Blogging about a variety of things I enjoy. Also peddling my wares at Thicket and Thistle on Etsy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

dame mas

I finally convinced my significant other to take a day trip to Charlottesville with me yesterday. It was grey, cool, foggy, and on the verge of rain - often the standard Cville weather, so a rather appropriate day for his first time. The drive down 29 is lovely. Ramshackle dwellings on the side of the road, green hills being nibbled out by brown and black cows, silver silos blending into the grey sky.
We started with a walking tour of my alma mater. The school was quiet on a Saturday morning. We stopped in at Finch, a small town version of Anthropologie, where he bought a t-shirt by Southern Proper with a black lab (wearing a red bow tie) on the black, underneath which appeared "Haberdashery for the Southern Gentleman." I bought a pretty little mint julep cup, one of which I have coveted ever since I saw them being featured in magazines as vases. My budget doesn't afford for weekly fresh peonies, so I'm considering going the fake route...I've heard if they're good, it doesn't really matter much that they're fake. A big hydrangea bloom would be lovely, too.
Next stop, Feast!, a gourmet local foods shop that has become one of my favorite stops in town. They bottle the tastiest olive oils, always have plenty of samples of chutney and Virginia cheeses (including the amazing, creamy, onion-y Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy in Galax, VA), and offer the most wonderful, pungent, spicy molasses cookies that I have tried, tried again to replicate. I usually buy them out of their stock; this weekend I only bought four. Feast! is part of Main Street Market, a little collective of local stores, including an organic butcher, wine bar, and bright flower shop. It has become an increasingly popular stop since I first started making my weekly pilgrimage in 2006.
A quick drive down the street led us to the Downtown Mall, where I decided we'd grab a cheap but decidedly delicious lunch at Marco and Luca's dumpling stand. Seven dumplings and a steamed pork roll later, I dragged my reluctant Southern gentleman into the expansive and ever-intriguing Caspari gift shop, which never fails to attract me with its brightly colored dishes, notecards, napkins, teacups, and seasonal decorations (this spring: blue and green robins' eggs). He decided stores like that should have speakeasies in the back for male shopping companions only.
On and just off the Downtown Mall are unique shops selling antiques, vintage clothing and jewelry, and beautiful things for the home (like Quince, Posh, 2 French Hens, and, formerly, Rock Paper Scissors, which has since moved to Barracks Road).

Shopping for me was cut short so we could make the short trip up to Monticello, where we toured around for about two hours. I've only ever been on grey, rainy days but the grounds are still fresh and the air pure. I love the octagonal spaces and especially the tea room, which is on the north side of the house and therefore a bit chilly but yesterday was set for a very yummy looking tea.
We left shortly after five with the explicit intention of arriving at Mas--one of my all-time favorite restaurants, which serves some of the best tapas I've ever had (and I studied abroad in Spain)--by the time it opened at 5:30. We weren't the only early birds waiting for them to unlock the doors. The wait sometimes reaches two hours for the maybe 20-table restaurant, nestled into the Belmont neighborhood, which is mixed but undergoing a renaissance.
We started with a delicious collection of olives, followed by homemade bread and olive oil. We checked off our tapas selections on the paper menu (T for tapas size, R for a racion) and awaiting the slew of dishes. First, a platter of thinly sliced jamon serrano and manchego. Next, patatas bravas with aioli, salty and hot. After that, the tenderest gnocchi with simply the freshest pesto I've ever had. Bread with lavendar honey and melted cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, carne asada, chicken and pork meatballs, Wagyu and rice-stuffed poblano peppers followed in rapid succession. We were stuffed and I was happy. Oh--I mustn't forget the blood orange margarita. Mas alone is worth the two-hour drive.
Charlottesville is quickly gentrifying and catering to wealthier students and residents, eager to enjoy chic boutiques and foodie hangouts. It's even better now that I don't have homework....
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

see: urchin

Sea urchins abound! Last night I had on my mind two original prints I saw about a year ago in a custom framing shop, each of three plump sea urchins, in pink or taupe. The perfect strings of dots cascading down its ovular shape were so pretty and simple. I regret not spending the $15....A search has turned up several promising manifestations of my mental image. This seems like a theme that J.Crew could capitalize on. I can imagine a summer catalogue advertising enamel cocktail rings in pop colors with shiny gold protuberances (technically, the tubercles).
This ring and brooch are made from real, live (well, dead) sea urchins collected from the beaches of Turkey. Coveting this shiny sterling silver ring.... The simple print on the cards and rather wild envelope liner make me think of the 1970s, Paper Source, and my perfect, forever lost urchin prints. And wouldn't you know it, on a walk in Georgetown this evening I happened to spot a pale blue-green enamel sea urchin decorative box in the window of an antiques shop. It must be a sign. Image 1 - Flickr Images 2 and 3 - Star of the East Image 4 - Nafsika Made Image 5 - Pixel Impress

Monday, March 23, 2009

stairway to heaven

These two staircases, and the little feet whizzing up the first set, make me think of unbridled, joyous youth. These are unapologetically youthful stairs. If I were old enough to have kids (actually, I'm old enough...let's rephrase: if I were ready enough to have kids) I would gather the gang for a stair-painting party. When I showed these pictures to my sister today, she seemed less taken by them as I was but she thought of another fun idea: a tonal staircase - one color, graded hues. I think it would be fun with orange, or maybe taupe.
The big, jolly numbers remind me of hotel rooms, which reminds me how much I used to want to work in a hotel. My cousins set up a receptionist desk in my grandparents' old bicentennial Victorian in New Jersey and would make my parents, aunts, and uncles sign the guest book upon arrival. Instead of numbers on the many doors, each room developed its own name and identity over the years. On the second floor were Ocean 1 (ocean views), Bay 1 (bay views), the Wicker Room (home to a little wicker chair), and my great aunt's and grandparent's rooms. Way up on the third floor were John Patrick's Room (eldest of many grandchildren), the Tower room, and the Studio (a six-bed, long room for girls only).

Numbered Staircase - Pink Wallpaper via The Happy Haven via Flickr
Rainbow Staircase - Domino Magazine Online

Sunday, March 22, 2009

brass fixtures

One of my favorite pasttimes of late is typing in key words into the Etsy search box and seeing what pops up. (This is how I found my coveted chandelier print, below.) This evening, after seeing what was most likely a pricey brass starburst wall piece on, my mind fixated on the earthy metal. Etsy delivered loads (2300+) of unexpected charms, such as this fun masquerade ball necklace by SimplyChacha:
I also found this funky brass bow headband on mylavaliere's site, which is oh-so-"The City" now that New York is in a rapture over vintage 20s meets hippy chic headgear:
But my favorite shop discovery is KimBDesigns, the poster behind which backdrops all of her pieces with organic chartreuses. Her stackable series of bracelets and rings remind me of the Sundance catalogue but without the unnecessary pomp and price. This "Tide Pool" ring would make a pretty every-weekend-day accoutrement. It reminds me that I'd one day like to collect ancient jewelry. (Apparently the Greek and Roman Empires were so prolific that small accessories and pottery aren't exhorbitantly expensive. If the collection at the Met is any indication, there's no shortage in the world supply.)
These cheeky earrings are from GlitteryBlue. I own a pair of similarly shaped danglies that encase lots of little cogs and wheels, almost as if it were a window into a clock, and always get me compliments. The shop was present at an otherwise lame "Girls Night Out" jewelry/clothing "fair" I went to last year in DC. The only worthwhile shop I found there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

iso: beautiful things

Of the many beautiful, ecclectic finds that pop up and out on Australian designer Anna Spiro's lollipop blog, Absolutely Beautiful Things, is an inspiring bedroom by Mrs. Howard Personal Shopper. Thank goodness the light catches the high gloss midnight paint, otherwise I might not have noticed its unusual texture. The shiny upper of the wall is like a patent leather stiletto above the creamy carpet of Pantheonic molding.
I love Mrs. Howard's appreciation for comfy couches, the stabilizing effect of neutrals, and symmetry. The imposing, disproportionate mirror here is looped in to the rest of the warm room through color.
Wherever did she find an octopus triptych?

revolutionary design

This post title is perhaps a bit dramatic. Ever since I saw Revolutionary Road, I've wanted to post on the amazing set and costume design. For their work on the film, Kristi Zea and Debra Schutt were nominated in the Art Direction category at the Oscars (ultimately the gilded statue went to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). No one had to guess at April Wheeler's quiet beauty or her home's muted, simple elegance. I was particularly taken with the little pale blue chair hanging out in one corner of the living room. A trim, tautly upholstered seat in a robin's egg tweed would look just as "in place" now as it does in the 1950s Connecticut home that is the scene of such love and loss in Revolutionary Road. The blue sofa and tri-legged table are almost cheery for a movie that in the end leaves us with such confusion and pain (see second image of the best pictures I could find of my favorite chair, unfortunately caught amidst desperation).

Mid Century Modern can looked dated in the 21st Century if not properly integrated. But that little blue chair and its devil-may-care me they call out for a flirtatious companion at a cocktail party. Someone, perhaps, like the young woman below. Albert Wolsky, also nominated for an Oscar. kept the costumes believable. April Wheeler is a housewife who owns the obligatory button-downs and chore-adaptable skirts as well as a few knock-your-socks-off shifts for special occasions (like drinks with the neighbors and visits to the travel agent). She's not a glamazon; she's not a model; she's a suburban housewife yearning for some glamour and adventure. If only she had reached Paris. Images: (1); (2); (3); (4)