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Kirkland Polar Plunge 2009- A Little Snow Won't Stop Us!

PolarPlunge 005 That's why it's polar, right?  Last year's event happened to be on a pretty balmy day considering it was January 1st in the Northwest (photo left), but after our recent weather, I'm mentally preparing myself for some seriously cold water and air this time around.  True, we were still water-skiing up until a month ago, but that was in a DRY suit, not a BATHING suit!  Good thing I've been working on my fat layer this past few weeks as it will come in handy to hold my body heat in.

So now that I've successfully lured you, let's make sure you know the details and little tricks I might have to share.  The Kirkland Polar Plunge event starts at 1pm sharp on New Year's Day at Marina Park, so get down there around 12:30 for some warm beverages and a spot at the bonfire.  Last year there were hundreds of people, some of which had already participated in other 'plunges' in Seattle that morning! The last two years I have run in from the shore with the masses, but I'm considering jumping from the dock this time around.    I think I can earn my patch either way and somehow this method seems more direct, like a sudden knife to the heart instead of needles all over my body.  But seriously, this is really fun and whether you're an old pro or a first timer, I'd better see you there!! haha! My kids are always proud to be on staff by holding my towels and boots in hopes of someday being able to take the jump themselves.

Here's what you need to remember, you living-in-the-edge plungers:  Your bathing suit with warm layers that are easy to take on/off, cozy boots like Uggs for before/after, shoes with soles that can get wet (those rocks hurt under your feet!), hat/gloves, 3 friends crazy enough to join you, 3 more friends to hold your towels and block your naked butt from the crowd when you change afterwards, and a couple of canned goods for the food bank.  Leave yourself some time afterwards to grab a free cup of soup at the Wilde Rover . So, how brave are you?  I won't chicken out, so you know you can find me there.  I'll even have some extra towel holders with me (they're cute/about 3 feet tall) so now you have no excuse.  Happy New Year, Kirkland! ~j

Random Kirkland Snowy Day Thoughts for You

Three snow days right before my kids have a 2 week winter break?!  Ack! Cabin fever is setting in quickly here so we are painting our toes, accepting Amazon deliveries (kudos to them, but the delivery guy smelled like rum), wrapping gifts, baking (and eating) banana bread, catching up on laundry,  eating chowder, watching movies, drinking hot chocolate, eating peanut brittle, and eating donuts that a friend delivered this morning.  This is not a good pattern.  Especially with the gym being closed and the polar plunge right around the corner. 

 SweetCakes 001 And while we are on the subject of food and treats,  you should know that Sweet Cakes at 128 Park Lane (formerly The Bath Bar) opened this week.  Susanne Park (photo left) has been baking like a madwoman and there are some amazing cookies, cakes and cupcakes at her place baked fresh daily.  Gluten free is on its way in January! Today was supposed to be 'free cookie day' but I'm wondering if she might give you a raincheck/snowcheck if you pop in there when the roads are a bit better? They're doing 10% off all holiday cookie bundles until Dec 31st.  Find them Tues- Sat 9:30am-8pm and Sunday 11-4. 821-6565.

For any of you Jason Mesnick fans looking for a posh spot to watch him and his soon-to-be fiancee from his hometown on "The Bachelor" this season, I thought you'd get a chuckle out of this offering from The Heathman.  A last minute gift for the Mrs. and her best friends, perhaps? The new season starts Jan 5th (and he IS engaged, so we don't have to be sad at the end this time).

JbayBack to food--haha, has anyone tried JBay(previously Juanita Bay Pub) which opened last week?  Although it's just a new coat of paint outside, I heard that it got upscaled on the inside- think Joey'sin Bellevue style.  Drove by the other day and there were lots of cars. We're curious to check it out and plan to slide down the hill (literally) for a visit soon. Let us know your thoughts if you've been.

Lastly, on my brain dump for the day, in case you haven't heard, City Council voted 7-0 in favor of Touchstone Development's private amendment request to build a mixed use project (office/retail/hotel) at Kirkland Park Place.  This still isn't completely baked as it will need to go through the Design Review Board (I guess we've put one back together??), but I think it's a step in the right direction for Kirkland's businesses to breathe a little more life again.  I was getting worried we'd see tumbleweeds soon. For the story and plenty of comments, check out Kirkland Views or see the council meeting here.

And here's my last little gem in this rambling post.  It's your gift for reading this far :-).  Well, it's for your kids or grandkids really- check out this link: http://portablenorthpole.sympatico.msn.ca/home .  Do the personalization ahead of time-the photo is key- my kids were nodding along with Santa and their eyes got wide as saucers when they saw their picture and name in his book.  With him watching over us, maybe we will make it through the next 2 weeks of break??? Happy Holidays, Janis & Steve

A Special Thanks to All the Elves that Lit Up Kirkland!!

Holidayparklane Holidaylightingdowntown08_006 It might have been chilly on Saturday morning, but the snow held off so that 30 magical volunteer elves could hang all of our donated lights around Kirkland's downtown.  It was really amazing having all of these good-spirited citizens, business owners, city council Holidaycentralave members, chamber members, neighborhood folks and youths working together, Holidayheritagehall_2 having fun and problem solving (where is the power outlet? how many strings do we have?? Will the drunks be able to reach these?  LOL).  I think that every neighborhood was represented and I couldn't help but feel incredibly lucky to be part of this community effort.  My heart almost stopped when I saw Heritage Hall majestically lit again (photos right, lit one by Rick Takagi). And to watch Penny Sweet jumping up and down in excitement as the colors began to stream across downtown was well worth the chapping on our hands. (Photo left, Park Lane by Rick Takagi)

Holidaylightingdowntown08_004_2 Holidaylightingdowntown08_008_2 There are lots of thank you's so here are the shoutouts:  Jim Hutchinson w/ Puget Sound Energy for donating 6 CASES of colorful and energy-efficient lights, The Grape Choice for letting us be the dropoff and home base (it did look like Home Depot for a while there), Bender Chaffey Corp for so many ladders to borrow, Starbucks Rose Hill for the coffee that warmed our bones and all the other people that donated so many lights that kept coming in even while we were hanging them!

Holidaylightingdowntown08_003 Holidaylightingdowntown08_010_2 And here are our volunteers that I LOVE for taking the time out of their Sat morning so that everyone could enjoy a little more holiday sparkle in Kirkland this year- I hope I don't miss anyone: Ken Inoue, Jim Inoue, Sue Nelson(left), Vern Stoops, Tom Shugrue, Steve Maita, Rob & Kate Butcher, Kim Steeley (left), Hannah Shugrue, Emily Christensen, Dawn & Alex Morse (above rt), Tom Reichert, Kellie Jordan, Dave Zimmerman (BRIX owner, right), Jason Brooks, Mary Alyce-Burleigh, Joanne Lai (right), Amy & Matt Cantando (above rt), Bill Vadino (by the lamp-post, left), Don Winters, Betsy Pringle, Michelle Sailor and Brian Lindgren.  And a special thanks to Penny Sweet, who really helped pull this all together.  ~J

You're Invited! Market Street Cafe this Wednesday...

Preview_2 The Market Street Cafe is having an open house to welcome their new Chef--Scott Shampine!   The festivities are on Wednesday, December 17th, from 6pm - 9pm.   The restaurant will have a complimentary selection of wines and free samplings of Chef Shampine's nationally acclaimed creations.

We have blogged about the Market Street Cafe in the past.   It's a cozy neighborhood restaurant on the west side of Market Street just a few blocks north of Central Way--walking distance from East of Market and West of Market neighborhoods.  The MSC is going to re-open after the first of the year!

Here is a bit more about Chef Shampine.   A native of San Francisco, CA, Chef Shampine brings 20+ years of culinary experience to his new role as the executive chef at Market Street Cafe.Scottshampine

Trained at the California Culinary Academy and Berringer School for American Chefs, Shampine was formerly th executive chef at OLEA in Portland where he was the only Oregon restaurant to make John Mariani's "The Twenty Best New Restaurants in the USA" in Esquire Magazine (November 2005) as well as Food & Wine's "376 hottest restaurants in the world" (May 2006).

Prior to moving to Portland in 2001, Shampine worked two years with Wolfgang Puck, was the stagiaire at the French Laundry, executive sous chef at Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico and sous chef at Aqua in San Francisco.   

I met Scott a few nights ago at the MSC as he was working late preparing the new menus.  He is a fun, engaging guy and has good ideas for the new menu--which will be priced "very reasonably" compared to the previous menu at the MSC.    After talking to Scott I am convinced the food will be incredible.   

So if you can drop in for a few minutes or an hour on Wednesday night I know Chef Shampine would love to meet you!   Janis and I will be there to check out the Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Dates with Vanilla Bean-Black Pepper Oil, Foie Gras Tater Tots, and Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Chantilly.    Oh, and the free wine!  See you there?  ~Steve

Let There Be Lights!

This Saturday December 13th, 9am at The Grape Choice. Remember that. Christmas_lights

Because that is when you're going to come help us hang some lights in downtown Kirkland!! Puget Sound Energy has ever-so-kindly donated six cases of colorful energy efficient LED lights and we have a handful of white lights that have been dropped off this week. Thank you to everyone that has contributed and offered to help out. Let's try to spread some more cheer along the streets of downtown.

If you have extra lights, extension cords, or ladders to bring along with you we could still use more. Especially white lights if we want to get Heritage Hall too. But mostly we need people to get this job done! Rain or Shine or Snow- don't forget your gloves b/c it will be cold. Ho Ho Hope to see you there Saturday! Email me with questions at kirklandweblog@gmail.com ~j

The 12K's of Christmas

Index8 Feeling a little overstuffed from Thanksgiving? Here's just the exercise for you- the 6th Annual "12 K's of Christmas" Holiday Run Event is coming up on Sunday December 14th at at 9:30 am in Marina Park. That should do the trick! No doubt that could be a bit ambitious for some of us (OK, me, I can't do 12 K who am I kidding??) so there's also a 5K and you can even walk if that's more your speed. There's a free kids dash for 10 yrs and under, food, music, dancing and even a holiday costume contest for people AND their dogs. You can register on-line here and it runs anywhere b/w $25-45 depending on when/what you do. I'd better see some good costumes out there, I could use a good laugh. Hohoho. ~j

I'm Having Holiday Light Withdrawals-and I Need Your Help!

Kirklanddtllights On recent evenings when I'm driving into downtown Kirkland I can't help but feel like something is missing. Yes, I know, a lot of storefronts are papered up but I'm talking about something else this time. It's the lights. You know that special feeling you get when it's dark (and it's 4:30, haha) but the sparkle of the holiday lights brings on a smile and you detour for an eggnog latte? There's a special magic that's not quite there this year. I realize times are tough and the sponsor that helped hang the lights in previous years wasn't able to do ALL the trees this year. I just didn't realize how much I would miss them!

And it seems like I'm not the only one. I've mentioned it to a few friends that each react with a gasp and wide Grinch-that-Stole-Christmas disbelieving eyes. I think people are still waiting for them to go up. But is it too late? Or can our little Hooville do something to help bring the sparkle back to our hearts for the holidays? Grinch_3

If we all helped out a little bit it would add up to a lot. We don't have to get the big equipment and perch in the top of the trees-we could just wrap the tree trunks in white lights. And on an aside, I heard there were some Jason Mesnick sightings downtown today with an Entertainment Tonight crew filming. Sounds like Kirkland is going to make it to prime-time so now is not a time to be bah-humbug.

Here is what I am proposing to those of you that share my love of the lights. We need lights and we need manpower. You can drop off new white lights (the CONSTANT-ON kind where the whole string doesn't go out if one bulb does) to The Grape Choice by Thursday Dec 11th. Costco has these right now- 2 sets of 150 lights for $19. If you can help by volunteering your time to do the lights or would prefer to make a donation, please send me an email to kirklandweblog@gmail.com . We would need to pull together quickly b/c this is just one of my last minute off-the-wall ideas but I thought it was worth trying. For the love of Christmas, for the love Kirkland, let's bring back the twinkle. ~j