Thursday, December 31, 2009

A sobering thought... and Happy New Year!

A Bend bender: I'm so riled up over the story about the Bend woman who led police around on a drunken driving escapade on Christmas day, then did it again a few days later. It's not the first time. Although the linked article below doesn't specify this next fact, it was reported on the local news last night that she has already racked up 62 DUIs this year. Say WHAaat? If that's true -- even if the number is a lot less -- would someone please put this witch in jail and throw away the key? BEFORE she kills someone? If she's averaging 5.16 DUIs per month, when does she ever have the time to work and earn $10,000 for bail (each time?). Probably someone else caves in each time and writes the check. A lot of money gone to waste. Not to mention taxpayer dollars for police services, judges, jail, and everything else.

Ugh. Shake it off. Shake it off. 2009 can just go away, please.

Please be happy -- and careful -- tonight. Bend has good cab service. All it takes is a phone call.

Happy New Year, everybody!

[later: I realized this all sounded a little too righteous, especially considering we're a store that happily passes out our own delicious Pometini (etc.) recipes -- serves 'em, too, sometimes. Big distinction between enjoying and overdoing... now I'll get off my soapbox.]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Things you need to say Poof to 2009.

Champagne? Check. Good friends? Check. Delicious little small bites? Check. What else do you need for a fun New Year's eve? We love these accoutrements from Tops Malibu, over in Eugene. First of all, these are GOOD products, not cheapo China swizzle sticks. The sparklers, for instance, burn really clean and long and bright. You can wave them around (inside or outside) and not worry about burning anything (your fingers or the house). Secondly, they are all made by hand: the owner/designer provides Oregon jobs to the developmentally disabled to make these wonderful goodies.

Aside from sparklers, we have Wish Papers (roll it into a tube on a plate, light it, make a wish, and it gently floats upwards while granting your wish {?}), little bubbles in a wee champagne bottle, and our absolute favorite, favorite party toy: the Poof Balls. The Poofs are little paper balls (dog/kid safe) that you shoot out of a Poof shooter. Sort of like spitwads, but without the yuck factor. The kids will get it right away; the fun is to give them to adults and watch them turn into goofballs. Even the most straight-laced person in the room will fall apart and have fun. Each pack has six Poof shooters and about 100 Poofs, which you can gather up and reuse. I can tell you, it's very satisfying to be able to blow one of these little balls across the room and whack your best friend in the back of the head with it. The only bad thing: you'll be discovering little paper poofs under your sofa for months. Oh well.

Also pictured, hard to see: a pair of authentic, never-been-worn spats (in original box), circa 1920s. You might not have the gumption to actually wear them, but they sure would look neat set up on your bar!

Last but not least, what girl doesn't want a lovely pair of sparkly earrings to set off her outfit on New Year's eve? Whether dressing up or putting on your most comfy jeans and fleece top (that would be me), you can turn it up a notch with these Swarovski crystal earrings... made in Paris ... very reasonably priced. Yeah, let's get rid of 2009 in style. Cheers to you!

p.s. we're open today 10:30-5:30 and tomorrow 10:30 to 4.

Champagne flutes

Our favorite champers flutes are featured in today's Real Simple "Daily Finds." We have a couple of sets in stock (including another series that has a delicate, ferny green botanical). Don't buy them online, okay? Because: A) there's no time to get them, B) ours are priced at almost 10% less than online (and no shipping!!), and C) buying them at Pomegranate supports one of your local shops, and keeps a teeny tiny bit of the local economy humming here in Bend. Call us if you want to reserve, or make sure we still have them: 541-383-3713.

Here they are:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best Christmas! Recap.

For retailers, Christmas is fun, exhilarating, high pressure, non-stop, wild and wonderful. Also a bit weird. I say that with a happy heart. It's only weird because we wind it up and up for the season at the shop (and it truly is joyful and lots of fun), but we ignore ourselves until the very last minute. We don't even know what day it is, most of the time. Way back when I was in the corporate world, the holiday season started at thanksgiving and slagged until the new year. It's not that we knocked off work or goofed around. Heck no! But client projects were fewer and work on the table was generally less. It meant the occasional, guilt-free two-hour lunch with girlfriends, or a little time out for shopping. A long weekend. Peace. Rolling down softly to land with a thump at the end of the year.

It's the exact opposite if you own a store. Holiday time is our make-it or break-it time. Black Friday and all that. You work seven days a week without even knowing it; you dream and think of nothing but your little business; you walk into another store and strange as it seems, you just start to realize it really is Christmas time. You shovel down a couple of bites of cottage cheese or yogurt at 3:45 and call it lunch. You finally get your own tree two days before Christmas [at 8pm when the guy is about to close down the lot], and quick, slap some stuff on it. [Okay, we did far better than that: I have to say our little tree is gorgeous]. I'm not complaining: just 'splainin', Lucy.

But, we got to reconnect with customers, meet some new ones, and have a grand old time. Everyone was in a good mood: I have to say, our customers are so dear, and they really came out in droves. If some had ratcheted down their spending, it didn't matter. Still fun to have someone ooh and ahh over a $12 item. If it made them happy to have something unusual they could afford, it made me happy. And there were those who just bought what they fell in love with. Add to that a few unexpected phone call purchases from Vermont and Michigan and I don't know where else; people who had found my little blog or our website. We had a wonderful open house day early in December – equal to several years ago – and gave 10% of our gross revenues to Saving Grace (a check for $460; the math is easy).

This year, we just wanted to know if we'd still be in business next year. Did we pull it out of the hat? Yes! As I said, this season was just perfect, all things considered. It's nothing like it was in 2006. Maybe it never will be again. And that's just fine. Having just one store now is bliss (for the last six years or so, we've had two stores to deal with). Financially, breaking even or even being a bit up from last year is a miracle – that part is a good omen and we're fine with that. But the stress level has dropped by about 90%. Maybe more, and that is worth gold. Everybody asks us if we miss our downtown store, and we do, but with all the demands and high rent downtown, we were literally on the edge of bankrupcty. And I was on the edge of falling apart. I can say that now, with a little distance between Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (2008) and regrouping (2009). Take some of the drama out of it (I wasn't exactly falling apart, just a temporary departure from my usual even-keeled self) and you have the retailers' reality. Think about it if you have any wild thoughts of opening a store right now. Or come talk to us.

We got our little baby through this very uncertain time. Although it can always be better, I'm happy with our merchandise decisions and our sell-through. As we did last year, we ordered the just-right amounts so that we're not left with a lot of unsold seasonal merchandise. What we do have in ornaments and holiday décor is all half off right now, but there's not a lot. The store is a bit stripped down, as you would imagine, but we have more coming all the time. It's all good.

But forget all of that! When we did finally get our moments of peace, it was more beautiful and focused than if we had had days to enjoy it all. Most of all, our little family was all there (some just by phone). My mom visited (it's a six-hour + drive, and has been a long time since she could drive up, or we drive down), and we had such a good time. I'll remember us standing in the kitchen, cooking two soups together. Mostly, she did it. A most outstanding squash and pear creamy soup with layers of delicate flavor (yep, I could just stand over that pot and eat the whole thing) and a split pea soup from my childhood. It doesn't get better than that! Our two sweet old dogs and their feeble, half-deaf antics were funnier and more precious than ever. Friends and family came over; we had a wonderful Christmas dinner and the gifts were perfect, even if we just did low-key, practical things this year.

And a dear friend who was desperately ill from the swine flu (I hate those swines!) pulled through and is slowly recovering. Recovering. That's a happy word. We got to talk to him on Christmas day, and that was the best gift of all. Boy, that kind of thing sure slaps you out of your self-inflicted trials and tribulations in a second. We're thinking about you every day, Mike.

Hmmm, now I need a tiny bowl of that precious soup.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last minute goodies? Open today, with bells on...

Well, we won't exactly have bells on, but Robert has on his favorite Dalmation-spotted santa hat. It's really goofy, but I've got to give the guy kudos for wearing it. Cute. Anyway, we're open (till 5, or later, if need be) and bustling, fully stocked with great last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers. And we're serving champagne, hot spiced cider, cookies, and egg nog (your choice, spiked or not). Come by and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ode to a tea towel

We love tea towels at Pomegranate. They always make a great hostess/couples gift, especially when you pair one with some of our gourmet savory jams or fabulous French salts. That's the kind of gift everyone loves: something you can use and savor.

A little background: tea towels are essentially dish towels. They got their name from the English tradition of serving tea (and accoutrements) on a nice tray, lined with a tea towel to keep spills from hurting the tray. And it looks nicer. These days, you can do so much with them. Some ideas:

• Use as a nice guest towel in the bathroom. Layer over a terry hand towel, or just use it by itself. They just get nicer after washing (some might need a little ironing).

• Lay one out on your buffet, table, or counter/bar area, and use it to define a serving area. You could line up all your glassware, or plates and flatware, or set up appetizers atop.

• Use as an oversized napkin for those special BBQ dinners. I have to use one as a bib, usually.

• Group them for an informal café curtain. Run a rod through the tops for an instant window covering or shelving curtain (like inside the knee space of a little vanity, or in front of your handbag collection to keep the dust off).

• Dish towel. Just hang it, use it, appreciate it. They add color and texture to your kitchen. By the way, the French have specific uses for each kind of towel, and a traditional household would have a three-hook rack for their towels, with a hook for cotton (for dishes), linen (glassware), and terry or waffle (hands). Don't mix 'em up chez grandmère!

Some ideas for wrapping:

• Fold and lay one across a gift basket and pile up the rest of your goodies on top. Just wrap ribbon over it all and leave it natural.

• Use it as wrapping itself: just center your other gifts inside and gather it up. Wrap a beautiful wide ribbon around it all, or do as one of our customers did the other day: slip a napkin ring down to the neck and let the top edges flop over (very clever). A nice green way to wrap.

• If you're adding some nice serving spoons, tongs, etc., lay those down the middle lengthwise, and wrap the tea towel around them like a Tootsie Roll. Just roll up, and tie nice ribbon at each end. It's very festive and cute.

We sold out so quickly on some of our newest tea towels; reorders just arrived. "Keep Calm" and the bee are white cotton with black embroidery (very inexpensive!), and our jacquard Twiggy Bird in gray is made in Belgium of a nice, substantial cotton. Bad photo, but the gray background goes so nicely with granite and slate. Plenty in stock now; come see us, or give us a jingle at 541.383.3713.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Think vintage for Christmas

While we're well-stocked with wonderful gifts for everybody (women, men, children, hostesses and hosts), we're really known for our revolving collection of great vintage items. Come see us at Pomegranate for something really unique. Such as this wowie set of eight vintage French hand-painted apothecary jars [just four shown]. Oh my.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Votivo: back in stock, going fast

Your favorite, our favorite. Votivo candles just arrived at Pomegranate and they're flying out the door. Red Currant in stock in the original collection, plus a gorgeous new holiday version in a lovely gift box. Lots of other candles, too, ready for gifting or lighting.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some favorite objets de bébé (& kids)

Just got a new shipment in yesterday from one of our favorite vendors for kids. Sturdy flash cards, party games, stacking lightweight block towers, and wall art that goes beyond baby [see counting birds cards on left, which we mostly sell as home décor, because they're so stinkin' cute]. The wonderful graphics on these are what does it for me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More retailers' anxiety dreams

Yesterday at Pomegranate was really busy [we live for days like that!]. On top of lots of customers, we had more merchandise arrive (tripping over boxes), and we were trying to finish and pack up some stuff for our own families. There was a bit of chaos, but I have to say, every single customer was so dear and patient while we wrapped up a storm and helped them with their purchases. So I have nothing to be anxious about, right?

Yet I spent the night tossing and turning, dreaming about wrapping gifts. Duh. The bad thing was, each customer wanted me to design a special card or tag for their packages. One guy wanted a kind of Asian fish collage stamp design on watermarked paper, and I actually stood there and did it for him while other customers waited. Insane! Only in my dreams. Another fellow I don't know (but who visits my dreams regularly) always falls down in the store (in the dream, thankfully), and it's always up to me to help him up. He's twice my size and I've devised ways to brace his foot and yank him up with both hands. Dude: please stop visiting my 3am dreams!

Finally, finally, I had to think about going to a happy place in my mind. Sea Ranch, Calif. Will talk about that one of these days. Thinking about it did make the stupid dreams go away, and now I'm refreshed and ready (huh?) for another day.

But don't worry – I LOVE to wrap gifts, and will do it for you happily at the store. Robert likes it too – he's well-versed in the art of the package. Just don't ask me to design an exclusive art tag for you... with five people standing in line behind you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Earth & Vine = divine

Here's a holiday gift with which you can't go wrong: a little selection of Earth & Vine all natural savory jams and marinades. A) they are delicious, B) versatile (use as a glaze or marinade, or atop cheese), and C) all natural and very clean (no junk, no corn syrup). My favorite appetizer is a cracker with a little whipped cream cheese and dollop of one of these savory jams. Apricot Chili Pepper Jam is the newest addition, and it's wonderful.

As always, we'll wrap up whatever combination you want and make it look great (do it in a gift basket with our gold paisley cello wrap). Stop by Pomegranate on your way to the party and be a hero. Or stop by for a taste. Yum.

Funny spellings on Craigslist

There's probably a whole website already dedicated to this, but the odd spellings you find on Craigslist are just too funny to let go. I usually only look at the "business" and "garage sale" sections, so there's likely another whole world I don't even know about. Here are just a few good ones:

naughty pine cabinet [you know you're saucy!]
rot iron bench [looks good; just don't sit on it]
entirpurnur [just extrapolate from the first and last letters]
easy paking [if you're parking at Harvard Yard]

What are your favorites?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A first for us

If you've been to Pomegranate, you know our little homestead is charming and old, and a bit rough and tumble around the edges. It's still in great shape for being over 100 years old, and one of Bend's original working homestead ranches. It's across from the north end of Macy's... but it ain't Manhattan.

So I was surprised the other day to see a stretch limo pulled up alongside our humble little abode. Oh, hmm, must be lost, or taking a break, I thought. But no -- it was there for a group of delightful women who had won a raffle for a day's outing with it and were having a wonderful girls' day out shopping and dining. We were so pleased that they had chosen Pomegranate as one of their stops. Really fun.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

And how cute are these?

Why use a boring brown clipboard when you can have one of these? Now at Pomegranate.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How cute are these?

We've been getting in so many new orders lately at Pomegranate. Every time I open a box, I'm like a kid at Christmas (even though I ordered it, and I know what's in the box -- it's still a happy surprise). My phrase du jour is: How cute are these? I'm probably driving Robert crazy with the repetition, so decided to just mutter "h-cat!" every time I pull something out. Going to try and post some pictures of the new goodies... every one of them great gift ideas, and all of it is really reasonably priced. Shown: little vintage style cardboard house ornaments are great on a tree, but so cute on packages or next to place settings at your holiday dinners. H-cat!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Favorite things {a few}

So much new merchandise rolled into Pomegranate last week (this week, too). Thought I'd try to keep up with it by posting pictures of some tempting gift ideas (one for you, one for me...). Remember, we offer free gift packaging (we have a cardinal theme going this year, very sweet), hot spiced cider and cookies to keep you warm while you shop. What fun!

On the left: gorgeous tray by Fringe Studios. Same collection: candles, little trays, vases with deer and amaryllis. The little square ones are a perfect hostess gift, good for holding candles, jewelry, soaps, chocolate truffles. On the right, a gorgeous big candle for your coffee table, mantel, kitchen island. It's called Winter Birch; all hand-poured with a landscape of twigs, leaves, bark and berries. The scent just sends me into orbit (maybe it reminds me of something from my childhood). I'm not at all fond of some of those super-scented winter candles: they should be delicious, but not cloying. If there's too much faux cinnamon, gingerbread or pumpkin scent, I run the other way. But this one I love, love, love. And it's so beautiful. Wait 'till I post a shot of its cousin, the Sweet Bay Bird candle. Mmm.

Wreath tricks

For some strange reason, I'm not a big fan of wreaths. I know. Bah humbug, and all that. They just hardly ever do it for me, unless they're those big grand numbers with tangerines wired in, etc. And then you have to have a big, grand front door to put it on. But I do like wreaths used flat, as shown above. Trader Joe's has these very simple ones that you can embellish yourself (if you wish to embellish at all). I did this little arrangement in about 3 seconds out in our [frozen!] barn at Pomegranate. Flat wreath, popped in a potted plant (wouldn't an orchid be lovely?) and threw some dried pomegranates around the base of the plant. You could do the same with apples or pears or chestnuts, walnuts, pinecones, or christmas balls. I could have done a little better here by wrapping the plastic pot in some nice paper, or building up the base a bit more, but as usual, I was running around like a speed monkey trying to get our open house ready. Oh, and it was something like 0 degrees. A friend does this same thing, but uses a small garden statue in the middle of the wreath (could be St. Francis, a frog, a bird... maybe with a necklace of cranberries to add a pop of color). Or, you could just pile a bunch of those tangerines in the middle, and let people take one to go after your party. The best dessert of all.

What's your favorite wreath trick?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday soirée and day of giving back

Today/tonight is our annual Open House and Soirée at Pomegranate. Our little homestead is all dressed up for the holidays, we have tons of new merchandise in (we unpacked about 45 boxes just yesterday), and we have lots of treats and goodies for you, all day long and into the evening (until about 7:30). Best of all, 10% of all proceeds today go to charity: our recipient this year is Saving Grace. Stop by, eat, drink and be merry. And shop for a cause.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Audrey styles

Every kid has her movie idol, and mine was Audrey Hepburn. Ohhh, how I wanted to be like her. At age 9, behind the glasses and the goofy haircuts my mother gave me (sorry mom, but I know you haven't figured out that world wide web thingie yet), I thought I saw a glimmer of an emerging Audrey. Yep. Didn't happen. Yes, she was beautiful and elegant and graceful (and grew old that way, too, dang her!) but more than that -- unless she had some dark secrets behind the mask -- she had a generosity of spirit and energy and dedication to good works that you don't often see.

Here's a great post about Audrey from another blog that I love: Paris Breakfasts

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuscan style Christmas lighting

The dear hubs always sets up my favorite lighting at Christmas, although calling it "tuscan style" might be stretching it a bit. If you've traveled in Europe at all, you know how dramatic and truly enchanting all the uplighting is at night. Every important building and ruin, it seems, is bathed in warm light in the evening. It's indescribably beautiful.

We've adapted the look for Bend for the season, and place uplights under a few of the large pine trees on our property. I honestly enjoy this more than the miles of lights wrapped around every house. Robert gets the outdoor ground lights at Home Despot (they're staked and ready to go). He uses outdoor spotlights (not floods) in each one, and recommends two or three per tree, close to the trunk, shining straight up inside the tree. He puts them on timers (you don't want to forget and have an all-night light show), and it's absolutely lovely. Not too bright or obnoxious (because we all love to look at the night sky), but a subtle way to decorate your landscape for the evening. So far beyond the blinking Santas.