On the Table: Sakura Season Favorites

by moods & appetites
April 21st, 2014 be first to respond »

Sakura sencha from Rishi Teas; Vintage Utamaro book; High Line by Bond No. 9; Bridge of Scarlet Leaves and Mappa Mundi by Lost Meridiem Productions

We recently got a console table from Dendro, Co. a company based in Chicago that sells furniture made from reclaimed wood. Our wabi-sabi tastebuds have been salivating over the grooves and patterns in its wood surface — a douglas fir salvaged from a blacksmith shop that predates the civil war. We were delighted to receive some wood coasters painted with our initials as an unexpected surprise.

We thought this table would be the perfect backdrop for displaying some of our favorite items of the moment — tea, books, well, what else is there really.

Cherry blossoms are starting to bloom and we plan on enjoying their short-lived appearance to the fullest. Here are some of our sakura season essentials.

1) Rishi Sakura Sencha

We’ve tried quite a few green teas flavored with cherry blossom leaves, but this one is our favorite. It doesn’t have any of the fake, bubble-gum flavor that comes with many other sakura sencha blends. Just green tea and flowers — exactly how we like it

2) Bond No 9 — High Line

When we first wandered into the Bond No 9 store on Madison Avenue, we were in awe. The bottles are sculptural works of art and the scents — well, it was the first time we were tempted by anything other than Christopher Brosius’ fragrances. The High Line scent is like a meadow of wildflowers — ironic, considering its namesake weaves rises about rows of concrete. It’s grassy without being sharp, floral without being cloyingly sweet.

3) Ticket to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

They say the beauty of cherry blossoms in full bloom is too obvious, and that yet unopened buds or fallen petals make a more lasting impression. We’re not that picky. We want to gorge on clouds of pink at the peak of their lushness. The BBG has a map that tracks the status of their cherry blossoms so you can plan your feast accordingly. They even have markers for “post-peak bloom” for all the wabi lovers.

4) Kokinshû

The Kokinshû is an anthology of Japanese poetry compiled around 900, but the vivid imagery remains as dew-fresh as ever. Sleeves scented with plum blossoms, warblers singing, melting snow, and brocades of willows and cherries mingle in the spring poems. There are contributions from monks, empresses, and courtiers, but our current favorite is by an anonymous poet:

In these mountain heights
There is no one to sing the praises of
You cherry blossoms.
Do not be aggrieved
For I will do it.

5) Lost Meridiem Productions Prints

Our last sakura season essential will get its own proper blog post, but we’re too excited not to mention it. We’ve finally opened up our own Etsy shop where we sell canvas prints of our photography. We have a big one hanging right above our console table and it looks pretty impressive. The rich texture of the leaves came out well and the curving path gives a sense of depth so tempting that we often joke about jumping right in. Can you tell it was taken in the BBG? We took the photo in the fall, and we’re thinking of going back for a spring edition of the same view.

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ante meridiem design

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Tea Talk: Current Favorite Teas, Cups & Tins

by moods & appetites
April 17th, 2014 be first to respond »

We love the English, but we prefer coffee in the afternoon and tea all day. We do have a few stand-by teas that are always on our shelf, but we love to mix things up and experiment with new blends. Because we’re either drinking tea or waiting for it to steep, we thought we’d share some of the blends in rotation at the moment.

Handmade & vintage goodies from Etsy (clockwise):
Crumlin Flow Cup by Beach Towne Vintage; Rose Petal Jam by Prem Rose Edibles; Copenhagen Coffee Cup by Transitions; Raspberry Linzer Cookies by Tereza; Blue and White Jar by Karen’s Chic N Shabby; Canteloupe Vanilla Bean Jam by Lemonbird; Blue Calico Teacup by The Mab House; Blueberry Jam by Sunchowder’s Emporia

Summer Rose
Rose tea is tricky, but when it’s done right you feel as if you’re sitting in a parlor with the windows open and overlooking your carefully dissheveled English garden. Most rose teas get the proportions wrong. The rose flavor is too strong and your cup tastes like an elderly aunt accidentally poured her perfume in it. Perhaps it wasn’t an accident and she really is as devious as you suspected. Anyway, this blend of rose and Ceylon black is fragrant but not overpowering. It works hot or chilled; both are fantastic and each brings out a slightly different set of flavors.

Earl Grey Lavender
Lavender seems like an odd addition to tea, especially to such an unimpeachable classic like Earl Grey. But we have taken quite a shine to this combination, and we promise it won’t remind you of a well-kept linen closet. Earl grey is another hit-or-miss blend for us because the proportions often overemphasize either the citrus or the bergamot instead of forming a lovely menage a trois with the black. Here, the proportions are just right. The zesty eagerness of the citrus and calm demeanour of the lavender work together, like Wooster & Jeeves in their best moments.

Jade Snail (with a twist)
These little knots unfurl into a subtle flavor with none of the grassiness often associated with green tea. We like to add a tiny pinch of matcha to intensify the flavor and turn the pale yellow color into vivid green, like a leprechaun sneezed in your cup. Another green that we’ve been loving recently is Calypso, so much so that we finished it before we could take a picture. The hint of fruit and coconut give it a pina colada taste that doesn’t overpower the green, especially when you add a bit of matcha. We can’t wait to brew this one iced with a few pieces of real fruit.

Tea Tins
Our tea shelf looks so much more polished and put together with these tins, each with a different pattern but all in shades of blue. We got these on Amazon in big and small sizes to accomodate our must-have favorites and samples.

Teacup of the Moment
This cup from Anthropologie has had its fair share of sea voyages, if you count in leagues of tea, that is. The sailing ship and octopus tentacles that loop around the outside remind us of Delftware and the trade routes established by the Dutch East India Company to bring tea from China. This cup is definitely not dainty; it’s quite large and thick, with a wide tentacle handle. It even works well as a soup mug.

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Traces of the Moon

by moods & appetites
April 2nd, 2014 2 responses »

I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed the moon everywhere these days. So far I’ve seen it leave its mark on…

Kobocha squash photograph by Lost Meridiem Productions (that’s us!); Devour series by Christopher Jonassen
Handmade items to buy (clockwise): Earrings by Kendra Renee; Earrings by Mac Black Sheep; Earrings by Studio 1980; Studs by Misluo; Earrings by Sigal Gerson; Pendant by Misty Metal; Bracelet by Stories of Silver and Silk; Earrings by Sharon Saint Don

The bottom of cast iron skillets, scraped against the stovetop from shaking omelettes into obedience.

The surface of a lotus leaf, scattered with moondrops of autumn dew that remain pristine among decaying surroundings.

The flesh of a tree, compressed and rolled out into thin sheets that map out its rippling journeys.

The ancient millstone, nibbled by the elements in open fields after serving its long-forgotten purpose of grinding grains.

The sea sapphire, which reveals its brilliant iridescence for a split second before disappearing, like the moon behind clouds.

The front of my black leather boots after a walk through the park on a rainy day.

The skin of a kabocha squash, its dusty, weathered exterior giving the impression of more hardship on its journey to the farmer’s market than simply being harvested and placed in a basket.

The beach before the tide washes over traces of footprints creating craters in the sand.

The walls you hope will never be smoothed a fresh coat of paint but continue to build a rich landscape of mold and outdated notices.

The bloomy rind of certain cheeses that bears the imprint of its mold, ripening the soft, oozy insides into a grassy flavor.

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Five Mutable Arabesques

by moods & appetites
March 17th, 2014 be first to respond »

ar·a·besque
Fine Arts. a sinuous, spiraling, undulating, or serpentine line or linear motif.

Timurid Tile, late 14th century; Print by Zuhair Murad; Reflection in Cobalt Teal by Shira Toren
Handmade items to buy (clockwise): Pickup Truck Print by Chey Anne Sexton; Necklace by Frank Ideas; Landscape Print Set by Eve Sand; Cuff by Soul Azul; Earrings by Kristin Perkins; Desk Clock by Sea Lamb Glass; Necklace by Niknaz; Tote by Mery Bradley

1) The curved head of the streetlamp watches its stiff body sprout into the laughter of two girls, who tie a threadbare rope around its waist and take turns pushing off the curb. Suspended in a loop of their own making, they catch last drops of daylight before the lamp begins its fatal beat, accompanying the rhapsodies of insomniacs.

2) A flock of starlings ripples in continuous transformation, each pair of wings adjusting to the tilt and direction of its seven nearest neighbors.

3) I open the back door and just as I’m about to follow the staircase, a spiral folded neatly beside a cobbled street curved in the same direction, a man on a bicycle pedals past the last turn, which leads down into the wine cellar. Maybe today I won’t go down to retrieve a bottle.

4) Artemis begins the thought, which travels down marble flesh relaxed in contrapposto and twists with crossed legs, leaping from her bare ankle to the loafered toe of a guard, off duty, resting his foot on her pedestal and finishing the thought on the margins of a discarded brochure.

5) I wait in line for the water fountain in Central Park, avoiding eye contact with the caricaturists eager to poach their next victim, when my well-rehearsed “no, thank you” encounters a question ill-suited to its brevity: “what’s your favorite way to get through the park?”

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Five Fleeting Labyrinths

by moods & appetites
March 14th, 2014 4 responses »

Meticulously, motionlessly, secretly, he wrought in time his lofty, invisible labyrinth.
- Jorge Luis Borges

Bowl, 10th century, Samarqand; Photo by Guy Cohen; Fashion by Carolina Herrera
Handmade items to buy (clockwise): Ring by Leander D’Ambrosia; Necklace by Ksemi; Necklace by Birken Knits; Bracelet by Sid Kassidy; Vase by Manos; Necklace by Hypho; Monks by Manjuzaka; Ring by Monica Hirsch

1) The peach, split, drips down my thigh, wandering through the thin layer of dust built during the hours I spent next to the open window of a train snatching particles of sandstone on its way through a landscape startled out of sameness only by the station surrounded by crates of overripe peaches.

2) The lotus root dips its parched skin in pale grey water and dissolves, now into ink flowing from the pen of a madman, now a Roman widow weeping, now oil spilling poisonous tendrils from a ship, before coming back up for air as a lotus root.

3) The cinnamon I tap into the bottom of my cup before pouring on coffee resurfaces, after a few sips, just below the inner rim; I wipe it with my finger and reach for the pot to pour a few more sips of coffee, hold the cinnamon.

4) The eyebrow of a man in Alicante invites me to follow the melody of six hands poised in a gesture of relaxed intimacy, but as I try to find evidence of touch, the points of contact, fingertips on palms, palms through coarse hair, remain elusive, dissolving into habits that, to passing strangers, appear as abstractions anchored by an eyebrow.

5) The bicycle wheel, wet with the last drops of my ice water, rolls through the gas station and leaves a mark that mimics cracks in the pavement before it falls, the sun erases its brief, glistening flirtation, and I roll it back into the shadows harboring a pile of other, useless wheels.

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