Lake Oswego’s Own ‘La Provence’!

There are so many reasons to choose to live in Lake Oswego, not the least of which is the quality of amenities offered here in this little hamlet outside of Portland, Oregon.  A small-ish community can often lack the cultural and foodie resources found in a larger city, but here in Lake Oswego, we got lucky.  Lake Oswego has the Lake Theater & Cafe for movies & live music events, as well as the Lake Oswego Center for the Arts which is a 2-stage venue for plays & musicals. Right across the street from that is George Rogers Park which hosts various festivals and concerts all summer long, along with Foothills Park, Westlake Park, Movie Nights and Farmers Markets in Millennium Park Plaza… on & on. Then there are the myriad restaurants & shops found off of State Street as well as Boones Ferry Road (kind of the two “main drags” of Lake Oswego). Lake Oswego does not want for places to obtain delicious food & wine, fancy or practical clothing, gifts…well, you get the idea. There are abundant resources in Lake Oswego for a cozy bedroom community.

Diane and I have put a spotlight on a businesses here & there through the years, and there are so many, but today I just wanted to say a few words about La Provence, restaurant & bakery. I remember discovering it when I first moved to Lake Oswego around 1999, and I came to make it a staple for family dinners and client lunches. Its also the place I go for a special treat for my French husband who is also a chef and rather particular in his taste for treats!  Alain Machtelinckx, Didier Blanc Gonet, and Pascal Tisseur opened it in 1996 a few blocks away from its current location at 16350 Boones Ferry Road when they could not find the  kind of authentic, rustic artisan bread they grew up on, and decided to do something about it. They are dedicated to the food they serve and the ambience they provide. They really try to instill a real old-world feeling into La Provence by doing things themselves… including making the tables and draperies in-house! From macarons to fine cuisine, everything is a reflection of their initial desire to bring the food they so loved in France to Oregon.  Nowadays they have 8 restaurants around the Portland area, but Lake Oswego will always be “home”.   As I mentioned, La Provence moved to a newer and larger restaurant space in Lake Oswego a few years back that is a recommended destination for anyone who loves good food and pleasant environs.

When you have the chance you ought to stop in for a pastry, lunch or dinner!  Lake Oswego is so lucky to have this gem. Here is a link to their main website where you can click on Lake Oswego or explore the other locations:  La Provence

As well as a link to their Lake Oswego location’s menu: La Provence Menu

Bon Apetit!

This Week in Lake Oswego ~ Dec 10-15

The Holiday Spirit has infused Lake Oswego, the lights & the community tree are all up, and celebratory, musical, educational and all kinds of activities are ongoing as they are every week.

Here are my picks for things happening this week!

Mon, Dec 10 2018– 3:00-3:30PM –  Music for Babies ~ -Every Monday this program welcomes you to learn about music, singing and how babies learn and are affected by it. Learn about musical development in the very young. ~ Lake Oswego Public Library –  Info:  CLICK HERE

Tue, Dec 11, 2018 –  7:00-8:30PM – The Craft of Photography Part 2 (with Thor Spyros) ~ Long-time Lake Oswego resident and former Rolling Stone photographer (among many other national publications) presents this free program on the art & craft of photography. ~ Lake Oswego Public Library  Info:  CLICK HERE  

Wed, Dec 12, 2018 – 1:00-2:00PM – Three Pound Note ~ Ex Pats from the UK, Andrea Wild and Hugo Glanville, bring traditional music from Wales, Cornwall & England and…stories! ~ Lake Oswego Public Library –Info:  CLICK HERE     

Thu, Dec 13, 2018 2:30-3:30PM – Kids Make Things! ~ This drop-in program on the lower level is for ages K-5 and fosters creativity in kids every 2nd Thursday! ~  Lake Oswego Public Library:  CLICK HERE

Fri, Dec 14, 2018 Toy Drive Drop-Off Deadline ~Drop off your unwrapped gifts at the Fire Department or Lake Oswego Public Library Info: CLICK HERE

Sat, Dec 15, 2018 – 2:00 – 4:00PM ~ Holiday Concert – Mistletoe & Starlight! ~ Tony Starlight brings back timeless holiday traditions and songs with a comedic twist!  Lake Oswego High School Auditorium Info: CLICK HERE

Sat, Dec 15, 2018 – 6:00 PM ~ Christmas Ships Parade! ~ Gather at Foothills Park, 199 Foothills Rd, to watch the Christmas Ships in all their bright finery! 60 boats are expected to make their way to Lake Oswego. Info: CLICK HERE


Fun with Fido

Hazelia Field’s “shy” dog park
The livability of a community has so much to do with what is available to use and to enjoy. It’s a big part of the reason that I personally moved to Lake Oswego and why I continue to enjoy living here. This is important to me for my own enjoyment and also for the enjoyment of those I love, including my pets.

I think it’s rather impressive that a town the size of LO, not a very big town with just shy of 39,000 people, has 4 dog parks. All 4 of them have off leash areas.

A well-earned drink
Pilkington Park (19043 Pilkington Rd) and McNary Park (47 Becket) both have big grassy areas that allow dogs to enjoy off-leash play. These parks are not fenced in. They are open from March 15-September 15 each year.

Hazalia Field (17800 Stafford Rd) is the most impressive of the off-leash dog parks. It has two separate fenced in areas, one for normal dogs and one for shy or timid dogs. Seriously, do you know of any other town that has an off-leash dog park for shy dogs? The fenced in areas are impressive with double-gated entries to allow you to enter the park with your dog leashed and then take the leash off before you open the second gate to let them charge out to play. This park is open all year round.

Well-designed entry
The newest dog park, and what prompted me to want to write this post, just opened about a mile from my house in West Waluga Park (15775 Waluga Dr). Like the park at Hazalia Field it has a big fenced in area with a double-gated entrance. This park is open March 15-September 15.

A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog. With this beautiful spring weather get out there and let Fido loose. He needs a good romp just like the rest of us.

Rivergrove Gratitude

Heritage Park
Technically, this post is not about Lake Oswego. It’s about Rivergrove. Rivergrove is at the Southern edge of Lake Oswego, along the Tualatin River. It has it’s own incorporated government with a mayor and a city council. It is a very small area with a population of just 486 people. The mailing addresses for the homes in Rivergrove are Lake Oswego addresses and the children in Rivergrove attend Lake Oswego schools. So while it may not be Lake Oswego, it is pretty darn close.

There is a wonderful park in Rivergrove called Heritage Park, and in this park is something very special, a tree of gratitude. A small black box is next to the tree with weather-proof tags and sharpie pens for writing what you are thankful for onto the tag. Then you simply hang the tag onto the tree. I just love it!

The Gratitude Tree
Gratitude is known to be a factor in living a happy life. We all have much to be grateful for, even when times are difficult. I think the gratitude tree is wonderful. I hope you will take the time to exercise some gratitude today. You may even find your way to the gratitude tree!

Tips For a Great Lunch Spot

Years ago Lake Oswego had very few good restaurants. Getting a bite to eat at lunch tended to mean driving into Portland. Not so today. Today Lake Oswego has many great places to grab lunch. I thought today I’d share a few that I particularly like.

Pho’ LaVang is hands down my favorite place to get pho’, and this includes better than the many restaurants that make pho’ in Portland. I first visited Pho’ LaVang when it was a tiny little restaurant in a strip mall on Pilkington Road. It was mostly take out with only a very small table for 2-3 people. The man who owned it was chatty and friendly and wonderful. He introduced me to Vietnamese cuisine and I have loved it ever since. The popularity of the food quickly allowed the restaurant to out grow its cubby-hole location until it expanded to it’s current home at 16120 Lower Boones Ferry Rd, right in the heart of Lake Grove. They serve salad rolls, stir fry dishes, salt and pepper squid, kungpao, and more. My favorite is is the vegetable pho’. The broth is slow cooked, deep and rich, with plenty of fresh vegetables and tofu.

Curry in a Hurry is on the other end of town in the Palisades Shopping Center (1235 McVey Ave). This Thai restaurant has a comfy neighborhood atmosphere that is inviting and relaxing. Pad Thai, spicy noodles, all manner of curry dishes, fried rice, yakisoba, all of the classic Thai dishes that I love. The prices are amazing. I had lunch a week or so ago for $7.50 and it included a cup of coconut milk and vegetable soup.

Pine Shed Ribs is located in the same strip mall where Pho’ LaVang got its start: 17730 Pilkington Rd. Specializing in Santa Maria Tri-tip, this classic pit barbecue is a well honed machine of deliciousness. I’m not a big meat eater, but I do love good barbecue. Along with tri-tip and ribs you’ll find chicken and sausage. They serve great sides to compliment the great meats: everything from pinquito beans to mac n cheese and corn bread. Yum!

This is just three of many options. Our little town has done a great job of fostering some wonderful restaurants. I highly recommend that you come on down and give them a try.

Total Solar Eclipse

Some of you are reading this blog from right here in Lake Oswego. Others of you are reading from states and countries far away. Those of you who are local know what I am talking about, eclipse fever is burning hot and bright. Oh my goodness, so much build up to this event.

I was a college student attending Willamette University when the last total solar eclipse occurred in 1979 and totality went right over Salem, Oregon. I clearly remember the encroaching darkness, the totality, and the return to “normal” that was not normal that afternoon after having experienced an eclipse. I happened to be taking an astronomy class at the time and so had lots of wonderful insight. I didn’t have any proper eye protection to wear so I used a mirror to reflect the progression of the eclipse on the side of a building. I never did look directly at it.

This time I am ready. I bought my viewing glasses many months ago. I have gone to the NASA web sight to make sure that they are correctly certified and manufactured, and I am excited!

I will be in the path of totality with family and friends that I love.

I am a 10-year cancer survivor. I learned that life brings you moments and that you need to grab those moments and experience them with joy and gratitude.

I think the entire country is going to experience some of the eclipse, even if it is in a small measure. I hope for you that you grab the moment, enjoy it, and take in the wonder of what it is to be alive.

Local Grocery Stores

A really common question I get when I work with buyers is “Where would I be able to buy groceries?” I am happy to say that if you buy a home in Lake Oswego you will have an abundance of choices.

Trader Joe'sSeriously, within the city limits of Lake Oswego there are 2 Safeways, an Albertsons, a Whole Foods 365 Market, a New Seasons, a Trader Joe’s, and a Zupan’s. And if you are willing to go about 2 miles outside of town there is a Fred Meyer’s, a Whole Foods, a Winco, and a Costco. Then if fresh and local produce is your desire, there is the Farmer’s Market that runs from May to October, and Parson’s produce stand that is nearly all year around.

We are so fortunate to have so many choices. I think back to what was available when I was growing up and it really seems so limited. Today you can find ingredients to eat completely organic, vegan, nearly every style of cooking, and from nearly every country in the world, all in our local markets.

Zupan’s Poke Bar
What prompted me to write this post is that I have discovered the Poke bar at Zupan’s. I was introduced to Poke while in Hawaii about 10 years ago. I am huge fan of sushi but not necessarily of all of that white rice. Poke is raw cubed fish, usually tuna, that is the tossed with a dressing. There are lots of different versions some of which are hot and spicy, savory, creamy, just generally yummy. The Poke bar at Zupan’s is self serve next to the salad bar. They have about 6 flavors. It is just delicious.

As for sushi, I can find 4 different sushi restaurants within a mile of my house. Yes! I do love living here!

LO Summer Concerts are Happening!

One of my very favorite events each summer is attending the free, outdoor summer concerts that the City of Lake Oswego offers in July and August. They are every Wednesday night. In July they go from 7-9 pm at Foothills Park. In August they move to Westlake Park and go from 6:30 to 8:30. They are free!

I like to show up at least half and hour or even an hour early, and I bring a picnic dinner. Getting there early increases the odds that you’ll get a seat a bit close to the stage. It’s a beautiful summer evening and the picnic dining is delightful. About the time the meal is finished the band gets going.

You don’t have to dance but it is honestly hard not to. The pit area up next to the stage quickly fills with adults and kids. As the sun sets it just gets better and better.

I have seen so many special moments. Older couples who are obviously in love, a disabled woman with her significant other who pulled her to her feet and then gently swayed with her. The kids and the kids-at-heart just boogieing down. It’s a great, very carefree, atmosphere.

Here is this year’s line up:

July 5th has come and gone, but it featured Ty Curtis playing rhythm and blues.

July 12th at Foothills Park will be Barracuda, a Heart tribute band.

July 19th at Foothills Park will be Jult, a Rock and Pop band featuring music of the 80’s and 90’s.

July 26th at Foothills Park will be Paul Creighton who plays the music of Steview Wonder.

August 2nd at Westlake Park will be My Happy Pill who plays Pop, Rock, and Soul

August 9th at Westlake Park will be Chris Baum who plays the music of Steely Dan.

August 16th at Westlake Park will be Cloverdayle, a group that plays Country Rock.

August 23rd at Westlake Park will be Kalimba, a group that pays tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire.

Put a few or all of these dates onto your calendar and take advantage of the sweet summer nights. I hope to see you there!

George Rogers Park

I just came in from a nice long walk along the Willamette River that inspired me to tell you about George Rogers Park.

George Rogers Park is located on South State Street where it intersects with McVey. 26 acres in size, it includes an athletic field, tennis courts, a play ground, river access, and probably most famously, the Iron Furnace. The river front has got a sandy beach and it’s a good spot to fish, put in a canoe, and just generally play in the water.

The Iron Furnace is on the National Register of History Places. Oswego’s history goes back to the day when iron ore was discovered in the hills around Sucker Lake (now Oswego Lake) and the industrialists of early Oregon thought that Lake Oswego would become the Pittsburg of the West. It actually was a very significant part of Oregon history. Prior to 1867, the iron used anywhere on the West Coast, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, had to be brought around the horn of South America from the East Coast. The Iron Furnace in Lake Oswego changed that. And when you see iron work on old buildings in downtown Portland, you are likely looking at iron that was smelted in Lake Oswego.

George Rogers Park carries this theme artistically through the arbors, stone work, and even the shape of the grills on the fire rings.

It’s a lovely park. It has picnic areas that are covered and can be reserved for parties and special events.

I like to park may car there and walk South across Oswego creek and onto the paved path that winds through a gorgeous waterside forest and out onto River Rd. It goes all the way into West Linn. It’s mostly flat and has very little traffic. On a nice sunny day it’s pretty busy with bikes, runners, and walkers. I
highly recommend it.

One of the strangest houses in Lake Oswego can be seen along this path. I am going to tell you the story as it was told to me, by a contractor who worked on the house when it was being built. The house sits on a concrete piling that I believe was part of either the iron ore manufacturing or perhaps the cement manufacturing that happened slightly North of the spot in about the 1950’s. Somehow the piling was aquired by a private party who decided to build a house on it. The house was about 75% built when the owner ran out of money and it was abandoned. To my knowledge it has never been lived in. The glass windows and bridge access that I remember from when I first saw it are long gone. Now it almost looks haunted. I’m sure many walkers wonder what they are looking at when they see it today. So now you know.

We may not yet be having hot sunny days, but we are having beautiful winter-almost-spring-days like the one that we have had today. Get out and enjoy it!

2016 Street of Dreams

IMG_1061The Street of Dreams is held somewhere in the metro area each August. Sometimes it is worth the price of admission, and sometimes it is not. This year it is, in spades.

IMG_1070When I go to the Street of Dreams I am looking for very special homes. This is not supposed to be a showcase of average stuff. I am looking for design ideas that are new, fresh, and functional. The sorts of things that we will see here first and that gradually become available in more average new homes. I am also looking for luxury: high-end finishes, exteptional architectural design, and locations that warrant spending millions of dollars on a house.

I am going to admit that last year’s Street of Dreams in Lake Oswego was a bit of a let down. After a hot day touring the houses I felt a big humphhhhh. Several houses were quite grand, but the master closets were small, one house had a 2-car garage, and being in LO, well, the houses were like lots of houses in LO.

IMG_1073This years tour is in an exceptional location across the street from the Oregon Golf Club in West Linn. The lots are all about 2 acres with views of vineyards and Mt Hood. Gorgeous! The price tags are also up there at around $4,000,000. But what you get for this kind of money actually feels like a value in these houses.

First of all, there are no 2-car garages here. Each houses has at least 3 car garages and several have 4. The size of the homes is 7000+ square feet with space for families, guests, and yes, perhaps an au pair or servant.

My favorite house is the Delcetto. I love this house! Built by Elite Development, 2 women builders, it is fresh and new in so many ways. The windows look to all be custom made to resemble an industrial look like you would find an a loft in Manhattan. Yet the decor is also elegant and somewhat reflective of French Country. As you enter you cross a water feature over a small bridge. As you go through the house you get to revisit the water feature when you discover it ends in a water fall outside of a basement window that would otherwise be nothing but dirt and bushes. So surprising and so pretty! This is the kind of stuff I want to find at the Street of Dreams.

IMG_1071Here are some of my take aways that I think we will see come to more average new construction:

Fixtures and finishes for things like hinges and knobs are still primariy chrome and brushed nickel. I had heard that this was going away to be replaced by brushed brass, but it is not yet at the Street of Dreams, so the change is a ways away.

IMG_1075TVs and monitors are everywhere. That’s not particularly new, except that they are being incorporated into things like bathroom mirrors. Very cool.

Kitchen counter electrical outlets that pop up and then push down to be hidden away. Simple, probably not super expensive, practical, I think this one will make its way into many homes.

Water features and swimming pools are big. Several homes had full on swimming pools. The one I liked was a pool that was about the size of a big (and I mean big) hot tub. But it wasn’t hot. It was next to a lounging deck and clearly designed for cooling off with seating all of the way around so that a family or group of friends could sit in it together on a hot day. And, of course, there is the house with what they are calling a “moat” all of the way around. It’s about 12″ wide and does go around the house. It screamed to me “clog me with leaves and invite thirsty racoons”.

IMG_1068My last comment is about the most beautiful kitchen I have ever seen. The cooking island is literally so big that it included plenty of space for food prep, a breakfast bar, and a full on bench seating/table area. It sounds over the top, but the lines of the counter and cabinets, along with the large space of the room made it feel refined and elegant.

Did I mention the wine celler with a glass ceiling that you can look down into from the hallway above? This is the stuff that dreams really are made of.

So this year I say “Go”! It’s worth the price of admission.