Saturday, February 28, 2009

Aqua glass for gifting

Just in at Pomegranate: a great new line of recycled glass bowls and platters in a fresh, swirly aqua/milky color. Love the organic, wonky shapes, too. Prices range from about $10 to under $40, making for a very good gifting option (wedding season is coming, and who wouldn't love a salad bowl with those fab black horn salad servers?). For a little welcome spring treat on your kitchen counter, fill one of the smaller bowls with lemons. Or kumquats.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Flameless Candles -- not for drips

I'm usually not a big fan of 'faux'. Why not just have the real thing instead of an imitation (not applicable to zebra prints or little fuzzy monkeys). And I love candles, but am sooo careful not to burn them unattended. Like in the powder room when you're having a party. Or in your entry hall. Someplace where the dog's tail could knock it over when you're not looking. Danger, danger.

That's why we were so happy to find these flameless wax candles. They look and feel like the real thing, but the warm, flickering light inside is powered by batteries. If you forget about them, the worst thing that can happen is you run out of juice and have to replace a battery. The LED lights inside are a new generation of technology, allowing for a dim or bright setting, and flickering so realistically that you really can't tell the difference. The candle itself is wax, and looks just like its hand-poured real cousins. So go ahead, put one inside that wood bookshelf, or in the bathroom next to the linen shade. No worries.

Pillar candles available in two colors and three sizes at Pomegranate Home & Garden.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Barking for Dollars

We just finished our annual fundraiser for the Humane Society (Mollie the shop dog's preferred charity), and have to shout out to those who were so generous. We raised $297 this year. Kind of a miracle, given A) how it we set it up (Robert's great idea a few years ago), and B) the merde economy.

Here's how it works: after the holidays, we gather all our testers, samples, onesies, bits and pieces and oddball or slightly dinged up things, put them in a big basket on the front porch with an honor jar, a sign, and bags. You get to dig through, take what you want, and pay what you want. After a month or so, we add it all up and bring the proceeds to the Humane Society. Some people wrote generous checks, some emptied their change jars, some threw whatever they could in the jar. It all added up! It's not a particularly pretty bit of merchandising, all thrown sort of hodge podge on the porch, but, it's fine for the dead days of winter. Now we're getting all our spring and easter goodies put out, and flipping everything around for the next few days.

Oh, and speaking of flipping around, our lovely canal in back of the shop is going underground, starting this week. A few trees and lilac bushes are coming down, and our parking lot is going to be closed, due to giant truck activity. Sigh. But you can park right across the street at Macy's and hop over. We hope you brave the chaos and come visit.

Monday, February 16, 2009

More shelter magazines go homeless

I've mewled about this before: so many shelter magazines (my favorite cheap thrill) are going under or have already disappeared. The latest to bite the dust is Domino. What? The darling of the industry, the brave new upstart that thought to include a page of removable sticky tags to mark your favorite articles. It's just too sad.

RIP: Country Home, Cottage Living, and House & Garden. All were good escapist magazines if you're into design. You can tell how desperate magazines are getting when you get offers in the mail to renew for two years for $12, plus get a subscription for free for a friend. They're trying to get their readership up (even if we only pay pennies per copy) so that the numbers look good, so that the advertisers will advertise.

What's left? Elle Decor. Check. It's good, but there's something sort of soulless about it sometimes. Maybe a bit of warmth or sense of humor is missing (same reason I rarely look at Architectural Digest). House Beautiful: check it out, check it out! It used to be sort of a dowdy, fussy, grandma magazine, but they've taken huge strides to make it hip and interesting. This month the focus is on makeovers, including some easy, quick tips. Photo above is from their article about redoing a 900 sq. foot bungalow. Love this room: it mixes traditional with modern, soft with edgy, little splashes of color with neutrals.

Sunset magazine still doing a great job. I remember reading it as a kid ("hey dad -- look at this deck railing -- let's do that!"). And I adore Western Interiors. They are finding some really unusual homes to showcase; have to admire their vision, even if these places are homes us mere mortals could never afford. Still, it's all about eye candy, isn't it?

Such inexpensive escapes. Pour yourself a cup of tea, put on some good music, and lounge with your magazine. It's a vacation.

Friday, February 13, 2009

End of a dream (or two or three)

I miss Merenda. We would have gone there a few weeks ago after closing the doors on our own downtown shop for the last time. Instead, we went home and made a nice little dinner, sat in our pjs, and drank some champagne... to soothe our souls. Truth is, we hardly ever (never) go out to dinner anymore, which makes us part of the problem for restaurants. It's endemic, this economic situation. Call it trickle down (too lite), ripple effect (better) or smashing tidal wave (apt), but it has affected everyone in one way or another.

When I lived in San Francisco some time ago (and please, no one needs to send an anonymous comment about Califungos) I used to frequent the wonderful Farmer's Market at Ferry Plaza, just like I frequent our wonderful Farmer's Market at Mirror Pond here in Bend. Back then, the Ferry building wasn't yet refurbished into the foodie heaven it is now, but once a month or so, local restaurants would set up tented booths and cook up a storm for shoppers. At that time, Jody Denton owned Lulu's (south of Market area), one of the restaurants represented at the market. I didn't know him then, but clearly remember standing in line for a soft shell crab sandwich, and going crazy over the amazing taste and texture of it. A bunch of people around me announced (to no one in particular) that it was so good they were getting back in line to get another one.

Sometimes a meal is memorable like that, even if it's eaten standing up in a converted parking lot with seagulls and pigeons swooping around, hoping for a bite.

We were happy when Merenda opened. It was hugely ambitious, and all the buzz about how it could sustain itself seemed to dissipate when year after year, it just kept succeeding. Until the financial crash. I really liked going there, and maybe this post is more about post-mortem support than anything else, but some of the blog posts I've read bothered me in their analysis of why they went down. Truth is, everyone has a different experience at different restaurants, and some of it depends on the day, time of day, mood of the servers, who's cooking, and who's sitting next to you. There are lots of good restaurants here, and you'll get a different critique of them from everyone you talk to. And no observer will really know the details of why a restaurant – or any business – falls apart. All I know is the restaurant business has to be a crazy scary venture: more intense and problematic and potentially disastrous than anything you can do in retail.

I'm glad another group is giving it a go: the space is fabulous and, I think, the anchor of downtown. It's good that some of the Merenda employees are going to get their jobs back. And I'm glad that Jody has another job lined up in Sydney. But I'm very sad that they had to go bankrupt in the process. No one wants to see that for a young family. Or anybody.

We were there on their last night, and I shed a few tears as we left (oh yeah, lots of raw emotion these last few months). Jody and Michelle are sure to land on their feet again, and the restaurant will reincarnate itself (empty spaces downtown will get filled: it will just be different). It just hit me as the end of a dream, a vision. Not just theirs, but ours as well (knowing we'd be soon closing our downtown location), and soon, others.

This is what I crave right now: that lemon rotisserie chicken. Maybe with an indulgent side of tempura green beans, followed up with an order of insanely delicious beignets. Call the medics.