20 May 2013, 10:07
Ah, Portland. I am sad it took me such a long time to visit you. I admit that all I knew of you was what I had learned from episodes of Portlandia, and now I wish I had visited years ago!
Some people say Portland is the Austin of the northwest. They’re right, but they’re wrong. Portland isn’t a clone of Austin; it stands on its own two feet.
Having said that, Portland is very much like my other favourite places in the USA: NYC, Austin, and New Orleans. What they all have in common is an independent spirit, a unique culture and a commitment to fostering the weirdness! Like the other three cities, Portland has not been turned into a wasteland of chain stores and Pinkberry frozen yoghurt shops. Small businesses thrive, and the local economy is booming. The earnestness of it all, of course, makes it easy to make fun of (see: Portlandia). But really, these are things worth encouraging and supporting.
I was overwhelmed by happiness in Portland. It is a great, GREAT city! Here are my top 5 suggestions of things to do in the City of Roses…
Ever since I’ve known her, Shauna has sung the praises of Buffalo Exchange. This uniquely American chain buys your used clothing, and in return, gives you the choice of cash or store credit. Shauna is always telling me that she got this great dress or those crazy shoes at Buffalo, and I kinda thought, ‘Yeah yeah…’
But this year I’ve done a lot of spring cleaning, and what can you do with garbage bags full of clothes, other than sell them or donate them? I started to cart suitcase-loads to Buffalo every month or so. It seemed like the most rational solution to my insane clothes-hoarding problem. In the last few months, I have amassed a fairly sizable store credit… Which made walking into Buffalo Exchange in Portland a dream come true.
I cleaned up in Buffalo Exchange on Hawthorne — scoring, for example, this maxi-dress by Theory (it has pockets!) — and did well at their downtown location, too, snagging this mad dress among other treasures.
What makes Buffalo Exchange in Portland so good?! I don’t know the answer to this mystery, but put simply, those girls in the Northwest have style.
You definitely need to visit the Hawthorne area when you go to Portland. Other than Buffalo, there’s a handful of great vintage clothing and furniture shops along that stretch of road, and on a sunny day, it makes for a wonderful walk, ducking in and out to see what you can see.
P.S. There’s a photobooth at House of Vintage just up the street, which spits out bright, evenly-toned black and white prints. Do it!
I was introduced to this healthy little wonder by some of our blogcadettes, and I am so thankful to them! A quick walk from the Ace Hotel, Prasad is a small but mighty cafe tucked alongside a yoga studio.
The perfect breakfast? Gluten-free toast with avocado, spinach, slow roasted tomatoes and jalapeño cashew cheese. (I have been fantasising about it ever since.) Wash it down with a Rita juice (celery, cucumber, spinach, kale, parsley, mint and lime) or a Witchdoctor (apple, lemon, ginger, wheatgrass and echinacea over ice). I mean!
Don’t get me wrong: Portland is packed to the gills with vegan, gluten-free and slow food options. But if greens and raw food are what you’re hankering for, Prasad is an unbeatable place to get your healthy fix.
I’m obsessed with the place. I can’t wait to go back to Portland, and eating there will be first on my list of priorities!
Since we were in town teaching, and our classes took place at the Ace, a lot of our Portland-ness revolved around their location… And what a location it is!
The Ace is fantastic and fabulous, and I would have absolutely no hesitation in staying there again. From the generous suites to the soft beds and oversized tubs, this is a smart hotel that really does supply every modern convenience you could possibly need.
They’ve actually thought about it: instead of giving you an iPod dock — which is just not compatible with everything — they give you a cable with a headphone plug on the end, which easily snaps into your phone, laptop, iPod or anything else. This, of course, meant we could boogie the night away to Boy George!
It’s the little things like that which add up to a superior experience.
And it’s not just that the rooms are awesome with great amenities. The lobby has a fantastic photobooth which can be used with a simple swipe of your credit card, there’s a Stumptown Coffee right downstairs, and the incredible Clyde Commons restaurant is just next door. (Say it with me now: truffle popcorn. Oh my lord.)
Next time I go back, I know where I’m staying!
On our last morning in Portland, after eating a mammoth breakfast at Paradox, we passed Saint Cupcake.
Now, truthfully, my cupcake mania has died down pretty considerably over the last few years. Just like everyone else, I used to be obsessed with those teeny-tiny cakes, and I took my tasting seriously. But sometimes you have too much of a good thing, and the thrill dissipates.
I looked into the window of Saint Cupcake and since we had some time to kill, we decided to go in. I was really happy to see that they had vegan cupcakes, so I picked a red velvet cake and carried it in a little to-go box.
After carting it around for most of the day, I finally devoured the thing just before my plane to Los Angeles started to descend. What a delight! Damn, that was a good cupcake: moist cake, thick fluffy frosting, and plenty of flavour.
I immediately regretted not having bought a box of 6! Saint Cupcake should definitely be on your list if you’re in town.
Boyd Rice: What’s your favorite bar?
Marilyn Manson: That’s an easy one. Portland Oregon. The Acropolis Steakhouse. Are you familiar with it?
Boyd Rice: Acropolis Steakhouse? I’ve heard about this. People say, “You’ve got to go to this place,” and nobody took me.
Marilyn Manson: Well, it’s the Acropolis Steakhouse and that’s what the song says and that’s all that it leads you to believe, but when you enter it’s an all-nude dance club that serves steak. It’s all nude, not just topless. You can eat steak at the table and people will be dancing all nude in front of you. The steak is only — I think I got a fillet for five dollars.
Boyd Rice: Wow.
Marilyn Manson: And it wasn’t really bad either. It looked like a place out of a John Waters movie. It just didn’t really seem real. But it was great.
When Kat and I arrived in Portland, one of the first things Shauna said to us was, “My cousin and I are taking you on a strip club tour tomorrow night.” At first, we were kind of confused. Why would she want to take us there? But of course, in the name of adventure, we said yes and went along.
That’s when I realised: going to a strip club in Portland is just like going to a bar in any other city.
You may be surprised to hear, for example, that we ate dinner at the Acropolis, while simultaneously being hypnotised by a girl who could gyrate each buttock independently. It’s widely known as the home of the best $6 steak in town. There’s a salad bar and slot machines. The crotchety waitress suggested Shauna’s cousin not order the buffalo burger… And one of the dancers just played TOOL and laid on her back while a guy threw quarters at her?!
After we’d had our fill of onion rings at the Acropolis, we headed to DV8, a huge purple building where the drinks glow under blacklight and the babes climb the pole with gymnastic athleticism. Cheap mixed drinks, multiple stages and a weird but cool audience made it feel just like your average neighbourhood hangout… Just with more boobs.
If you’ve never been to a strip club and you find yourself in Portland, please do yourself a favour and spend a little time in one. The experience is fun, surreal and silly all at the same time, and it’s the very opposite of intimidating. And by the way, if you do go, here’s how to worship at the temple!
Of course, our trip would have been very different without the generous hospitality of Shauna, Joey and Rocky the wonder-pooch. Staying at Wolfgang Manor, with its assortment of taxidermy animals and vases with faces on them, was a total delight. Thank you, babe. One day, when I have my own haunted mansion, I hope to repay your generosity!
The dream of the nineties is alive in Portland,
Photos of lamp-post and Shauna by Made U Look. Saint Cupcake photo from their site. The rest by me.
17 May 2013, 11:28
Spring is all about falling in love. Warm weather, long nights and short skirts add up to create a truly amorous atmosphere!
Maybe you’re falling for someone new, or simply rediscovering how wonderful your long-term lover really is. Either way, I created a playlist for you, containing 100% non-bullshit love songs. (Because Kenny G is not awesome.)
Listen to it while you daydream about your boo!
Hearts in my eyes like a cartoon character,
16 May 2013, 15:21
I’m sitting outside a coffeeshop in the shade. I’m wearing plum-coloured lipstick (#46) with my legs crossed underneath me (always my favourite way to sit). God, it is such a relief to able to sit outside and not have to pull my coat around me!
Yesterday I caught two buses and a train up to South Bronx (the South South Bronx) to go on a little EKOCYCLE pilgrimage. While there, I was reunited with Will.I.Am. EKOCYCLE have teamed up with four residential buildings in the South Bronx to try to increase their rate of recycling, since it’s one of the lowest in NYC. Super-cool.
As we walked the streets, he said, “You’re from New Zealand, right? I was just there!” He proceeded to tell me about how he gets involved with kids from low-income areas, and that he just donated $100,000 to a bunch of charter schools in New Zealand.
I am always so impressed by him and his commitment to really, truly making the world a better place. He is such an exceptional person. A lot of us talk a big game about “living your passion” and “leaving a legacy”, but how many of us actually do it? And by the way, saying that you’ll be generous once you have the time/make your first million is bullshit. If you’re not generous with your attention, time or money now, you won’t be when you have more of it. True story.
The other thing that fascinates me about Will is how much he manages to get done. He has his fingers in a trillion pies, and yet somehow is still charming, thoughtful and productive. He’s not rushed or impatient or rude or too important, and he puts all of himself into everything he does. I know how easy it is to run around wringing your hands talking about “how busy” you are. But Will isn’t a robot or some superhero spaceman. He is an average dude from the projects in East L.A., who has his priorities in check.
What if we all stopped watching television for a month, and instead devoted that time to a something we were intensely passionate about? What if we stopped wasting our time with constantly refreshing social media and our inbox, and instead disconnected from the wifi so we could get some real writing done? What if we really took notice of the fact that our time on the planet is short, and that if we want to achieve tremendous things, we need to harness every single minute?
Now, this is not to say that we should never rest or relax or party. Of course, that is vital to our enjoyment of life! But I know my life would be better if I stopped doing things that were just “okay”, and prioritised the stuff that really matters.
Hanging out with Will yesterday was like a big, inspirational shock to the system, and it made me think a lot about casting off the excuses and just committing to doing the very, very best I can. In fact, one of my new favourite people, Ashley Ambirge, just tweeted,
Doing the best you can fucking do is so much easier than not doing your best, and making up excuses in your head the whole time.— Ashley Ambirge (@TMFproject) May 16, 2013
Word up to THAT.
Every time I hang out with Will, he makes me want to be a better person… And I think that’s the highest compliment you can ever give someone. But it’s not enough to just idly want to be better — you then have to go out and do something about it.
J’adore… Considerate smokers (thank you for not blowing stinky smoke and ashing all over me, I do appreciate it!) Sitting outside to write — truly, the best! Revamping my editorial calendar! (Yeah, you need one too!) Buying what is, perhaps, the perfect skirt in white… I can’t wait to wear it! Seeing women I went to school with thrive! Having #courtneyloveappreciationhour on Twitter Reading too much about people who have had alien encounters Getting really lost in a great book Genius playlists, which I had somehow never used until yesterday Having my trainer tell me I should make a mixtape for the class he teaches (flattered!) Dog yawns Coffeeshop productivity Sequins all the time ...And trying to type while Dolly lies on top of me (my reality right now)!
Kisses and gratitude,
Photos by Made U Look.
13 May 2013, 09:39
The first time I visited Austin, I fell promptly in love. It’s one of the coolest cities in the world… And that’s why I’m extra-excited to announce that we are bringin’ The Blogcademy to Austin this August!
The Blogcademy: Austin will be held at Vuka, a gobsmackingly beautiful and unique co-working space. I can’t wait to go back, wear cowboy boots, listen to some country music and eat some amazing food!
That’s not all, either: we are also pleased to have added a second Melbourne date — that puppy sold out fast! — and to let you know that our venue in Minneapolis is the ultra-cool Public Functionary. Good stuff!
New York City
As always, we’re offering an earlybird special for Austin and Melbourne for the first three days, so be sure to snap up your ticket with the quickness!
And remember: we offer a scholarship to every single class! The details are at the bottom of our FAQ!
If you somehow missed it, and don’t know what I’m talking about, The Blogcademy is a two-day bootcamp for blogger babes. You can read all about our curriculum, get answers to your frequently asked questions, read some testimonials and watch a video all about it!
11 May 2013, 16:37
Los Angeles was the class that nearly didn’t happen. About a month before we were due to teach in Hollywood, I was in New York City, walking along 5th Avenue, when an email pinged up on my phone. It was from Shauna, and it said, “Bad news: the LA venue have just told us they’re double-booked, and can’t host our class.”
The adrenaline surge was enormous. We immediately sprung into problem-solving mode. Within a couple of minutes, I was on my phone, chatting to potential venues and asking for information. This is always the most difficult part of doing a workshop: finding a great space. But soon, we had discovered a space — McCadden Studio — which looked even more like our style than the first place.
On the morning of class, when we walked in the door, we were immediately psyched! McCadden Studio is such a cool, psychedelic space. It’s a photo studio, so the center of it is enormous, seamless and white, but the rest of the building is decorated it with retro signs, old toys, and mid-century furniture. We fell in love with the owner, Ron, too. We came to think of him as a kind of greaser guardian angel!
You have to remember that when things appear to be going “wrong”, there is always a silver lining!
“The Blogcademy is the best investment I’ve ever made in myself.” Paige
Our Californian babes showed up bright and early, and soon it was time to kick off the weekend!
We loaded ‘em up with workbooks and goodie bags, plied them with Zevia soda and offered them cupcakes. Over the next two days, we watched as their nerves melted away, and they went from being strangers to becoming friends.
As always, we were delighted by our Blogcadettes’ style. It’s true that The Blogcademy is the perfect excuse to bust out your favourite dress and a very special pair of shoes! From sparkly Betsey Johnson kicks to turquoise star crowns, from banana-shaped necklaces to vintage shift dresses, they were a fantastically colourful gaggle.
“So, I have a list of about 50 things I want to fix/improve/write/edit on my blog over the coming months…” Patty
Blogcademy-themed manicures are always encouraged, too, and you should know for any future dates that we definitely give prizes for anyone who makes the effort like this! I mean, how could we not? We’d be the meanest headmistresses in the world!
What a wonderful bunch they were. Paige, who read tarot cards for Kat and I, brought her own teacup all the way from San Francisco. Danielle, our scholarship winner, made us smile with her totally on-brand pastel aesthetic. Kandee made me laugh until tears rolled down my face, and Erika handed me an advanced copy of her book which I devoured on the flight home! Suzy Mae and Sarah had an impromptu photoshoot in the alley outside, and Vivienne put her nekomeme ears on my head! Tiffany put us all to shame with her incredible styling, and Adri came all the way from Mexico City!
You know, it’s funny. When we started The Blogcademy, we didn’t want the branding to be so over-the-top feminine that men were put off. But as time goes on, and as classes fill up and sell out, we realise that no matter what we do, we are girls’ girls! Sure, there might be a dude in class… But probably not. It’s probably going to be a Babe Party™. There will be dresses and perfume and someone will be wearing badass hot pink lipstick. Someone will almost definitely compliment you on your shoes and you might get a crush on the girl sitting next to you.
I kinda love that. In fact, I love that a LOT. I am so into bringing women together and the unique, fantastic things that happen when we’re bouncing ideas off one another. There is a quickening as we all meet up in the same mental space. It’s magical.
“Being in the room with these three women made me want to sing! What happens when three very individual, self-actualized women stand in front of the room is that everyone in it gets zapped with energy. They have a way of creating a space where, first of all, everyone is invited to be themselves completely and fully; and second, where you feel loved. You just feel like all of those little ideas budding in your brain are welcome — these women invite them to the party, and treat them like the guests of honor.” Sarah
During class, we’re always thinking about how we can make it bigger, better, more bombastic. In the middle of lunch on day one, as Shauna and I stood on line for a couple of salads and skull-sized coffees, we realised what would make things better: CUPCAKES!
Yep, as luck would have it, there was a Baked cupcake shop just around the corner from McCadden Studio… So before long, we were stumbling back to the space with three dozen assorted treats. And while cupcakes may not be as cool and zeitgeisty as they were, say, five years ago, trust me when I say that most people will not pass ‘em up!
Needless to say, we sailed into the second half of class on an epic sugar high!
“Shauna, Kat, and Gala were seriously entertaining, hilarious, attentive, positive, welcoming and a great example of truly “living your bliss.” It made me not only want to be their friend, but also want to have more friends that were so deeply in-line with similar passions and career aspirations!” Jenna
On day two, we surprised Kat with a birthday cake, and made the class sing her happy birthday… She went as pink as her hair! Then we posed in an alleyway for our class photo, before collectively running inside to make the absolute most of Snapden, a killer LA photobooth rental company!
We absolutely flew through the second day, and before we knew it, we were taking our very last questions! Karyn presented Kat with an enormous birthday bottle of gin, and we all milled about sipping gin and tonics as we answered some final questions, posed for photos and hugged goodbye.
“Mini-Blogcademy-marketplaces have begun to spring up, with women contracting women to help program, strategize, design, photograph, model for, and promote one another’s blogs. This, for me, is the interesting part. I love to watch commerce thrive in its own little ecosystem— and when this occurs, you’re doing something right.” Suzy Mae
Look at those cuties! We had such a good time with these girls (and a couple of honorary dudes), and were so impressed by their savvy. L.A. was one of the most go-getting classes we’ve had so far, and we just know that we’re going to see BIG things from them!
“I don’t know if this is even intentional, but I think this girls just nailed it in terms of having a blogging-multidisciplinary group working together and having constant feedback… this was amazingly inspiring, incredibly rewarding… nothing compares to actually be there and exchange knowledge!” Adri
Really, it’s not an experience you can put into words. Maybe this video — sent over by our aforementioned greaser guardian angel, Ron — will give you a better idea?!
“I headed into Blogcademy without any questions prepared, any expectations + hoping to make a few friends. I walked away INSPIRED, completely blown away and so happy to learn from such fabulous women.” Ting
Of course, just like every class that came before, our goodie bags were stuffed to the brim with an assortment of fun treasures…
Crown And Glory supplied the ears…
Moorea Seal decked us out with jewels…
Saturday Sequins supplied a little extra sparkle…
Mr Yen handed out hand-cut greeting cards…
Basik 855 gave everyone a pouch, perfect for holding business cards or elusive laundry quarters!
We were all able to transform our shoes with clips from Head Full Of Feathers!
Classic Hardware makes killer art-themed jewellery, and they gave us a few pieces as prizes!
Twinkie Chan gave everyone a Blogcademy coffee cozy… !
And Margravine and Sew Mary Ann added a literal glittery bow on top!
“My time at The Blogcademy was beyond words. I can try to describe the whole experience, but I don’t think I’d ever be able to truly capture the magic of it all in just the right way. No photos or text do it proper justice, it is really something that just needs to be experienced, so if you have been thinking about joining in on the world tour, I encourage you to take the leap and sign up. It’s a two-day workshop, but the community that results from those two days continues to live on. We are all helping each other to learn, to grow, and to be our best selves. I’m officially inspired; I’m ready to take this thing to a new level!” Danielle
And hey, I hate to be a tease… But we’re announcing something exciting on Monday! Ooh la la! What could it possibly be? You’re just going to have to wait… You’re following us on Twitter, right?!
Always missing Los Angeles,
Photographs thanks to Milou and Olin.