Christmas in the Northwest: NW 23rd Avenue

I’m home!

I’ve escaped to the desert and am back to my native land of rain, gloom, and shadows. I’m SO excited! First of all, my parents’ house is so lovely and comfortable, and it’s nice to not have to worry about anything. Secondly, this place is amazing. The green trees, the river, the lush landscape–it’s like I’m on sensory overload.

Today my mom and I met my dad in Portland for lunch. He had just been to his hand surgeon for a check-up after his recent surgery. His doctor happens to have his office near the best shopping street in Portland–NW 23rd Avenue.

Lunch was at Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery, which has emotional appeal for me. When we were little and living in Eastern Washington, every time my dad went for meetings in Portland, he’d bring back incredible pastries from Rose’s. Gigantic eclairs, florentiners, and Napoleons were carefully split among us and savored. In my more recent history, my ex-boyfriend fell in love with me over a slice of particularly luscious Rose’s cake.

We didn’t have dessert today. I knew this, and tried not to even look at the pastry case. If you end up going to Rose’s, don’t repeat that mistake. Or, you could go to Papa Haydn, which also serves incredible dessert. We thought about going there, but they were booked up on a Wednesday for lunch! (Coincidentally, we saw Diane Birch’s parents, Alf & Estelle, having lunch there.) Or go to Jo Bar, the place where I had the best New Year’s Eve dinner ever, once upon a time.

NW 23rd used to be pretty much only independent stores. The chains have been creeping in little by little; it’s both good and bad, because the chain stores are pretty good, and not necessarily ones you’ll find in other places in Portland, but it’s sad to see the small retailers die out.

The one chain store I went into today was Lush. This Canadian bath and body store specializes in organic, vegan, all-natural products that smell good. It’s a good fit for Portland. I went to buy some of their incredible bath bombs. Or, as the guy behind me in line called them, bath grenades. They’re perfect stocking stuffers.

 

Lots of temptation awaits at Paper Source. They have so many adorable gifts there! Their papers make me crazy. I want to take a sheet of their wrapping paper and frame it, it’s so gorgeous.

 

Ether Shoes is a tiny little closet of a store. It was so crowded today that my mom opted to wait outside while I looked around. Ether offers something you’ll not find much of on NW 23rd–bargains. You can go to Zelda’s Shoe Bar down the street and offer up all your money to the god of shoes if you so desire. At Ether, though, you can find cute, fashionable shoes for very reasonable prices–as low at $15 for a pair of shoes. They also have cute accessories there. Great quality? Probably not. But for a pair of fun shoes? You can’t beat it. And you know mama likes a new pair of shoes.

 

I’m not even quite sure how to describe my last pick, 3 Monkeys. If you ever needed to get false lashes, a tiara, a vintage lamp, and tiki monkey statues, this would be the place. A mix of vintage items and new make it a bit like walking through a ’50’s B movie actress’ extensive closet. Part retro, part quirky, and part plain ol’ kitsch, 3 Monkeys makes my heart sing.

More from my adventures in the Northwest tomorrow! Is your Christmas shopping done? Even after all those lovelies on NW 23rd, mine isn’t.

Also, I miss Music Millennium.

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