I just returned to DC from a family vacation at North Topsail Beach, North Carolina. I spent the past week lying on the beach, trying to coax my dog into the water, reading, fishing, walking on the beach and eating fresh seafood. Here are some photos I took from a day trip to historic downtown Wilmington, a place I often visited in my youth.
Matt and I saw the hilarious and imaginative Paper Hearts tonight at E Street theater. We are always a little bit at a loss for places to grab a bite to eat in this area. However, we have managed to scope out a few places between ESPN Zone and Hard Rock Cafe. We love Bistro D'oc and Poste but tonight we decided to try something new. I have walked by Cedar and glimpsed inside a few times but never have I gone in until tonight. we had already had sushi so we just went for drinks. A gentleman who was walking in the door as we perused the menu said he loves the place and goes there all the time. With that recommendation we headed inside and bellied up to the bar. I am happy to report that the bartender was courteous and well-prepared for the job. My Gold Rush (Maker's Mark, lemon Juice and local honey) was top notch and Matt liked his Gin Cooler (Henricks's, lime and mint). The menu looked delicious though we didn't try anything. I'm guessing that by the attention paid to quality at the bar is also paid to the food.
I loved that the restaurant wasn't too huge (I'm guessing about 1,000' max) and the walled were decorated with cedar forest murals (love it). The bar was sturdy and spacious with a huge mirror that reflected on the dining room. The atmosphere was sophisticated and cosy. In a non-murdery way it reminded me of the bar from The Shining. I mean that the music was cool and classic, the bartender was what you want in a bartender and it felt like another time when all of that is the standard.
On a recent trip to Philadelphia I discovered a store that would serve as a huge inspiration for what I want do with my store. Art in the Age is sells clothes, art, accessories and other items made by their community of artists, creators and thinkers. The name and philosophy behind the brand come from an 1936 essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" written by a German cultural theorist named Walter Benjamin. (more below)
Better they explain it than me. Here is the philosophy in their words:
"Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction firmly believes in empowering artists producing high quality work marked by fine craft and intellectual rigor. We do so by applying the fruits of such labors to the cultural forms of everyday life, granting those who wish to engage the opportunity to do so in his/her own environment. Rather than exist at a distance in the white cube of the gallery space, we weave our offerings into the collective surface of myriad personal contexts. In this troubling epoch of industrial commodification, standardization of reproduction, and fomentation of a society of shallow spectacle, Art In The Age issues a challenge and rally cry. We fight fire with fire, subsuming the onslaught of watered down facsimiles and inaccessible displays with thought-provoking products of real cultural capital"
The design of the store is so inspiring as though you're in another time when products were all made by hand and were of high quality. I think smart businesses like this are the future of retail.
I cannot forget to mention The Root which is a pre-temperance alcohol made with sarsparilla, sassafras, birch bark and other wild roots and herbs recreated by the AITA folks. Also, it's organic.
I've had my eye for the perfect location for my fantasy shop for a while. The 14th Street corridor between U and P streets is so cool. I would love something like what the wonderful Home Rule has.
DC is is known for it's astronomical real estate prices which are daunting to potential small businesses. Ideally, the space would be no more than 1,000 square feet keeping the rent within budget. I have spotted a few spaces that would be perfect though they are too big or to pricey. I wish some of these DC landlords would get a clue and subdivide some of these huge places so small businesses can actually afford them. They definitely would not sit empty for as long as they do. Here are a couple.
I am crazy in love with this spot at 14th and T. I the history that comes with it. I would do little to change the facade other than hang a vintage-style wooden sign and add some flower pots or topiaries. I think I read that the owner was willing to subdivide which would be awesome.
I also think this spot has some potential. The location is great since it's sits right beside the Black Cat. It used to be an antique and restoration business. The facade needs some work but I think the bones are good. I spoke to the owner and of course it was way more space than I need and price was pricey.
Another spot which I've read about but haven't checked out yet is at 1412 14th Street in what used to be Irvine Gallery. It's a little further south than I originally wanted to go but it could work. The price is seems reasonable for it's 2,000 square feet.
I spied this sneak peak of the interior of Enjoy Cupcakes in Los Olivos, California over at Design Sponge. I love how bright and inviting it is. I must remember some of this ideas for when I design the interior of my store.
Isn't it everyone's fantasy to a bohemian world traveller living an unconventional life by your own rules? Roaming the globe with no particular destination in amazing clothes picked up at exotic locations? Sleeping in yurts or houseboats under a sea of stars with perpetually perfect beach hair? It is mine. I even named my cute little dog Gypsy.
Julia Chaplin is a freelance journalist based out of New York who coined the term Gypset (gypsy + jet-set) to define a new type a travel and the people who are lucky enough to have that lifestyle. Her new coffee table book, Gypset style published by Assouline, features beautiful photographs and profiles of the gypsetters and touches on the progression of the movement. Some of those featured in the book include the Mignot sisters (I'll write more on them later), Jade Jagger, Devendra Banhart and Alice Temperley.
(A treehouse in Kenya.)
(A VW bus.)
(A model in gypsy-inspired dress from French Vogue.)
If you're in the market for a unique scent look no further than the perfumery Tokyo Milk. I have been a long-time fan of the spicy and complex Ex Libris. I love the packaging and cool names. I hear their Paper and Cotton is fresh and great and I can't wait to try their woodsy Dead Sexy. To top if off bottles go for only $28.
The work of the visual merchandisers at Anthropologie always inspires me. I love how they tie in their customers lifestyles (reading, gardening, cooking, dog-walking, art) with their products. They manage to tell a story with each display or make them look like a page out of a fairy tale in such an artistic way. I plan to take some cues from them when I am designing the window displays for Woodland. Here are some of my favorites:
I have always loved terrariums. It's hard to forget that's it's mid-summer right now but during the winter winter they can bring some life and inspiration back into your condo. They are like little forest worlds you can keep in your home. Below are of some I've run across recently.
I am really loving the fairy tale-inspired one's made by doodlebirdie on etsy. This hanging globe called the secret garden would look great on my little patio or hanging by a window.
I love how weegreenspot uses non-traditional and found containers.
If you have space for something a little more grand here are some reminiscent of Gilded Age conservatories.
Of course if you want to make one yourself you can use this guide on Apartment Therapy.
So I read Michael Pollan's article in The New York Times Magazine this past weekend on how we spend less time cooking and in the kitchen these days. It was a thoughtful article and he touched on everything from Julia Child to our modern-day celebrity chef's, exploring the question of why we are food-obsessed but would rather watch people cook than do it ourselves.
I definitely can see how we've gotten to this place as a country. I personally find cooking to be relaxing, grounding and a wonderful creative outlet but I know some people find it intimidating. There is no need to take on a Top Chef-caliber meal on your first try. Cooking simple things can be so rewarding, not to mention it makes your house smell delicious and you learn to think about where the food comes from.
This inspired me to spend a little time in the kitchen today. With the ingredients I had lying around I decided on Craberry-Walnut-Orange Bread. See my recipe below:
2 tbsp orange zest
3/4 orange juice
1 1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven 350 degrees
Mix all the ingredients in the blender then place in then place in a bread pan. Bake for 55 minutes. Simple and delicious!
Less than a week ago I officially left my job as a designer at NPR To pursue some of my other passions and hopefully open my skin care boutique (named Woodland) in DC. I will miss the good people ad free concerts. I especially enjoyed the design work I did for NPR Music. I will remain a fan. We had some good years...
Of course, Matt never fails to make my birthday special. He took me for an early birthday dinner at DC's The Iron Gate, probably the most romantic setting in the city to have meal. I enjoyed my lemon-dill salmon and chocolate mousse cake under a canopy of grape vines and lights that form the false ceiling. It feels so magical there.
(I love birthday coupons! And I can't believe how much the dog on the picture looks like my Gypsy.)
Unfortunately, I was a little under-the-weather on my actual day so Matt brought me beautiful flowers, cupcakes from Cake Love and some gifts. I spent most of the day lying in bed reading a Sookie Stackhouse novel... it was great!
(Cupcakes from Cake Love — two lemon, two strawberry.)
(The Iron Gate sign.)
(The entrance to The Iron Gate.)
(Our birthday dinner table.)
(The false ceiling made of lights and grape vines. You can see some of the grapes hanging down.)
By some stroke of luck my husband and I have birthdays that fall within a week of each other. This leads to approximately two weeks of combined birthday celebrations.
For Matt's birthday I got him a very manly flask made by Stanley (perfect for camping) a bottle of Hendrick's and an Old Timer pocket knife. Then I surprised him with a weekend trip to beautiful Charlottesville where we stayed in the cutest guest house, hiked the AT, explored the town and tasted some local wine. Pics below...
(Hiking on the AT) ( A cool Shot from Ash Lawn-Highland, near Monticello) (The guesthouse we stayed in.) (Old Timer Knife) (Hendrick's Gin) (Stanley flask)