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Trudy Wakefield

Trudy is the owner and editor for The Bloom. The Bloom's dedicated to showcasing all the good parts of life. If it's good news, you'll probably find it here.

What’s Up This Week – 11.24.23

Well, ready or not, the holiday season is in full swing! As usual, the last autumn leaves are ready to give way to a winter slumber, and we remember and give thanks. The Bloom wants to thank you, our readers, for generously supporting us. And a huge thanks to those who advertise in The Bloom. Thank you all. The Bloom can’t do what we do without our community support. And speaking about our community, one of my favorite things about living in Lake County is our small businesses. Our small business owners are our friends, neighbors, and community leaders. And the simple fact is Lake County would not be what it is without them. So The Bloom is thrilled to bring you our shopping guide in Middletown with a couple of brand-new businesses for you to check out! Then, catch up with our most recent Pay It Forward article and one new addition for the holiday season. For some, the holidays might not be the happiest time of year, and we want to include a weekly article reflecting that. As always, don’t miss out on what’s happening with our live music venues, some good news, poetry, and history. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful for you, and I wish you the happiest Thanksgiving.

What’s Up This Week – 11.17.23

Well, it’s that time of year again. We are about to get really busy for a while and then go back to a more normal pace come about January 2nd. There’s so much to do in such a short period of time, it seems. And when the new year rolls around, we’ll probably think of so many things we wanted to do and just couldn’t fit it all in. In any case, we’ve already filled our calendars for the rest of the year with must-dos!

For the past three years, The Bloom has put together a holiday shopping guide every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas to support Lake County’s small businesses. I never could have imagined that our businesses would need support now as much as they did during covid, but, the truth is, they do. So, without further ado, we’re going to get a jump start on our shopping guide by sharing some great local wines meant to pair with your holiday meals and time with friends and family. Then, join Kathleen Scavone as she talks about the amazing terroir in Lake County and the science that makes our wines exceptional. And don’t forget to catch up with Mike Guarniero and the Music Guide–there’s lots going on in the area over the weekend. Then add a little good news, some poetry, and a dose of local history to make a great start to your weekend!

What’s Up This Week – 11.9.23

This week I’ve been waking up every morning thinking of things I am thankful for. I don’t know if it’s the season or what, but I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude for so many things: the health of my family, my home, good food, our first egg from our hens, and you, our readers. The list goes on and on. And it seems when I read the “other” news in the world, my gratitude grows and grows. This week, many of you will be getting a gift from The Bloom as a thank-you for your financial support. As I’ve said so many times before, The Bloom can’t do what it does (free subscriptions for all) without the support of our readership. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I’m excited to get a chance to tell you about a new restaurant and tasting room in Lakeport! Then Kathleen is going to tell us about the tiny creatures, antlions. You’ve probably seen them and not known what they were. Then catch up on the local music events happening in the area, read some good news, poetry, and some local history. It’s a great start to a great weekend in Lake County.

Breathtaking Wine, Amazing Food, Fantastic Experience: On the Waterfront

The November evening rests calm and crisp. The hustle and bustle of the weekday has turned into a peaceful twilight. In Library Park, the gazebo shines, gently lit by the reflections of streetlights. Even the lake, now dark purple and shimmering, seems at ease. And just across the street from the park, you’ll find On the Waterfront, Lake County’s new tasting room and restaurant. Warmly lit, it welcomes visitors to come in, sit back, and relax for a while. The back wall is filled with hundreds of bottles of Sol Rouge wines, known as some of the best in the United States and winners of more awards than you can count. To the left is the tasting room, but we’re headed to the right, where we sit at a table in the dining area. Behind us, a wall of backlit bottles glows warmly while big band music plays quietly in the background.

What’s Up This Week: 11.3.23

My favorite season of the year continues as we move into November. This last week I finally picked the last of my garden’s harvest before getting it ready for winter and letting the chickens have their turn. My refrigerator and freezer are full, and so is my woodshed. I’m just settling into the thankful season. And I don’t know about you, but these days, I’m choosing the longer drives to and from my destinations just because I don’t want to miss any of Lake County’s colors. And before we know it, an even busier season will begin! So I’m all for savoring these shorter bright sunny days.

This week, things slow down just a bit, and I finally get to tell you about three of my favorite antique shops in Lake County. I promise they won’t disappoint. Then settle in and catch up with our live music, good news, poetry, and a good dose of local history. I’m not sure what your plans are for the weekend, but I hope it includes some of your favorite food, drink, and good company, even if it’s just a good book! Have a great weekend Lake County.

Three Must-Visit Antique Stores in Lake County

Not too long ago, I found myself lost in time in one of our local antique stores. There in front of me stood a cream and brown metal range and oven kitchenette, every detail thoughtfully in place from a little sink to two burgers, oven, and shelves with storage. Once I got past the shock and realization that, yes, I am old enough to see some of my childhood toys in an antique store, acceptance set in. Suddenly, I was six again, making muffins, pies, and cookies in my own playroom, serving my tasty morsels to my imaginary company, and having the best time!

If you are an antique lover, we’ve got some great places to explore. Here are three must-visit antique stores in Lake County.

GETTING LOST IN LAKE COUNTY: ENJOYING THAT RANCH’S CORN MAZE

“Do you think we’re going the right way”? I ask, brushing a leaning corn stalk from my face. The Fall sun filters through the maze around us as we turn down a trail cut through the never-ending cornfield. I hear chatter and voices of other visitors coming from somewhere just out of sight.

“I have no idea. I’m not the one leading the way,” David chuckles as we shuffle along behind our kids.

“It’s a dead-end,” announces our son. We all turn to retrace our steps. We’re about a third of the way in the maze, and our goal at this point is to get to the snack shack provided Wildhurst Vineyard. Walking through the fourteen-foot tall corn, it seems that the maze is bigger this year. More invisible shouts and giggles draw closer, then fade away again as others continue to get lost.

Mad Mac’s Knows Good Food

It’s a bright fall day. The first colors of autumn leaves reluctantly give way to the shorter days and cooler nights. It’s a quiet, calm evening at Mad Mac’s Bar and Grill just off Highway 20 in the heart of Clearlake Oaks. A young couple casually make their way inside, even though it’s cool enough to enjoy the spacious outdoor patio seating. Inside, a full bar welcomes locals for a quick bite and friendly conversation. 

The Ripe Choice Experience

Have you ever experienced something so wonderful that you struggle to find the words to describe it? That’s me at The Bloom’s Five-Year Anniversary party at Ripe Choice Farm and Catering. I’d been in contact with Tammy Lipps, owner of Ripe Choice, for several weeks leading up to the event. I knew I wanted it to be something unique and memorable. Although several of our restaurants promise all those things, I knew I was looking for something a little more intimate, quiet, and off the beaten path.

Welcome to the Ripe Choice Farm: The early evening glow reluctantly gives way to the onshore breeze that promises cooler temperatures. But for now, a glass of sparkling wine, under twinkling lights and the small chatter amongst friends, makes for a delightful distraction. The barn’s high ceiling helps absorb the day’s warmth amongst its exposed wood.

The setting seems right, country, rustic, and yet elegant. Locally grown flowers adorn the center of the tables. Linen napkins and a formal place setting all promise tonight is not an ordinary Sunday evening.

The Bloom Turns Five!

Well, well, well, The Bloom is turning five! Can you believe it? I feel like a proud parent bragging about their kid. And perhaps that’s appropriate when considering how The Bloom became The Bloom.

Five years ago, the editor of The Middletown Mercury announced his retirement. It was a huge bummer for us readers because it was one of the only sources of good news about Lake County.

So my husband and I had the crazy idea of taking over the Mercury, you know, as a hobby. Well, six weeks later, we became proud owners of a local newspaper. But, for a few legal reasons, we couldn’t keep the name or the subscription list, so we were on our own.

Blue Wing Celebrates Blue Zones Approval

Rarely have I had a meal so thoughtfully prepared and served. The Blue Wing serves consistently good food, so when I learned that they had just become Blue Zones approved in Lake County, I couldn’t resist attending their celebratory dinner; I have already learned that anything Chef Pablo Aguilar does will be nothing short of breathtaking.

The late August evening brings its predictable slow, leisurely pace when the days are still long, and dining under the late sun’s rays is almost a requirement for any dinner in Lake County. Welcome to the Blue Wing’s courtyard.

Escape to Finch Gardens

Just when one thinks they know all the hidden gems in Lake County, Lake County never ceases to prove one wrong.

The sun stands high in the firmament all summer long. Its rays bring radiant, glowing life to all it touches. All things green reach and lean toward its sustenance, and we gleam from their nourishing fruit while they tantalize our eyes with their glory. Gold embers of the sun’s hues frame and mold the weaving greens and bright floral colors of vines, branches, trees, and flowers, of Finch Garden. Helen greets my husband and me when we park in front of her home.

The Organ’s Breath of Life: Experiencing the Power of 7,455 Pipes

It is an unmatched sound that most of us have heard many times before. Its reverberating music fills the ear and body with notes high so high they prick the ears and so low they shake the ground. Collectively, its delicious music brings a full-body encounter. Nothing quite compares to an organ’s music, but absolutely nothing compares to listening to it in a cathedral. Welcome to the monthly organ recital at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. 

Get Away From it All: Wild Diamond Vineyards

Let’s face it; Lake County is truly the place you go to get away from the real world. There are few better ways to leave the city, relax, and enjoy some incredible wine. Let me take you on an adventure. 

It all starts on Spruce Grove Road–meander through rural Lake County before turning on the gravel driveway that winds upward towards Wild Diamond Vineyards. Traverse an oak grove, winding higher and higher in elevation as the oaks slowly turn to pine trees. That’s when you know you’re almost there. At the tasting room–or more accurately, mountain top–the world turns truly silent and still. A strong breeze greets you first as you step out of your car, a reminder that the world is far, far below.

Flower Therapy: Bell Haven Flower Farms

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood include multiple visits to the beautiful Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. The serene gardens are perfectly manicured, with not a plant in less than spectacular form. The garden is a discovery of delights; it seems to never end on its meandering trails and bridges. If you’ve been before, then you know. Of course, moving to Lake County was a dream come true for us. It’s filled with natural beauty, rugged landscapes, oak groves, far-reaching vineyards, and a one-of-a-kind life-giving lake. 

But nothing quite compares to a professional garden, right? Well, thankfully, we have a spectacular and unique offering in Lake County. Bell Haven Flower Farms, resting on the shores of Soda Bay, is a breathtakingly beautiful place, open for private events and, on occasion, to the public. However, if you aren’t able to visit, Bell Haven also has a florist shop in downtown Kelseyville, where once you step through the doors, you’ll discover a cornucopia of flowers.

“I Make Wines That Drink Well” – Gregory Graham Winery

“I call myself a winegrower,” Greg says. “I’m my own vineyard manager, and at the end point, I’m a winemaker. It’s not about getting tonnage. It’s about growing high-quality fruit. Grapes don’t ripen at the same time. I pick them over three weeks to ensure they are picked at the peak.” And it shows in his wines. Every bottle at Gregory Graham is distinct, unique, and thoughtfully created. “I would put my grapes and wines against anyone,” he says. “I put my thumbprint on the wines.”

Four Great New Reasons to Visit Upper Lake

Not too long ago, I received an email from Lynne Butcher telling me there are several new businesses that have recently opened in Upper Lake. Lynne would know. Lynne and Bernie Butcher are the proud owners of the recently restored historic Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing, which hosts live music Friday through Monday in the courtyard year around. Their businesses are already two great reasons to visit Upper Lake, and I couldn’t wait to see more, so I eagerly set up a day trip to see for myself.

Bold Food and Good Beer: Romi’s Brew and BBQ

You can smell the smoker as soon as you enter the parking lot of Romi’s Brew and BBQ in Nice. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get there just as someone’s taking ribs out for the evening’s dinner. The char, dense and smoky, fills the nostrils and overwhelms the senses, making it impossible to crave anything but a full rack of those mouthwatering ribs–and you haven’t even opened the door to the restaurant yet.

Essential Lake County: The Boat Races

The odor of heated fiberglass fills the air. I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening but can’t see through the smoke of the car with the blown head gasket trying to round turn one. Who’s in first? It doesn’t matter. A roar comes from the crowd watching turn three. It looks like a couple of boats got stuck together, and one car’s dragging the other around the track. I glance at it for a second, then get distracted by the major crash happening directly in front of the grandstands. A boat’s disconnected from its chain and cartwheels in front of the Blazer. The driver twitches the steering wheel, not to avoid it, but to ensure he gets a direct hit. He aims directly for the bow, and it explodes into a spray of fiberglass and old steering cables.

Celebrate With the New Bloom!

My, how time flies, The Bloom is turning five this year! Can you believe it? Not only that, but The Bloom just incorporated and, you may have noticed, we have a new domain name, thebloom.news. Thanks to your monthly donations, The Bloom has been and continues to be free to all who subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

So what does all of this mean? We want to celebrate, of course! So here’s the deal. Donate $10 or more monthly, and you’ll get Bloom stickers in the mail. Donate $20 a month or more, and expect to get a Bloom hat or T-shirt–your choice! And for our top monthly donors, you will be invited to a one of kind dinner with The Bloom and its writers in late summer or early fall. So if you’re already donating, keep it up! And if you’re not already donating, it’s not too late. If you donate for three consecutive months, you’re in on the goodies. So let us spoil you as we celebrate together! Click on the button below to donate.

This week we’re happy to tell you about our recent trip to one of our local theaters. And don’t forget to check out our recent Pay It Forward article as we visit another local small business! Plus, don’t forget to check out our weekly poetry. Finally, in between visiting your live music venues, be sure to check out the annual Buckingham Test and Tune as the tradition returns to Lake County once again. Have a great weekend Lake County!

Your Alternate Reality Awaits: Lakeport Cinema

It’s all things bright and sunny as we pull into the Lakeport Cinema parking lot. The outside wall of the cinema hangs pictures of upcoming movies that will grace the screen in the near future. Ahead are a row of black glass doors. And in this moment, an alternate reality is about to begin. It goes something like this:

There is a set of black glass doors, unlike any others. Oh, you’ve seen doors like these everywhere you go, but what’s behind these particular doors brings a new state of mind to your everyday life unlike any other.

Start as Visitors, Leave as Friends: The Big Valley, Small Farms Tour

There’s nowhere like Big Valley and no farms like these. Mark Lipps says the tour is simple; just bring yourself, a positive attitude, and a smile. And if you didn’t come with a smile, you’re sure to leave with one. “We would love all visitors of Lake County to experience the different priorities a Lake County Big Valley small farm can embrace,” Mark says. “Come explore all of our farms for a great drive around the area. Start out as visitors, leave as friends.”

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