HOLIDAY GUIDE 2013 Published as a supplement to the Whidbey News-Times, South Whidbey Record and Whidbey Examiner
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Holiday markets are starting to pop up all over the island, offering unique gift items this holiday season. The Pacific NorthWest Art School is offering its Holiday Gift Gallery out of its location on Birch Street, which is located off North Main Street near the highway. It is one of the holidaythemed markets that are running up until Christmas that is sure to offer the unique gift to the haggard shopper who’s endured throngs of people at malls and big-box stores. The small school has two rooms offering gifts that are filled with artwork produced by the teachers and students affiliated with the school. “It’s good visibility for the school,” said Lisa Bernhardt, executive director of the Pacific NorthWest Art School. The gallery offers art in a variety of mediums including note cards, paintings, woven textiles, photography and “you name it,” Bernhardt said. The Gift Gallery at the Pacific NorthWest Art School is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday starting Nov. 9 through Dec. 21, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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The art school’s gift gallery isn’t the only holiday themed market taking place on Whidbey Island. Every community on Whidbey is offering a market with locally produced gifts. The Greenbank Farm’s Holiday Market takes place during the weekends between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The market features items from local and regional artists and artisans. Shoppers can enjoy listening to holiday music while enjoying a warm beverage. If they’re lucky, they may see Santa Claus, who may make an appearance at the publicly owned farm throughout the holiday season. Holiday markets are also scheduled on South Whidbey Island. The Country Christmas at the Fair takes place in Langley in late November and early December and the Island County Fairgrounds. It features handcrafted gifts, collectibles and more. The market takes place in the Coffman Building from 2-7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29; and from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1, Dec. 7 and Dec. 8. The fairgrounds is located at 819 Camano Ave. in Langley. The Clinton Holiday Bazaar takes
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Seasonal shops offer unique gift options
Nathan Whalen photo
Lisa Bernhardt, executive director of the Pacific NorthWest Art School, shows a woven fabric for sale at the Coupeville-based art school’s gift gallery, which takes place during the holiday season. place 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday Dec. 7 at the Clinton Community Hall located at 6411 Central Ave. The Oak Harbor Downtown Merchants Association is hosting a holiday market on Pioneer Way Nov. 29,
Dec. 1, Dec. 7 - 8 and Dec. 14 - 15. The holiday markets running throughout Whidbey Island will provide the festive holiday shopper with a stress-free way to find a unique, locally produced gift for the loved one.
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Tree time Pre-cut or u-cut, many options on Whidbey
By Ron Newberry
Ron Newberry photo
Tricia and Mike Miller are re-opening a Christmas tree farm on Torpedo Road in Oak Harbor. They have been preparing for two years.
The reopening of a tree farm on North Whidbey will give adventurous Christmas tree hunters on the island one more option. Pacific Winds Farm will rekindle a holiday tradition by opening Nov. 29 on the site of the old WoodBee Christmas Tree Farm off Torpedo Road in Oak Harbor. That tree farm, started in the mid 1980s by Chuck and Gail Jaeger, was closed the past three years. Mike and Tricia Miller acquired the land in two separate purchases the past two years and are ready to re-start the business. “Our goal is to get the place back to where it used to be when they owned it,” Mike Miller said. Pacific Winds is one of only three remaining tree farms on Whidbey Island where the public may search and cut down their own trees. Hennrich Tree Farm on Hastie Lake Road between Oak Harbor and Coupeville also offers u-cuts. The Hennrich Tree Farm has been an island holiday staple dating back to 1973. The only u-cut operation on South Whidbey is Shults Christmas Tree Farm in Clinton. The 20-acre tree farm is owned Tony and Patty Shults and has been around since Tony’s parents started it in 1941.
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This holiday season experience Messiah, George Frederick Handel’s beloved oratorio, like you’ve never heard it! On Dec. 8, the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra presents what could be the first performance of Messiah played entirely on plucked strings. Joining the orchestra will be four top-flight vocalists from Seattle’s choral and operatic community.
Formerly known as Scattered Acres Christmas Tree Farm, the name was changed in 2001 after Tony Shults took over the business. The tree farm will open Nov. 29 and will operate Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tony Shults said that most of his tree farm is known for its Nobles but also has a good number of Douglas firs. For those seeking pre-cut trees on Whidbey, opportunities are more plentiful and wide-spread. The Freeland Ace Hardware store is a popular spot to buy cut trees in South Whidbey and will get its first shipment from a tree farm in Mossyrock on Nov. 26, store manager Kari Gerow said. “We expect to sell about 500 trees,” Gerow said. Skagit Farmers Supply in Freeland also will be setting up a tree lot after Thanksgiving. The Oak Harbor store also will have a lot outdoors. Other traditional locations to find cut trees are Bayview Farm & Garden in Langley and Safeway and Rite Aid stores in Oak Harbor. The Oak Harbor Lions Club will be selling cut trees on a lot near the Chamber of Commerce starting Nov. 30. Club president Conrad Lokanis said they typically order 400-500 trees, ranging from Noble, Fraser and Douglas firs. “We ordered a few more trees this year because
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HolidayGiftGuide2013 we’ve run out early the last couple of years,” Lokanis said. But if you want to get out in the country, yet another option is a Knot in Thyme on Degraff Road on North Whidbey. The six-acre farm features a holiday gift shop, holly orchard and weekend rides on a wagon pulled by draft horses to the tree lot. The Christmas trees are cut in Onalaska. “We have carolers who dress up in Dickens period costumes and sing carols on the wagon as it goes around and drops people off at the tree lot,” said Wendy Rawls, who owns the farm with her husband
Jack. A Knot in Thyme is open from Nov. 30-Dec. 24. If it’s holly wreaths you’re after, production on a grander scale takes place only a few miles away at the Henderson Holly Farm on Troxell Road. Owner Rob Henderson’s 24-acre farm includes a 10-acre holly orchard. The farm, which has been in the Henderson family since 1952, is open from Nov. 19-Dec. 22. A gift shop features an assortment of wreaths and the grounds contain a herd of wooden reindeer. Wreaths 7 feet tall will be on display.
Top Whidbey Island holiday destinations If A Knot in Thyme 4233 Degraff Road, Oak Harbor (360) 240-1216 www.aknotinthyme.com
Henderson Holly Farm 264 E. Troxell Road, Oak Harbor (360) 240-9032 www.hendersonhollyfarm.com
Hennrich Tree Farm 1651 Hastie Lake Road, Oak Harbor 360-914-1076
Shults Christmas Tree Farm 7111 Heggenes Road, Clinton 360-341-4198
Pacific Winds Farm 2870 Torpedo Road, Oak Harbor (360) 240-2441
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Entertaining Making holiday parties a little easier
By Celeste Erickson
The holiday season is a time to relish in tradition and make new memories. One of the best ways to do that is through holiday parties. On Whidbey Island, there are many places to help each step of the way. Gloria Mickunas, owner of Whidbey Party Girls!, said her focus is always “effortless entertaining.” From catering to flowers, party planning can be easy with resources throughout the community. Whidbey Party Girls! provides event planning, staffing and liquid catering for events. Once the party is planned and food is prepared, the staff does the rest so the host can enjoy it, Mickunas said.
Eats and treats The heart of any party is the food. Mickunas suggests to include food that is attractive, but holds up throughout the night. “You want to go for easy desserts and appetizers, so you don’t have to cook,” she said. A good option for easy entertaining are platter trays with an assortment of meats and cheeses from bayleaf in Coupeville. For desserts, Mickunas said to try any of the cheesecake options from J.W. Desserts in Clinton. John Auburn, owner of the dessert company,
offers many ready-to-go dessert options available at The Goose in Bayview. Auburn has an espresso cheesecake and a flourless chocolate raspberry cake that can feed up to 20 people. For the holiday season, Auburn said he will also have an apple cranberry tart and gluten-free, pumpkin, caramel swirl cheesecake available. Everything Auburn makes is from scratch, which makes him flexible for customer orders with advance notice, he said. Drinks are aplenty in the area. Mickunas recommends a simple red wine or rose for any time throughout the year. bayleaf, Comforts of Whidbey and Whidbey Island Distillery all offer great options when choosing drinks, she said. If a host goes the champagne route, try including pomegranate seeds in the drink for a red glow. “Just the effect (of the seeds) makes any table pretty,” she said.
Easy listening For entertainment during the party, Mickunas enjoys live music from Whidbey musicians such as Quinn Fitzpatrick, Trio Nouveau, Whidbey Brass and Buell Niedlinger. She also likes to entertain with party topic coasters. Each coaster features a different topic, such as “Best James Bond actor,” for the party goers to discuss. The coasters are available at Nov.
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Setting the mood Tobey Nelson, owner of Vases Wild, said flowers set the tone for what the feeling of the party is going to be. Nelson suggests to use flower arrangements such as garlands, wreaths and mantel pieces. “Flower choices should reflect the feeling of a party. The arrangement reinforces whether the party is an elegant or casual affair,” she said. Arrangements can include a variety of flower choices. Traditional choices include chrysanthemums, roses ranunculus and poinsettias. Nelson also likes to include different greenery such as rhododendron foliage, magnolias, evergreen junipers and cyprus. When choosing flowers, Nelson said to make sure the florist understands what the hostess wants the flowers to say about the party. “Think of flowers as one piece of the overall design theme and consider how all elements interplay,” she said. For holiday arrangements, Nelson said to accent flower arrangements with metallics such as metallic ribbons and sparkly pine cones. “Bling is still in, anything with sparkle,” she said. For keeping flowers after the event, Nelson said to the check water levels of the vase and make sure to keep the water clear by refilling the vase. A drop of bleach in the water helps preserve the flowers by killing the bacteria at the base of the flower. Nelson also said to recut the stems every few days as well. Mickunas follows her own trends when it comes to decorating. She likes to play off textures
Celeste Erickson photo
Gloria Mickunas sets up a holiday decorating arrangement. Mickunas likes to add personal touches to her settings such as family heirlooms or figurines. to “bring the table alive.” Repurposing items such as candle holders by using paint splattering techniques is a good option for the table. She also included a limoges porcelain box as personal salt cellars for each setting. Mickunas said to keep in mind, it’s not supposed to be perfect and items don’t have to be used as what they
were intended for. Mickunas uses family heirlooms and cherished pieces to add a personal touch when decorating. As a tree topper, Mickunas uses a pin from her mother every year. She also displays a personal figurine somewhere within the decorative setting. “Parties are like personalities,” she said. “No two are the same.”
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Hot items Elmo returns as highly sought gift
By Jim Waller
A peak into Santa’s workshop reveals that St. Nick is stocking up on faux red fur. Elmo is back – Did he ever leave? – and is expected to be the hottest selling toy this Christmas season, according to national retailers and their Oak Harbor outlets. Tickle Me Elmo started the craze for the lovable Sesame Street character in 1996, and every few years another version pops up on every kid’s wish list. This year, the Big Hugs Elmo is predicted to be a top seller. This edition of the cuddly, red friend sings and talks and has bendable arms that wrap around youngsters for plenty of hugs. Elmo will have plenty of company under the tree. Among the other hot items for kids this Christmas are two Disney television characters, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First. Doc McStuffins is a girl pining to be a doctor and “cures” dolls and other play things. When she examines them with her stethoscope, they come to life. Sofia the First becomes a princess when her mother marries into royalty. Different retailers are pushing different versions of Sofia. Walmart, for example, features the talking Sofia doll and Animal Friends Playset. At Kmart, shoppers will find Jakks
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Pacific’s Transforming Dress and Trunk. Walmart invited about 1,000 youngster for a three-day weekend in Dallas in August to evaluate the newest toys in anticipation of Christmas. The group, in addition to liking Elmo, Doc McStuffins and Sofia, gave high marks to classic toys like LEGO, Nerf, Barbie and Furby. LEGO’s Legends of Chima, the Nerf Rebelle line, Barbie’s Dreamhouse and a robotic Furby were winners. Other toys that tested well included the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair (anything dealing with sewers should be a hit with the young crowd) and the FurReal Friends Cuddles My Giggly Monkey. While the Walmart study helped the corporation decide what will be hot nationally, Oak Harbor Manager Jeff McMahan said its up to him, Zone Merchandise Supervisor Michele Mims and Toy Department Manager Chris Phillips to predict what will sell well locally. McMahan said, “They (Mims and Phillips) are the experts; they are on the front lines. They talk to the moms, and what they find out goes up the line.” Some products are allocated by the manufacturer, so supplies are limited. For the others, McMahan is free to order what he believes will sell. “It’s a guessing game,” Phillips said.
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Tip: Many larger stores have layaway options so customers can hold items and start making payments over time. Check with your local shops to see what options are available. For items that are allocated, it is best to buy now, McMahan said. Retailers are expecting high sales for Flutterbye Flying Fairy (it floats and can be directed by the touch of a hand), LeapPad Ultra (a tablet for kids) and Despicable Me 2 toys. For big kids – and adults – the hot tickets this Christmas will follow a similar path as in the past – straight to the electronics section. “You can never go wrong with electronics,” Dan Granity, manager of the Oak Harbor Kmart, said. “Whenever we have door-buster sales, people head, well, run, to the electronics department.” XBox One and Playstation 4 will be released in November and should head up many wish lists, according to Alex Ortiz of Kmart’s electronics department. “Technology is big on Black Friday,” according to Kevin Krueger, team leader of Oak Harbor’s Office Max. Krueger predicts entry level tablets and lap tops – gadgets priced under $200 – will be hot sellers this winter. Other popular items, speculated Krueger, will be MP3 players, Bluetooth accessories, Kindles, computers and Cloud cameras. While those are guesses, Kruger said, one thing he is certain about is the shift toward touch-screen technology: “We are told that 40 percent of our technology line will be touch screen this season.” “We have the latest and the greatest,” he said with a laugh. At Walmart, McMahan said heexpects laptops, printers, televisions and tablets to be popular choices among adults. “They say TV sales are slowing, but prices are dropping,” he said. The competitive pricing, he predicted, would continue strong sales. A bit of advice from Granity: “If people don’t shop early, it will be sold out. When you see it, buy it.” Jim Waller photo
Kevin Paggao checks out some of the toys at Kmart while doing some early Christmas shopping.
Locally made Creativity flourishes in Whidbey gifts HolidayGiftGuide2013
By jessie stensland
Jessie Stensland photo
Sara Richards of Lavender Wind Farm works on the formula for lavender-scented lotion she will sell at her shop in Coupeville.
Sara Richards is like a mad scientist who smells really good. Surrounded by glass bottles of argol, coconut, rice bran and other unique oils, she is perfecting the formula for a lotion that will be scented with one of eight varieties of lavender she grows on Lavender Wind Farm, a nine-acre spread near West Beach Road. “It’s actually quite a complex process,” she explains as she measures out, heats and blends a concoction of oils, beeswax, her own essential oil of lavender and other natural ingredients. Like a growing number of farmers and entrepreneurs on Whidbey Island, Richards has created a vertically integrated business. She grows lavender, distills lavender essential oil, creates a variety of products from the lavender and then sells the products at her shop in Coupeville. For consumers, such ventures means that there’s a veritable smorgasbord of unique products made on Whidbey that can be purchased come the gift-giving season. In fact, the options for Whidbey Island-made gifts are astounding. For those who like to give presents in a bottle, the island is home to nine wineries and the Whidbey Island Distillery near Langley. Countless artists — painters, potters, glass
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artists, jewelry makers and more — create and sell their work on the island. Art studios and galleries are open up and down the island. One example among many is Dan Ishler’s pottery studio on the south end of Oak Harbor. He produces porcelain pit-fired, ash and crystalline glazed pottery. At least three businesses make homemade soap. A handful of alpaca farms offer clothing made from Whidbey alpaca fiber. Honeymoon Bay Coffee Roasters in Oak Harbor roasts select beans the old-fashioned way — with a vintage cast iron roaster. Islander Herbs in Greenbank offers jams, jellies and spices; the products and many other Whidbey-made items are available at a variety of retailers, including the Goose Community Grocer and the Greenbank Cheese and Specialties. Seabolts Smokehouse in Oak Harbor has gift packages for seafood lovers. Haddon Harper, the supervisor of the business, said that the Waldron family, which owns the business, catches the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon sold at the store. The business has a smokehouse on the premises where sockeye and Chinook salmon, as well as a variety of meats, are smoked with local alder wood. A new business called 3 Sisters Market, located on Highway 20 between Oak Harbor and
Coupeville, carries a variety of locally produced food products, many of which would make unique gifts. Likewise, the Lavender Wind Farm’s shop in Coupeville is stocked with such Whidbey-made products as sconces made from Whidbey clay, cookbooks and fiction books, and jars of preserves and sauces from Hunters Moon Blueberry Farm. Yet most of the items in the shop are made on the premises from lavender grown on Whidbey. Richards explained that she decided to grow the Old World plant at her windswept farm because it doesn’t need irrigation and the Whidbey climate is near perfect for growing lavender. She has different varieties that are good for different uses, whether it’s for cooking, oil or crafting. She distills lavender into an essential oil in the traditional steam distilling process using a copper still. Each bottle is aged up to a year. Unlike other essential oils, lavender oil can be put directly onto the skin; a dap on the temples can help diffuse a headache or it can be rubbed on a sunburn. Richards said recent studies have backed up the traditional uses of lavender; it soothes, calms, aids in sleep, disinfects, contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it smells great. Richards incorporates lavender oil or flowers into soaps, lotion, shampoo, massage oils, bath oils, candles, sashays, tea, chocolates, and much more. It’s all made at her commercial kitchen / laboratory in the back of her shop. “It’s a challenge to make things on Whidbey Island … but it means that gifts made here are a bit more special,” she said. “I saw the opportunity for industry, right here in Coupeville.”
Ron Newberry photo
Dan Ishler sprays a glaze on a pottery bowl he created at his Oak Harbor studio. He is one of many artists and artisans who make and sell their wares on Whidbey Island.
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Experience Not all gifts need to be tangible HolidayGiftGuide2013
By Janis Reid
Janis Reid photo
Wineries on Whidbey Island offer experiences with tasting rooms and club memberships.
Whidbey Island is a sleigh of fun experiences that can be given as gifts to loved ones for the holidays. When seeking a gift for the outdoorsman, buyers can purchase watercraft rentals or lessons providing the gift of adventure. “We live in a phenomenal place and it’s a chance to get out and enjoy it,” said Jeff Vallejo, owner of Harbor Stand Up Paddleboarding in Oak Harbor. Similar to other watercraft rental businesses, Vallejo sells gifts certificates for lessons, starting at $55, or for a flat dollar amount. He added that he’s given lessons to people of all ages and activity levels. “There’s something about getting out on the board,” Vallejo said. “It’s about being active at your own pace. And you walk away with a refreshing experience.” Businesses throughout the island offer kayak and other watercraft rentals starting at $20 per hour, and sailing lessons are offered for children and adults through the Oak Harbor Yacht Club. A Discover Pass to Washington State Parks, purchased for $30, could be a great gift for someone new to the area and has yet to explore the state’s beautiful scenery. Yurts and cabins can also
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be rented though state parks for as little as $49 for up to six people. And for the animal lover, gift seekers might prefer to purchase a few hours of horse riding from a place like Wildwood Farm on North Whidbey. Lessons can be purchased for the beginner, or time can be paid for by the hour for the experienced rider. Owner Heather Carder said Wildwood offers gift certificates for lessons and riding time, as well as for its bed and breakfast and retail store on Pioneer Way. Purchasers or recipients can customize their experience with packages that include rider training sessions, guided trail rides or special events, nearby spa treatments and individualized gourmet meals. “Wildwood Farm offers the perfect get-away from the stress and grind of busy life,” Carder said. “A tranquil escape where one can truly feel the silence and beauty of nature.” For the wine-loving traveler, the island has its fair share of beautiful vineyards and cosy tasting rooms offering gift certificates and wine club memberships. Nestled into a grouping of charming, seathemed shops on the corner of Bayview Road and Marshview Avenue in Langley, Blooms Winery tasting room is where charm and sophistication
The winery sits amid a beautiful and flowering farm that includes cows, horses, chickens, llamas and 25 acres with 400 grape plants. In addition to Spoiled Dog and Blooms wineries, Langley is the home Whidbey Island Winery and Comforts of Whidbey, all of which are open for tasting during the winter months. A few miles north is Holmes Harbor Cellars in Greenbank. Similar to Comforts of Whidbey Holmes Harbor Cellars, all of Whidbey Island Winery’s island-grown varieties are white. All three wineries are actively involved in research exploring new varieties for the island climate, among them, several promising reds.
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meet. Owners Ken and Virginia Bloom, who have been wine making since 1998, describe their wines as “fruit forward” and “not over oaky.” After roughly 14 years perfecting their recipes, Blooms produces just 750 cases of wine per year and hopes to keep the size and the quality of the winery the same. “At this point we are really happy with the wines we are producing,” Ken Bloom said. In another corner of Langley, two Australian Shepherds alternately lounge on cushions under wine casks and vie for attention from visitors. Thus is the peaceful and ironically unspoiled atmosphere at the Spoiled Dog Winery.
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Events Holiday happenings on Whidbey HolidayGiftGuide2013
November Nov.1-24: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Whidbey Playhouse, Oak Harbor. whidbeyplayhouse.com Nov. 10 to Dec. 20: Green Ticket Cash Giveaway in historic downtown Oak Harbor and Dollars for Kids Coloring Contest in historic downtown Oak Harbor. www.ohdowntown.com Nov. 26: Artists “Deck the Doors” of Langley with innovative holiday designs. Nov. 29 to Dec. 1: Holiday market on Pioneer Way. www.ohdowntown.com Nov. 29-30: Country Christmas at the Fair holiday bazaar, 2-7 p.m. Nov. 29 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 30 at Island County Fair Grounds, Langley. Shop for one of a kind handcrafted gifts and vintage collectibles in a gift boutique format. Nov. 30: Gingerbread workshop, sponsored by Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Coupevill Rec Hall. Come make a gingerbread creation.
Nov. 30: Holiday Magic on Pioneer Way featuring Oak Harbor Tree Lighting and arrival of Santa in historic downtown Oak Harbor. www.ohdown town.com Nov. 30: Lighting of Langley, complete with Santa and his Rein-alpacas. 4 p.m. Langley Park Nov. 30: Magical Strings, Celtic Yuletide Festival sponsored by Concerts on the Cove - Annual Pre-Greening Concert at Fort Casey, Coupeville Town Park, 7:30 p.m. www.concertsonthecove.org
December Dec. 1: Country Christmas at the Fair holiday bazaar, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Island County Fair Grounds, Langley. Shop for one of a kind handcrafted gifts and vintage collectibles in a gift boutique format. Dec. 3: Clinton Holiday Bazaar, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Clinton Community Hall, 601 Commercial Ave. in Clinton. Dec. 3-22: The Nutcracker presented by Whidbey Island Dance Theater. Showings at South Whidbey High School Performing Arts Center in Langely. widtonline.org
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Dec. 6: First Friday at the Farm, Greenbank Farm. Wine and cheese tasting, art, music. greenbankfarm.biz or 360-678-7700. Dec. 6: First Friday Art Walk and late night shopping in historic downtown Oak Harbor. www. ohdowntown.com Dec. 6: Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for Big Brother Big Sisters of Island County. Annual formal dinner and auction, 5 p.m. to midnight at Elk’s Lodge, Oak Harbor. Community tree viewing is 1-4 p.m., www.bbbsislandcounty.org Dec: 6-21: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley. www.wicaonline.com Dec. 7: Festival of Trees Teddy Bear and Character Breakfast, 9-10:30 a.m. at Elk’s Lodge, Oak Harbor. Dec. 7: Langley Holiday Parade, 11 a.m. Dec. 7: Jingle Trail Run and Walk, Camp Casey, Coupeville. 5k run and 1-mile walk through pretty forest trails. centralwhidbeychamber.com or 360678-5434.
HolidayGiftGuide2013 Dec. 7: The Greening of Coupeville and annual Christmas Parade in historic Coupeville. Stake out your spot along Main Street or Front Street to watch an old-fashioned holiday parade led by Santa Claus aboard a decorated fire truck. Treelighting and caroling follow. Weather permitting, there is also a Christmas Boat Parade of Lights and late-night shopping 5-8 p.m. centralwhidbey chamber.com or 360-678-5434. Dec. 7: The Greening Concert in Coupeville. A Celtic yuletide concert featuring the Magical Strings performing with Irish instruments, step dancing and vocals. Sponsored by Concerts on the Cove. concertson thecove.org or 360-678-6821. Dec. 7: Langley Artwalk, 5-7 p.m., Langley galleries. Dec. 7-8: Country Christmas at the Fair holiday bazaar, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Island County Fair Grounds, Langley. Shop for one of a kind handcrafted gifts and vintage collectibles in a gift boutique format. Dec. 7-8: Holiday market on Pioneer Way. www.ohdowntown.com Dec. 8: Mandolin Messiah holiday concert, 7:30 p.m., Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley. www.
wicaonline.com Dec. 12-21: Christmas Snapshots, a revue of Christmas songs and celebration. Whidbey Playhouse in Oak Harbor. www.whidbeyplay house.com Dec. 14: Christmas Home Tour presented by Soroptimist International of Oak Harbor, 4-8 p.m. Tour seven homes with various holiday themes. Tickets $15. sioakharbor@ soroptimist.net Dec. 14-15: Holiday market on Pioneer Way. www.ohdowntown.com Dec. 20: Green Ticket Cash Giveaway and Dollars for Kids Coloring Contest awards in historic downtown Oak Harbor. www.ohdowntown.com
Dec. 24: Gingerbread architecture, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Freeland Library, 5495 Harbor Ave. Space limited. sno-isle.org
Dec. 26-29: Dec. 3-22: The Nutcracker presented by Whidbey Island Dance Theater. Showings at South Whidbey High School Performing Arts Center in Langely. widtonline.org
Jan. 3: First Friday at the Farm, Greenbank Farm. Wine and cheese tasting, art, music. greenbankfarm.biz or 360-678-7700.
Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Bash in downtown Langley. Meet in the street at 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the new year.
St. Mary’s Holiday Bazaar Hand crafted gifts, treasures and bake sale.
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Jan. 4: Tingstad and Rumbel in Concert at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, Langley. www.wicaonline. com
Dec. 21: Langley White Ticket Drawing for $1,000 at 3 p.m., Boy & Dog Park. Dec. 22: Red Ticket $1,000 Drawing, historic downtown Coupeville. Shop, dine and stay with participating merchants and earn red tickets that are entered into a drawing for $1,000. The drawing is held Dec. 18 on the front steps of the Island County Historical Museum, and you must be present to win. coupevillehistoric waterfront.com or 360-678-5434.
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Tree Decorating trends more than a tradition
By Sara Hansen
For 15 years, Mollie Anthony has found creative ways to decorate trees. This is Anthony’s last year as the Festival of Trees tree chairman. The festival is a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County, which pairs caring mentors with children. These trees aren’t planned overnight. Right after the holidays are over, all the decorators begin planning for the next festival. Anthony has been with the festival since it started. She said she still plans on helping with the festival, just not in her former title. “Some people have an idea immediately, and some take six months,” Anthony said. “I got most of my things up here locally after the holiday markdown.” If people are looking for ideas, Anthony recommends looking through magazines for tree decoration ideas. “I like to go to the gift markets because they have decorated trees to look at,” Anthony said. “They all have a lot and that’s a good place to get
ideas.” The group of tree decorators usually begins planning right after the holidays are over for next year’s festival. They also take a trip down to Seattle for the wholesale markets in the spring. Usually they take two trips, but this year they only took one. This year her tree is called “Let’s Ski to Santa’s Place,” and features snowmen, elves and other winter figures skiing around the tree. For her topper, she is using a Santa head. All of the toppers are elaborate and tie in with the tree’s overall theme, Anthony said. A few things different about the decorated trees that are auctioned compared to home trees is everything is wired down. Anthony said each tree has 1,000 lights which takes two people about five hours to string. “That’s not my favorite part,” Anthony said. Many decorators help out with the trees, Anthony said. About two to five people work on decorating one tree. There are some long term trends Anthony has
One of the most popular trees at the Festival of Trees was the one themed after the movie “A Christmas Story.” The movie follows a boy named Ralphie, who only wants a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas. The tree will be back again. Opposite page: Some trees include festive elves in the past.
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seen over the years. “Over the last 15 years it used to be angels at the tops of trees, and now it’s a lot of bows,” Anthony said. “There’s a lot more trees themed with ribbons.” Penny Perka, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Island County executive director, is new to the organization and the festival but visited the community viewing previously. The trees range from traditional red and green decorations, to elegant
holiday interpretations, to holiday movie themes. Last year one tree was based on “A Christmas Story,” and was so popular, it is coming back again this year. For those who aren’t familiar with the movie, the 1980s holiday classic follows Ralphie, a kid who just wants a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas, but is told it’s unsafe and that he’ll shoot his eye out. The tree incorporates iconic movie elements that viewers can recognize, including the lamp that resembles a leg. “It was very popular,” Anthony said. “We’ll stick with a winner and do it again.” One of the tree’s decorator Dee Breilein, said the movie is a family favorite and decided to use it as a theme because they were running out of ideas. “We like to do fun things and make it fun for kids,” Breilein said. “It goes to such a great cause, and if we can keep one kid on the straightand-narrow it’s worth it.” Breilein said she’s decorated a tree every year except for the first year of the festival. She teams up with her daughter and two daughters-in-law. Last year, her daughter had a friend help with the decorating too. Past themes included “A Few of My Favorite Things” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” One of the more traditional Perka
remembers from last year is one filled with sparkly poinsettias. Others were more playful, such as a snowman theme or a vintage Santa Claus motif. Some even take an alternative route, such as using peacock feathers to decorate the tree. “Part of the fun is about going there and seeing something different they come up with every year,” Perka said. This year there will be 10 large trees, along with four table-top trees, Anthony said. All except for one of the large trees will be live, and the smaller trees are fake. The formal Festival of Trees dinner and auction will be from 5:30 p.m. to
midnight Friday, Dec. 6 at the Oak Harbor Elk’s Lodge. Seats are limited, and tickets need to be purchased ahead of time. All proceeds from the festival are donated to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Island County. The community viewing is from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Those who were lucky and had the winning bid on a tree will have it delivered on Sunday. Anthony had one last piece of advice for holiday decorators. “Just use your imagination,” Anthony said. “Every year after the festival, I think we can’t possible think up anything different for next year, but we always do.”
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Hidden treasures found at secondhand stores By Ben Watanabe
Shopping for people can be a nightmare. Shopping at a thrift store for people where the items can change can be downright disastrous. Lucky for anyone on Whidbey Island, the thrift stores from Clinton to Oak Harbor are full of great finds. Whidbey’s thrift stores are loaded with rare items. “We get all sorts of stuff,” said Gail Thomas, manager of Good Cheer Thrift Store in Langley. “We have a whale harpoon.” That’s right, the South Whidbey city known for its whale watching and its locally-called Whale Bell park has a store which has a wooden whale harpoon. For $300, it’s yours. The trick to spotting such a wondrous, Captain Ahab-appropriate gift, Whidbey’s thrift store experts say, is to visit often. With bundles of clothing, books, movies, dishware and art stacked in backrooms and storage units, Whidbey’s several thrift stores
can provide plenty of gifts at bargain prices. It just takes a bit of patience, said one South Whidbey thrifter. “We have found some great treasures over the years,” said Michele LaRue, a Good Cheer shopper since 1973 and a retail owner in town. “I don’t know what’ll thrill me when I come in.” In Oak Harbor, My Sister’s Closet specializes in women’s clothing, accessories and home decorations and operates as a consignment shop. At the store off Highway 20, customers can find vintage Dooney & Bourke handbags for $60, Coach boots and canvas paintings. Another thrift store on the north end of the island is The Raven’s Nest 2nd Hand Treasure. Located near Oak Harbor Elementary School, the store has an added bonus of accepting “reasonable” offers on items and gives a 10 percent discount to all active-duty military members. Raven’s Nest also donates 10 percent of store profits to the Foursquare Church in Oak
Ben Watanabe photo
Kay Rodriguez unfolds a hand-stitched quilt she found at Community Thrift. The key to finding hidden treasures at thrift stores is frequency of your visits.
GIFT CERTIFICATES MAKE GREAT HOLIDAY GIFTS! Give the gift of a great experience! “Christmas Snapshots” December 12-14, 19-21, 2013 “The Book of Days ” December 24-26, 30-31, 2013 January 1-2, 6-9, 2014 “Love Letters” February 13-16, 20-23, 2014 “1776” April 4-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, 2014 “Enchanted April” June 6-8, 12-15, 19-22, 2014
HolidayGiftGuide2013 Harbor and the Wounded Warrior Project. One nonprofit has three thrift stores: Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation. It runs a shop in Oak Harbor and Freeland, as well as a building and reclamation center, the BaRC for building materials, garden tools and sports equipment. Other groups are in on the action, too. Coupeville’s New Beginnings Thriftique benefits Harbor Haven, a nonprofit that helps children and families in Island County. For a truly thrifty discovery, check the website newbeginningsthriftiquecom.webs.com/coupons for coupons before browsing its collection of clothing, books, hardware and jewelry. In Freeland, Habitat for Humanity’s shop specializes in furniture and appliances. Its blog, habitatforhumanityfreelandstore.blogspot.com, has a solid showing of its inventory, from sectional couches and recliners to refrigerators and ranges. Another non-profit shop in Freeland, Community Thrift, has a smattering of clothing, jewelry, books, greeting cards, porcelain figurines, electronics, bedding and some furniture. “Everyone is on a hunt,” said Community Thrift Manager Tandi
Roberts. “In a thrift store, they’re always looking for something unusual and unique.” One customer, Kay Rodriguez, found a blue, red and white patterned quilt from Ohio that she was all too happy to show off at the register. Community Thrift will have a couple of major opportunities for gift seekers: a weeklong art sale starting Nov. 18 and a Black Friday sale on Nov. 29. At Good Cheer Thrift Store in Langley, one of the more popular shops on South Whidbey, the holiday shopping season is prepared for all year. Bundles of items, from Christmas decorations to possible gifts, are hoarded and will be on display by November. The secret, reluctantly divulged by LaRue, is frequency. “If you’re on the hunt for treasures, you have to come often,” she said. For hapless gift givers, the store’s trove of volunteers can help navigate the aisles and offerings. Books, most of which cost $1 or less, are one of the store’s top selling items, and Good Cheer Thrift has everything from children’s to self-help books, old textbooks and new best sellers, like a hotly coveted copy of “Mockingjay,” part of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
Ben Watanabe photo
Tandi Roberts, manager of Community Thrift, holds a Royal Albert England “Old Country Rose” porcelain China set that is on sale this holiday season.
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