Monday, July 27, 2009

French Flea Market Pix: Pomegranate, July 18, 2009

Would have posted these sooner, but came down with the flu shortly after last weekend's French Flea Market. At least I got to shop a little before the fever hit. There was some great stuff there, as always (especially those sweet little Scottie dogs). Deal of the day: at 4:30 (as most of the vendors were packing up), a customer walked in with a stinkin' cute birdcage she just scored for $12. I was speechless, almost. Should have taken a picture of her with it. See? You just never know what you're going to find. Even at the end of the day.

Friday, July 17, 2009

French Flea Market and Lavender Festival tomorrow

Lavender is in full bloom, and we are so excited about tomorrow's festivities at Pomegranate. Our French Flea Market is at capacity for vendors; several dozen hand-picked dealers and artisans will be setting up in our gardens (and along our new petanque court) for a day of good finds. At really good prices [hello, other antique dealers: you might want to be swooping down on this one for some great buys]. This market just gets better and better, and I can't wait!

At the same time, we'll be hosting our ninth annual Lavender Festival, in and around the shop. Antler Inn Nursery will be here with lots of lavender (and we have some for sale as well), and beautiful plants -- they'll be happy to talk with you about growing and harvesting, too. Taste some of our special lavender lemonade, and check out all the new products just in for the event. Lavender laundry products, lotions, soaps, gifts, stationery... and get a free French lavender heart soap with any purchase in the shop. It's all at Pomegranate Home & Garden, 120 NE River Mall Avenue in Bend (just across the street from the north end of Macy's). French Flea Market goes from 10-4, and the shop will be open until 5:30. See you there, mes amies!

More pix, directions at

Monday, July 13, 2009

More armchair travels: a Provence memory

I've had lavender on the brain lately. Next Saturday, we're having a combination French Flea Market and Lavender Festival at Pomegranate. A double dose of fun – more on that in another post. Our lavender is just hitting full bloom (both in pots for sale and planted in the gardens around the shop), and the scent is heavenly. I guess we've all figured out that lavender is one plant the deer don't like. Even the #'![&/* rock chucks haven't swooped it under (we'd love to sell other kinds of plants, and used to offer some lovely specimens, but the dang R.C.s ate all our merchandise). This year we have several types of lavender, including a beautiful pink variety.

Walking along our path from main house to cottage today, I brushed my hand across all the lavender blooming along the pathway, and the scent transported me back to Provence. Just a small moment, but such a strong memory. On a trip to France several years ago, we had left some days open to serendipity -- no reservations -- and were headed south towards Provence. Driving along late one afternoon, I (navigator) was digging through guidebooks and maps and decided we should check out the town of Nyons. It's not a big tourist stop (not for Americans anyway), but looked really interesting (a center for olive growing). And, ta dah, I found a "Hôtel de Charme" listed there. Magic words; every single one we found was truly charming. By the time we got there, we were starting to feel a little cranky, hungry, and slightly worried about finding a place to stay (suddenly our plans to play some of it by ear didn't seem so smart).

We found the inn easily, and it was even better than expected. We walked through the beautiful little garden into a reception area that was connected to the kitchen. Sort of like coming in through the back door of a very gracious home. They were already working on that night's meal for the petite restaurant, and the smells coming out of the kitchen were wonderful. But they had also just scrubbed down the tile floors with a natural lavender oil potion, and it was so fresh and clean. The combination of lavender and whatever the chef was cooking up was a true feast for the senses.

There was such a simple and natural warmth about the place; rooms were done in kind of a rustic modern style – clean and simple and very comfortable. I would go back there in a heartbeat. Oh yes, the olives. Right down the street was a wonderful olive cooperative where you could taste any number of local olives and olive oil. You can also tour some of the olive mills and production facilities. Heaven!

Well. Maybe this year isn't the best to spend on travel, but you can look and dream on their website. Be sure to click on the "restaurant" section; in the upper left photo you'll see that dreamy entry that smells so good. And don't miss the slideshow in the "diaporama" section, whatever that means. Here it is: Une Autre Maison at

p.s. Our own little lavender festival (and fabulous French Flea Market!) is next Saturday at Pomegranate, from 10-4. More on that later.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Retail Gamble

I'm really not much of a gambler. The few times I've been to Vegas (convention-related) or Reno (stuck-in-a-snowstorm-related) I allowed myself 20 bucks or so to throw away in the slot machines. I just never understood the fun of flinging your hard-earned money down the maw of a machine rigged to keep most of what it takes in. And I get antsy sitting there at card games.

Yet having a retail business is a huge gamble.

You try to make informed decisions. You strategize, promote, learn, stumble, learn some more, do the numbers, on and on. You get a little smarter, maybe. But it's all still a gamble. Every line you bring in, every $200 or $2,000 spent on a collection is a big bet that customers will love it as much as we do. Usually they do; sometimes they don't.

It doesn't really matter that we've had a shop for 11 years – there's always a new customer, a new look, a new hot thing... and if you don't stay on top of it, you find yourself wallowing in merchandise that a big box store knocked off for half the price (and half the quality, but even so...). Or you're too early with something. It ends up sitting around and collecting dust – by the time people latch onto the idea, you're sick to death of looking at it (mostly because it reminds you of the cash tied up in it and what a doofus you were to order it). Then it all sells and ten people in a row walk in asking for that very thing that you are now finally rid of. Doh! Mostly, I have to say we're very pleased with the ebb and flow of the products we've found. It's just that the stinkers really stand out to remind you of a bad bet.

We take chances on locations for our businesses. In retail, that can be a make it or break it proposition. There are no real estate handbooks specific to your town, your corner. You do your due diligence, trust your instincts, and sign that lease. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. We know both sides of that coin.

Maybe I've been pondering all this more than usual because of Smith & Hawken's demise. They dreamed big, went big, fell big. Ditto Shabby Chic, Z Gallerie (not completely gone, but in reorg), Bombay Co., Crabtree & Evelyn and many others. It's not like me, but I think I'm happy just keeping life simple in our little out-of-the-way shop. Just ordering what we need (trying to anticipate what we need, anyway), fixing/doing everything ourselves (even our business cards – I laid them out on the computer and print at home on the old inkjet, then cut and crop on a vintage paper cutter), and trying to pull out every creative, inexpensive idea we can come up with.

But just in case, I think I'll go throw some good luck salt over my shoulder.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Visiting, staying, eating in Bend

My last post received a comment from Norine, who is planning a Bend visit in July. While her husband is off doing artisan things, she wants to know what a slightly design-obsessed wife would do on the perfect Bend Design Weekend.

Norine, this is just the kind of thing I love! But first, a disclaimer. I'm a bit out of touch with my own town. We pretty much just work, and I'm sorry to say we put the emergency brake on eating out, so I can't say we're up to date with various recommendations. But I'll give it a shot, and no doubt others will chime in.

Staying in Bend. Haven't been inside, but have heard good things about Lara House (B&B). It's located in the very charming older part of Bend, just a block or so from downtown. Walk to restaurants, river, shops, etc. Bend Riverside Motel is where my in-laws used to stay before we had a guest room. The interior is clean, but kind of bland 80s decor. No design awards here, but, they have functioning kitchens and are right on the river; you can leave your slider open and listen to the rushing river all night. Also close to downtown. McMenamins took over a Catholic school and did a great job refurbishing it in their funky, fun style (downtown). I've only been in the lobby of AmeriTel Inn (in the Old Mill District), but it looked like they did a very nice job of it. It sits up on a knoll and has some good views; easy walking to shopping/dining at the Old Mill. This is probably a good choice if you need more of a full-service hotel with fax machines and internet access, etc. And then there are numerous resorts where you could probably be happy just hanging out and taking leisurely walks between the pedi and the massage. I think there are some pretty good deals out there, too. Check for links to all these places.

Eating. You can hardly go wrong downtown. We lost a few key restaurants in past months, but miraculously, there's been a revival and it seems everything's humming along now. 900 Wall, Joolz, Zydeco, Cork, Marz -- all good choices. 28 for small plates & cocktails. Typhoon for Thai. Lots of good coffee houses, too. My choice for breakfast (or lunch) is McKay's Cottage. Also Nancy P's and Sparrow (you'll have to get out the map for this one) for delicious baked goods. Lots of locals swear by Victorian Cafe and Alpenglow. I'm not much of a pizza fan, but do like the pizza at Flatbread Community Oven in the Old Mill District. Get a glass of wine and sit outdoors by the river for a great view. For a cupcake stop, find Le Cakery on Galveston. Sooo dangerously delicious.

Shopping and exploring. Well, you have to come visit our little shop, right? Right. It's in one of Bend's oldest homesteads, and the setting alone is worth a visit. McKay's Cottage is nearby, for lunch on the lawn. I would also go to Casarama on Division St. (cool mid-century, vintage, industrial finds) and Royal T Antiques on 9th (or Wilson? better call for directions). Downtown is full of cute shops, galleries, restaurants. I think it's a really good example of historic preservation in a smaller town, and it's right on the river. Can't miss. I would also wander around the old part of town (right next to downtown) for some of our more delightful older houses and neighborhoods.

Old Mill District is an outdoor mall, but they've done a really good job with it (great setting, too). Tumalo Art Company just moved there (lots of local art) and you mustn't miss the Lubbesmeyer studios (upstairs - have to look for it) for amazing fiber art. Also DeWilde Art & Glass. Northwest Crossing is a growing area, too, with some nice shops, a good wine bar (Portello) and a new contemporary art gallery that I want to go see. Near the Old Mill District is the Old Mill Marketplace, which is going through a revival with some new shops. Has a bit of flavor of the Pearl District in Portland (but, you know, we're just a little village). I love the row houses there; reminds me of parts of Chicago or Boston, but new. Oh, right: on Delaware (near Bond St., west side) check out one of my favorite bookstores (housed in what used to be an old corner market), Between the Covers. Just a block away from Jackson's Corner (café, hangout, find it).

And maybe go to Petersen Rock Gardens. It's weird and whacky: a whole little miniature village made out of stacked-up rocks. It's about ten minutes from town.

That should keep you busy. Especially if you add in some bike riding, river rafting, hiking, fishing, golfing... Have fun, and stop by!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Open July 4

If you have a bit of last-minute shopping (sparklers, glassware, etc.), Pomegranate will be open July 4 until 3pm (later if everyone is still shopping, maaaybe a wee bit earlier if traffic just stops). Or send your out-of-town guests in if you need to get rid of them for awhile. I mean entertain them for awhile! Normally we close up for the Fourth of July, but it's Saturday! It's going to be a beautiful, fun day. Hope to see some of you!

Can't wait for those tuscan baby back ribs (recipe courtesy of Jody Denton - find it here: If you think you might make these, better get on it now... very easy, but takes some ingredients and time for overnight (or longer) brining. Newport Market has juniper berries and some of the other unusual tidbits needed for this. [Juniper berries unusual in Bend? Well, you can't just strip them off the tree in your front yard.] What else? Heirloom tomato salad, corn on the cob with lime butter, homemade berry ice cream, etc. etc.... oh, and we all get cool confetti and sparklers from the shop (I think we buy them just to make sure we have some for ourselves). We might even get my mom to lead us in The Star Spangled Banner, so if you're nearby and hear a lovely soprano voice ringing out over a bunch of iffy singers, that's us.

Have a wonderful – and safe – 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No passport needed for armchair travel

Half torture/half delight: I subscribe to an enewsletter that showcases European hotels and inns that are chosen for the "Charming Hotels" network (a group that goes around and anoints properties for their charm, whether a two-star hotel or four-star resort – no one pays to be in it, so it's really a great way to find some unique spots). You can find them at; click on the little British flag for the (sometimes) English version... there's also a link to get their newsletter. The newsletter usually features specials going on at some of the properties (most are in France or Italy); you know, stay three nights and get the fourth free... I look at it for fun, for inspiration (or is it just torment?). This latest newsletter was all about "Hotels with jacuzzis." I almost erased it without looking, but a little thumbnail picture (above) piqued my interest, and I followed the link.

Oh my. What a gorgeous place (what an understatement). A medieval castle (with moat, no less!) that's updated with a modern, clean, and simple look. The French are SO good at that. I think I could spend weeks there, just relaxing and exploring (located in Languedoc-Roussillon: good wine country). The good news: their offered special is 75 euros/night. Even with the stinky exchange rate, that's about $100. Whoa, baby. Let's win the lottery and go! Check out this link, and drool away (careful; if you're daydreaming at work, there's music on the site):

Assume for a minute you're not worried about buying food or making mortgage payments or keeping your business going or restoring your portfolio: where would you travel to?