Manor

Manor, Portland, Oregon

I’ve been cleaning out closets, bustling around and taking loads of stuff I’m not that into to Goodwill. Call it crazy spring-cleaning jitters, but about right now I wish my house looked like the interior of Manor, an incredible home shop in NW Portland.

Manor, Portland, Oregon

Just walking through this place brings my blood pressure down a few clicks, taking in the textures and the expertly-assembled vignettes. It’s inspiring, for sure — maybe next year I’ll be able to get my home in order so that it can channel this kind of zen.

Manor, Portland, Oregon

Manor is a great spot not only for fine home goods, but also small gifts, thoughtful books and other things you simply won’t be able to go home without.

Manor, Portland, Oregon

Manor is located at 907 NW 23rd. There’ll be no shortage of exciting things to check out nearby, so I’d make a day of it.

Sammy’s Flowers

Sammy's Flowers, Portland, Oregon

To say that I was a boy-crazy adolescent would have been a pretty serious understatement. My parents were repeatedly called by youth group leaders and teachers because of my behavior around the boys. That’s just the way I rolled — and I started early.

I started “going out” with boys — my mom was constantly asking me, “What does that mean? Are you going somewhere?” from mid-elementary school. That just meant we’d sit together on the bus and not talk to each other, but I still thought I was pretty hot shit — with a 10-year-old “boyfriend” who was 8 inches shorter than me. Where I was most in my element was Skate World. How could you beat it? It had nachos, roller skating, partner skates and special requests and dedications from the DJ.

I realize now that the boys I was chasing were probably horrified, embarrassed and totally unsure of how to get away from me, but isn’t that what the game of chase is all about? I’d save up my allowance money and on the weekend, when it was time to skate, I’d dedicate songs to my main man of the moment and buy him a plastic flower that lit up. I’m such a romantic.

Sammy's Flowers, Portland, Oregon

The point is, who doesn’t like to get flowers? Even if those flowers are a trap set by a wild-eyed adolescent girl who wants to share the next partner skate with you?

Sammy's Flowers, Portland, Oregon

The flowers at Sammy’s Flowers are some of my favorite (just after light-up plastic roses, of course). Not only because their arrangements are fresh and dynamic and beautiful, but because the way they display them outside their two shops in NW Portland is enough to brighten up your day just driving or walking by. I’m so glad they do that — it really brightens up the neighborhood!

Sammy's Flowers, Portland, Oregon

Sammy’s Flowers is at 2280 NW Glisan St., and their other location is in the Pearl at 1124 NW Lovejoy. Check out their blog for even more fabulous floral inspiration.

Spruce Apothecary

Spruce Apothecary, Portland, Oregon

My dad is a father of girls. He has three of us, and as a result, he’s a big softie. One year in the early 90s, when Emily (the youngest) was working on writing poetry for class, she wrote him a poem. The poem was about the cologne he always wears — it was cK One, and no, he doesn’t wear it anymore. After the poem was finished, her teacher helped her print it out on paper that looked aged and they framed it. She gave it to my dad for father’s day that year. I can’t remember the entire poem, but the last line is, “Out of the shower, here it comes, that Calvin Klein cologne.”

My dad the softie had the poem by his bathroom sink for at least 15 years after that. I’m pretty sure he still has it somewhere dear.

Spruce Apothecary, Portland, Oregon

Emily appreciated the value of a man who smells good. The folks at Spruce Apothecary, a new shop from the owners of Canoe, know it too. That’s why this store is tastefully outfitted with some great scented goodies for the modern man. All this in a perfectly appointed little shop in the new Union Way — just another way the West End is getting way too cool for me.

Spruce Apothecary, Portland, Oregon

Spruce Apothecary is at 1022 W Burnside, Suite K in the new Union Way. Stop in to smell delicious (like my dad).

Three Penny Mercantile

Three Penny Mercantile, Portland, Oregon

Flashback to 1989 with me. I’m 7, and inseparable from my best friend Julie. My little sister Emily plays sidekick. Most days start out good-natured, but eventually, Julie and I end up concocting mischief. This day is no different.

We decide that we’re going to have an impromptu birthday party (of course). It isn’t Emily’s birthday, but we’d like to celebrate it — now. Like, in 20 minutes. So we tell Emily that the party is going to be in her room and it’s a surprise so she can’t come in. I drag my parents’ gift wrap and crepe paper stash from beneath their bed and we go to work inside Emily’s locked room.

Three Penny Mercantile, Portland, Oregon

First, we annihilate the crepe paper stash by tacking it up with Scotch tape all over the walls. How festive!

Next, we need to focus on presents. We wrack our brains, not sure where we can find any presents on such short notice. Until we realize we are surrounded by toys. Madly, we begin to wrap up things we find on her shelves. Ten minutes later, we let her into the room. We sing to her, we show off our mad party-planning skills and then we settle down to open presents.

Emily was the absolute best sport of all time, always. She opened every single present, acting genuinely surprised and grateful for each. And they were just her own stuff, wrapped in wrapping paper.

Three Penny Mercantile, Portland, Oregon

It’s fun to have new stuff, even if it’s really used stuff. That’s why secondhand/thrift shops are a good time, and a great place to find some unique stuff. Three Penny Mercantile is a great spot, on NW 23rd Ave., to score some new (old) stuff. They have a great selection of vintage finds in a really cute shop, and you can sell your vintage goods there too.

Three Penny Mercantile, Portland, Oregon

Three Penny Mercantile is at 816 NW 23rd Ave. Stop in to buy or sell rad vintage clothes.

Quin

Quin candy shop, Portland, Oregon

At the tender age of 2 years old, I broke my arm. I don’t remember exactly how it happened because, as we’ve already covered, I was 2 years old. It was something about a swingset accident — normal kid stuff. The point is, it’s really pitiful to see a 2-year-old with a tiny little cast. I would imagine it’s akin to seeing a kitten in a cast (which I did actually see once, and I can vouch that it’s pretty heartbreaking).

Quin candy shop, Portland, Oregon

Being a laid-up 2-year-old with her arm in a cast raised great sympathy from my community. My uncle Dave (who was not really my uncle, but a good family friend) showed up at my bedside later in the day bearing gifts. He brought with him two bags of M&Ms.

“Hopefully these will make your arm feel better,” he said. I ate them, relishing the attention and the chocolate, and proclaimed that they did, indeed, make my arm feel better. And from then on, whenever a kid in my family was hurt, the magic cure was M&Ms. Stitches from a nasty fall? I’ve got just the cure. Had to have a tetanus shot? You’re getting M&Ms too.

Quin candy shop, Portland, Oregon

Candy has a way of making everything feel better (and boy, I’m sure my dietician friend could tell you how this particular parenting strategy did a number on my relationship with food). The cheery, tiny little candy shop Quin, in the city’s West End district, is pure joy. It’d pull anyone out of a funk. This candy is handmade here in Portland, packaged in pretty little containers and ready to bring happiness to the world. My picks are the coffee orange caramels and the tangerine gumdrops. The artisan marshmallows have a reputation for miles around.

Quin candy shop, Portland, Oregon

Find Quin at 1025 SW Stark St.

Porch Light

Porch Light, NW Portland, Oregon

When I was in late elementary school, my sister Emily and I loved watching the movie Man in the Moon. We’d snuggle up to watch it, imagining that we were Reese Witherspoon, falling in love for the first time in the summer in the south. It’s such a great coming-of-age movie.

It’s weird thinking back now — because I know at the time I wanted to know so badly what it felt like for those characters. What was it like to be in love? Would I ever get to the point where I had those kinds of feeling and emotions and experiences? Even as a kid, I was always a total romantic.

Porch Light, NW Portland, Oregon

Porch Light is a shop in the Pearl District that carries little oddities and beautiful objects — it reminds me of the south and it’s every bit as charming as that darned Reese Witherspoon. Pop in for a dose of inspiration or a new trinket or gift to remind you of a simpler time.

Porch Light, NW Portland, Oregon

Porch Light is in the Pearl District, 225 NW 11th Ave. They tweet too.

What was your favorite coming-of-age movie?

Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply

Naomi's Organic Farm Supply, Portland, Oregon

I met a friend about a year ago at a new coffee place — the kind of place where they roast each bean with immense care and they really care about every part of the coffee production process. A classic Portland coffee place.

I get migraines sometimes, so I don’t drink traditional coffee. When I drink it at all, it’s got to be decaf or I risk a debilitating headache. So when I walked into this very Portland-y coffee place, I scanned the menu for a decaf option. I asked the barista at the counter, and he was visibly annoyed.

“It’s just not as good if you order the decaf,” he argued. “The regular really brings a bouquet of flavors.”

For a minute I felt a little defensive. Just let me pay you five bucks for some stupid decaf so I can go talk to my friend!, I thought. But in the days after that, I reconsidered that this man was someone who is completely immersed in the quality of his product. That’s pride and expertise, and I’m glad I live in a city like that (most days).

Naomi's Organic Farm Supply, Portland, Oregon

At Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply, they have pride and expertise and a similar attitude about helping people discover gardening, composting and all the rest of it. They are experts.

I bought a house last year with a big yard. The yard, in square footage terms, is like five times the size of the house. So I’ve needed to get familiar with plants and gardening and all the other things that come along with home ownership on a huge lot. Through that process, I’ve learned to love gardening books and the people who love them. Especially in Portland, where there is so much great info on organic gardening and so much emphasis on cool plants and animals.

Naomi’s made me want to rip out everything in my yard and start from scratch — with the beautiful plants strewn throughout the space. Fig trees? Yes, please. Olives and passionflower and manzanita, too. Visiting Naomi’s is inspiring — but that’s even before you’ve had a conversation with Naomi herself, who is a walking encyclopedia of organic gardening. Some days, they have chicks (in the spring), goats and even bunnies for sale in the shop, which adds an incredible cuteness factor. Add in a great selection of gardening books, and that’s what I’d call a one-stop shop.

Naomi's Organic Farm Supply, Portland, Oregon

Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply is located in SE Portland’s Reed neighborhood, at 2615 SE Schiller St. Their blog, plus workshops and event info is on the Website.

Popina Swimwear

Popina Swimwear, NW Portland, Oregon

I need you to understand something about me: I love water slides. I think they’re just about the most fun you can have. I trace this love of water slides back to being a kid, when I was too scared to ride most roller coasters but water slides were just my speed. I also grew up swimming, so when I’m on a water slide, I’m in my element.

One of my favorite places on the planet is Wild Waves, near Seattle. Yeah, I know it’s a little gross to be all dripping wet and barefoot with a million kids and their wet band-aids, but when I’m there, I’m on cloud nine. We used to go up there from time to time when I was a kid, and when I was too little to really ride water slides all by myself, my dad would always take me down the infamous green slides (which are so not the best slides anymore). My dad, like me, prefers his feet to be on the ground when it comes to thrill rides, but he definitely appreciates the laid-back and fun nature of a water slide.

Who wants to come with me on a nationwide tour of water parks? We could hit Schlitterbahn, Water World and Splashin’ Safari?

Popina Swimwear, NW Portland, Oregon

The only challenge to all that water slide fun is, of course, finding an acceptable bathing suit. Fear not, Portlanders — we’re covered. I know it doesn’t make a lot of intuitive sense that we’d have our own local swimwear designer, but we do and she’s awesome. Pamela Levenson, owner of Popina Swimwear, designs super-cute vintage-inspired swimsuits and shopping for them is actually fun. Bring your man friend — they’ll make him feel like he’s already on vacation with free Hawaiian beer while he waits for you to decide between suits.

Popina Swimwear, NW Portland, Oregon

Popina Swimwear is located in the Pearl District at 318 NW 11th Ave. and in the Hollywood District at 4831 NE 42nd Ave.  Follow the owner on Twitter, and let me know if you’re up for my awesome national water park tour!

pedX Shoes

pedX shoes, Portland, Oregon

Every summer, as the air started to turn a little colder, my mom would prep us for back-to-school shopping. She’d parade us over to Nordstrom for their summer sale and we’d get to pick out a few things for school, including a pair of shoes. That particular year, both Emily and I had our eyes on a new pair of Doc Martens.

“Really?” mom asked, holding the shoes up, their thick soles gleaming under the shoe department lights. “I know you girls think these are cute, but in your size, they’re going to look ridiculous.”

Thank goodness for power in numbers, because I probably would have believed her. But the oft-used “Those will look ridiculous in your size” speech comes from a place of my mom’s own insecurity about her feet looking big. It’s a little ironic, considering we both have bigger feet than she does. And they didn’t look ridiculous at all. We proudly laced up and headed to school in those Doc Martens when September rolled around.

pedX shoes is a space filled with beautiful light, beautiful shoes and the almost constant smell of waffle cones. How does anyone accomplish anything under these circumstances?!

pedX shoes, Portland, Oregon

This inspired women’s shoe shop — “shoe shangri la,” is just a couple doors down from the Alberta location of Salt & Straw, which is where that heavenly smell comes from. But what about the shoes? I sometimes have trouble with independent shoe stores since the styles are so particular to that store’s owner and feel. But in this case, whoever is picking the shoes should keep it up. They are all beautiful, but with just a hint of practicality — which I appreciate. And not one pair would look ridiculous in my size.

The staff here are over-and-above helpful and sweet, and welcoming too. Great for a browse or a shopping spree. And don’t miss the great sale section!

pedX shoes, Portland, Oregon

pedX shoes, 2005 NE Alberta in NE Portland’s Alberta Arts District. Check out their sister store Manifesto for men’s and women’s shoes. See also pedX’s Twitter and blog.

ink + peat

ink + peat, North Portland, Oregon

Summertime, and we were carefree! No school, no obligations. That summer, the one between 6th and 7th grade, was one of total relaxation. We laid by the pool and we ate ice cream and otherwise just relished the hot weather and lack of schedule.

I also had a great idea that summer — why not show everyone how fun I was by lightening up my hair a bit? My mom wouldn’t let me dye it, but she did buy me a bottle of Sun-in and let me  go to town. I sprayed a light shimmer across my hair that first day. Disappointed by the lack of results, I sprayed in more the second day. By the third, I was practically soaking my hair in it. Please tell me I was not the only kid who tried this.

ink + peat, North Portland, Oregon

By the end of the week, I was blonde. Bleach blonde. I thought it was awesome, and I continued to show my damaged blonde hair around the pool until August rolled around. I’d probably still think that I looked pretty awesome, if I hadn’t been forced to attend school picture day that year. My ensemble consisted of: a lilac T-shirt which made me look more than a little jaundiced, my bleach blonde summer experiment (full-bodied from all that sun damage), the eyebrows I inherited from my dad that hadn’t undergone any tweezing yet in my life and a full set of braces with pink rubberbands stretched across them.

When I got the photos back, I was horrified. By then, I had roots. Dark brown roots. But the rules hadn’t changed — I still wasn’t allowed to dye my hair — so I was stuck with the growout for the next 8 months.

ink + peat, North Portland, Oregon

My point is, I wasn’t always what you’d call put together. But I did have great ambitions. I think I keep it together most of the time now, but when I step into a place like ink + peat (a local shop that seriously has it together) I wish I could be cooler. The good thing is, they let you hang out and take cues from their stylish wares, which are always impeccably chosen and make a perfect gift — to someone else or to yourself.

ink + peat, North Portland, Oregon

ink + peat is at 3808 N. Williams Ave. It’s always impeccable — as is their home decor blog, housemartin.