February 13, 2008

Hearts a'Flutter for Portland

(Photo of the Portland skyline from www.ohsu.edu.)

Last Thursday I went down for a quick day trip to Portland, OR with Bob & Kristine. Part fun and part mission I went along with the idea of convincing them that moving to "Stumptown" would be a prudent decision. That and I think that them being there might actually put me in the mindset of a relocation to this delightful city.

I grew up near Portland and, while it was a godsend at the time, I was certainly ready for something new at the time and couldn't wait to fly, fly away. So after a couple of years away in Nova Scotia and a return through Vancouver, WA, I found myself plunked in Seattle...and I was so happy to be in a "real" city. Well, time goes by and what d'ya know...Portland goes and gets all "phabulous". It is amazing to see how she has grown into herself. Part youthful funky, part urban sophisticate, and part growing gracefully elegant, I find myself waxing poetic about P-Town everytime I visit.

Maybe you'll do the same after your "visit"?

The Pearl District

As a kid, the only reason you'd ever come anywhere near "the Pearl" (not that it was called that back then) was to go to Powell's Books or some random warehouse party. It was all storage and industrial buildings, trucks and employees being the only thing that brought any life to the area and only during the day. Now it is, perhaps, the neighborhood of choice for the Portland urbanite. Filled with tony little shops, restaurants, condos and apartments, I must admit it is usually my first destination.

(Exterior of Cargo)

(Interior image from Yelp.com)

Having once sold Asian antiques, Cargo is something akin to the Botan Rice Candy version. They've got a great selection of various Asian imports and it's a visual feast to wander through. And I don't hate the fact that it's the only place I know of to find an aqua-colored Chinese cabinet. (It was SO great looking...sadly, not on camera.) For a greater look-see, take a virtual tour of the store.

(Image from the website.)

All I really have to say is that the Everett Street Bistro is small and French-inspired and anyone who can put together a pastry case that looks like their's and turn around to make a personal variation on classic American biscuits and gravy with chorizo, tomato jam, and blue cheese crumbles that tastes better than life itself (practically!) is okay in my book. Oh, and Bob & Kristine loved their mushroom soup and Croque Monsieur...and Kristine didn't hate that fresh peach Bellini neither. (Ooh...I could'a snatched the glass away from her...delish!)

Oblation Papers & Press
(Images from the website.)

Perhaps the preeminent paper store in all of Portland. Some great displays and a wide selection of papers, ribbons, and gifts. But honestly I think it's the wood floors and being able to look inside the on-site letterpress shop that keeps me coming back. Okay, and the smell of the printer's ink...oh that glorious smell! (Hello! I have my degree in printmaking so really it's not that weird.)

Cielo Home
(Image from the website.)

Holy crap! Yes, that's what I said. It might not win me a Pulitzer for my blogging but it sums up my general (albeit unsophisticated-sounding) reaction. I so LOVE Cielo Home! Seriously luxurious eye candy in this uber-popular boutique that mixes new and vintage finds. So fantastic I forgot to even take any pictures! Mmm hmm...you know it. Fortunately, you can live vicariously through their website.

Lark Press
(Once again, images from the website. I
don't know what I was thinking that day?)

Lark Press is a small letterpress studio and retail shop. An nicely edited selection of Lark Press' and other cards and some gift items. Kristine kept tempting me with scientific vials of silver glitter. (I honestly think there must be a 6-year old living somewhere inside me...oooh, soooo sparkly!) What I also love about Lark is that it is incredibly inspiring to see an artist who is both producing and selling from their own establishment. One day for me perhaps, and Lark keeps the dream alive.

Scrap is located next to Lark Press but we didn't really have the opportunity to go in this time around. I think they have something similar, if not the same, in Berkeley, CA (correct me if I'm wrong)? From the seriously brief passing of their website, it appears that they promote the art of reuse through the selling of good quality donated materials for artistic and educational purposes. This will definitely be a first stop for me the next time. The building is amazing...much less the truck!

Two of my favorite up and coming spots are Portland's Alberta Neighborhood & Mississippi Neighborhood. Both of these areas have seen the beginnings of a tremendous overhaul and revitalization (if not climbing real estate prices). In recent years, the streets have become burgeoning shopping areas filled with new boutiques, bars, and restaurants and they are personal favorites of mine. In fact, they'd likely be the places I'd look to relocate to if I did come to Portland...assuming Kendall didn't have a say (still a bit "transitional" for his liking).

And one of my always destinations in the Mississippi Neighborhood (opened by a Seattle transplant, I might add) is Flutter. And that's exactly what happens to my heart when I step inside. Flutter is at once funky and sophisticated...or at the very least a sophisticated version of funky. Disregarding the fact that they have the most amazing teal colored wall that runs the length of the shop and was born to showcase all things gilded and gold, they expanded since I was last down and only added to the temptation. A, once again, mix of mostly vintage with some newer finds it is filled to the brim with fantastic furnishings and gifts galore. And it sets my heart a'flutter! (Forgive me.)


  1. UB, So fun to "revisit" P-land via your blog - we had such a fabulous time exploring with you. Fingers crossed that we can find the perfect dwelling and make the move this spring...

  2. I would just love to visit portland but its sooo far, We might make it to New York in may though. I need an american fix, so long since I've been there and I miss it : (

  3. mmm...pooooortlaaaand...... my best friend from college grew up in portland, and i went there when she got married-- seems like one fantastic city!

    thanks for all the great comments on my blog today-- i'll keep you posted about the valentine outcome!

    Happy Valentine's Day!!

    (ps- your blog is my new fave...)

  4. Right back atcha, kitkat :)

    Oh, L&S...and I could do with a British fix as it has been much, much too long. I heart England :)

    Yes indeed, Jess...Portland is a lovely city. Manageable but with lots happening, including great urban planning, public transportation (wake up Seattle!), and parks for miles and miles. Love it!

    Thanks Everyone for the comments!

  5. what a great guide! i've never been and this is enticing, and while i'm here, happy valentine's day!

  6. i have a friend moving to Portland in the fall, i'll have to visit all those places when i go visit her!

  7. i'm not sure about berkely... but the only SCRAP i know of in the bay area is in San Francisco... hmm, maybe there is one in berkely too... gonna have to check it out!


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