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Old Washington

DDOT announced today that it is uploading its archival photos of old DC onto its Flickr page.  I love looking at old photos of places I’m really familiar with, as I am sure you do too.  And these are really great.  Check out this one of F Street NW at 14th looking at the Treasury Building: 

Enjoy!

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This just in: Domino archives online

In my last post, I whined about how my favorite shelter magazine Domino folded last year.  Guess what!  It’s archives have just been put online (in electronic page-turning form) and can be found at the newly relaunched brides.com.  Check out the announcement from shelterpop.com here and see the Domino pages that are up already here.  YAY!

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Beautiful on the inside

2009 was a sad year for magazines, when Conde Nast decided to coldly dispatch two of my favorites: Gourmet and Domino.  I think almost everyone has heard of Gourmet, and can probably understand the outrage.  But what about Domino?  For those of us who had grown up thinking a relatable “shelter” magazine had to look like my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens, Domino was a refreshing and young alternative.  The pictures were delicious and the style epitomized the way I wanted my house to look.  Well, I guess that’s what happens during the death throes of the publishing industry.

In the meantime, I have been getting my modern decorating fix by reading some blogs, my favorite being Design*Sponge.  But in my heart, I’m an old-fashioned, page-turning girl who is still itching for a magazine.  My friend Kristen raves about Canadian House & Home.  Architectural Digest is still out there.  But, nothing has quite filled in the Domino space…until now. 

The feature of a New York Times story this week, e-magazine Lonny Magazine is genius.  Started by two former Domino employees as a hobby while they were looking for a job (ahem), it combines a hip, glossy shelter magazine with the internet.  Because there are no printing costs, the issues can be hundreds of pages long (239 in their June/July issue). You can “turn” pages, and even “rip” them out and put them into an online scrapbook, and you can also click on links to beautiful lamps and pillows (thus, the secret to its success…ad sales!)  Check it out – if you like it, I will take the unpriced chair on p. 67 of the latest issue as a thank you present.

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Om

When I walked into Stroga, the new Adams Morgan yoga studio that I was hoping would help ramp up my work-out routine, I never expected to discover a gorgeous, inspiring, and historic space.  Recently renovated by Douglas Development to retain its lovely woodwork, stained glass, and AMAZING plaster moldings, the L’Aiglon Mansion was built in the early 1900’s and has served as both a residence and commercial space.  The yoga studio is a vast ballroom-esque space filled with natural light from the numerous windows.  You can’t help but relax when staring at this ceiling:

Plus, not only is Stroga beautiful, I have been very impressed with the yoga instruction.  Although I am a relative beginner, Noelle’s Sunday night Vinyasa class has kicked my ass, energized me, and brought me to a very centered place, all at once.

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The ghost of pasta past

Boston did not have a lot of positive inspiration to offer me during my last year there, but it still somehow was able to deliver a miracle or two.  My last apartment, located on the street level of 92 Prince Street was one of them.  Not only did that apartment afford me a prime view of the very local (as in “cash only”… as in GoodFellas) bar across the street, and give me a great kitchen in which to furiously cook away my employment woes, but it combined my two greatest non-human loves: food and cool building-related history.

In 1912, 90-92 Prince Street was occupied by three friends from Sicily: Getana LaMarca, Guiseppe Seminara, and Michele Cantella..  With Gaetana as the admininstrator, Guiseppe as the salesman, and Michele as the worker-bee, the three started the PRINCE SPAGHETTI COMPANY!!!  Yes, in my very own apartment, people!!  They even say so on the website!! What??  You buy Ragu or Barilla or some other brand and don’t know what I’m talking about?!?  Well, then check this video out and be reminded.

The macaroni company grew so fast that they moved into much nicer and bigger digs 5 years later at 207 Commercial Street.  But my home was the birthplace of a culinary empire!!!

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Food on a truck

Dear J:

As I sit here eating my homemade vegetable soup while simultaneously researching what chef’s knife to buy, reading incisive articles about food on The Atlantic‘s Food Channel, and watching my idol cook on Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, it occurs to me that I might have a problem.  But as long as I go to the gym, don’t burn down my kitchen, and have a dinner party once in a while, I’m not really sure anyone cares.

On days when I am feeling especially under-employed, I dream about buying a food truck and opening a twitter account that will let eager DC worker bees know where I will be today with my home-made soups.  Sometimes, when I am really buying into this dream, I research legal and financing requirements.

"Only the pure of heart can make a good soup." -Beethoven

Recently, I came across this amazing blog on Chow that gives a blow-by-painful-blow account of two women in San Francisco as they attempt to get their soft serve ice cream truck off the ground.  I especially recommend Part 4 where they discuss their swirled flavors (Chocolate/mint twirl. Honey blueberry/peach elderflower.  Yum.) and the ice cream truck graveyard they visit in South Central LA.

Love, Pb

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Sweet ride

Dear J:

Quite often, a taxi ride in DC can be scary and infuriating hell.  (See: 4 AM post-blizzard Union Station group-van fiasco that ended in a shouting match and me fearing for my life on a completely desolate U Street).  But, other times, a DC cab can be pure happiness.  For instance, take last Friday.  Late for dinner with Todd + stuck in Georgetown + graduation weekend was not the perfect equation for finding a taxi.  But luckily a cute black cab with pink stripes stopped to pick me up.

Dupont Cab Association’s William Bolden in car #88 was the highlight of my afternoon, and he gave me an amazing perspective of the city and its/his history.  A cabbie since 1965 (!), Mr. Bolden grew up in Georgetown on 33rd Street – and moved a few blocks over after his grandparents divorced in 1935 (!!)*.  Turning up 29th to avoid rush hour traffic, Mr. Bolden pointed out the Mount Zion Methodist Church, the first church he attended as a child.  A Gothic revival structure with gorgeous stained glass windows, it houses the oldest African-American congregation in DC and is a National Historic Landmark.  Much of the workmanship on the building was done by black artisans, and Mt. Zion served as one of the stations on the Underground Railroad (runaway slaves were hidden at the nearby Old Methodist Burying Ground).  It is also an important reminder that Georgetown has a rich and layered history.

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb

As Mr. Bolden nimbly maneuvered the cab through the back streets of Georgetown and over towards Dupont, he told me that he hadn’t always just been a taxi driver — he had also worked on the construction of many DC buildings.  At some point during 1958 to 1962, he helped extend the east facade of the US Capitol.  During that project, workers “pushed out” the East Front of the building 33 1/2 feet from its original location by reconstructing the sandstone exterior.  (Side note: This build-out also denoted the end of a statute that had been displayed in front of the east facade since 1853.  The Rescue depicted a “heroic hero” saving a woman and her child from a “savage” American-Indian – A crane accidentally dropped it in 1973 on its way to Smithsonian storage and it has been in pieces ever since).

As we edged close to my home, Mr. Bolden told me that he’s had many brushes with powerful DC figures (Elizabeth Dole once asked him for his card), and almost became one of them himself.  When a key W. aide took a ride in Mr. Bolden’s taxi, the driver took the opportunity to tell him about his plan to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue south of the White House to vehicular traffic.  That street was closed on May 20, 1995 mainly in response to the Oklahoma City bombing.  Originally, the closure only applied closest to the White House from the eastern edge of Lafayette Park to 17th Street.   Later, it was extended an additional block to east 15th Street and East Executive Avenue.  Obviously, having a main thoroughfare closed to traffic is not fun for the car drivers of the city.  Mr. Bolden’s well-thought out scheme to open the street would involve jersey barriers and designated secret service lanes.  The W. aide liked the idea so much that he told Mr. Bolden he was going to present it to the President himself.  Sadly for Mr. Bolden, 9/11 ended any chance to fix his traffic problem in the near future.  (And although I can sympathize with his frustration, I love the pedestrian area behind the White House where you can really see the beautiful building from it’s north side).

With that, my history lesson and lovely cab ride was complete.  And $5.50.  And 10 minutes in total.  What more could a girl ask for?

Love, Pb

*I admit, I was scared for my safety for 1.2 seconds, but realized quickly that this guy was a navigational genius and more in control of the car than 99% of the cabbies I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

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