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.

Two Tarts Bakery

Two Tarts Bakery, Portland, Oregon

Sometimes you need just a little something sweet — and I always appreciate a place that makes something small and perfectly crafted. Two Tarts Bakery is like that — their signature item is a sandwich cookie in a few flavors that melt in your mouth and in just one bite. I think they’re the perfect little pick-me-up if you’re window shopping on NW 23rd. Pictured below: the vanilla cookie with strawberry buttercream, cappuccino and chocolate with vanilla buttercream.

Two Tarts Bakery, Portland, Oregon

The little sandwich cookies range from classic (their chocolate with vanilla buttercream) to seasonal (vanilla cookies filled with buttercream laced with the freshest seasonal berries and fruit) to peanut butter and cappuccino. They also stock their shelves with other delicious little bites — which you’ll just have to go there to discover. If you don’t live here in Portland where you can get a fix, Two Tarts offers a brilliant and sweet monthly shipment program and for $26 a month, they’ll ship you 2 dozen of their cookies to keep you satisfied at a distance.

Two Tarts Bakery, Portland, Oregon

Two Tarts Bakery is located at 2309 NW Kearney Street, just off NW 23rd Ave. Find them online for great ramblings on the blog and a complete rundown of their treats.

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.

PBJ’s Grilled

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

My father-in-law, Ernie, is a total sweetheart. When it comes to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, he’s also a total creature of habit. I’ve been a member of his family now for 6 years and I’ve been watching this man’s PB&J routine like a hawk. I appreciate the attention to detail and the ritual that goes along with it.

Here’s how it goes: First, the bread is usually Dave’s Killer Bread. I do wonder if this was an upgrade from some other kind of bread he used before that was widely available. Surely Ernie has been eating PB&Js for longer than Dave has been making bread.

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

The jelly needs to be Welch’s Concord Grape jelly. No exceptions — although I do spot some marionberry jam from time to time in the cupboard at my in-laws’, so I don’t know if that’s an occasional substitute in a pinch.

Now on to the peanut butter: Adams. I appreciate this choice because I grew up eating Adams peanut butter, direct from the monster bucket my mom bought at Costco. I think there’s a clause about some kind of shelf-stable peanut butter being used in some contexts, but I can’t speak to this specifically when it comes to Ernie’s PB&J routine.

To enjoy it, the best way is to sit at the table (in ideal circumstances, this would be the table inside Ernie’s fifth child, his awesome Airstream trailer) and enjoy it with a cold glass of milk. This is the time-tested PB&J routine, and it’s just the way he likes it.

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

The PB&J that I found at PBJ’s Grilled in NW Portland would have thrown Ernie for a serious loop. These concoctions are delicious, but some of them sound a little off the wall. Because I wanted a vegan option, it was recommended that I try the Thai PB&J. I was a little nervous — I can be adventurous, but peanut butter with sriracha? Basil? Orange marmalade? I took a risk and went for it.

Now I can’t even think about it without my mouth watering. It was spicy, sweet and totally unexpected. And it was on Dave’s Killer Bread — so maybe I can get Ernie to try it next time he comes to town. What do you say, E-man?

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

Get your own crazy PB&J routine on at this food cart at 919 NW 23rd. You will not regret it.

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.