Friday, July 30

THE ART OF THE TROPHY: Notes from Wall, New Jersey

Part One.

I recently traveled to New Jersey. Specifically, to Wildlife Taxidermy on State Route 71 in Wall, New Jersey.

This trip was led by my friend who had scheduled a meeting with her taxidermist, Richard, to discuss the posture and mounting details of her recently-ordered white peacock (a rare peacock breed that merits a 1 1/2 year long wait list).

Considering Richard's clients are typically either red-blooded, tobacco-chewing sportsmen or wealthy New Jersey eccentrics, I think he was tickled to have three young, wide-eyed Manhattans in sundresses in his studio asking for all the hairy details of taxidermy. He was a great host.

His career began when he shot a buck in 1975 and sent it off to a taxidermist. Appalled at the botched trophy that was returned to him, Richard decided to take matters into his own two hands. He's been stuffing animals ever since.

Richard is a professional--he doesn't mess around with Rogue or Anthropomorphic Taxidermy. You won't find creepy squirrels in bow-ties playing chess in his studio. Rather, Richard has studied the animals he works with down to every nostril shape and has perfected capturing the animal's natural look. In the end, Richard is an artist--transforming triumph and bravery into wall-hangings for his fellow adventuresome Americans!

Over the course of the afternoon, we toured his studio, talked tools, fantasized about a full-size mounted elephant, and peeked into his freezers full of zip-locked carcasses. Needless to say, it was a blast!

Wednesday, July 28


Why have we become so infatuated with terrariums in the past couple years?
For me, it goes hand in hand with the whole taxidermy- lush Victorian- shop of curiosities- thing. I'm not sure why, because they can just as easily be associated with stark modern interiors, but that's how I will always see them. I guess it's nice that they can span that wide design spectrum.

So the discovery of terrariums was a bit of an accident as it turns out. In 1827, a man by the name Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward wanted to experiment with the hatching of cocoons so he placed it, along with some mould, in a capped wide-mouthed glass bottle. He observed this bottle on a regular basis and noticed that, because of the sun, moisture would build up near the top during the day and drip down to the soil by night. His big surprise came when a seedling fern and a sprout of grass bloomed inside the bottle- the exact thing he had been unsuccessfully trying to plant in his garden for years!
He concluded that the city's pollutants had been killing the plants outdoors, but the enclosed microcosm of the bottle provided protection and nutrients for the seedlings to grow.
Throughout the Victorian era, these enclosures were called Wardian Cases. They became something of a status symbol- the bigger and more elaborate, the better. They were also crucial in transporting exotics from one country to another- their self sustaining habitats allowed for months of travel on ships.

Monday, July 26


Margaret Howell always gets it right.
The simplicity and straight forward ads are totally in keeping with the brand.
We love.

Wednesday, July 21


It seems a bit premature to write this because we haven't actually experienced the subject of this post. But what the hell, hopefully it'll be as rewarding as we're going to make it sound.

Sister Liqueurs. It's a cocktail club in Brooklyn. A CSA for liqueurs. So this is how it works: once you're a member (starting August for us!), you attend a monthly meeting/cocktail party where you receive your bottle of handmade liqueur and chat with your fellow avid drinkers. They tell you about that month's concoction and suggest different ways to enjoy it. Can't wait!

Check out some of their latest combos:
Cucumber Basil
Wild Plum
Stumptown Special
Roasted Beet
Ginger Grapefruit

Friday, July 16


Leather fly swatter from River Ridge Leather handmade in Coshocton, Ohio.
Thanks, Mom.

Monday, July 12


Maybe it's the landscape architect in me, but when stairs are done right they can be so beautiful.

Saturday, July 10


Farmers are rediscovering heritage livestock.
Good news for our dormant taste buds !

We're always thrilled to find out about how folks are reconnecting with our agrarian roots in the good 'ole US of A. 

The Southern lifestyle magazine Garden & Gun shares our excitement in this movement towards traditional agriculture.  The magazine's recent article Rare Breeds discusses the partnerships forming between chefs and farmers as of late. These allies are circumventing the whole factory-farm system of manufacturing blandness. The farmers are focusing on raising heritage breeds and the chefs are at long last bringing real meat to the dining table. 

These photos are fantastic. The animals look healthy and handsome!