Archive for August, 2010

Recently I accompanied some friends on their search for the perfect wine country wedding location. Since my friends now live on the east coast and I never pass up an oportunity to explore the Dundee hills, I played tour guide for the day and visited several wineries and bed & breakfasts with them. We saw many spectacular locations that day, but none compared to the Black Walnut Inn.

As we drove up the winding driveway, suddenly the trees opened up, the view unfolded before us, and an Italian style sprawling villa at the top of the hill appeared. Our jaws dropped, gasps sucked the air out of the car, and we stopped a moment to let the mirage sink in. It was as if we had just been transported to Europe! We parked our car and walked through the massive arched gate (so massive there are guest rooms built into it) and entered a cobblestone courtyard crowned with a bubbling fountain in the center. To our right, literally endless views of the Dundee countryside, valley below, and Cascade mountains in the distance. In front of us, the stuccoed main building topped with a tower and red tile roof.

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The interior of the inn was just as stunning yet comfortable and inviting. Traditional furnishings in the living room center around a roaring fire, framed by French doors looking out at the view. Each of the nine guest suites are well-appointed with luxurious linens, soaking tubs, and king or queen size beds, and most offer private patios or sitting areas.

The Black Walnut Inn’s central location is convenient to all that Oregon wine country has to offer. However, if you just want to relax on the property instead, the inn also has its own wine label to enjoy! For more information, visit their website at http://www.blackwalnut-inn.com/

P.S. In the end my friends went with a different venue for their wedding because their guest list was too large, but I’m hoping to stay at the inn during their wedding anyway 🙂


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Strawberry Freezer Jam

Summer is quickly coming to an end, but freezer jam is an easy and delicious way to enjoy the fruits of the season throughout the cooler months ahead. We made our usual weekend trek to the farmers market and picked up (too many) fresh local strawberries. Following the easy instructions from the fruit pectin box, we now have enough strawberry freezer jam to remind us of summer and perhaps also warm our spirits during the cold of winter. Here is the recipe below:

1. Wash and rinse glass or plastic containers

2. Crush clean, de-stemmed strawberries

3. Mix 2 cups crushed strawberries with 4 cups sugar

4. Stir 1 box Sure-Jell fruit pectin and 3/4 cup water in small saucepan over high heat. Boil for 1 min. stirring constantly

5. Remove pectin from heat and stir into fruit mixture. Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture becomes glossy

6. Pour mixture into prepared containers leaving 1/2 inch space at the top for expansion during freezing

7. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or store in freezer and enjoy!

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One of my favorite weekend activities are visiting our local farmers market. We are lucky here in Oregon to have thriving and vibrant farmers markets in nearly every neighborhood and town. The Portland Farmers Market organization alone has six markets across the city and there are several more (Irvington, St. Johns, Beaverton, Hillsdale, Hollywood, etc.) through separate organizations.

An essential for any regular to the farmers market is a good market basket or bag. While most use their cloth grocery store bags, sometimes there’s so much available produce that one or two isn’t enough! Something I am seeing more and more of at the markets we frequent are French style woven market baskets.

Not only are these baskets stylish, they’re also very practical and eco-friendly. Large enough for your market trips, these palm leaf woven baskets also double as a beach bag, picnic basket, or log carrier.

You can find these and other woven baskets online at Jeanne Beatrice. Visit one of the many Portland Farmers Markets or find a farmers market near you to support your local farmers and enjoy amazing seasonal produce, flowers, and hand-made goods.

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Moving to a new home always comes with its hurdles and transitions. Turning an empty space into a place that feels like your own takes a lot of thought, time, arranging, re-arranging, and many trial runs of paint colors that sometimes don’t work out. Once we settled into our current home in Portland we were lucky enough to have some great neighbors whom I think may become life-long friends. Portland, and Oregon in general, has a long history of settlers and adventurers. Lewis & Clark led the migration west for the Oregon Trail which later brought the gold rush and logging industry. Like those early settlers, today, Portland is still attracting transplants from all over the country with a pioneer spirit and appreciation for the outdoors. Our neighbors, who hail from Vermont, are no different.

As we’ve gotten to know each other and as I share with them my vision for the Dundee General Store, they helped me realize that my design aesthetic and appreciation for classic, long-lasting, high-quality products is very much like that of the North Eastern States. Whereas most of the West is rooted today in modern new-age design, the North East has a much older history of traditional architecture and way of living. Popularized by names like Martha Stewart & Ralph Lauren, the “modern-traditional” aesthetic is not as prevalent on the West Coast as it is in states like New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

With this “epiphany”, I’ve collected a few photos from New England Home Magazine that inspire me. It’s surprising that I now consider my design aesthetic to include words like traditional, country, and dare I say “Martha-esque.” My library of design books still contains relics of my more modern & minimal days, including titles about Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, mid-century modern, and loft living. Not that I don’t appreciate modern design anymore, but after spending the last 4 years with my partner Chris, we’ve blended our tastes together and made something much more interesting, eclectic, and beautiful.

Hope you enjoy the collection of photos I’ve pulled from New England Home Magazine. Visit their website for a full digital copy of the latest issue and subscription info.

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We’ve all heard that paint is the easiest way to update the look of your home. After paint, the next step in my book is lighting. Nothing sets the mood for a relaxing evening or dinner party with friends like elegant soft lighting. If not with a beautiful candelabra, the next best would be a pendant or chandelier suspended above your dinner conversation.

These reclaimed French Oak chandeliers are constructed using the staves (wood) and hoops (metal) of old wine barrels. The stunning design comes in six, eight, and twelve arm configurations as well as round globes.

Images courtesy of Bobo Intriguing Objects.

P.S. I forgot to mention that although Restoration Hardware carries the six and eight arm chandeliers, other styles from Bobo are only available to the trade or through other retail stores.

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We’re getting ready to make some of our first orders for the online store and need your opinion! See our poll below and vote for which style you’d like to see in the store.

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I’ve been following tweets from the New York International Gift Fair all weekend. Since I can’t be there in person this year, Twitter has been a great way to see what is featured at the show. One of the most beautiful products I’ve discovered via #NYIGF tweets are these candelabras making their debut at NYIGF by Dunes and Duchess. A perfect combination of old-world and modern, the turned wood candelabras are painted in high gloss black, white, or pale blue. Available in 4-arm and 2-arm variations as well as a new lamp version, I can’t wait to place my first order!

Photos courtesy of Dunes and Duchess

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