- What started April Fools’ Day: Some experts believe it began after the shift from the Julian calendar (with the new year starting around the March equinox) to the Gregorian calendar (which start the new year
on Jan. 1) in the 1500s. Some people were mocked if they didn’t know about the switch and followed the
- Sounds pretty fishy: The French call April 1 “Poisson d’Avril,” or “April Fish.” French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying “Poisson d’Avril” when the prank is discovered.
- How to celebrate: April Fools’ Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include having
someone look for things that don’t exist, playing pranks and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.
- Speaking of ridiculous: In the 1960s there was only one TV channel in Sweden, which broadcast in black and white. As an April Fools’ joke, it was announced that viewers could convert their sets to display color.
They simply needed to pull a nylon stocking over the screen.
Other names for April Fools’ Day around the world: April Noddy Day, Gowkie Day, Huntigowk Day and St. All-Fools Morn.
Are you ready for a green beer?
St. Patrick’s day is always such a fun day. Kiddos enjoy setting leprechaun traps in the day time, and parents enjoy a night out after the kids go to bed! It’s not all alcohol-infused parties, though. Many communities are working hard to develop more family-friendly and healthy events for the major American holiday. For now, though, here are my favorite hot-spots for dining and drinking this March 17th.
Eat, Drink & Be Irish!
While we’re not seeing anything special planned for the Irish pub, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be a festive atmosphere and green beer here on the 17th. And hey, you could always bring your own green food coloring
Right in downtown Bellevue, this Irish pub is the perfect place to grab some food and a beer before heading out on the town. With so many hotels within walking distance, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the holiday responsibly.
With regularly scheduled live music three nights per week, you can believe that St. Patrick’s day will be a lively event at this local eatery. This place is super unique, as it blends Celtic and Cajun food for a totally exciting experience.
Right on the Kirkland waterfront- this one is always busy. On St. Pat’s though, things get really intense! Expect live music, drink specials, and a lively crowd.
No shortage of runs scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day 2019, either! On the Eastside, my pick would be the Kirkland Shamrock Run.
If you’re up for a trip across the lake- don’t forget that Seattle puts on one heck of a parade. Complete with bagpipers and Irish dancing and music. It’s sure to entertain the entire family! There is also an Irish festival and 5K at Seattle Center.
Anyone on a diet can tell you that one of the biggest struggles of dieting is dining out. Portions are huge, flavors of magnetic, and dessert is always on the menu. But dining out doesn’t have to sabotage your success. Here are a few big name restaurants with surprisingly healthy (and amazingly delicious) menu items that will keep you on track and happy about it!
Did you know that a single burger on the Red Robin menu can cost you up to 1,200 calories? That’s right, a whole day’s worth of calories for a typical female dieter… and that’s before we even talk about the fries. So it might be a bit surprising to see it topping my list. But hear me out!!! Skip the burger and opt for the Ensenada Chicken Platter. Double up on the meat, trust me you’ll want it. This is a south of the border inspired dish focusing on getting flavor from calorie-free spices instead of sauces. Since there is no bun the carbs are naturally low, though you can get them even lower if you ask for no chips. The Baja ranch dressing that compliments your (bottomless) side salad is amazing, too. All of this, for under 500 calories.
I know, I know… it’s delicious and that means that it can’t be healthy. Right? Turns out you’re wrong. A chipotle bowl (not the burrito) is actually a well-balanced meal that keeps your intake on point and your family happy about dinner. There are a few tips to getting the most nutrition bang for your buck, though. First up- try for chicken instead of beef. And make it double the protein. Load up on the fajita veggies too, and skip the rice. If that’s asking too much, just ask them to go light on the rice. I love adding black beans in place of rice. It’s still a carb, but the high fiber offsets the carb count for those tracking net carbs.
The Cheesecake Factory
If you don’t trust me by now, this one will win you over. The answer is yes, you can stay on a diet when you eat at a place dedicated to decadent desserts. You can even HAVE dessert. Here’s how. Start by ordering the “Skinny-Licious” grilled salmon. (I don’t name the dishes people, I just endorse them.)You’re getting a heap of protein and Omegas without the fat of beef. And hey- it’s not chicken! Compliment the fish with green veggies to get some fiber in while keeping your carbs low. Ask for no butter in the preparation, or butter on the side to manage fat. All of this clears the way for dessert. Stick with regular plain cheesecake (no Oreo cheesecake allowed!) for a dessert with a decent amount of protein that is still satisfying! Yum!
Yes, I went there. I have a friend who taught me this hack and it is so satisfying! Order the chicken scampi dish … but substitute out the angel hair pasta. Instead, ask for your meat to be served on a bed of broccoli. She usually asks for an extra side of sauce, but doing that will up your total fat intake. In any event, it comes out similar to a stew. The broccoli sops up the sauce in a satisfying way, and you’re out the door for under 20 carbs. If you can avoid the breadsticks, that is…
Finally, if nothing on my list gets you excited to dine out on a diet, head to Applebees. Here you can actually have a steak and stay under 500 calories! That’s because the restaurant created an entire menu of items offered under 500 calories. They did it back when they were partnered with Weight Watchers. And, while that partnership may not have worked out the way that they had hoped, the end result was a delicious menu well suited to dieters with a lot of options to choose from.
Now that I’ve totally blown your mind, grab your purse. It’s time for dinner on the town!
Join me next week when we take a tour of yoga studios around the Eastside!
The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Agent.
The Washington State economy continues to add jobs at an above-average rate, though the pace of growth is starting to slow as the business cycle matures. Over the past 12 months, the state added 96,600 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9% — well above the national rate of 1.7%. Private sector employment gains continue to be quite strong, increasing at an annual rate of 3.6%. Public sector employment was down 0.3%. The strongest growth sectors were Real Estate Brokerage and Leasing (+11.4%), Employment Services (+10.3%), and Residential Construction (+10.2%). During fourth quarter, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 4.7% a year ago.
My latest economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will still be positive but is expected to slow. We should see an additional 83,480 new jobs, which would be a year-over-year increase of 2.4%.
Home Sales Activity
- There were 17,353 home sales during the fourth quarter of 2018. Year-over-year sales growth started to slow in the third quarter and this trend continued through the end of the year. Sales were down 16% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
- The slowdown in home sales was mainly a function of increasing listing activity, which was up 38.8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 (continuing a trend that started earlier in the year). Almost all of the increases in listings were in King and Snohomish Counties. There were more modest increases in Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Skagit, and Island Counties. Listing activity was down across the balance of the region.
- Only two counties—Mason and Lewis—saw sales rise compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, with the balance of the region seeing lower levels of sales activity.
- We saw the traditional drop in listings in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, but I fully anticipate that we will see another jump in listings when the spring market hits. The big question will be to what degree listings will rise.
With greater choice, home price growth in Western Washington continued to slow in fourth quarter, with a year-over-year increase of 5% to $486,667. Notably, prices were down 3.3% compared to the third quarter of 2018.
Home prices, although higher than a year ago, continue to slow. As mentioned earlier, we have seen significant increases in inventory and this will slow down price gains. I maintain my belief that this is a good thing, as the pace at which home prices were rising was unsustainable.
When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Skagit County, where home prices were up 13.7%. Three other counties experienced double-digit price increases.
Price growth has been moderating for the past two quarters and I believe that we have reached a price ceiling in many markets. I would not be surprised to see further drops in prices across the region in the first half of 2019, but they should start to resume their upward trend in the second half of the year.
Days on Market
The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped three days compared to the same quarter of 2017.
- Thurston County joined King County as the tightest markets in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 35 days to sell. There were eight counties that saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in five counties and was unchanged in two.
Across the entire region, it took an average of 51 days to sell a home in the fourth quarter of 2018. This is down from 54 days in the fourth quarter of 2017 but up by 12 days when compared to the third quarter of 2018.
I suggested in the third quarter Gardner Report that we should be prepared for days on market to increase, and that has proven to be accurate. I expect this trend will continue, but this is typical of a regional market that is moving back to becoming balanced.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am continuing to move the needle toward buyers as price growth moderates and listing inventory continues to rise.
2019 will be the year that we get closer to having a more balanced housing market. Buyer and seller psychology will continue to be significant factors as home sellers remain optimistic about the value of their home, while buyers feel significantly less pressure to buy. Look for the first half of 2019 to be fairly slow as buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for price stability, but then I do expect to see a more buoyant second half of the year.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the Unversity of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.
New Year New You?
Tell me, how’s that going?
If you’re like most people, you resolved to get in shape and lose weight in 2019.
If you’re like most people, by February you’ve already given up.
Well, my friends, this is the year we change that. Let’s get back in the saddle, back on the horse, and back on course! To spice it up, I did a LOT of digging to find some new, exciting exercise options for you around the Eastside. No more dreadmills and forget about those “lose 100 pounds in a month at our Bootcamp challenge!” places. Here’s how to break a sweat and have a fun time doing it.
Cycling is always a hot class to take. It might not be the most original thing out there, but it certainly has a cult following. Offering high energy classes that focus on big time cardio, lots of people see fat melting away in no time when combined with a low-calorie diet plan. Cyclebar has just one Eastside location in Redmond. Before heading out, check with your local Facebook Community group. Someone is always giving away free class passes.
Want a dancer’s body? Then you gotta dance! If you haven’t tried Barre method yet, I think you really should give it a try. Pure Barre has locations around the Eastside and focuses on core stability and strength to create a tone, lean look. There are music and community at each class, creating a fan base of women who report classes leading to awesome friendships. That means a built-in accountability buddy! This is not your traditional tutu ballet class, but you will be using the traditional bar. You’re in and out in about 50 minutes though, so it’s great for busy people!
Remember when Zumba was all the rage? I mean, I guess it still kind of is, but it’s far from unique these days. Now you can take an exciting and totally unique dance exercise class in Bellevue with a dance theme, but it’s not Latin at all. The focus is on Bollywood. That’s Indian music and movement. Its crazy fast-paced and utilizes every inch of your body from the tips of your fingers to the point of your toes. You’re moving fast and having a blast, too. You’re in and out in about an hour.
Now here is a unique class! Let inhibitions go and try your hand at pole dancing. Let’s get this out of the way early on. Yes. I am talking about a “stripper-pole.” You have to be a bit brave to walk in for that first class. But really? It’s a great workout that is physically challenging in a way few classes can be. You’re focused on your own abilities, not noticing those around you. (That means that they’re not noticing you, either.) You’ll feel triumphant highs as you master new skills and gain great strength. It’s a fun, supportive environment and unlike anything you’ve ever tried before!
“But Denise, you said these were unique fitness ideas…”
You’re right. I did. And give me a chance, here! This is totally unique! I recently met a gal who works at the Redmond 24 hour fitness location. She told me about a class called “Aqua Fitness.” It’s not your grandma’s water aerobics, ladies. Instead, it’s an upbeat, low impact dance class that blends weights, strength, and cardio in a style similar to Zumba. Only, it’s done in the water. Now that is unique!
So, for the next month, I want to post four blogs. We’ll cover dining out on a diet, as well as essential exercise. See you in a week to talk about the best healthy restaurants on the Eastside.
Part of the joy of the holiday season is exploring holiday lights with the kids. They’re bright and festive, and just inspire imagination and awe. Especially in young children, going hunting for lights is a time-honored holiday tradition. Unfortunately, more and more people are not decorating their homes with lights. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still great light displays out there to be found and enjoyed. Here are a few of my favorite holiday lights hot spots.
23620 ne 183RD St. Woodinville, WA 98072
A family oriented display awaits you in Woodinville! Here you’ll find a full acre display of lights set to music and light animations. The display is free to visit, but cash donations are appreciated. The donations benefit a variety of charities. To get the most out of the experience, tune your radio to 101.9 FM.
16504 112th PL NE Bothell, WA 98011
Another home with a ton of lights can be found in Bothell. Keener Christmas is a drive-through experience with no foot traffic allowed. You’ll find more than half a million lights as well as animations and inflatables. This family favorite home has been featured in many newscasts about the best-decorated homes in Western Washington. From time to time you’ll even find Santa on site handing out candy canes! If you’re so moved, you can also donate food to charity at the site!
Bellevue Botanical Gardens
12001 Main St. Bellevue, WA 98005
Get lost as you wander through the fields of flower-themed lights at Bellevue’s annual Garden d’Lites festival. Now in its 24th year, the tradition of nature-themed light shows is a must for many people during the holiday season. You’ll also find a running river made of lights. The Gardens set up a scavenger hunt among the lights to keep young people excited, and there is always espresso and hot cocoa on site, too. There is a small admission fee, but there are also free nights every season as well. Check the website before heading out so that you can plan! Remember – kids ten and under are free!
19525 SE 54th St Issaquah, WA 98027
For something just a little different, head out to Issaquah and the Cougar Mountain Zoo! Here you’ll find a full Christmas themed park, culminating with live reindeer! The 31st annual Reindeer festival keeps limited hours, open only until 4:30 pm, but is nothing short of pure wonder for your children. Since the reindeer are on site, of course, you can expect to see Santa! You can also hear a story from an elf during your visit!
For more homes with amazing lights, check out this interactive map!
If you’re up for a drive, there are plenty of lights in Seattle, too. You can visit the Woodland Park Zoo for their annual Wild Lights show, or check out the Candy Cane Lane neighborhood! Whatever you do, be sure to take lots of photos and share them with me! And, if you know of a hot spot that I’ve missed, I really want to hear about it!
The real estate market continued to improve for buyers in November. Interest rates dropped slightly, price increases slowed and inventory soared. It’s important to note that inventory increases, while significant, are being compared to the record low supply of last year. We’re still far short of the inventory needed for a truly balanced market, however buyers have greater choice and less competition than they’ve had in years. Sellers who price their home according to current market conditions continue to see strong interest. Heading into the holiday season, there’s something for everyone to celebrate.
The Eastside economy continues to be very strong. Heavy investment in commercial construction from companies such as Vulcan boost expectations that the area will continue to thrive. The median price of a single-family home in November hit $885,000 on the Eastside. Although an increase of 4 percent from a year ago, home prices have remained steady since this fall. With continued demand and only 2.4 months of inventory, the market has a long way to go to becoming balanced.
Price increases continued to slow in King County. The median single-family home price was $643,913 in November, an increase of 2 percent over a year ago. South King County, where the most affordable homes in the county are located, saw significantly greater increases compared to a year ago. North King County also posted greater increases than the county overall. Inventory has skyrocketed as the number of homes for sale in King County more than doubled year-over-year. While that’s good news for buyers, there is only 2.1 months of available inventory in the county, slightly down from October and not nearly enough to meet demand.
The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $760,000 in November. This is up 3 percent from a year ago and slightly up from October. Inventory jumped 177 percent year-over-year however, at just two months of supply, the Seattle area has the tightest inventory in King County. With the city’s strong economy and lifestyle appeal, that’s not expected to change any time soon. Forbes recently named Seattle as the best place for business and careers in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Washington among the top ten universities in the world with Money Magazine rating Seattle the #5 Best Big City to Live In.
Inventory in Snohomish County continued to climb, surging 88 percent in November as compared to a year ago. That said, the area has fewer homes for sale than King County with just 1.8 months of inventory. This is still far short of the four to six months of supply that is considered a balanced market. The median price of a single-family home sold in November was up 6 percent from last year to $470,000, virtually unchanged from October.
This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com blog.
If you haven’t gotten your tree already — and you are feeling adventurous — here are some places you can cut your own tree down. Close to home even!
We live in the Christmas tree capital of the United States, it’s easy to see why so many people enjoy cutting their own tree. But, given the traffic situation in the Seattle & Eastside areas, it’s also easy to understand why you might want to cut a tree close to home. While there may not be any Christmas tree farms in Seattle, Kirkland or Bellevue, you can find a couple in Redmond and a few more just outside of the central Eastside. Now go find your perfect tree!
13925 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE Redmond, WA 98052
Open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, McMurtrey’s makes it simple to plan a tree cutting trip with your family. Found in the heart of the Sammamish Valley, you’ll find Noble, Grand, and Fraser Firs on the property. Extra tall trees are on site, and delivery is even an option, in case you don’t have a large enough vehicle to tow the tree back to your home. The farm is dedicated to sustainable harvesting, meaning that once a certain number of trees have been cut they’ll close the season. So get out there early! Once you’ve found the perfect tree, the farm treats you with complimentary hot cider or hot chocolate.
14500 NE 116th St. Redmond, WA 98052
Offering 100% organic trees as well as home delivery service, Buttonwood Farm is another close-by option for creating a family tradition of cutting your own tree. Here you’ll find Douglas, Turkish, Nordman, Noble, Grand, Fraser, and Blue Spruce trees. The site also offers sturdy stands. The farm has limited hours, however. If this is where you want to cut, be sure to visit on the weekends. Buttonwood is open Friday and Sunday from noon until 4 pm, and on Saturdays from 10am-4pm. You should check out their website before heading out to find tips for tree care as well as fun seasonal recipes.
3861 Tolt Ave Carnation, WA 98014
Open from the day after Thanksgiving until trees sell out, the Carnation tree farm has been offering trees for over 30 years. The farm has been in the family since 1901 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That means you’ll be taking a step back in time as you step into the forest to play your part in this time-honored family tradition. Across 16 acres you’ll find Douglas, Fraser, Grand, Noble, and Nordman Firs as well as Norway and Blue Spruce. In addition to cutting your own tree, you can pick up handmade local greens, garland, swags, mistletoe, and holly. Employees will let you borrow a saw and even help you select your perfect tree. With a focus on family fun, expect to spend some time in the shelter area where you can have complimentary cider, shop a fresh bake sale, or even have your photo taken with Santa. The shop is open Sunday- Thursday from 9 am until 4 pm.
Where did you get your tree this year!
Checklist of 10 Things You Gotta Do Before Winter Sets In
Such as look for roof leaks before the first winter snow. Preventative maintenance is key.
When the last of summer’s heat is a faint memory, and you’re pulling out your hoodies (and puffy coats!!) more than your shorts, it’s time to tackle a few simple chores that’ll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring.
This fall checklist helps:
#1 Clean and Stow Your Mower
If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, get to know it. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.
Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it.
1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole.
2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.
3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.
#2 Remove Garden Hoses From Faucets
Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.
Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.
While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.
#3 Drain Your Sprinkler System
Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.
- Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.
- Shut off the automatic controller.
- Open drain valves to remove water from the system.
- Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.
If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.
#4 Seal Air Leaks
Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.
Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.
#5 De-Gunk Your Gutters
Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.
If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.
Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.
#6 Eyeball Your Roof
If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.
Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.
Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.
A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.
#7 Direct Your Drainage
Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.
Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.
#8 Check Your Furnace
Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.
An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.
Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.
#9 Prune Plants
Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.
For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.
#10 Give Your Fireplace a Once-Over
To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.
Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.
You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.
The Eastside does family fun with flair! There are so many fun family events around town that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed! The good news is that most of these events are free, or at least low cost, so you can try them all out and see which ones are the best fit for your family. Here’s a rundown of the events that make creating family traditions fun!
15670 NE 85th St. Redmond, WA 98052
Act fast! This is a weekend event special, happening on December 1-2. It’s a free event held in downtown Redmond. The progressive event starts at City Hall with a tree lighting ceremony and fireworks show. From there, stroll down a lighted pathway dotted with carolers and performers. Your trail ends in Redmond Town Center where you’ll find more entertainers, shops, treats, and family fun.
This event is the priciest on my list. But it does offer a fun experience that the kids will love. You board an Argosy ship at one of many docks around Lake Washington or in Seattle and set sail! Along the way, you’ll be serenaded by choirs and subject to beautiful views. Many local yacht and boat owners follow the parade of boats and have their vessels decorated as well. If you have kids, try to snag a ticket on the lead boat, since Santa is on board and there is a dedicated kid space for coloring and crafts. There are adult beverages available for purchase as well. The event will almost always sell out, so book tickets well in advance! If the ship isn’t for you, plan to take the family to designated beaches to view the parade of boats from land!
Another annual family tradition for many Eastside families, there just aren’t enough words to describe how magical this event is. Marching drummers, dancing snow fairies, and even ice queens. You’ll also experience “snow” falling every night. (It’s really a foam machine, but the kids won’t care. It’s still magical!) The event features a parade, music, dancing, and free candy handed out by the character cast. It’s a popular event, though, so be sure to get there early. The event is free and kicks off nightly at 7 pm.
11730 118TH Ave. NE Kirkland, WA 98034
This annual play features local child actors. It’s a tradition for many families and offers a glimpse into theatre life for children. Recommended for ages 4 and up, the show is only offered on weekends. Tickets are $20 per person for all ages.
3429 240th St. SE Bothell, WA 98021
An outdoor lights display, this one is just north of the Eastside. Put on by Bothell’s Evergreen Church, this is a free event. Take advantage of free cookies and cider while you’re there, too.
Finally, let’s talk outside of the Eastside. One of the benefits to living here is the close proximity to Seattle. If you feel like making the trip across the bridge to the big city, here are my favorite holiday events in the city.
1250 1st Ave. Seattle, WA 98134
New to the city this year, this is a traveling display of lights that features the world’s largest Christmas light maze. You’ll find an ice skating trail, as opposed to a rink, which winds you by live entertainment and right to your visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. You need to pre-book your time in the event. Here’s a Groupon for tickets to help save you some cash!
The Sheraton Seattle
1400 6th Ave. Seattle, WA 98101
Now in its 26th year, this is an impressive display of gingerbread houses. Many have moving parts and most are taller than your child! It’s simply magical. Every year they have a different theme — this year is Dr. Seuss. Always a must see!!
Fisher Pavilion & International Fountain
305 Harrison St. Seattle, WA 98109
There are so many activities here! From the Winter Train Village to an ice skating rink and carousel to live ice sculpting demonstrations and live performances all season long. Be sure to check the website before heading down as the schedule changes daily.
These are all amazing activities in our very own backyard. Many of which I have started as traditions in my family!! What are your favorite traditions during this magical time of year!?