Destination PDX

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I meant to post this a little closer to the beginning of summer for anyone who might be making a trip to Portland for summer vacations, but as they say, better late than never. Having lived here my whole life I sometimes have wondered why anyone could come here for a vacation. There's no Disneyland, or Castles, or Cesar's Palace or tropical beaches. It's just a rainy little city - though this city is beautiful, especially in the summer as all that rain makes our land green even in the midst of long summer heat waves. And once I started thinking about it I found this post incredibly difficult to write, there are so many places I'd want to send someone - so be warned, it's going to be a long one. Here are my can't miss pdx picks.

Powells / Hawthorne / The Pearl

My first pick should be obvious to anyone who knows me through this blog or otherwise: Powell's. It's my happy place and probably the number one tourist destination in Portland. You can't come to Portland without visiting this city of books. You can read more about my love of Powell's hereInsider info: The "city of books" is in downtown Portland in The Pearl District, that's the big one and it get's really busy, but it's worth the stop to see the shear size of it (maybe on a weekday morning if you can) and grab a map to find your way through the labyrinth of books. The Pearl also offers some of our more fancy pants shops and restaurants, my pick for dinner and drink in this district would be Andina's and shopping would be to stop in at Cargo and the Jonathan Adler showroom. It's really lovely to wander around beyond the epicenter of The Pearl too, head over to Jamison Square to cool your toes in the Jamison Fountain.




If you want a more laid back, less touristy experience still centered around Powell's, you can go to my personal favorite location on Hawthorne in SE Portland. Both are in great neighborhoods - The Pearl one representing more of the neo-portland upscale vibe and Hawthrone representing more old-school down home Portland. My recommendations for Hawthorne are to stop in for happy hour at Por Que No? they have the best taco's around and are a local favorite. There are also lots of fun little shops to peruse on Hawthorne from funky gift shops to vintage shops to boutiques featuring local artisans. 




The Salt & Straw / Alberta Arts / Division 

Apparently The Salt & Straw is pretty infamous and it's not without good reason. They have the best ice cream and the most unique combinations. This has quickly made it to our fairly shortlist of where we go when we aren't at home. Insider Info: You can get a "split" single scoop so that's two flavors for the price of one. Also they have several locations and if you happen to be here on the last Thursday of the month you should go to the Alberta street location which is in North Portland (nopo to locals) so you can also check out "last thursday," and maybe grab dinner first at my favorite restaurant in the Alberta Arts district, Podnah's Pit. You can read more all of the above in a blog post I wrote here




You can also visit the Salt & Straw on Division street which is also in SE Portland and is apparently one of the top-ten most up and coming neighborhoods in the US - you might be able to tell by the insane amount of construction going on (stay above 33rd and you will miss it - S&S is on division/33rd btw). It's a great neighborhood to visit while you are here. It has an even more relaxed vibe than Hawthorne and is where the locals hangout. There are more vintage shops, boutiques, and restaurants to to check out here. My pick for dinner would be the famous Pok Pok (get the chicken wings!) and of course the perfect souvenir would be to stop in at Stumptown coffee's flagship location (45th/division) and grab a bag of coffee beans to take home for your mom and one for yourself too, so you can daydream over a cup of nutty-scented coffee about how how much you loved Portland. Insider Info: Both Division and Hawthorne are very close to each other and if you take 60th ave headed north you will run into Mt. Tabor park which is worth heading up to see the spectacular views and if you happen to be geology buff it's also a dormant volcano!





Saturday Market / Waterfront

Saturday Market has been around in downtown Portland forever, at least as long as I can remember. It was the land of artisans and handcrafted way before anything of the likes of Etsy came along and is still going strong, unfazed by the world wide web. There are hundreds of vendors, street performers, musicians, food carts, smells like nagchampa (er, and sometimes urine - but don't let that deter you!), it is all in all a fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It also extends down to the waterfront along the Willamette River which is worth walking up towards the riverfront district for a leisurely stroll and maybe to stop and get an ice cream cone or cool off in one of our many public fountains. Insider Info: If you visit the market this is also a good time to snap a shot of the famous portland sign (that's first pic I posted - on or under the burnside bridge will give you the best shots).


Voodoo Doughnuts

True confession I necessarily wouldn't add Voodoo Donuts to my personal favorites list. For starters they don't have gluten-free donuts (boo! they have vegan ones though), also I don't think their donuts are all that and a bag of chips, but if you go there don't be shocked if you see a donut with chips from a bag crumpled on top of it. Okay maybe not chips, but definitely fruity cereal. They also have a donut called "cock and balls," that's in the shape of, well, I am sure you can guess. So it's a huge tourist destination and the lines are long. But I am adding it to the list because while I don't love the donut (i.e. I can't eat them) it is so my Portland. It reminds me of my youth (in fact one of the owners owned the x-ray cafe, a teeny tiny all-ages music venue that was even dirtier and was my home away from home in my teen years - so for that it holds a special place and I take back what I said before, really you should go.). It has that dirty 90's vibe and if you are sentimental for that and wanting a donut at 2 am you would be remiss to not visit this pink donut palace. Insider Info: There are two locations: voodoo donuts (downtown) and voodoo donuts too (in NE portland - that's my stomping ground). If you make it down to Saturday Market during your visit it's very close to the downtown one.


Food Trucks

Portland is land of craftiness and pinot noir and beer and nike and bicycles . . . and food trucks - they are everywhere. And the food that comes out of these truck is good. Some of our most popular restaurants (like Pok Pok) started out as a food truck. There are so many, and it would nearly be impossible for me to tell you one venue to go to so I am just going to link to this list which gives a good list of the most popular venues.



Outside of Portland / The Gorge / The Beach

This one is easy: The Gorge. If you decide to go anywhere outside of Portland my first, second and third recommendation would be the gorge. While I haven't traveled as much as I wish I would have by now, I have traveled enough to know that this is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It's only a 45 minute drive from Portland to Hood River, which has a great main strip with lots of shops and spectacular views. There is also a "beach" along the Columbia River and a fabulous park for families to enjoy and watch the windsurfers. And on the way there you can stop and check out Multnomah falls. Insider Info: Go across the toll bridge to the Washington side (it's only a dollar) but there are two really tiny towns on that side to see: Bingen and White Salmon. Bingen happens to have one of the first licensed marijuana shops in the state, aptly called "the pot shop." I haven't been but you know, if you are touring, may as well add and cross off a "been there done that" on your itinerary list. Also stop by Feast Market in White salmon for local brews and yummy food. I might be biased as my best friends own it, but really, I am not - they have the best selection of local cheeses and meats, farm vegetables, beers and wines and they even will pack you up a picnic lunch and tell you the best spots to go have a picnic. 



The Beach

As I mentioned we do not have tropical beaches here, in fact sometimes I find them downright miserable, but I have recently had a change of heart, and because of that I say if you have time it would be well worth it to take a day or two to head to the coast (that's what we say here "we're headin' to the coast."). My favorite, if you have kids, would be Newport which has a good sized aquarium to visit and it also has perfectly kitschy bay front with candy shops, ripley's and wax museums, barking seals and my favorite restaurant anywhere on the coast, Local Ocean. Insider Info: There is also an "aquarium" at the bay front, this is not the aquarium, definitely skip it. Also while you are in Newport head to the tiny little strip of Nye Beach where there are more little restaurants, an adorable bookstore, and shops. You can read more about both places in this post.



For a more relaxed beach experience my pick would be Canon Beach. It's beautiful, featuring Haystack Rock, if you've seen Goonies before you have seen Haystack. Unfortunately I don't have any great food recommendations as the last time we went our we seemed to have terrible luck with our choices, but the beaches more than made up for it. If you go there go about  a few miles past canon beach and spend some time in the Arch Cove area, the beaches there are empty and quiet and perfect for collecting sand-dollars. 



Whew! I warned you it would be a long one. And still I feel guilty like I have chosen favorites among my children, so many things have been left out: like st. johns and cathedral park (this is where i grew up, prettiest bridge ever). And NW Portland a.k.a the alphabet district which also has a salt & straw and is close to The Pearl. And The Screen Door (yum!). And The Shanghai Tunnels. And The Rose Gardens. And all the bar crawling one can do - after your bar crawl you should eat at the open-till-very-late Le Bistro Montage for some crawfish mac & cheese. And The Portland Art Museum. And taking a local breweries tour on the brewvana bus. Or if a bus is too laid back for you you could instead go for the Bike Bar - this is where you and 15 other insane people peddle a bar whilst drinking in this scorching heat around the city. And of course there is always hiking, so much hiking. So, now, when do I get to see you? 

Crush | Scarr Co. |

Monday, July 28, 2014

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Ours was a good one, but today I am going to get right down to business because I am so very excited to share with you, not only the beautiful and intriguing collection of Scarr co., but an interview with the woman behind the brand, Sonia Scarr. As soon as I clicked on Sonia's webshop my heart skipped a beat. I wish I was a more eloquent writer so I could adequately describe how completely enamored I am by her designs, but I am confident that you must be feeling the same way at this point. The juxtaposition of the graphic shapes, with the pale and supple leathers, the hand-stitching, and the precision of each design - it is completely inspiring and intoxicating.








Sonia lives in a beachside town called Sea Cliff, NY, which is about 20 miles outside of Manhattan/NYC, where she used to live until last October. Sonia shares her home with her also amazingly talented boyfriend Ryden (he is owner/designer of the lighting company Allied Maker), their rabbit Cecelia and their hamster Mr. Brown. Scarr is Sonia's leather goods/home accessories company that she started just a few months ago (can you believe that? just a few months ago!).


1: When and how did you get started in leather working?

I began producing the leather and textile accessories for my boyfriend’s lighting company. At the time a few products had a touch of leather or felt on them, and we worked in collaboration. I loved working with leather so much I began working with it exclusively and started my own company. I lose myself in the tactile, visceral, sensuous experience of creating a three-dimensional piece. 

2. What is your design process like? 

I think of products I'd like to own, that I haven't seen before, that others may enjoy using too. I try not to create menial products just because I "should"--I want to be wholly inspired in the work. In my studio, I create a sample pattern out of canvas or paper, then a prototype out of the real material.


3: All of your items are hand-stitched and hand-crafted, which I wholly admire, can you share with us about what it takes to craft each piece? 

After years of working as a graphic designer, staring at a computer screen all day and feeling so disconnected from my work, I longed to create products where my handwork was really evident. Hand-stitching leather is a fairly slow but traditional process that is known for its longevity and resilience. I could certainly use a sewing machine or outsource production, but my current process creates an intimacy between maker, product, and customer that cannot be found in mass-manufacturing. 

4. What are most inspired by creatively?

Nature and science. Specifically the geometry found in nature, like the hexagons of a honeycomb, but also phenomena that's not structured at all, like a nebula or a storm. I grew up in the country, so all the workhorse tools that surrounded me, and their aesthetic, also inspire me.

5. I see that you also take custom orders, can you share with us what kind of custom items a client might be able to have created by you? 

I welcome any custom project or idea. I can stamp your company's logo onto coasters for your office, work with your design to create a custom handbag, make a decorative wall hanging, or add a leather inset to your own craft object (which is how I got started--wrapping leather onto wooden bases of lamps). To give you an idea, I've worked with interior designers to upholster chairs and hanging racks, with retailers on custom colorways of existing products, and even jewelry designers to create displays for their work.  

6: Where can people find your products? 

My website, scarr.co, or for custom orders: studio@scarr.co

Retailers: General Store in Venice and San Francisco: http://shop-generalstore.com/
Love Ding in Austin, TX: http://withlovefromding.com/

Scoutmob Shoppe: http://scoutmob.com/a/scarr

Many thanks to Sonia for sharing not only her amazing hand-crafted leather-works but also giving us a behind-the-scenes look at her process and inspirations. 

Magazine Display Hacks

Thursday, July 24, 2014








One of the things I haven't tackled yet in my seemingly never-ending house de-cluttering, is all of my magazines. I have so many and most (we're talking 90%) haven't even been cracked open yet. So every time I think about tossing them out I end up just shoving them back in their respective dust ridden resting places. At some point I don't know what kind of list I got on but I was getting at least 10 free subscriptions, everyday it seemed I'd get another magazine dropping through my slot. And, really, I would like to go through and look at them, but there are so many it's overwhelming. I saw a few of these pins and thought maybe if I found a way to display a few at a time I could actually start flipping through them. Though I am not completely confident on that, I do have one hanger on my bathroom that I have had an H&M catalog in since, well, I think it was a fall issue of last year (see why this cleaning spree is taking me so long?), and before that I think it was a vanity fair that hung there for about ten months before that. Really the only magazine I always read front to cover and love keeping a collection of is this one. One of my other long neglected goals is to submit something to them someday.

Images: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Ikea Picks

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's been awhile since I have done any shopping at Ikea. Honestly I kind of swore it off for a bit. We didn't have a store in Portland until sometime in 2008, and the closest one before then was near Seattle, so when it opened here I went a little overboard on my Ikea purchases. I recently have been trying to replace some things that I bought that just didn't hold up very well over the years, or that I simply got tired of. Though to be fair I do have a few things from Ikea that I really love (like my bookcases). But in trying to get M+L's room done (I am so close!) I took the three minute drive down to Ikea to get a few things for said room, I even spent a few minutes wandering around their showroom and where I found myself oohing and ahhing over a few of their new pieces. Unfortunately I just picked up a few practical items like shelving, but I did get this cool light cord for their "new" room. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

House Tour | Converted Church |

Monday, July 21, 2014










I hope everyone had a great weekend. I promise I won't bore you with anymore play-by-play's on my purging and cleaning projects, but, yes, that's still what I am doing. I have reached a bit of slump now being faced with the task of putting everything back together. It always looks so much better in my head than it does when I actually start doing it. So my weekend was peppered with lots of starts and stops - mostly stops), as I took lots of breathers from it all to go out to eat at the food trucks, visit the farmers market, and to see a movie. 

I also found this house over the weekend and, like many of you, I always love converted buildings turned homes. On one of my regular drives I used to make I drove by a house that was once a school house and one that was once an old wooden church. While I loved them both the school house always seemed like it would be more livable to me. I don't know why exactly, but the idea of living in a church kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies. However, that doesn't mean I am not intrigued by them. This one is in Melbourne and from the outside it definitely looks like it is still a church, but on the inside you really can't tell except for maybe the beautiful stained glass windows. I am only guessing but I imagine the ceilings are of a pretty spectacular height as well. You can see a few more photos and read an interview with the owners by visiting The Design Files.

Kids Room Wall Ideas

Thursday, July 17, 2014









So the thing about decorating kids rooms is there are so many freaking adorable ideas. With the rest of my house, while I love many things and many styles, there is just something engrained in me that gravitates pretty heavily towards vintage/modern. No matter what design styles I am currently coveting, or what I buy, or how I try to decorate my house, it always ends up going in the same direction and having a similar vibe. As much as 'things' in my house have changed/rotated in and out, or as I have tried to "drastically" change things up at different times in my life I can always look around and see that this has always been me. It just evolves. Never really changes. Kids rooms, though. Even within one style like vintage or modern, or black and white, or colorful or whimsical there is so many wonderful ideas and directions one can go. And I tend to love them all! But having kids and kids rooms for years now, I do know it's best to pick a style and stick with it, which I am trying to do (so hard). For some reason the chaos of toys that ensues in a child's room looks a little less crazy if it has a styled backdrop behind, under and around them. So while I know I want to go with a pretty simple color palette and in a more minimal direction (black/white/grey/ and of course a splash of pink for milo) I feel like before I go any further I need to decide what to do with the walls. I think there is bound to be more painting in my very near future. I have to give this pin honorable mention, because while it's not the direction I am going in, every time I see this image I swoon a bit. 

Images 1 (can't find the original source, if you know of it please let me know!) | 2 (diy tutorial) | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 (diy tutorial) | 8
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