AFFORDABLE FUN CLOTHES
If you adore swingy little skirts in kicky patterns, duck into ZA ZEN (3415 S.E. Belmont St., 503-236-8991 or go to zazenshop.com), a little boutique that’s the muse of Alicia Arney, who splits her time between Portland and London.
You’ll find an eclectic collection of palooza pants ($29), skirts ($36), sundresses ($29) and stylish travel belts ($29 to $49). Arney’s best friend in London displays her tribal-inspired jewelry here as Etincelle Designs ($16 for a sterling ring), along with hip Passion Flower earrings, the handiwork of Portlander Heidi Cain, who makes them out of heat-hardened plastic material called Shrinky Dinks ($20 to $26).
FINDS FOR THE AUDIOPHILE IN THE FAMILY
ANTHEM RECORDS (828 S.E. 34th Ave., 503-963-9000) is a modern man cave of a music store, where you’ll find used and new CDs, albums and even the odd 78 or two ($5.99 for Ella Fitzgerald with The Song Spinners’ 1948 rendition of “My Happiness”). The concrete-floored shop is well-organized in a Real Simple sort of way: We’re gonna steal the RECENT RELEASES chalkboard idea, where titles are Velcro-ed to the wall in Scrabble tiles, for a fun grocery shopping list worthy of any style of kitchen. Look for new and old releases in categories such as Rap & Hip Hop, Jazz and Electronic—among tons of others.
EDIBLE SUNSHINE, ANYONE?
You know you’re getting close to SAINT CUPCAKE (3300 S.E. Belmont St., 503-235-0078), when you start seeing cool neighborhood kids like Rowan Skylar (pictured) peeling away a fluted paper cup from a soon-to-be-history pile of cake, icing and sprinkles. Located in NOUN, Saint Cupcake presents mouth-watering cupcakes ($2.50 each for a large cupcake; $1.25 for a “dot”) in such tantalizing flavors as Coconut Cream, Chocolate Cake, Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla Toffee, Poundcake, Buttercream, and even Vanilla Vegan or Chocolate Vegan. Day-old sweets sell for a reduced price ($1.50 and 75 cents), but don’t count on finding any pennies to pinch here. These cupcakes sell like the hotcakes they are!
THIS TOUR SIZZLES!
Trust me, there’s nothing like returning from a long walk to the smell of burning tea kettle to make you paranoid about checking your stovetop every time you leave your house. A better way to bone up on fire safety is to visit THE HISTORIC BELMONT FIREHOUSE (900 S.E. 35th Ave., 503-823-3615), where Don Porth will slide down a 20-foot-tall fireman’s pole to greet you rather than walk down the 27 steep steps from his second-floor office.
You’re prepared to see historic photos and fire-fighting artifacts such as an 1860 hose cart—and you do—but the genius of this SAFETY LEARNING CENTER & FIRE MUSEUM is its interactive exhibits that teach you about fire safety in a fun way. You can take a back seat in the “Fire Engine Experience,” a simulator that takes you on a fire call (actual Portland streets appear in the windshield, with real drivers not pulling their cars over for your engine to pass safely!).
“This isn’t a ‘Look, but don’t touch!’ kind of museum,” says Porth as he coaxes me down a 6-foot-tall mini-me of the pole he slid on.
On your way out, buy a Dalmatian-spotted patch ($2) as proof of your tour or a safety gadget ($4 for furniture wall straps; stove knob covers are $8) from a small display near the door.
Or better yet, schedule your kid’s next birthday party here ($4 per person with a $40 minimum).