for use. Annually these aquifers are recharged by the rain that falls to the ground.
According to Island County, Whidbey Island’s sole source of potable water comes from the ground.1 Sounds great, right? I mean, it’s Washington and it rains here. We should be good.
Unfortunately, not all is good in the aquifer hood.
According to a report released by the Washington State Department of Ecology, “increasing demands for water from ongoing population growth, declining stream flows and groundwater levels… have put Washington’s water supplies at risk.” Whidbey is by no means immune to this water depletion; in fact, seawater intrusion and our lack of rain fall in comparison to the rest of Western Washington puts us in a pretty tight spot.
So, what does this have to do with the blonde lawns of Whidbey (I think you can guess).
The summer months, when there is little rain, poses a particularly difficult dilemma for island aquifers. Between keeping ourselves hydrated in the summer sun, watering plants, animals, and filling the pool in the backyard we use A LOT of water.
This increase of use and lack of resource hits hard on our aquifers and our wallets! Many newcomers to Whidbey are shocked when that first summer water bill comes in. The rules of supply and demand are no strangers to Whidbey Island water.
So how can we save our aquifers (and our wallets)? By going blonde!
Grass is far more durable than people sometimes realize. More times than not the golden grass that takes over Whidbey in the summer will be green again by next spring. Blonde lawns DON’T mean dead grass.
So, save yourself time, money, hassle and save our precious resources. Let your lawn go blonde!
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What’s with the Tulips?
April’s dawn breathes an awakening for this sleepy island. After months of cold gray clouds and dreary scenes, color finally breaks from the ground beneath. As the velvet grass returns it brings with it something a little more unique and exciting.
These trumpet-like flowers can be found all across Whidbey Island in the month of April. Their beautiful rainbow hues grace countless flower beds and practically every floral shop.
Why the obsession with these bell-shaped buds?
The answer lies within Whidbey Island history and heritage.
In the earliest days of Whidbey Island settlement there were few Americans established on the island, even after the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 which allowed for free land claim until 1855. In 1894 a man by the name of John “R.E.” Werkman gained the rights to market land on Whidbey Island for one of the recently developed land companies. He set off to Holland, Michigan where he displayed a foot-long potato to impress local farmers with the fruitfulness of Whidbey Island – it worked.
A few months later the steamer Idaho found its way to the Penn Cove dock with 18 Hollanders direct from The Netherlands. The Dutch population on Whidbey Island expanded rapidly on Whidbey and within two years there were over 200 Dutch immigrants populating the island. This drastic increase in population helped to recover the island from the 1893 financial downturn and build what would become a sustainable economic climate for Whidbey Island as a whole.
Many direct descendants of these original settlers remain on Whidbey to this day and their family names can be seen on street signs across the island.
So we celebrate:
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Today the island honors these original settlers and their Dutch heritage with one of our most beloved events, the annual Holland Happenings Festival. Taking place on the last weekend of every April, this festival is a fifty-year-old tradition drenched in Dutch heritage. Everywhere you look you will find Volendam hats, wooden clogs, street sweeps, and most of all – tulips.
With the Skagit tulip fields just on the other side of the Deception Pass Bridge, it’s no wonder the Dutch national flower plays a starring roll in every Holland Happenings. Their bright petals grace posters, pamphlets and just about every float. They are, without a doubt, a symbol of the season and reminder of the past.
Our Community Joined Together for a Greater Good and it was “MAGICAL”
The Event: David Davinci
On May 3rd Oak Harbor, Washington welcomed a particularly unique traveler to our shores with promises of mind-bending illusions and thrilling prestidigitation. Great anticipation brought over 450 people to fill every seat in the Oak Harbor High School auditorium. When the doors closed and lights dimmed breathless wonder filled every soul and what happened that night within those four walls can only be described as “magic.”
The Thrillusionist David DaVinci did not disappoint on his assurances to the Whidbey Island community. Every moment of his performance was packed with excitement and mystic, capturing the attention of everyone in the room.
The Purpose: Raise Funds For the Oak Harbor Boys and Girls Club
Brought to the island by Windermere Whidbey, David DaVinci’s performance was a charity event to raise money for the local Boys and Girls Club. We are ecstatic to announce the show was an overwhelming success in raising over $5,300! Tickets sold out the day and the auditorium was PACKED.
So, THANK YOU!
If you missed out on this amazing performance, don’t be down hearted! DaVinci will return next year with another shocking display of his master illusionary. Watch David Davinci Here.
Get the Buck Out of My Yard
They are the wild and majestic creatures of Whidbey Island, often found in the peaceful pastures of Ebey’s Landing or beneath the cooling tree shade of the state parks. They are elegant, graceful, mesmerizing… and frankly a pain in the arbor.
Oh deer, oh deer, oh deer.
Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE our Whidbey Island deer and are grateful to live in a place where wildlife feels welcomed. However, if you’ve been working hard cultivating that garden all year long, the last thing you are interested in is a handful of fauna munching on the fruit of your labor. To top it off, deer can carry ticks with Lyme disease which can be extremely harmful to both humans and their dogs.
Sorry Bambi, but no one messes with mans’ best friend.
We’ve done a little research and decided to give you a hand with those pretty, yet pesky visitors.
5 pro-tips to get the grazers out of your garden.
- Cut ‘em Off! – It might seem like the most obvious solution, but fences are always a great first step to keeping out unwanted guests. Although deer are great jumpers, the additional effort required might just be enough of a deterrent. < We’re all a little lazy.
- Don’t Plant Tasty Treats – Deer LOVE plants rich in nutrients, moisture, and basically anything else your doctor said you should eat more of. This includes almost all produce plants as well as leafy ivy and bright, water filled flora. Instead of these, try planting pungent flowers like lavender with greenery that is thorny, hairy, or prickly. You can also use these less-desirable plants as a natural barrier for the tastier ones. If all deer see and smell is lambs’ ear and snap dragons, odds are they won’t investigate much further.
- Let Rover Out More – Chances are your dog is like most others and DOES NOT see grazing deer as welcome guests. Barking dogs are a big deterrent for deer. Who wants to eat with someone yelling at you? Eventually the deer will likely decide your home isn’t a safe place to eat and wont return.
- Shine a Light on the Situation – Deer are more skittish than the commitment-phobe you dated in college. Installing motion-sensitive floodlights can often leave a deer stunned and anxious to get away as fast as they can.
- Live a Little! – Although we might find them beautiful and nice to look at, deer aren’t that excited about us. Chances are if a deer sees you out and about in the yard they will simply turn around and find someone else’s garden to plunder. So, get outside more! See this as an opportunity to re-imagine your yard and incorporate more outside living space. Your health and your hydrangeas will thank you.
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The Gray Whales Return to Whidbey
As the cold melts away and flowers start to bloom again, Whidbey Island is blessed with a rare and wonderful gift. Many people hike to the very tip of a bluff or edge of the waves hoping to catch a glimpse of this phenomena. Then it happens – water spurts into the air from nowhere and at the surface you can just barely see a tail appear.
Oh, what a whale of a tale to tell….
Spring brings with it a special excitement for this curious island. As the waters warm, they welcome back one of our favorite travelers; the gray whale! Migrating every year from their winter home in Mexico to the wild waves of Alaska; gray whales often make a special stop within the waters of the Puget Sound.
As food foragers, the gray whale “dig[s] up the mudflats [on the ocean floor] for shrimp and worms.”1 They then filter these small creatures through their baleen, or whalebone, which acts as a strainer to keep the food in their mouth and push out all the water.2
Given their foraging requirements, gray whales’ proximity to the shore and repetitive presence in the Puget Sound comes as little surprise. While the average depth of the Pacific Ocean is a little over 12,000 feet, Puget Sound’s deepest point is approximately 930 feet. The shallow waters of the sound serve as a great benefit to this massive mammal that relies on both oxygen and access to the ocean floor in order to survive.
On Whidbey Island we take great joy in the return of these travelers every year. Many islanders and tourists alike find their way to the water’s edge and peer into the waves in hopes of a glimpse. Luckily, sightings are not at all uncommon on the island. To commemorate the love we have for these ocean friends, both Coupeville and Langley have erected what is called a “Whale Bell.” These bells have a simple instruction: “See a whale, ring the bell.” These bells serve as both a monument to the whale’s impact on our island culture and a creative way to notify others of the whale’s presence so they can also look out and see!
If a bell simply isn’t enough and you really want to get your whale on; you might consider taking a trip to Langley April 13th & 14th for the Whale Festival. Every year the town pulls together to commemorate the beginning of the whale season. Complete with a Saturday parade, this festival speaks volumes of the love islanders have for their precious whales.
- “Gray Whales.” Orca Network, https://www.orcanetwork.org/Main/index.php?categories_file=Gray%20Whales
- “Gray Whales.” National Geographic, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/g/gray-whale/
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Best Places to Watch the Sunset
Since it is February and love is in the air we would like to acknowledge that there are few things as romantic as the setting sun. As the business of the day dwindles down and the colors in the sky change, it paints the perfect scene to forget all your worries and appreciate the one you’re with.
You don’t have to own waterfront property to enjoy the splendor of Whidbey Island. Jump in the car and within a few minutes you could be sighing with wonder as you watch mother nature work her magic. We’ve decided to help you and your loved one find your perfect spot for a romantic night by compiling a list of the best places to watch the sunset on Whidbey Island. We hope these dreamy locations help to ignite passion that’s as deep as the sunset colors in the sky.
Ebey’s Landing Bluff Trail – Ebey’s Landing Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
Situated right between the sweeping views of the valley fields and the expansive Puget Sound with the Olympic range visible in the distance; Ebey’s landing is easily one of the most breathtaking views on the island. When the sun begins to drop down across the sound it will be a hard call on you’ll be torn between watching the sky change its hue or viewing the night fall on the sleepy valley below. Both are good options.
Libbey Beach Park – 2750 W Libbey Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
Sometimes the hardest part about watching the sunset is finding a place to sit and cuddle up. That is no issue at Libbey Beach! All along the rocky beach you will find a log wall with a flat top. A perfect place to perch for the setting sun.
West Beach County Park – 2407 W Beach Rd, Oak Harbor, WA 98277
Unfortunately, Whidbey isn’t always the warmest this time of year. For those of us who still want to see the beauty of the sky changing into night, West Beach County Park is a great option! This little park is located on the North end of West Beach Rd and has a wonderful little lot where you can simply put your car in park and watch the sun fade from the comfort of your vehicle.
Fort Casey – 1280 Engle Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
Watching the sunset behind this historic army fort is a great way to end any adventurous date. Before the dark overtakes it, the both of you might want to take some time to get lost within the fort’s empty corridors. When you’re ready, simply climb up to the top of the concrete fortress and watch the sun inch it’s way below the horizon.
Joseph Whidbey State Park – Crosby Rd & West Beach Rd, Oak Harbor, WA 98277
Cuddled up on the lone westward facing bench of Joseph Whidbey State park is possibly the most romantic place to be as the sun fades away at the end of the day. Removed from the rest of the park’s picnic tables, the solo bench towards the edge of the hill and above the community BBQ shelter provides the perfect place to look out over the stunning view Strait of Juan de Fuca. Void of visual obstacles, you and the one you love will fully be able to experience the sky dance through the stages of the setting sun.
Deception Pass – 41229 WA-20, Oak Harbor, WA 98277
Perhaps sitting on a bench just isn’t your style and you want something a little more exciting and dynamic. Deception Pass bridge provides the perfect experience for couples wanting a little more adventure in their sunset experience. Sunsets at the bridge provide a unique and breathtaking experience from every location. You and your significant other can enjoy the rush of cars going by as you walk across the historic bridge and see the lights from the sky dance across the flowing water below. Or you can find your way below and see the patterns the bridge’s shadows make across the trees and beaches.
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LOVE LETTERS TO THE SELLERS
There’s nothing quite like falling in love… with a home.
Every buyer has had that moment where, after what seems like an eternity of searching, they found “the one.” The home that’s vaulted ceiling, wood floors, large backyard, or perfect layout bring so much joy and visions of the future they “have to have it.”
For buyers, purchasing a home is as much of an emotional decision as it is financial/practical one. The same is true for the seller. The offers sellers receive aren’t just for a piece of land and a house; they are for a home. A place where they’ve spent hours of their life with family and friends. A place filled with memories of both tears and laughter. This emotional connection is something many buyers have been able to use to connect with sellers and possibly get a leg up in the offer process.
How? They write a love letter to the seller!
A love letter to the seller is a letter the buyer writes and delivers along with their offer to tell the seller a little bit about themselves and why they love the home. Although this practice isn’t necessarily new, it is steadily gaining in popularity. Like mentioned before; selling a home is an emotional decision. Bringing humanity into the transaction can often sway a seller in favor of the buyer they feel they know.
There is a flip side, though. Letters to the seller aren’t always the right choice. For some sellers the property might be one of investment instead of residence or the letter might backfire and cause more issue than it resolves. One Windermere agent recounted the time a buyer’s letter described how much she looked forward to her daughter growing up in the house. It turned out the sellers were not able to have children and the letter had brought up some rather unexpected negative feelings.
Love letters can also pose some legal complications for the seller. Anti-discrimination laws imposed both federally and locally do not allow sellers to select which offer they will accept on the basis of protected class identity (race, religion, gender, familial status, etc).
Suppose a seller gets a handful of similar offers on a property and a few have submitted letters along with their offer. If the seller verbally expresses to their agent, neighbor, or even a friend that they chose the buyer based on familial status (“We liked them best because they were a young family”), they are inadvertently put at risk for a fair housing lawsuit.
This doesn’t mean love letters are illegal. It simply means both buyers and sellers should be mindful when sending and receiving letters. All housing decisions should ultimately be made on the terms of the offer, not the identity of the buyers.
Sellers should always review all offer documents with their agent and ask about fair housing laws if they are confused or concerned. The most important thing is to make sure their final decision is not made based on the buyer’s demographics, but on if they are willing and able to purchase.
Buyers should try and understand the history and motivation of the seller. Did they live in the house? Design the home? Lose a spouse there? This information can help a buyer understand which topics are safe to mentions in the letter and which topics to avoid. However, the best practice for a buyer in EVERY letter to the seller is to focus on the home. Talk about the features you appreciate, what drew you to it, and overall why you think it’s the perfect home for you.