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Start the New Year off with a splash!

There is still time for you to join your fellow Kirklanders at Marina Park tomorrow  (January 1, 2007)at high noon.  Why?  Well, to go jump in the lake of course.  It's the annual Kirkland Polar Bear Plunge.  These events are happening across the country.  Click here to see some images from other Polar Bear Plunge events. 

Here is the information about the event (also found on the City of Kirkland website):

January 1, 2007 High Noon Marina Park Kirkland, WA

"Why is it the dry people all seem to “Know what it feels like”?. Stay Dry! – Chris and Karen

“Another year gone – Another year older – so go jump in the lake – get a little bit colder” - anonymous

"Your poor heart. There's not enough room in your body for it when you hit the water." – Bob Brauer

Donations to the Kirkland Food Bank will be accepted.

10 Helpful Hints For Swimmers!

#10 Protective footwear Wear something on your feet, i.e., old tennis shoes or "aqua socks," etc. to prevent cuts on your feet from the ice and to prevent your feet from sticking to the snow and ice on shore.

#9 Warm boots after swim Have warm/dry boots or shoes to put on once you get out of the lake. This is an important point — once your feet get cold, your entire body will want to go on strike. Not good for the walk back to your car.

#8 Blanket to sit on Bring an old blanket or towel to put down on the icy shoreline to sit down on and change before/after the swim. I learned this the hard way after my swimming suit froze to the ground with me in it!

#7 Do you wear glasses? If you wear glasses, we suggest you obtain an "athletic strap" or something similar to hold them to your face, or not wear them at all! It is quite difficult to find glasses that have been dropped in the water on a sandy and icy beach, and it you find them, you may not want them after all!

#6 The swim is at noon but arrive early

The swim itself is exactly at noon – but get there by 11:45AM for food, drinks (non-alcoholic drinks recommended – real polar bears can do this sober) and to get a decent parking place – you'll be glad afterwards when the walk back to your car is 1 block instead of 5 or 6!

#5 Set up camp Once you get to the park, make your way to the shore and find a place for your blanket and stuff in the "swimmers only" area marked by two 6-foot polar bears holding a "KPCS" banner. This will save you mass confusion at the last minute and give you a fun photo opportunity.

#4 The Countdown Several minutes before noon, get to your blanket/changing area to begin to disrobe. At 10 seconds before noon, the countdown will be on – when it gets to "ZERO!" we'll hit the water with an enthusiastic yell.

#3 Savor the moment Finally, the swim will be over before your Goosebumps know what hit them, so savor the moment out in the lake with your fellow Polar Bears – "High Fives" and "Happy New Year" greetings never feel so good and you've got 365 days* until next time! Immortalize your thoughts and comments on the “Freezin for a Reason” board.

#2 Share the moment Non perishable food items will be accepted with all donations going to the Kirkland Food Bank.

And MOST IMPORTANT * The Number 1 Tip * The Wilde Rover is sponsoring the 2007 Polar Bear Plunge! Invite your friends and family- hang out with all the brave polar bears immediately following the plunge. All Polar Bear Participants will receive a complementary bowl of hearty soup at the Wilde Rover “Irish Pub and Restaurant”.

It feels SO good to be WARM again!

We've been in the dark since Thursday  night just like much of the million other people around the Seattle area.  It makes me realize how much we take for granted.  It took me two days of flicking on light switches before I remembered they weren't going to work.  For the first day and a half it was kind of fun- roughing it- sharing meals (ie emptying the rotting food from the fridge) with neighbors that we never get to spend enough time with normally.  By the third night we couldn't take the flashlights and shivering anymore and sacked out at my sister's toasty condo in Totem Lake, which oddly/luckily had power restored.

I know there are many people out there that still don't have power.  Our friends in Woodinville aren't expecting service until at least Thursday!  But then I think-- how must the Katrina victims have felt when their desperately needed help didn't arrive?  Huh.  Reality.

Other fleeing thoughts:  How come when it was so cold I could sleep so much?  I wonder if this is some type of bear hibernation phenomenon or just the fact that there wasn't much else to do.  Speaking of not much to do- here's an up-side: our neighbor's teenage son had a bunch of friends over that were all playing the board game "Risk" at their kitchen table.  His mom told me there was quite a bit of dust on that game before the power (and Xbox) went out last week.  Oh, and why was MY mom calling me 6 times a day with her survival techniques?  "Remember when you were a Girl Scout..." UGH.

Then there is the grocery store- we had to throw out everything from our fridge and freezer which was a much needed exercise.  There were bags of vegetables from 2005 in there, and under the bottom-most drawer was a delightful surprise of 12 french fries and 3 Otter Pops that my kids have been asking for since July.   The re-entry to the world of power is quick, though.  Once it's back- wham!- we're all racing again in our scurried little lives.   Sent Steve to QFC on Sunday to re-stock the fridge for my 3 little Hoovers.  He was feeling guilty as his heeping cart filled with brown sugar and marshmallows for holiday baking later in the week was in front of a woman in line with batteries and fresh (finally!) milk and some beef jerky. 

And this brings me back to Kirkland.  Look at all of our retail businesses that were shut for days the week before Christmas!   This is their busiest time of year, so the timing couldn't be worse for them to be losing sales.  The Nordstroms of the world will survive this, but losing 3 days of pre-holiday shoppers has a big impact on the small shops of Kirkland.  So, if you're behind on your shopping like I am, be sure to stay close to home and support your local businesses.  We want to make sure they're here next Christmas!

And for those of you still waiting for the power to come on- hang in there and accept the warmth and generosity of others that seems to abound in situations like these.  And whatever you do, don't bring your generator or gas grill inside.  And if you need any other tips, you can call my mom.   ~Janis 

Kirkland has Reasons To Believe

Reasonstobelieve_006 There's no better place to visit at Christmas-time in Kirkland than our only Christmas store in town (after Ruth Ann Young closed her 'Spirit of Christmas' last year), Reasons To Believe.  It's a snowy, magically sparkly wonderland of fun-to-look-at-things that is located at 92 Kirkland Ave, right near The Slip, where they have resided for 12 years.  You can even find their hand-crafted Santas in big name homes such as The White House, Bill Gates and SeaHawks players

Reasonstobelieve_001 Reasonstobelieve_003 You'll see co-owners Dennis Brown (left) and Scott Schultz (right) in the shop working diligently this holiday season.  When I arrived to say hello, St. Nick, uh- I mean, Dennis was at the seat in the front window focused intently on painting a recent creation.  Then Scott was buzzing around moving one of the thirty boxes they ship a day from their internet sales and I SWEAR he was dressed like an elf with a green vest and a skip in his step.  I couldn't see if the tips of his shoes were turned up or not.  But I'm certain I heard hooves on the roof.

Reasonstobelieve_005 Reasonstobelieve_002 About 75% of the items in the store are handmade (some are made for them).  Gifts range from $10-10,000 so there's something for everyone's budget.  There's a cool little 'Kirkland' ornament that would be a great keepsake (pictured right, click to enlarge).  Reasons to Believe will be open every day until Christmas from 9am-10pm and their contact number is 425-893-8159.   Tell 'em I sent ya.  And let me know about those elf boots if you catch a glimpse.   ~Janis

The rise and fall of Merit Financial

About mid-day yesterday I started receiving emails, phone calls, and even text messages from my friends about an article written in Sunday's Seattle Times by Elizabeth Rhodes/Seattle Time business reporter.  The story covers the rise and fall of Merit Financial (and it's Founder and CEO, Scott Greenlaw), one of Washington States largest mortgage brokerages. 

Click here for the full story: "The party's over at a Kirkland mortgage company"

You are probably wondering why so many folks contacted me about the story?   Scott Greenlaw was almost our neighbor. Although Scott never moved into his new home, and has yet to finish it,  the home referenced in the article shares some property with our house.  The same home was referenced in a Wall Street Journal article we covered earlier this year

While the story reads like an unbelievable soap opera, in the end it's a sad real-life saga for all involved.   Please read and provide some comments to the blog!  Steve 

Kirkland's best...you vote!

Amazon has released a new website called Unspun (http://unspun.amazon.com).   It's a cool new site that lets communities voice their opinion on such things as the "best actor of all time" , "top albums of all time", "dumbest celebrities", or even "least clutch athlete of all time".   Still with me?  Wondering what this has to do with Kirkland? 

Well the cool part about the site is that anyone can create a new list, populate the list, and see what others think as well (anyone can vote on the lists or add to them once they are created).

I started a few lists about Kirkland, that include:

Best Happy Hour in Kirkland, WA

Best Parks in Kirkland, WA

Best Restaurant in Kirkland, WA   

Best Website about Kirkland, WA (please vote for us!)

Check these Kirkland lists out and create more of them for our city.  Best builders?  Worst politicians ever? Worst restaurants?  Best Realtors?  Best coffee shop?  I just added Best bars in Kirkland, WA and Best art galleries in Kirkland, WA.   It's a fun site!  Check it out and help build up the lists for Kirkland, WA....Steve