Monday, June 25, 2007

Flea markets make you happy

We hosted our first French Flea Market of the summer this last Saturday, and I'm still reeling from all the fun. There were soooo many great finds, from some fabulous furniture pieces, to iron chandies, cool benches, beautiful hand-crafted pillows, fun and funky handbags, on and on. Oh, and a lemonade/patisserie stand with the most delicious goodies. We've been doing this for years, you know, and it just gets better and better.

There are certain darling display pieces we have in our shops that customers are always wanting. "WHERE did you get that?" they ask with longing. Well, I got it at one of Pomegranate's famous flea markets. Yes, I too, get to shop with our vendors at the flea markets, and I play by the rules. I don't start early or get preferential treatment, I pay the asking price, and I just go around and have fun. That's all you have to do: show up just as things start, run around like crazy, and please don't think about where something will go! If you like it and the price seems fair, get out that little wad of cash you have stashed in your pocket, and just do it. Then head over for a nice leisurely lunch at McKay's Cottage, outside of course. Then dash back to the flea market for a quick look at last minute additions and bargains, as lots of vendors will replenish stock as things sell.

Here are a few pictures of the event. Not to torture you, but to get you wound up for the next one (Saturday, August 25, from 10-4). Oh well, I guess the pictures are all going to show up at the top of the page, and some are sideways. Anybody know how to work this thing? To stay informed of the latest Pomegranate events and specials, please join our email list by sending a note with your name and email address to

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

French Flea Market this weekend.

Attention flea market enthusiasts: you cannot miss our first "Marché aux Puces" of the season – this Saturday, darlings, from 10-4! Our hand-picked vendors are coming from all over, and they've been out there collecting great stuff for you. So put on your straw hat, grab your mad money, and be sure to get there first! We never know what our fabulous vendors are bringing, but there's always a lot of great pieces, from shabby chic to antique. We do this twice every summer (the next one is on Saturday, August 25) and it just gets better every year. I'll try to post some pictures: meanwhile, this little sweetie pie trailer will be there – not for sale, but for viewing... and its owner will be selling some great things from her own collections. Come see how she retrofitted this little gem with cork floors and cool furnishings. Oh, it's gonna be fun – see you there!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Window shopping in Europe

A few months ago we made a whirlwind trip to Europe. Normally we like to park ourselves in one place for awhile and really get to know the area, but for this trip, we decided to cover a lot of ground. And cover we did, from Amsterdam to Belgium, and then into Normandy, down to Paris, across to the Champagne region, and then back to Amsterdam. It was so much fun, and so interesting, and so intense, and so packed full of experiences. We each kept a journal on our laptop, and they both go on for pages and pages... to condense and edit for sharing purposes is almost impossible. But here and there I hope to post some little nuggets that might be of interest to virtual or armchair travelers. Thought I'd start with a few photos of fun store windows, which I was always on the prowl for.

This window in Paris (Nobilis) was a traffic-stopper. The chairs and billowing fabrics were dangling from a structure atop a revolving platform; if you stood there long enough, these crazy chairs would all go around in front of you. Most impressive was the edgy way the wording was spray painted (!) onto that gorgeous fabric, which was a stunning French damask that probably went for about $300 a yard.

The other scene I loved, and just managed to catch before 80 cars dashed by (and before any shopkeepers yelled at me, as they don't particularly like you to take photos), is the shot of Ladurée above (actually, I don't know where it's going to appear because I have no idea how to place images properly). Anyway, this is THE place to feast on the most delicious little macaroons in the world. They're a French national treasure, and you must go there when in Paris. While we were visiting, we kept seeing this billboard campaign from a car manufacturer, which compared their quality to that of the Ladurée macaroons. The billboards featured a stack of the pastries next to a car. In their super sized photo, they looked like weird pink hamburgers, and I just didn't get it, until our ex-pat friend Susan explained the whole thing. It's a socio-cultural-historical part of the French psyche, and you just have to go experience it for yourself. In fact, I suggest first taking tea in their lovely Japonesque tearoom, and then popping over to the bakery side to stand in line with the French patrons. For a small investment, you get to choose some fabulous pastries, which will be placed inside the most wonderful little box you've ever seen (turned out to be my favorite souvenir!). So, observe first the quintessential French couple standing on the corner, waiting for the light to change, but posing as if for a photo shoot, with their grand bouquet of flowers. Then observe the quintessential French dogs waiting in front of Ladurée for their mistresses to appear (perhaps with a petite treat?). Then there's that great, perfect French green that the whole place is steeped in, and then the stacks of boxes and pastries in the window (harder to see). By the way, this Ladurée is in the 6th arrondisement; there is another on the Champs d'Elysee that is newer and apparently more swanky... but we didn't get there.

The last picture for tonight is the Boulangerie, which is a perfectly preserved, historical icon of French style. Ah, but it's not actually a boulangerie anymore: walk inside and you'll find one of the most daring, modern boutique hotel lobbies in Paris. Can't remember the designer's name, but he managed to save the 19th century exterior and insert his modernist vision inside. It's quite the juxtaposition.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Grocery List

Our summer farmer's market opened yesterday for the season, and I'm shouting out a big 'hallelujah' – my place of worship is back. That first whiff of the season's fresh basil just sends me into a spin. The setting in the park is lovely, and we have a great selection of vendors, even if it's not the biggest farmer's market. Have to have the fresh goat cheese, bread, flowers, fabulous vegetables and always – bags of mushrooms from the mushroom guy. Love those maitakes. Mmm mmm mmm. We grill them, put them in omelettes, or make a little pizza with them. So, you must have a cute market tote or two ready to go at all times. At the shops, we're pretty much sold out at the moment, but have a lot more on order, so check back (and I'll try to post some pictures when they come in). I'm really trying to retrain myself to remember to have them available for regular grocery shopping, too, to try and cut down on the excess paper/plastic situation. By the way, on the front page of yesterday's "Bulletin" (6/7/07) was the most adorable picture of a little girl shopping at the farmer's market. I bet her mom is ordering copies by the dozens... I don't know how to link to it; maybe you can figure it out. Bend Farmer's Market: Wednesdays from 3-7pm (and again on Fridays at St. Charles). Try

The excavators have made lots of progress on the new Trader Joe's location north of town. The day the headlines announced that we were finally, officially getting our TJ's, you could almost hear the collective "yay" from all of us transplants who missed having them around. It doesn't mean I won't still be in Newport Market just about every day, or shopping at Ray's (I like them, too), or Wild Oats, when I'm on that side of town. Sidebar: unless under duress, won't step foot into any of the other chain stores, partly because I detest those customer 'appreciation' discount cards, which irritate me no end, and also because they're so impersonal and massive and uninteresting. Another sidebar: the liquor store inside Ray's is very nice, and clean, and well-lighted and carries some different, interesting products. In some of the other liquor stores you almost feel like a criminal skulking around in there – just a little weird facet of Oregon and our state-controlled liquor stores.

Anyway, Trader Joe's has a lot of fans, moi included. I feel at home in them, and know that whichever one you're in, there will be consistency in the quality of food offerings, and always a friendly, knowledgeable, efficient staff that can bag your purchases faster and better than anywhere else. I don't know how they keep the staff morale at such a high level (or maybe they're all experts in masking their true feelings!). I've never worked at a grocery store, but I imagine it's not easy. Nevermind the physically challenging stuff: I'm talking about hungry, hurried, harried shoppers who snap and grump at the staff, or get frustrated in line and give them the stink eye, or let their kid stand in the cart and drop a carton of yogurt on the floor. No doubt all those experiences could fill a book or three.

I know there are plenty of anti-shoppers – hard to understand for the likes of a shopping monkey. Personally, I quite enjoy grocery shopping and often end up at the store after our own shops are closed. When I was little, my dad and I would do a lot of the food shopping together, and talk about the possibilities of what we could invent with what was fresh and available. Very Italian, he was. I loved it. I think the key word here is possibility. It's the promise of something new and exciting and delicious. And that's what winds me up about shopping in general: whether a visual feast or a virtual one, it's all about change and possibility and having all the senses firing at once.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The origins of species: Shopping Monkey

What makes a true shopping monkey? First let me say that I've come to realize that some of us are divided into camps. There are those for whom shopping is all about shoes, clothing and personal adornments. I am not necessarily one of those (although I had more of an eye for fashion when I was younger and thinner). The rest of us are drawn to dinnerware, glassware, linens, objets d'art, sofas, and the like. Nothing gets us going quite like another addition to that ironstone collection, or new champagne flutes, or fluffy new towels. The signs are usually there at a young age. My friends laughed when they found out what I wanted for my sixteenth birthday: an embroidered pillow I saw at a crafts market (a car was not even on the radar screen, of course). I didn't think it was so funny: I'd been buying stuff like that for years with my babysitting money. I got hooked on garage sales at age nine, shopping with my mom, and searching for tiny treasures. My very first purchase – a wonderful black and white pottery vase – stayed with me until it got smashed in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. Somewhere around here I bet I still have the bag of shards for a never-going-to-happen crafts project.

One of my favorite early memories of shopping was our holiday pilgrimages to a shop that was housed on a ferry boat docked in Sausalito, California. It had these long, wide-plank floors that squeaked and the whole place swayed almost imperceptibly as you shopped. They had a long section that was all bins filled with fun little toys (including lots of "made in Japan" tin toys that are now collectible). Ah, pure heaven. I was allowed to pick two or three things, and the decisions were exquisitely difficult. Afterwards, we always went to the little shop that was packed with European ribbons, braid and trimmings; another visual and tactile emporium of treats. When you bought something there, they packaged it in a little cloth bag finished with a shiny red embossed label. Those bags were so sweet I could hardly bring myself to take out the precious yard of ribbon inside.

Will our youngest generation have fond remembrances of shopping in Wal-Mart with mom?