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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Sipping and Strolling

One of the best Vancouver events of the year is Sip & Stroll. This year, more than 35 downtown and uptown shops and restaurants offered tastings of wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks to benefit the Hough Foundation.

Starting at Brickhouse Bar & Grill, the event was especially interesting when it featured new businesses. What a selection! From a pole dancing studio to Bad Monkey Bikes, a barber shop (Moe’s) to the newly renovated Kiggins Theater, a karate studio to Arnada Naturals and Music with Miss Mindi, new shops were interspersed with old favorites like Tommy O’s and Urban Eccentric.

By the end of the evening, $15,000 was raised for the Hough Elementary School Family Resource Center, which provides a clothes closet, snacks, school supplies, an after school music program and volunteer support for students and teachers.

Here are a few photo highlights of Sip & Stroll:

Kristin from Small Vineyards at Niche Wine Bar

Beer Tasting at Most Everything

Alisa Tetreault, Owner of Most Everything

Linda Lee and friend at Linda Lee's Lingerie & Pole 4 Fun

Paul Montegue at Moe's

English Estates at Neighbors Market

Lynn Krogseng, Owner of Neighbors Market

The Cat's Pajamas on Broadway

Tasting at Cat's Pajamas

Sweets at Not Too Shabby

Benke Cellars at Mint Tea

Miss Mindi of Music with Miss Mindi

Music at Vancouver Pizza

Dennis Pfendler, Owner of Uptown Karate

Sipper and Stroller on a Jungle Couch

Too much to drink? Time to go home...

July 27, 2011   2 Comments

Shops to Love: Shorty’s Gift Store

Where is the most beautiful shop in Southwest Washington? Nope! Even if we knew, we wouldn’t say. One of the shops that would surely be on the list, however, would be Shorty’s Gift Store. The store is located in Shorty’s Garden and Home at 10006 Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver. (A second nursery is located at 705 NE 199th St north of the Clark County Fairgrounds on the east side of I-5.)

Here are a few of the lovely objects (and one furry mammal) found in the shop, which is delightfully decorated by Ines Mahoney:

Artful displays fill the shop.

Welcome plaques suggest umbrella-free days. (Wouldn't a dry day be nice?!)

Garden worthy gnomes gaze at shoppers.

Fairies watch over the shop.

More fairies...

A fairy hanging with the monkeys.

Unique bunnies are available for Easter.

Rain boots with a stylish attitude.

A plethora of plants with a guard keeping watch over the foliage.

An elegant chandelier for the diningroom.

Fine dining under the chandelier.

Vibrant wool blossoms.

Colorful coin purses.

Birds for spring decor.

Beautiful floral cards.

Lily the cat keeps a watchful eye on the shop, and the shoppers.

The gift store is stocked year round. Pots of all sizes and statues are displayed outside around the nursery. And plants, shrubs and trees are arriving for spring planting at both stores. Bantam and Grouse is open for British-style food at the Mill Plain store. Check out Shorty’s Garden and Home for hours and special events. See you in the garden!

February 23, 2011   2 Comments

Woman with a Repurpose: Scarves and Rugs from Pendleton Fabric and Yarns

Rebecca Weaver is a “repurposer.” Each week, at the Vancouver Farmers Market, she sells luscious rugs and woolen scarves she creates from recycled Pendleton yarns and fabric mill ends. She also creates table runners and placemats.

Rebecca Weaver at the Vancouver Farmers Market

I recently bought multiple scarves to share as gifts. You can give them as individual gifts or wrap them around other objects like soaps or candles — perfect for Made-in-the-Northwest presents. You’ll find Rebecca at the Vancouver Farmers Market throughout the fall season.

Rebecca's scarves with traditional Pendleton patterns

September 21, 2010   3 Comments

Vancouver Farmers Market Opens!

There are close to 5,000 farmers markets in the US, according to the Department of Agriculture. My favorite? The Vancouver Farmers Market, of course!

Opening Day at the Vancouver Farmers Market

The market opened on Saturday and it was packed. The sunny weather helped attract a crowd that was absolutely elbow to elbow during the noon hour. We were pleased to purchase a whole, cooked crab, beets, pears, carrots, Chinese broccoli and, for Gary, a massive ginger snap cookie.

Many food booths were doing a line out the door business, so to speak. Paella, gumbo, stir fries, seafood chowder, strawberry shortcake, there were plenty of choices. My favorite tamale stand wasn’t there but will be in the near future.

Stir fry in process

Third batch of paella for the day

The bread from Julia Bakery is always amazing

As always, the flower vendors were making spectacular bouquets, although I always worry about the daffodil and tulip combos because, if not soaked alone for 24 hours, daffodils secrete a sap that can destroy the tulips. Nonetheless, the arrangements were stunning.

Flower arrangements unlimited

The crafts are always colorful at the market and beautifully made. These felt hats could have been the subject of a still life painting.

Fabulous felted wool hats

And no market is complete without entertainment. A belly dancer provided the noon time performance. I covet her flat stomach!

Belly dancing at the market

One of the best things about the market is knowing that it will happen every weekend now through October. Except for perhaps kayaking, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning.

March 22, 2010   5 Comments

The Booksellers of Long Beach Peninsula

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” Jerry Seinfeld

Bookstore owners are a hardy (and hearty) bunch. With low profit margins and high overhead, bookstore ownership is not for the faint-hearted. Toss in the pressure from online sales and chain bookstores, and booksellers are downright courageous to be in the industry. We are lucky to have them.

On the Long Beach Peninsula of the Washington Coast, four tenacious booksellers are passionate about books. From Ilwaco to Long Beach to Ocean Park, they serve their communities and thousands of visitors. Open hours may vary with the season, so call ahead for details.

Time Enough Books, Ilwaco

Karla Nelson and Harper Lee of Time Enough Books

Time Enough Books (157 Howerton Avenue, Ilwaco Harbour Village at the Port of Ilwaco, 360-642-7667) surely must have one of the best views of ANY bookstore in the country. Overlooking the Ilwaco marina, just inside the Columbia River bar, and its commercial and recreational boat fleets, the store is a mainstay of the shops and restaurants along the harbor walk. Fresh seafood is nearby. May through September, the promenade in front of the store features a Saturday market. Depending on the season and weather, there can be a lot happening here.

After collecting and dealing books and filling their home with tomes for “years and years” and inspired by Portland’s Powell’s Books and Robert’s Books of Lincoln City, Karla and Peter Nelson opened Time Enough Books in May 2000. At that time most of the buildings along the harbor were boarded up. Karla had, in fact, cleaned fish as a teenager in the building. It was a “leap of faith,” she says.

Time Enough Books now operates a 7 day a week, year-round shop featuring 80% new and 20% used books. “Every book is handpicked by me,” Karla says. She is happy to recommend titles, including favorites from the book group, which meets at the store. Harper Lee, a golden lab, is the store greeter.

While all genres are stocked, not surprising, the maritime section is a strong one, reflecting Peter Nelson’s experience as a seaman. Chairs by the fireplace encourage reading. And if you haven’t found just the right book (or even if you have), Harper Lee will keep you entertained.

Banana Books, Long Beach

Ed Gray and Sobe of Banana Books

You won’t find very many banana trees in Long Beach, but you will find Banana Books (114 3rd Street, SW, Long Beach, 360-642-7005) in the old town part of the beach community. Owner Ed Gray worked for 20 years as a book scout and wholesaler or rare books. A small, year-round shop, Banana Books features used titles. “We have a good eye for titles that people are looking for,” says Ed. He knows his books.

His customers are 80% tourists with three-quarters of his business, like many other Peninsula shops, coming in June through September. (That’s a shame because the peninsula is so relaxing and conducive to reading in winter!) Many of his customers are looking for entertaining beach reads including titles by Patrick McManus, Clive Cussler and Carl Hiaasen. From literature to quick vacation books, Ed offers a diverse collection. Sadly, he doesn’t have much time to crack open his inventory. “I’m a bookseller but I don’t have a chance to read,” he says. He’s a fan of Raymond Carver.

More than books, the nine-year-old shop has an espresso bar and a large deck in front of the store. Jewelry shoppers should check out the stunning earrings and necklaces created by jewelry designer Mary Johnson, Ed’s wife. Another family member, Sobe, an American Staffordshire, will also be happy to meet you.

Catherine O’Toole Bookseller, Ocean Park

Catherine O'Toole and Jetsam of Catherine O'Toole Bookseller

Antiquarian, rare and out-of-print books are the specialties of Catherine O’Toole Bookseller (1310 Bay Avenue, Ocean Park, 360-665-0004). Located in a historic 1880s building – a former Methodist Church and Moose Lodge – her shop is packed floor to ceiling with her collection, which numbers about 68,000 titles. She also carries new local history and guidebooks. “I can’t resist books,” she says. “It’s very gratifying to be able to say to a customer, ‘Oh yes, I’ve got that.’”

In a book-filled office in the front of the shop, Catherine spends her days online, selling her titles through and other book sites, and shipping them around the world. Her business model of online selling keeps the store viable year-round.

She was born in Ireland, studied in England and moved to the US in 1967. She studied political science, horticulture and landscape architecture at the University of Washington, where she received her BA. A lifelong learner, Catherine now takes computer classes through the Grays Harbor College at the Community Education Center in Ilwaco. She is also perfecting her pool skills through a league at Doc’s Tavern down the block.

If she could turn back the clock, she would like to be a member of London’s Bloomsbury Group of Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and other writers and artists. “They didn’t work,” she says.” They hung out being intellectuals.” Catherine hangs out with her thousands of books, her online and in-store customers and Jetsam, her black and white cat.

Adelaide’s Books, Ocean Park

Cyndy Hayward and Miles of Adelaide's Books

Across the street from Catherine’s shop, another historic building houses a bookstore. As an owner of the Taylor Hotel (1887-mid-1930s), Adelaide Taylor spent more than 40 years running the lodging spot in the two-story wooden structure in Ocean Park. She died in 1940 but lives on through a bookstore named for her – Adelaide’s Books (1401 Bay Avenue, Ocean Park). Cyndy Hayward, a Seattle attorney who moved to Oysterville, bought the building with its expansive wrap-around porch and spent a year renovating it into an airy and inviting bookstore and coffeehouse. She opened the business in 2008.

Approximately 3,000 new books are well-organized from the children’s area with its charming mural to young adult, fiction, non-fiction collections and the poetry section, which Cyndy was advised against. The naysayer was wrong. “We sell poetry almost every day of the week,” Cyndy says proudly. She offers a diverse, handpicked collection. “We receive strong feedback on the quality of the books.” Miles, her friendly, full-sized poodle receives positive strokes, too. He blends right in as he sleeps on the loveseat.

The space is well-suited for game nights and author readings. The upstairs includes apartments and one day might house a low-power community radio station. “I want to make this into a community place,” she says. “Books. Coffee. Pastry. Talk.” is the shop’s tagline. What more could you want?

February 21, 2010   12 Comments

Shops to Love: Momma Made It – Fabrics with a 19th Century Flair for 21st Century Quilters

What would a pioneer woman think if she traveled through time to Momma Made It of Longview? She would, of course, be shocked at the autos, the asphalt, the development, but not the bolts of cloth.

Women on the Oregon Trail brought quilts that reminded them of loved ones left behind. Momma Made It is filled with 100% cotton fabrics with earthy warm colors and prints that would have looked at home in covered wagons and one-room cabins.

Momma Made It in Longview

Momma Made It in Longview

Owner Sharon Pennel started quilting while expecting the arrival of her daughter. Forty-two years later, she still loves the craft, opening Momma Made It in 1996 in a downtown Longview house. She recently moved the store to a larger space where she, and her staff of three, can host classes and quilting clubs.

The shop is neatly stocked with 2500 bolts of ever-changing fabric, featuring reproductions of traditional, homespun fabric of the 1800s plus quilting books, patterns and kits, some of which are Sharon’s own design and distributed nationally. Her own patterns are “inspired by antique quilts were have seen or imagined,” she reports. Her top quality fabric collection attracts quilters from around the region and advice is always available. “We have no aversions to giving a lesson on the spur of the moment,” Sharon says. “We’re in it for the fun.”

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Open every day but Sunday, Momma Made It is located at 2121 8th Avenue in downtown Longview, 360.636.5631,

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January 28, 2010   10 Comments