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.

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.

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!