Thursday, November 19, 2009

Carmel By The Sea

My husband John, you know the one who likes to try on hats, had a two week training seminar in San Francisco, so for the weekend that he was out of town, I flew in to meet him and we drove up the coast to Carmel.  (The up side of a spouse that travels a lot... tons of miles with Northwest Airlines!)  I flew in Friday, and I mean all day Friday, and the next morning we were up and at 'em driving up the coast!
Like every tourist town, you can't just stay in a hotel for ONE night on a weekend, but I used my charms (begged) and we got a room at the Cypress.  This was the view out of our window, and yes that is the ocean through the trees.  We splurged and paid 250.00 for one night in a very small room with an even smaller bathroom.  The bathroom was so small and the toilet was so close to the sink that John and I figured out the perk being you could do several things at once.... rooms with larger bathrooms were 450.00 per night.  Losers....
My always informative girl Carol, mentioned that we should stop at Moss Landing on the way for fish and some quirky antiquing.  Quirky being the key word.
After some junking around (btw junk in CA. is $$$$$) we went into this "Antique" shop across the street.  There was the usual autographed movie posters and such, but I was glad we went because I've never seen a horse on a balcony.... didn't buy anything in Moss Landing but enjoyed the oddness all the less.
Ah, back to the hotel.  Did I mention that The Cypress is owned by Doris Day?  I have dogs... I love dogs... but do we need to vacation with other peoples dogs?  Hands down yes.  I have never seen so many well behaved fluffed up dogs in all my life.  It was a hoot.
This tea room made me feel at home as if it were Chelsea and the Blue Willow right next door.
                                                             another sigh..............
The difference between Door County and Carmel.... pools and fountains around the shops.
Back to the hotel....... we had cocktails with a couple of our new friends....
                                                                     City Hall
Loved this place!  This is the courtyard right next to a flower shop called "Twigery" (say that 10 times fast) and it was exquisite.  That brown pumpkin is real!  Inside the shop they had scattered straw, not hay in the corners and around the edges with all kinds of fall florals displayed around.

This dog was waiting for his owner to come out!  I'm telling you, that his owner came out with a huge basket of freshly made bread, whistled, and off they went to make a delivery!

Here are my tips if you are going to visit Carmel:
Make sure to go to Trouve  (  Tons of French imports, but on the casual side.  I had a delightful experience there.  After being there a few minutes, I realized that I had seen this shop featured in several national magazines.  I made eye contact with the owner expecting that she knew we couldn't afford anything and was  just hoping we'd move on, when out of my mouth came "this is the best shop I've seen today" (which was true).  She said something that made me realize retail is retail is retail.... "Oh thank you sooo much!  Could I pay you to march up and down the streets and make that announcement?".

Also visit Piccolo  Now the first time we went into this tiny shop, a couple decided that they were so proud of their German Shepherd that he should shop as well.  We could not even get to the gorgeous displays because of the size of this dog, well behaved as he was.  So we went back the next day.  It was after 10:00. The lights were all on, but the "closed" sign was still in place.  John suggested that I just try the door thinking that she had forgotten to flip the sign.  The door opened and I walked right into the owner who looked at me as if I were the last person she wanted to see.... after some fumbling she said I could come in.  You know why she wasn't ready?  She has a parakeet in a large square cage that is upholstered like a circus tent (with black and white silk fabric that pulls the flaps up) and was "readying" him for the day!!! (Maybe the German Shepherd had ruffled his feathers a bit too much).  This was the only place I bought anything.  Her one of a kind jewelry was to die for!!!!  I also got great display ideas from her.

If you are in Carmel, I would recommend staying at the Cypress (if your budget allows) as the staff was very down to earth and gracious.  The dogs are a delightful bonus (like children when you get to enjoy them knowing they are not going home with you).  Also, Justin the concierge....  Okay, how cute is this when you're in the elevator with Justin who is toting your heavy bags, he asks where you're from and after you tell him, he looks at you genuinely and says "are you guys still sad about Brett?  It must have really been just awful when he showed up a Viking".  He was adorable.  Not the snooty kind of concierge hiding behind a desk, but the kind that is all around the hotel and comes out of the kitchen and waves at you like old school pals.

My last tip is this.... if you are a decorator junkie and follow all the magazines, thinking you are up to date, you would want to visit Forget-Me-Nots.  There was just one fabulous thing after another, sparking your vintage imagination like crazy!  If you are looking for customer service or wanting to purchase something.... well you'd better be someone important... and I'll leave that at that!
So this is me at the end of a glorious day.  I'm not sure of the last time I had felt so relaxed and just happy to be out of town,  somewhere new and inspiring,  with my favorite guy in the whole world.  

It was a good thing I didn't know that at 6:10 the next morning I would board my flight, sit on the runway for two hours between two guys, one who was fresh as a daisy, winding up his weekend from his "Life Coach" seminar.......

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cabbage Roses

If you check out the blogs I follow, you will see Farm Chicks as one I love. Serena, one of the two Farm Chicks, posted this yesterday and I couldn't help but to share. You might not know this, but I am passionate about flowers. I worked in several flower shops in my younger years. After a time I realized that the hardest and busiest time in a flower shop was any given holiday and after becoming a Mother, realized that I needed to find something that was less stressful and easier on the precious family time we had.
I still can't get enough of them. Flower arranging was the first kind of design work I had ever done and looking back now, was an introduction to a creative side of me I didn't know I had.
That being said, the picture above is something I haven't seen before! So the great kale that you bought at the nursery in early fall that has become overgrown and spindly..... pull off enough of the bottom leaves until you reach the point where the smallest growth is left. There you have it, "Cabbage Roses" to make a lovely centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table!

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's all Bittersweet

Well, the season is over and after some reviewing and looking back, I can see the shifts and changes Door County has been experiencing over the past few years. It used to be that we could count on Memorial Day as a turning point for getting the season going and seeing it build up and go full throttle with October being the exclamation point, all of us business owners happy and content to see the winter coming as it gave us time to rejuvenate and plan for the next season.

Not so much anymore. October has seen a slow decline over the past few years (it's a fact no matter what someone else might put into print) and truly, I really miss the excitement October used to bring.

That being said, it make us really try to introduce new events and ideas. What this has meant for me is the coming together as a community of businesses and friends to try and put something fresh on the table. We are in the throws of some new ideas that we know you are going to love...... more to come about that.

I was thrilled with the turnout at the Vintage Market last July and know that next year will be even better. The Friends of Viva Trunk Show was an adventure in weather as well as friendship. Honestly, putting six competitive businesses all under one roof might not work considering egos and the fact that we are all trying to make a buck, but the reality was a dream with lots of laughing and plenty of love to go around. We all did well and thank you.

This year also brought more wildlife into the shop than usual creating a frenzy that after the fact is always laughable. The birds and chipmunks, the little snake who, God bless him, was covered in cobwebs (no comment), the hummingbird.... the part that is most laughable is that it was our lovely customers, family and neighbors that took care of the critters. Thankful. I am reminded of Carol planting a trail of cheese to get one chipmunk out and her seeing one come in the front door and she said to him "I dont think so" and he turned around and scurried out.

So the season is done and there is the usual sadness that goes along with it. Our regular customers have returned to their homes, we've lost some loved ones and wonder who we might not see next season. We worry about the inventory we have left as well as knowing that there are a handful of people who will return throughout the winter and will there be anything new for them to see. We go to markets trying to predict what will sell in six months.... we buy for Halloween and Christmas in January!

I can't tell you how many times someone asks me if I live here year round or what do I do all winter as if we live on the moon! You know, during the summer and early fall months, I almost feel as if this is not my home. I try so hard to balance work and play knowing that the summer is short lived. My thoughts are 90% about work. I watch summer whirling by.... we get the boat out, work in the yard, hit the great places to eat, get to the outdoor, have bonfires and share our county with a zillion other people.

Here is my reality: Last Friday I was closing the shop for the day. It was 5:15 and had been dark for 45 minutes. I had spent the day doing special little displays I had been wanting to do all summer. As I closed the door behind me, I was taken with the last of the sunset leaving a little purple on the horizon, with the stars beaming straight above. There is particular change in the cool air that feels clean and fresh. I get in my car, drive past the bakery with it's lights still on and I can see straight into the kitchen where I used to help Jean decorate cookies.... there they are. I drive a little further up the road and see familiar cars pulling into Theresa's yoga studio, knowing full well the restorative and luxurious work that goes on in there. As always, I stop by the Pig... only a handful of cars in the lot. I go in and chit chat with this person and that and yak it up with Dolly as she checks me out. I leave the parking lot, take a left down the hill noticing a small smattering of cars, take another left at the Bowl heading towards home.... it's this time of year when I say to myself, "It's good to be home".