Gerhardt and I had so much fun visiting the real life Icicle Falls (Leavenworth, WA) last weekend. Whenever I have a new book out our friends at A BOOK FOR ALL SEASONS invite us to come up and hang out in the store. It's always a wonderful opportunity to see old friends and make some new ones.
This visit was no exception. I met new readers - and was so surprised when one of my old church buddies, Paula, showed up with some friends in tow. Neither of us knew the other was going to be in town for the weekend. It was also wonderful to catch up with my old high school BFF Susan, and we enjoyed a true Bavarian meal with her and her husband.
For those of you who've never had the chance to visit this charming Bavarian village, I encourage you to put it on your bucket list. The surrounding scenery is gorgeous, and if you enjoy hiking or winter sports you'll be glad you made the trip there. (One hike will take you to Indian petroglyphs.) As for shopping, it's chick heaven - the place is filled with tons of shops from the sublime to the ridiculous. You can purchase lace or elegant china, designer chocolates, handcrafted soap, or a silly hat or t-shirt. (I purchased a gorgeous wreath of metal leaves in one of the art shops that I love.) You can eat schnitzel that's almost as good as what you'd find in Germany and you can hear some lively German music. This trip I noticed that carriage rides have been added. Too fun!
The place is beautiful all year round but Christmas is still my favorite time of year, when the whole town is lit up and the mountains are draped with snow. I must say though, that fall runs a close second with all the vibrant fall colors and the lovely decorations.
I could have stayed another day easily, taking it all in, spending money. But alas, work called and we had to leave. Ah, well, spring and a new book are right around the corner, so "Icicle Falls," in the words of the Terminator, "I'll be back."
One woman's junk is another woman's treasure, and our little community of beach babes proves that every year with our annual swap party. Oh, the treasures! Purses, home decor, dishes (including a cute little fish-shaped serving platter), barbecue equipment, storage bins, candles, clothes. Something for everyone.
And for little Sheila? Two camp chairs, which will come in handy at the new place we're building. The lot already has a fire pit and I'm envisioning hot dog roasts a plenty. I also scored a brand new yoga mat which will come in handy when I try to do floor exercises on my concrete condo floor. I'm going to try some beginner yoga, too, and see if I can master downward dog. Or is it upward dog? Downward spiral? Anyway, I'm going to be working hard to stay fit this winter and that will help.
Of course, there was much nail biting in suspense as we waited to see who'd won what, and much shrieking and elation every time someone won a coveted item. And a little mock jealousy afterward (as you can see by the picture below), much of which was fueled by wine. But there was plenty of salmon dip and crackers, chocolate, and other goodies with which to console ourselves.
So, how does one run a swap party? Well, there are many different ways. My gang from the old neighborhood just brought things and we took turns picking what appealed to us. The beach babes have their own system. Everyone receives a certain number of poker chips with her name or initials on them. Then we go around and "shop" putting a chip on each item that appeals to us. If we really want an item we might blow all our chips that one thing. If only one person's chip is on an item then it's hers. If more than one woman has laid down a chip, they all go in a dish and our hostess has someone draw the winning chip from it.
Any leftover items get donated to local charities. At the beach we have a committee happy to take our goods for their yearly garage sale which raises money for the Woof-a-thon - a benefit for the town's pets. And if that doesn't work out, there's the thrift store run by the food bank. All proceeds from that go toward helping people with financial needs. So this is truly a win-win-win party.
How about you? Got some decorations you've grown tired of? Have you outgrown that oh, so cool top? Maybe it's time to host a swap party of your own. Christmas is coming. You might get just what you've been wanting. And you won't even have to ask Santa for it!