Debra Prinzing

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How do you define “Intentional”?

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Zoe Bartlett, creator and partner of Intentional Table

Living a life guided by intentional choices is something we advocate in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

In the introduction, I wrote:

Faced with concerns about our food supply, the materials with which our homes are built and furnished, and the energy sources we consume, more people than ever are asking questions about the environmental impact of everything they use, drive, eat and even wear.

And yet, until recently, conscious consumers were largely unaware of the decidedly non-green attributes of their floral purchases. They bought bouquets without questioning the source, or the manner in which those flowers were grown (not to mention the environmental costs of shipping a perishable, luxury commodity around the globe). . . .

Whether or not they consider themselves environmentalists, consumers are beginning to exercise their choices at the flower stand, asking whether the beautiful roses, lilies or tulips they purchase at the local supermarket were grown domestically or were imported.

The message is that making intentional choices, especially as consumers, allows us to be conscious and holistic about using our resources wisely.

Of course, the Slow Food movement is way ahead of the floral world in this respect. And when our mutual friend Lois Pendleton introduced me to Zoe Bartlett, creator of Intentional Table, I instantly understood that we spoke the same language.

The message of Intentional Table is one that resonates:

Over the past 18 months, Zoe has been developing her business concept with a vision for creating community around the table, connecting purveyors with diners, educating and inspiring, and sharing local resources with like-minded customers. She has teamed up with Linda Brandt and the two recently debuted the Bainbridge Island flagship store of Intentional Table. The storefront is located on the pedestrian-friendly Madrone Lane, just off of Winslow Way. Here’s what the island’s community newspaper had to say about Intentional Table.

They opened the doors of their beautiful emporium-culinary studio on November 24th, Thanksgiving weekend.

I’ve been trying to make it over to Bainbridge Island ever since. Today was one of those magical, non-scheduled days (made even more special because our December temperatures reached a high of 48-degrees). I took the ferry from downtown Seattle, not worrying about the schedule, but just paying for my ticket and getting in line to calmly wait for the next departure. As the ferry-boat pushed away from the downtown Seattle waterfront, I snapped a few touristy photos, which I’d love to share with you here:

The SEATTLE GREAT WHEEL - a new icon on the waterfront

The new Seattle Great Wheel is quite stunning. Read more about it here.

The Space Needle is a classic work of architecture that turned 50 this year.

Read more about the Space Needle here.

After a 35-minute crossing, we arrived on Bainbridge Island and I headed a short distance to downtown Winslow. I have a lot of friends living on the island, including the amazing garden owners featured in The Abundant Garden, the book I wrote to accompany Barbara J. Denk’s beautiful photography (Cool Springs Press, 2005).

But today, my goal was to visit Zoe’s new venture. It was so great to walk inside and see her there, bustling about to help customers, share samples of gourmet chocolate, demonstrate cool products like wine decanters and unique vases.

Thanks, Zoe, for a spontaneously fun visit!

Because it’s a holiday week, lots of out-of-towners wandered in, including a young sommelier from New York City and a gourmet nut entrepreneur who took a specialty food business development class from Zoe a few years ago. Lots and lots of people arrived, in search of hostess gifts. Conversations among strangers wove together.

There was no huge effort to *explain* what Intentional Table meant. People understood. Everyone expressed curiosity about the upcoming cooking class schedule that Zoe and Linda will soon announce. Then, by summer, there will be food-centric educational dining experiences, staged all around the Northwest. I can’t wait!

One of the reasons Zoe’s vision resonates so much with me is that she views the Intentional Table as not just about food. To her, anything that we put on our tables – from the food and wine to the flowers in the vase – needs to reflect the place we live. I love that!

So you can definitely look for my participation in future events at this wonderful destination.

Together, we’re hoping to create several hands-on, seasonal floral design workshops that celebrate local flower farms and engage customers with the growers in their own community.

To sign up for Intentional Table announcements/newsletters, please click here.

Here are more photographs of this beautiful food & wine studio:

Love the chalk-board motif - especially this witty sign!

The 50 Mile Bouquet, spotted on the book table! Thanks, Zoe!

The professional kitchen, where cooking classes will soon commence.

The central book table, filled with inspiring titles from Northwest food and wine experts.

Clever "I. T." motifs are everywhere, including these ceramic balls in a bird's nest.

"I. T." playing pieces...

Industrial "I. T." letters on the Christmas wreath!

A foodie's crossword puzzle, just for fun!

A horticultural “welcome home”

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

The view from our rental house in West Seattle at sunset. It reveals the purplish silhouette of the Olympic Mountains and a peek of Puget Sound.

I drove into Seattle on Monday, July 19th after spending three days on the road from Ventura County. My husband and two sons were already settling into our new rental home in West Seattle while I hung out with the (not fun) packers and movers in Southern California.

FINALLY – the house was emptied, cleaned and ready to wow potential buyers. And it was time for my return to Seattle. With the Volvo station wagon crammed to the brim with breakable garden sculpture and pottery, the many plants I couldn’t say good-bye to, a few pieces of clothing and my faithful Lab, Zanny, I left for my Pacific Northwest destination. I hit the road Friday evening with four books on tape and a tank full of gas. One night bunking at the borrowed home of Palo Alto friends who left me a key, followed by one night in an artist’s rental apartment that Amy Stewart found for me in Eureka, Calif., and a third overnight at a dog-friendly hotel in Portland . . . and we got here by noon on Monday.

I was happy to unload the car, although with 20-plus steps from sidewalk to house, I burned quite a few calories doing so. It took nearly 2 hours to unload properly and check that my mostly succulent menagerie was unbruised and that nothing was damaged due to my occasional need to slam on the brakes!

But there really wasn’t time to dawdle because I had to get cleaned up and dressed for my friend Stacie’s garden gal’s soiree, the second annual event. While vacationing in Seattle last summer, I was able to attend Stacie’s delightful summer garden party in her highly-published North Seattle landscape. Earlier this year, way back in February, Stacie asked me to let her know when I might be back in Seattle so she could work around my travel schedule for her 2010 soiree plans.

The garden gals, from left: Me, Kathy Fries, Deborah Cheadle, Stacie Crooks, Marty Wingate, Wendy Welch, Lorene Edwards Forkner, Nita-Jo Rountree, Gillian Mathews, Janet Endsley and Tina Dixon (kneeling)

I was greeted by a charming stone duck - peeking from a hedge at the Bloedel Reserve.

As it turns out, I anticipated being at a family wedding in mid-July so I assured her that something around July 19th would be ideal. Little did I know that (a) the bride and groom would skip the formal wedding for a simple civil ceremony (and three-week honeymoon in Mexico) and (b) that I would not be vacationing here in July but MOVING HERE!! Life occasionally throws us some very wonderful surprises and this one came courtesy of the company my husband works for deciding quite recently to relocate its corporate headquarters from Pittsburgh to Seattle.

Back to Stacie’s party. This one was scheduled for late afternoon-early evening when the light is quite delicious and the day’s temperatures begin to cool. A gifted landscape designer and sustainable gardening educator, Stacie recently joined the board of trustees for the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.

For some magical reason, she obtained permission to host a private gathering on a day when the garden isn’t normally open.

Let me tell you, the prospect of joining Stacie and some of my very favorite Seattle women friends kept my eyes on the road and my foot on the pedal while I drove from LA to Seattle over that long weekend.

Here’s some background on Bloedel Reserve, excerpted from the 9th edition of the Northwest Gardener’s Resource Directory(Sasquatch Books, 2002), my very first book project that I inherited from the wonderful, late Stephanie Feeney:

The most massive Katsura tree I've ever seen.

From the time Prentice and Virginia Bloedel acquired this 150-acre property in 1951, they began a sensitive courtship aimed at marrying the designing hand of man with the natural attributes of the woodland setting. Over a period of 30 years, and with the commissioned partnerships of wisely selected professionals (Fujitaro Kubota, for help with the Japanese Garden, and landscape architects Thomas Church, Richard Haag, and the firm Environmental Planning and Design), Prentice Bloedel orchestrated the development of many garden rooms set in the varied landscape of second-growth hardwood and conifers, meadow and wetlands, glens and gullies.

While incorporating influences from the Japanese and the European gardening traditions, a respect for the natural attributes of the land prevailed and pervaded. There are now 84 acres of second-growth forest and 66 acres of altered landscapes. The result: a native woodland crisscrossed with shady paths, meadows, and a broad selection of formal and informal gardens.

So here is a selection of photos taken that lovely day, including a group shot that we staged by placing self-timing cameras on the bench perfectly aligned with the reflection pool (above). At the bottom of this post, I have included details on visiting Bloedel. The garden is more accessible to the public than ever and offers some delightful summer concerts, guided tours, classes and other events. It is worth a visit and you’ll want to set aside a full day to do so.

This is the quintessential photograph often captured by amateurs and professionals alike. The perspective is elegant and inviting, with the Bird Refuge and pond in the foreground; the original estate framed by native northwest conifers, in the distance.

On the east side of the estate, there are brilliant views of Puget Sound facing Seattle. The massive planting of Hakonechloa macra in the foreground emulates soft ripples of the water.

A view through the towering trees and sun-dappled understory, taken from the deck outside the Japanese-inspired tea house where we gathered

The Reflecting Pool mirrors the sky and treetops.

The Reflecting Pool is contained by a wall of green hedging, making it separate from the semiwild woodland.

Fujitaro Kubota's Japanese garden, a quiet, contemplative space.

One of my favorite design details at Bloedel is this alternating turf-and-stone pattern next to the Japanese gravel garden.

Observe and appreciate the hand-raked lines in the gravel.

Dapple light plays on stone, gravel and moss of the Japanese garden.

The cobbled walkway leads toward the Japanese teahouse. Note the attractive low fencing on either side, made from lashed bamboo poles.

I think this is a golden form of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), glowing against the darker evergreens.

Bloedel Reserve, 7571 NE Dolphin Drive., Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-1097

phone: 206-842-7631

Open: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday (summer hours – open 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Wednesday-Friday); Sunday 10 a.m-4 p.m. (open Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day).

Admission: $12 (discounts for seniors, military and children 5-12; children under 5 are free).

Membership info: At $55, the basic annual membership is a great bargain because a single membership entitles you to bring a total of 4 people each visit.