Friday, July 30, 2010

Lavender days

It was kind of a tough year for lavender around here. We've heard from more than a few customers about how some of their normally-hardy, older lavender plants just pooped out. Some of ours did, too (at home and at the shop). Robert spent some serious gardening time yanking out dead, gnarly lavender bushes. Something about the early cold snap, lack of moisture, extended winter (or just the natural life cycle)? Maybe one of you can shed some light on the situation. We're very careful about bringing in only the varieties that can take our Central Oregon conditions (nothing we've planted is too delicate).

But, the ones that made it through are just lovely right now, and probably ready for harvesting (although I can't stand to cut them down: just love looking at them and running my hands over their fragrant buds). We have just a few lavender plants left for sale at the shop: they're quite pretty and ready to plant up. And, we've got some great new lavender products available. Some of it was supposed to be here in time for our garden party last week... but arrived this week instead. Oh well.

With lavender on the brain, thought I'd share this wonderful post, in case you're feeling ambitious about cooking with culinary lavender. What a dreamy dessert bar. I'll have a wee taste of everything, please, starting with the Lillet!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Garden party (and sale) today at Pomegranate

If you're out wandering about today and want something fun to do, stop by Pomegranate and join us for our little party out in the garden. Robert will be grilling up some special provence-style kabobs, and serving lavender lemonade, prosecco (the two mixed, if you wish!), and pastis for you diehard francophiles. There's lovely shade, picnic blankets and tables to enjoy, and maybe best of all (since it's going to be a bit of a scorcher), you can stand under our McGyvered misting stations that send out a cool mist of water (not enough to mess up your sunglasses, but just right for a little cool down).

Antler Inn is joining us with a wonderful selection of plants and blooming lavender – if you've been on the hunt for lavender this year, you know it's been rather skimpy and hard to find. Apparently the growing season just wasn't as good as it has been. But never fear! We have it today: healthy, gorgeous specimens that are hardy to Central Oregon. [That part is key, by the way: don't get swayed by delicate versions that may grow well in the valley, but die a quick death here.]

We have all kinds of new products in the shop, plus lots on sale just for the day (including garden hats, trellises, and arbors!). Stock up on our wonderful French lavender heart soaps, all gift-wrapped and ready to go... normally $3.50, today they're $2 each.

A bientôt!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Your Guide to Hidden Good Finds in Bend

Whenever we visit a new town, we make it a point to search out the interesting, unusual and sometimes off-the-beaten-path spots, whether a shop or restaurant, museum or garden. I'm just not a big fan of the corporate chain, the bland conformity of the expected. Don't care how many deep-fried somethings or spongy bread substances you get for free. It's boring.

How do you find these hidden places? Only by asking, usually. Some of the smaller, locally-owned spots cannot afford to advertise in glossy tourist magazines or guides, so you have to search them out. Last time we were in Seattle, I insisted on visiting Watson Kennedy (one of my favorite shops). We figured they would know a good place for dinner that wasn't necessarily on the tourist route, and sure enough, the nice staffer there directed us to Matt's in the Market, a great place we never would have found on our own (it's right in the middle of Pike's Place Market, but cleverly hidden upstairs and down a hall).

Bend is full of hidden treasures when it comes to shops and eateries (including our own Pomegranate). So, in part because I love to play tour guide, I pulled a few friends and trusty reviewers together, and created a little directory to independent, locally-owned, interesting, charming, and off-the-beaten-path finds in Bend. Every business on it has a unique vision, a creative way of doing things, and although the setting they're in may be unusual and lovely, the locations themselves are geographically challenged.

It's been a great hit with visitors and locals alike. Just the other day, I had a couple come back to Pomegranate after having picked up a guide a few days earlier, and tell me that they visited every single business on the guide, and had so much fun doing it. Xoxo to you guys. Tip for locals: keep a copy in your guest room, and your visitors will be out adventuring for days.

You can pick up a copy of the guide at Pomegranate, the Visit Bend Welcome Center, or at any of the places listed. Or you can go to the website at for a complete listing, plus a section on places that are not quite as hidden, but still may not be on every tour guide's list. It's a work in progress, so we may not have covered every single spot yet – there's an email link on the website if we've overlooked a worthy (and hidden) place. And, disclaimer, we've not included any of our great places downtown, in malls, or on major thoroughfares because you're going to find all those on your own, easily, just by walking or driving around.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ding dong drivers: to be thankful for horns that honk and brakes that work

Two fun incidents on the way to work this morning: 1) A car coming the wrong way on a one-way street, the driver chatting merrily away on her cellphone. Right in front of the courthouse! Brilliant! The guy in front of me waved wildly at her; I honked and yelled (as if someone was listening?). She finally figured it out, I think, about half a block later, when she yanked the car around crosswise into a parking spot and started to back out crazily.

2) Few blocks later, I'm coming along in the right turn lane, when a stopped car in the left turn lane decides to turn right, without looking, without turn signals, directly in front of me. Just whips his little car across the lane, right into position for a good t-bone style crash. Fortunately, I was already on high alert and slammed my brakes so hard all the contents of the back seat (not the dog, fortunately, as I had left her at home) came flying forward. Honked the horn, hard, and got a meek little wave from the passenger.

Has the heat melted our brains already?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Add these to your weekend list of fun stuff to do!

Whooeee. It's gonna be a busy weekend around Central Oregon. There's the Sister's Quilt Show (hint: everybody says to get there first thing in the morning, so that's when everybody goes – in order to not get crushed, go a bit later in the day).

There's Summer Fest downtown (art, music, food) that goes on into the evening (another hint: stroll into some of the shops downtown, too, and buy a little something if it hits your fancy -- I know it sounds crazy with the amount of traffic there, but some of the businesses really suffer when the streets are closed and everybody is just into milling around with their cotton candy).

And, drum roll, please: ze French Flea Market in the gardens at Pomegranate is in full swing tomorrow, Saturday, July 10 from 10-4 (shop open until 5:30). We have so many good vendors coming in for this one (as always!). There's Michelle with all her wonderful vintage and repurposed Parisian-style goodies (from vintage fashion to silver to découpaged boxes, magnet boards...). The two fun sisters from Eugene are coming with their French flea market finds and fabulous, artistic jewelry made out of antique mahjong pieces and old beads and found objects. Tess will be here with her beach house fine and funky upcycled furnishings; Matina and her Fabulous Finds is showing her unique fashions and vintage treats; Antler Inn is bringing loads of plants; Amy and pals from Sublime Accents will have more of her adorable, hand-crafted cupcakes, wallets and tags. And we have some new vendors with great antiques and artists with hip hand-crafted jewelry. See my last post for pictures from June's french flea market, just to get a little taste of what's to come. Oh, our pals from A Crêpe Affair will be here too, serving up fabulous, fresh gourmet crêpes. Come hungry; you may want several. Mmmm, can taste them now.

Come early in the day or late – it doesn't matter, because there will be so many wonderful finds for you (another hint: lots of vendors bring more than they can fit in at one time, so they keep putting things out throughout the day). Whether you're an addicted bargain hunter, dealer, or collector of fun things, prepared to be very happy! We have lots of new arrivals in the shop, too, from hats to totes to incredible antique pieces!

And for some more fun (still with me? can you stand any more? sure!), check out this neat Open Studio event in Boonesborough. It's called Three Artists' Studios on Boonesborough Drive. Saturday, July 10 from 11-4 and Sunday from 11-3.

There's almost nothing I love more than an open studio tour! You get to meet the artists in their working studios and see what inspires them and how they work. That part is always fascinating. And you can buy their art directly from them, which makes it so meaningful and special. You don't want to miss this one. I'm going to jump over there on Sunday, for sure. The three artists are Eleanor Murphey, master potter (you've seen her wonderful work around town at some of the First Friday events, including several at our former Pomegranate Downtown location) at 64660 Boonesborough Dr., accomplished sculptor Dan Rider (21883 BB Dr.), and innovative glass artist Kate MacLeod (21865 BB Dr.). Three wonderful, expressive artists in three very different media. They all happen to live on the same street, and didn't know each other before locating to Boones Borough (not sure if that's two words or not): all of them are inspired by the beautiful, open terrain of the neighborhood, and the peace and solitude in which to create their art. All three are independent, working professional artists, so you'll really get some insight into their lives and inspirations.

Oh boy. This weekend is gonna be good. Pace yourself a little bit, and you can hop around from one event to the other. Good news is, Bob the weather guy says it will be very pleasant this weekend, a little cooler than today. Yummy!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

French Flea Market at Pomegranate coming up this Saturday

Pomegranate is THE place to be this Saturday, if you're a seriously fun shopper, bargain-addict, collector, dealer... or just simply looking for a few good pieces. Our juried French Flea Markets have grown over the years to become what I think is the best, most interesting collection of vendors in the area. It's a nice combination of antiques, vintage, local Etsy artisans, plants... and new this year – so you don't starve while you're shopping – fresh gourmet crêpes from A Crêpe Affair (simply delicious – we just about tried one of everything, and they were so good).

Here are a bunch of photos from our last market in June. There were so many cute things I couldn't stop snapping pictures, so there are a lot of them. Not sure how to put this in an album – any suggestions?

p.s. I love the first picture: thank you, Cathy, for your always wonderful, sweet smile!! Good job snagging that amazing bird cage!

The wildlife menagerie at Pomegranate... and some shots I like

It's been a miniature High Desert Museum wildlife scene (minus the otters) at Pomegranate recently. We always have lots of critters everywhere (including our dog Mollie), but the visitor activity seems to have ramped up lately. They must be all talking to each other about the high quality food we serve.

The popular neighborhood café is our bird feeder between the main house and the ice house: we keep it fully stocked with a mix from Round Butte Seed (1/2 and 1/2 Wild Bird and Wild Bird Premium). So we have a zillion little birdies, quail, squirrels, chipmunks, #^!*rock chucks, deer, geese, ducks... and sometimes, the hawks. The squirrels entertain us all day with their antics, hanging upside down and straddling the tree and feeder to get right into the goods. The chipmunks chase each other at warp speed, all the birds come out in force in early evening... and everybody seems to get along. A few weeks ago a couple of quail came bobbing along, followed by about 40 little itty bitty teenie weenie babies, each about the size of a small walnut. I grabbed my camera and tiptoed out there, but they had already scattered under the bushes. Sat on our bench for a long while, the camera focused and resting on my knee, in case they decided to trot back out.

And then I remembered that I was at the shop, and there might be confused customers wandering about inside {have you ever walked into a shop and said "hello! hello? heLLOO?" wondering if the shop owner was lying on the floor in the backroom or something? But I digress.} I've been on high alert for baby quail appearances since then, but they're in hiding (for good reason, it turns out).

Then last week (the week before? who knows?) we were working away, getting ready for our shop's 12th anniversary celebration, and we heard that unmistakable "scree screeee" sound the hawks make. Robert ran outside and sure enough, a hawk was just scooping up – in full flight and with hardly a dip in power – a little bird off the ground. The hawk-mate was sitting at the very tip of a pine tree in our garden making a lot of noise. Maybe 40 feet up? 50?

I got a shot of it I really love. I wish the bird itself was more in focus, but you can see how sharp the tree is: the bird at that second was cawing at me and just raising its wings to fly off. It was just one of those accidental moments that worked (and it was pretty darn far away, so not bad, little Nikon P-90!). Had I thought to set a faster shutter speed, I might have captured it perfectly. Still, I'm the one who usually presses the shutter just as the dog turns her butt to me, so I'm happy with this.

What kind of wildlife shots have you been capturing (NY city street scenes not necessarily included)?