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.

Canoe

Canoe, Portland, Oregon

It was way too late to still be at school, but we sat in the pickup truck together in the parking lot, under the glow of buzzing lights, as he told me that he didn’t like me in that way.

The day before is when I let my affections be known, through a note (which I thought of as romantic, but was really a way to tell him without getting up the nerve to look right at him). That day after our rehearsal, he asked if we could talk. We went out and sat in his truck until the sun set and it was just us in the parking lot.

A year younger than me, he seemed to be wise beyond his years and more compassionate than most high school boys. He looked me in the eye, and he told me the things he loved about me. He told me the traits I have that make me a great friend, and then — softly — he told me that he just didn’t want to date me. And he was sorry about that — I could tell how sorry he actually was.

As time wore on and our conversation bubbled into laugher, stretched into long silences and ended in a hug, I made my way from the truck back to my car and then home. The boy that I had in my sights for more than a year had said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and I somehow didn’t feel heartbroken. All because he was so classy about it. It was the classiest gesture I’d ever experienced, and that thoughtfulness hasn’t been matched many times in my life in the 12 years since it happened.

Canoe, Portland, Oregon

Classy and thoughtful, through and through — which is exactly how I’d describe Canoe.

Everything inside is lovely, purposefully arranged and accompanied by a little note that tells you about its origins. If you’re in the market for a thoughtful gift, this is absolutely the place to go. The staff tenderly wraps purchases, slips a little treat inside and provides care instructions for your gift. This kind of care is rare — appreciate it, like I did my friend who let me down so gently all those years ago.

Canoe, Portland, Oregon

Canoe, 1136 SW Alder Street, in downtown’s West End district. For more impeccable taste and curation, check them out on Twitter and Pinterest.

Alder & Co.

Alder & Co., Portland Oregon

Due to a combination of overtiredness from the trip and nerves, I felt sick to my stomach as the plane landed in Barcelona. I was 17, I was going abroad for the first time, and I was about to meet the girl (and her family) that I’d be living with for the next month.

I needn’t have worried — I know that now — because that girl has been a friend to me ever since that summer. But before I knew her, her world was new and exciting and just a little scary. The next morning, Conchi came into my room to wake me up, speaking in the second language I had not yet mastered and way too fast to understand at half-asleep. I panicked. I had no idea what she was saying and I had no idea how I was going to get my bearings.

Alder & Co., Portland, Oregon

It all got better quickly from there — it was summer in Barcelona, and as high school students our job was to have fun, get to know each other and speak Spanish. Most days we’d head to the beach, or on a walk through the Barri Gòtic. I learned more in that month about the world, myself and new friendship than I ever had before, and that trip started a love affair with Spain that has seen me through five trips in 12 years and fostered a friendship with a family that treats me like one of their own.

That first summer, wherever we went, Conchi and my other Spanish friends all wore the same shoes — leather avarcas, which were worn-in, comfy and the ultimate summer sandal. On a later trip, I got my own pair, which I have long since lost, and I always have a pang of nostalgia whenever I see anyone wearing these sandals.

Alder & Co., Portland, Oregon

Seeing these avarcas for sale — imported from Spain — at Alder & Co. in downtown’s West End district, takes me back to that first summer, playing beach volleyball at Barceloneta and eating helado while “Asereje” blasted in my headphones.

Alder & Co. is a curated shop — but not like the very curated shop just a couple doors down. This place has a more accidental, even serendipitous, feeling. I love the collections, from brightly-colored books to rare finds like Swedish magazines and handcrafted housewares.

Alder & Co., Portland, Oregon

Alder & Co. is located at 616 SW 12th St. in downtown Portland’s west end district. If you’re not in Portland, you can shop online! Follow the shop on instagram for more eye candy.