Eating brunch in a small café.

My friend Darryl and I went to the Pigeon Hole for brunch yesterday. It was my first time there and I was downright enchanted by the decor…those lights, aren’t they just perfect? They remind me of Parisian boulevards, mostly because I listened to Charlotte Gainsbourg for a few hours before eating. The menu is also quite charming and although the quirkiness of the place is intentional it’s still pleasant. I ordered French toast which was ok, maybe I can make it better – I’ll have some friends over one day and we’ll have a contest of sorts. French toast is, how do you say? My jam. I’ve been perfecting my method for awhile now…who wants to try?


James Anthony does not put birds on things.

Although I suppose he might, if you ask him nicely…

I met Anthony Friday night for a screen-printing workshop in John Sarah John’s multifunctional West Main St. shop of wonders. The Miami transplant has been in the screen-printing business for like, years (journalism!) and is so successful that he doesn’t even need a day job. Anthony spends his time scouting for new and interesting images (he majored in art history or something – journalism x2) and then, of course, prints them on fabric using his wizard powers. {An alternative explanation for how screen-printing happens may be inferred from the above pictures…an interesting factoid I recall is that the print is not, in fact, silk-screened onto the garment, but is printed using a mesh screen. The more you know.}

Sarah mentioned this workshop to me back in June, so I had plenty of time to plan my own screen-printing adventure. I originally figured I’d just have a t-shirt done, but while on vacation in New York I picked up some army surplus at Beacon’s Closet as well as the book Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion. What do the two have to do with each other? Well, it was in my newly acquired book that I found inspiration in this Craig McDean portrait of Kate Moss, wearing an Edward Enninful-customized military parka:

And my finished product:

My interpretation involves no display of devotion to the British royal family, but it is rather evocative of McQueen with its morbid/romantic graphic – that X-ray is actually of some guy’s wife’s hand (that’s her wedding ring you see on the finger!) Underneath I’m wearing my Jimmy O and the Ready Ted’s band t-shirt from Low and my Lion pendant, courtesy of Judy at the Greenwood Country Store. The head is actually a belt buckle that I put on a chain – c’est fantastique, no?

P.S. Stop by James Anthony Apparel if you like what you see!

Cream & sugar & good design.

The Crozet Mudhouse is the café of my dreams…be sure to vote for them in the C-ville Best Of contest and follow them on Twitter here.

It’s officially summer and all I wanna wear is black.

As the seasons have progressed, so has my look. For whatever reason, I find myself leaving the “traditional” roots that informed the foundation of my winter wardrobe behind and am turning instead to the bad guys from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for inspiration. I’m loving denim cut offs, black leather, eerie statement jewelry and oversized tops.

This shoot took place in a graveyard off Maple Street. I suppose I was thinking it might be a fun neo-gothic spin to put on a first-day-of-summer shoot, but really the place was just too beautiful to be macabre. If you can get over the simple fact that it’s a graveyard I think it’s a wonderful place to while away an afternoon…maybe have a picnic – although that’s a bit Addams Family, isn’t it?

Theoretically this outfit is pulling inspiration from London’s punk scene in the ’80’s…but really, it’s more like what I imagine that to be like, if the punks are actually 15-year-old art students who can’t make art and listen to Kylie Minogue more than The Ramones. The main point of contention here, it must be said, is the deep-V. Apparently it’s appearance in my last outfit post caused a quiet stir with at least one reader/friend, who declared it incontrovertibly “cheesy.” Sacre bleu! What do we think? Does my new favorite thing ever (said deep-V) cross a line?

The happiness project, or, a five-point plan for the perfect weekend morning.

1) Stop by the Farmer’s Market first thing Saturday morning and pick up fresh blueberries and raspberries, because they are delicious and beautiful.

2) Because you are spiritually a petite Frenchman and inherently disdain “exercise,” skip this crazy thing called jogging and meander over to the Albemarle Baking Company to inhale the aromas and pick up a loaf of bread – carrying it home will be your strength training for the day.

3) On your way back swing by Mudhouse for a cappuccino. Take an Instagram of it and Tweet the picture to your followers.

4) Mix granola, two heaping scoops of Greek yogurt and berries in a bowl. Drizzle with honey. Eat without purpose, solely for pleasure, while poring over the shiny, glossy pages of a magazine (read backwards for a Japanese twist.)

5) Repeat every Saturday for the entire summer.

Gorgeous little things.

 This past Saturday unexpectedly became a day for ceramics shopping. I happened upon a sale at O’Suzannah and picked up the adorable little vessel you see holding my rings. I don’t know what to call it – it’s sort of an oblong miniature decorative plate? The crown stamp won me over…but of course, so did the price tag ($7.) The olive jar holding my pens/pencils came from Artifacts, where I also picked up some twine to use in lieu of a leather strap that broke on one of my vintage bags (a little project the results of which will be featured in the near future, for sure!) as well as a Le Cahier notebook that’s comparable in size to Field Notes notebooks, but isn’t as conspicuous.
The little dish you see here serving as a candle base is from Oasis spa, of all places! They have a solid selection of inexpensive and absolutely gorgeous Japanese pottery…little cups and bowls and dishes you can set keys and rings and rogue diamonds sitting in, just to be glamorous. The wave pattern is so charming and this was only four dollars! The abstract floral pattern on my new makeshift toothbrush holder (see below) is wonderfully retro yet modern and the blue pottery contrasts beautifully with my bamboo toothbrush and soap dish. Now if only I could keep my sink so clean all the time…

Let’s get Sidetrack’d.

Sidetracks is an independent record store I like to visit for used cd’s. It’s on Water Street, and you can see the phone number in that last picture!

Nan Goldin is coming to our town.

Nan Goldin is coming to Charlottesville. This is exciting because she’s a really big deal. French Vogue big. She’s also an incredibly well-respected documentary photographer whose work speaks to so much more than brand names and airbrushed boobs…but still. I’ve got a relatively one track mind when it comes to photographers and that track is Fashion. (Say it with jazz hands!)

Goldin’s images aren’t all as overtly sexual as the ones I’ve chosen to display here, but during my extensive internet searching I gravitated towards these. Let’s read into that! Later.

Her exhibit, part of the Look 3 Festival of the photograph, is aptly titled Scopophilia: The Love of Looking. It will be at the Second Street Gallery from June 3rd-June 26th. Her INsight conversation is at the Paramount on June 11th from 4-6pm. For more details about Goldin and the events, click here. This is my first time being around for and fully cognizant of the Look festival so I’m excited to see exactly what it is.

Here’s a special sneak preview of John Sarah John’s new space.

When I got back to the States a few months ago I was lucky enough to see the John Sarah John pop-up shop on the downtown mall just before it shuttered for good. Now, the store is re-opening in a new location on West Main street.

At the time I was there shooting, the owners were holding figure drawing classes in the back of the shop on Wednesdays. I liked the energy their half-finished sketches brought to the place. It felt a bit like the prop department for a David Fincher magical realist fantasy (neo-gothic and a bit foreboding but still palatable to the Academy.) Stop by their opening party this Thursday at 8pm to see how the end result differs.

505 W. Main St.
Charlottesville, Va. 22902

Piqued of the Week: How To Be a Domestic Goddess

All week I’ve been engrossed in Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, a book that’s encouraged a mini-revolution within me. My interest in eating organic foods was sparked in college, but The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food, Inc. weren’t enough to convince me to really change my personal eating culture – I was indulging in “healthy” foods that served primarily to imitate the unhealthy food of which I was supposed to be letting go. Soy burgers…organic macaroni and cheese…Amy’s pizzas. Then I moved to China where the local food culture gave me an unhealthy reverence for Big Macs and (overpriced) processed American fare – anything that wasn’t soaked in oil and chock full of anonymous animal parts. (The irony being that if a Big Mac isn’t the consummate temple food to “anonymous animal parts” then what is?)

Since the Charlottesville farmer’s market started up back in April I’ve been every single week – except when it didn’t happen because of that rogue tornado. I remember being dragged to the FM in my hometown of Los Gatos with my dad when I was but a wee pre-teen and loathing every minute of it. Vegetables? More vegetables? Ooo, a Danish! And…some fruit? Under the spell of my initial Pollan reading and a slew of pulse-pounding documentaries highlighting the different ways in which I was incidentally killing myself by eating, I made it a point my senior year at JMU to visit the FM as much as possible. I would buy some produce and try to cook it, fail, get discouraged and go back the next week for something that required less skill, like locally raised doughnuts. Now that I’m living downtown and the Charlottesville FM is literally across the street from me I’m proudly taking full advantage of it. I’m back in a country where I can converse fluently with the person selling me my produce (although at nine in the morning on a Saturday, I admit I’m usually silent, intermittently sipping a [reusable ceramic] mug of coffee.)

Back to that mini-revolution I’ve gone through in the last week (three days to be exact, I won’t front.) It started with Pollan’s The Botany of Desire – a book I highly recommend as, while not necessarily galvanizing, it is in fact illuminating, empowering and fascinating. Damn! That’s a lot. The history of apples isn’t as dry as it sounds. Then I moved quickly onto the aforementioned IDOF, which shares much in common with the horrifying-truth theme of Food, Inc. and other works relating the perils of the industrial food system. I live pretty well Off The Grid right now – no cable, no TV in fact, no internet, no car, no landline…it’s just my iPhone and I in a little (fabulous) bat cave of an apartment. But despite the fact that I’ve opted out of almost everything one can imagine being billed for, I’ve still had trouble providing good food for myself. And I realized that it’s not just my early-twenty-something wages impeding my access to quality grub – and it goes beyond financial prioritizing. It’s my food culture. I’m too ready and willing to get pizza on a lunch break rather than put in the effort the night before to make a meal that provides leftovers. I also live alone, so I often end up eating alone. But these are choices – I choose not to cook, not to invite people over to share in the meal, not to look up recipes and actually work at becoming a better cook. The problem is that I’ve been telling myself for years that these are skills I want to acquire. I want to eat organic and local, I want to eventually be able to provide for a family, to be able to provide a family food culture that nourishes a traditionally European (harkening back to examples in Pollan’s works) way of eating. My biggest revelation? How much I will have to work at this. I think I’ve always imagined that one day I would just be the Barefoot Contessa, living in the Hamptons and smiling and eating and having garden parties all the time, because cooking is fun and easy and has a catchy theme song. But what I failed to realize is that Ina Garten started out as a caterer like, twenty years ago. She has worked for her kitchen wizardry, it didn’t just happen like, well, magic.

I must say I’ve had an auspicious start to my personal official local and organic movement. I’ve made two frittatas and a REAL legitimate recipe from a cookbook this week! (Double Potato and Halloumi Bake from Nigella Bites, Nigella Lawson.) I also started composting recently – or, that should be “composting,” as I’ve been told multiple times now that what I am in fact doing is “keeping rotting table scraps under my sink without a lid on them and no that is not the same as composting.” Apparently it’s a more complicated process involving effort and thought. Who knew?

And while I’m definitely doing this for my health, I think I’m also doing it because I feel it’s going to create in some small way the world in which I want to live. I can walk to Feast from my house and in that same complex they have a butcher and a fishmonger I can visit, should I feel so inclined. And have we tried the samples at Feast? If their cheddar cheese ball isn’t worth my money then nothing on this planet is. I just don’t want to be one of those depressing stories later on in life – you know the ones, “Oh, poor Billy. He never smoked, ran ten miles a day and hadn’t had a gram of fat since the 80’s and then wham – a heart attack!” I’ll keep my eating culture suffused with a Dionysian pleasure principle and wheedle down any physical exertion to getting from the cheeseball samples to the wine down the street, thank you very much. I figure if I keep can keep away from the American obsession with exercise I stand the chance of God not finding it ironic enough to strike me down with heart palpitations.

The Italians started the Slow Food movement a few years back (you know, it was in some book I read and now the exact date’s gone…sometime within the last decade, we’ll posit) and I’ve pretentiously had it’s slogan “Eat Your View” as my “political view” on Facebook for the past two or three years (while gorging on Big Macs halfway ‘round the world). Maybe it started as a pretentious nod to the “green” movement of which I felt Gwyneth Paltrow would be approving, but now that I actually live in an urban setting and have a garden I do have to say that yes, I would like to eat my view. I’d like to wake up in the morning and continue to see my garden and not a strip mall or a multipurpose commercial/residential complex. I’d like to see grass. And flowers. Or weeds. They work.

I don’t know where you stand on the food issue, or how much you value your local farmer’s market, but if you take away anything from this post I hope you pick up Pollan’s books, In Defense of Food and The Botany of Desire. They’re enlightening and crisply written and full of truly vital knowledge in today’s food economy. Cheers!

P.S. Don’t forget the Farmer’s Market is tomorrow! Follow me on Twitter @theSSsantiago for photo updates – maybe you’ll run into me taking a picture of the food you’re about to buy!