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High tea sets Country Romance bazaar apart

Crafter also offers recycled treasures
by: Shanda Tice Country Romance owner Evelyn Bennier presents a sample of her upcoming Christmas High Tea, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9-10, at her tea room and craft shop in Boring where she sells holiday decorations and vintage gifts.

Ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night may be milling about right now, but there are plenty of other bazaar things to see before year's end.

Santa's elves have been busy all year long, hand crafting everything from knitted sweaters and baby quilts to home décor and jewelry. Their efforts have produced an abundance of fall craft boutiques with gifts certain to satisfy everyone on your list.

One of the best-kept secrets during the holiday bazaar season is nestled in the woodlands in rural East Multnomah County. Country Romance, a 22-year tradition for crafter Evelyn Bennier, features one-of-a-kind gifts with multiple uses and spiffed up garage sale treasures.

'I'm into recycling things,' Bennier says. 'I like to take things I find at garage sales and embellish them to make them different. I've used cardboard tubes to make Christmas decorations and empty bottles to make figurines. And I try to create things that serve several purposes because in this tighter economy, that's what people want.'

Bennier is no rookie in the handcrafting arena. Prior to opening Country Romance in a shop on her property in Boring, she was a fixture at the 'Green Show' in Salem for more than 20 years. The event was the largest bazaar in the state during that time and provided Bennier with a customer base she retains today.

But what truly sets Country Romance apart from other holiday boutiques is Bennier's Christmas High Tea.

'I started doing the tea when the craft market and economy began to go down,' she says. 'I always wanted a tea room, so I decided to try one. If it didn't work, it didn't work. But here I am, eight years later, still doing it and I still enjoy it.'

Bennier adheres to the classic British ritual of High Tea, with a traditional five-course offering of tea sandwiches and 'savories' or pastries. With help from her daughter, Bennier produces the delicate cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and miniature desserts in her own kitchen. She orders her tea from an East Coast supplier, who specializes in high tea blends and frequently takes notes when she visits another tea service.

'I look for ways to improve my presentation, and I pay attention to the food,' she says. 'I have a lot of repeat customers, and I don't want to serve the same thing twice.'

Bennier's success with her high tea has led her to offer several other seasonally themed teas during the year. Christmas and Mother's Day are the most widely sought reservations, she said, but there's something about taking a quiet break from the hustle of the holidays that makes the Christmas High Tea special.

'People come to the tea because they want something different,' she says. 'A tea is supposed to be relaxing - it lifts the spirit. What a better way to get away from all the stress for a little while than with a tea experience?'

Country Romance runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 3, 4 and 5, as well as Dec. 1, 2 and 3. Seating for Christmas High Tea are at 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9-10. Cost is $16.50 per person, with pre-payment and reservations required by Friday, Nov. 28. Visit Country Romance at 30425 S.E. Wheeler Road, Boring. For more information, call 503-663-1933.

HOLIDAY and #8200;BAZAARS

The annual craft bazaar season has arrived. This listing of upcoming events should help with your holiday shopping.

Oct. 15 - Dec. 24

• 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Northwest Creations and Collectibles, 364 N.W. Eastman Parkway, Gresham. The work of 120 local artisans and artists, featuring crochet, knitted and embroidery work, as well as handcrafted jewelry and a fine arts gallery.

Oct. 28-29

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Suburban Mobile Estates Club House, 21016 S.E. Stark St., Gresham. Needlework, jewelry and baked goods.

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Parkview Christian Retirement Community, 1825 N.E. 108th Ave., Portland. Everything from books to handcrafted toys. Lots of baby items. Perfect Harvest decorations or Christmas gifts with homemade goodies for sale.

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Quail Hollow Bazaar, 21100 N.E. Sandy Blvd., Fairview. Features all hand-made items, including blown glass and Swarovski jewelry.

Nov. 3-5

• 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Country Romance, 30425 S.E. Wheeler Road, Boring. One-of-a-kind items for home and holiday décor.

• 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 to 4 p.m. Saturday, St. Paul of Damascus Lutheran Church Holiday Faire, 24510 S.E. Highway 212, Boring. Handcrafted items, gourmet cookie walk, door prizes, silent auction and café. Santa will be in attendance from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday for professional holiday photos, with a music benefit for a local food bank. Nonperishable food donations will be accepted.

• 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sparkling Punch Evening, 9 to 4 p.m. Saturday, St. Therese Parish 30th annual Holiday Bazaar, 1260 N.E. 132nd Ave., Portland. Enjoy the amazing talents of numerous craftspeople, a traditional baked goods sale, used books, movies and music corner, snacks and luncheon delights. Sponsored by the St. Therese Women's Association.

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Green Tee Estates Craft Sale, 900 N.E. Francis Ave., across the street from Gresham Golf Course. Home crafted items, jewelry, crochet items and purses.

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, St. Joseph Altar Guild, 2310 S.E. 148th Ave., Portland. Crafts, raffle items and white elephant gifts. Proceeds benefit local community charities.

Nov. 10-12

• 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, 26th annual Harvest Moon Bazaar, Good Shepherd Community Church, 28986 S.E. Haley Road, Boring. More than 80 booths feature handcrafted items. Also featured is a Junior Crafter Corner and food from Outlaw BBQ Co. Accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

• 3:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Eagle Creek Ladies Aid, Eagle Creek Presbyterian Church, 29455 S.E. Burnett Road, Eagle Creek. Needlework, holiday crafts and baked good for sale both days. Ham dinner is served on Friday. Proceeds go for mission work in the community.

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Hall-i-day Bazaar, 2505 N.E. 23rd St., Gresham. Craft and gift items, free kids gift/craft workshops and raffle prizes. Benefits Hall Elementary PTC to aid school programs and student activities.

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Boring-Damascus Grange, 27861 S.E. Grange St., Boring. Jewelry, handmade crafts and baked goods. Proceeds benefit the Boring-Damascus Grange Community service projects and hall maintenance.

Nov. 18-20

• 1 to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Larch Mountain Country Artisans, Glenn Otto Community Park, Sam Cox Building, 1106 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale. Fine arts, crafts and folk art and handworks. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Corbett School arts program and Vista House.

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, St. Anne Catholic Church, 1015 S.E. 182nd Ave., Portland. Handmade gift items, including Christmas décor, candles, hand-knit sweaters and more.

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Firwood School's 27th annual bazaar, 42900 S.E. Trubel Road, Sandy. Featuring quality arts and crafts by local artists, food and beverages.

• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, St. Aidan's Episcopal Church, 17404 N.E. Glisan St., Portland. Photos with Santa, lunch, craft items and a quilt raffle. Benefits St. Aidan's outreach programs.

Dec. 1-3

• 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Country Romance, 30425 S.E. Wheeler Road, Boring. One-of-a-kind items for home and holiday décor.

• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Home for the Holidays, Sandy Assembly of God, 39800 E. Highway 26. Handmade ornaments, jewelry, soaps and lots of items up for raffle. Benefits the church's children's ministry.

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Eagle Creek Grange, 24491 S.E. Eagle Creek Road, Eagle Creek. Craft items, flea market items and homemade soups and pies. Proceeds will go to purchasing school supplies and dictionaries for Eagle Creek Elementary School students, grange repairs and Estacada Food Bank.

• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Leach Botanical Garden, 6704 S.E. 122nd Ave., Portland. Leach Botanical Garden Holiday Bazaar offers everything from bulk greens, wreaths and swags, centerpieces to baked goods and gifts. There will be music in the winter garden and hot cider in the historic manor house. Proceeds support operation of historic Leach Botanical Garden. For more information, call the garden office at 503-823-1671.

• 9 .m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Columbia View Wesleyan Church, 16700 N.E. Halsey St., Portland. Handmade crafts, decorations, like-new gift items. Proceeds benefit the Wesleyan women's ministry.

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Gresham Women of Elks, No. 1805, 3330 N.E. Division St., Gresham. Nearly 50 vendors of handmade items, gingerbread baked items, raffles and lunch served all day. Admission is three cans of food or donation for the lodge's Christmas Basket Program. Proceeds benefit Elks' charities.

• 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Cookies with Santa and More!, 21100 N.E. Sandy Blvd., Fairview. Featuring Pampered Chef demonstration and sales, candles, jewelry, balloon mystery prizes, homemade cookies, chowder and chili, soup in a jar and cookbook author. Event is a fundraiser for Connections, a non-profit service organization, with proceeds benefiting Zarephath Kitchen, Mt. Hood Community College's Women in Transition Program and other group projects.

Dec. 9-11

• 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Christmas High Tea at Country Romance, 30425 S.E. Wheeler Road, Boring. Enjoy the English tradition of Afternoon Tea, featuring tea sandwiches, scones and sweet cream and homemade pastries. Reservations and pre-payment are required by Friday, Nov. 18. Cost is $16.50 per person. For more information or reservations, call 503-669-1933.

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Last Chance Shopping Holiday Bazaar, Carver School, 16077 S.E. Highway 224, Damascus. Homemade and commercial gifts, food, music and more. Event is a benefit for historic Carver School.