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coffee + cre8tive {nov 30 ’06}

Have you ever thought about the architecture of winter? What makes a city a good winter city? After spending a few months in Europe just as the weather was starting to change, I noticed that cities in the Netherlands and northern Germany have a way of taking urban dwellers from warmth to cold without them hardly noticing the rapidly dropping temps. Cities there tend to know exactly how to extend the period of comfortable outdoor space and are currently looking at more ways to make winter a time of pleasure vs. one of dread.

As we dined in an outdoor cafe in Eindhoven initially not thinking twice about it, it was only halfway into our meal that it dawned on me that it was 45 degrees and we were eating outdoors and feeling quite cozy. Looking around, I noticed we were seated beneath a large canopy with plastic side partitions separating our cafe from the next, along with several large heat lamps scattered throughout the space. It also helped that this cafe was packed with warm bodies, as residents embraced the concept merrily, sipping and slurping and laughing and chatting. This cold rainy day wasn’t about to stop them from living life. Eindhoven wasn’t about to give up the pleasure of dining outdoors simply because summer was over.

Of course, there’s more than a space heater in an outdoor cafe that makes urban winters more enjoyable. Outdoor markets, beverages sold streetside such as hot mulled spice wine (it sure kept me warm!), street performers playing (vs. disappearing until Spring), lots of passages and arcades to take shelter in, and of course, the residents dressing accordingly. Here in the states, particularly the northeast where I live, people are always complaining about how cold they are as they stand before you in jeans, a sweater and a wool over coat. No wonder. They are still dressed as though it’s Autumn. If you want to get the most pleasure out of winter, layer up! Invest in quality gear – a hat, gloves and a scarf, and get outside and move around. Take up a winter sport. Hiking in the forest, cross country skiing, even sled riding on a regular basis makes winter fun.

Another observation while in northern Europe, the locals view winter as just another season that has it’s ups and downs, not a time to go completely inactive by heading home directly after work and staying there until we wake again the next morning to return to work yet again. In some cultures, simply gathering around a table with candles, a big meal and good conversation with friends and family help to make the winter season more of a pleasure. I know my friends in Germany do this often in the winter, and after partaking in such gatherings myself, it’s something I’ve vowed to do here in the states with my own crew.

What got me started on this subject was that moment mentioned earlier whilst in Eindhoven when I realized I was outside eating on a very cold rainy day. When I returned to the states, the Nov/Dec AB issue was waiting in the mail which covers the very subject my husband and I chatted about while flying home – what makes a city a good winter city. AB explores this subject in depth, along with additional coverage on designing a winter city (from an architect’s perspective) and there’s even a feature on what the locals would do to make Boston a better winter city.

Here’s what some had to say, “Taking a page out of Providence’s Waterfire evenings, imagine a Fire and Ice walk along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, where large-scale ice sculptures interspersed with braziers would illuminate a romantic walk. Have stops along the way where small choirs could sing – Boston has an unbelievably large number of choruses. Hot chocolate, hot cider, and fleece earmuffs could be sold by vendors under heaters.” – Diane Georgopoulos FAIA for AB.

When it comes to winter, I think the key is to avoid giving in to negative thinking, ‘getting through it’ or ‘passing by the time as quickly as possible’. Afterall, this is your life we’re talking about and no one should be on a race to make it pass by more quickly! You want to enjoy each day that you have been blessed to exist on this planet. The key is to find ways to make the best out of the weather so that you can enjoy each and every snowflake. If you live in a cold climate, what does your city do to keep its residents happy, tourism somewhat alive, and spirits high? What are you planning to do this winter to make the season fun and interesting? Any home projects, fitness plans, career goals, etc.?

Oh, and if you don’t have a copy of Architecture Boston, which covers this very subject in depth, try to get your hands on a copy soon.

(image from one of my favorite photographers, simply photo. you can purchase her lovely postcards shown above on etsy.)

Posted in uncategorized on November 30, 2006

December Arts + Crafts Markets: Boston + Providence

[updated on 11/30 to add rag + bone and the wears + wares events, both on dec. 2nd. see below for details.]

Before I get started, this post isn’t just for the locals — all can benefit. How? By being nosey, of course! Click around on all the links below and browse each website because tucked away in many of them, you’ll find links to vendors that often have online stores. Cha-ching!

Looking to shop ’til ya drop this month, but cringe at the thought of taking on another (deadly) shopping mall experience? Try these friendly marketplaces packed with fresh finds from affordable art to home accessories + so much more! Here’s your handy guide, complete with dates, times, links, admission fees, and complete addresses so you can map out your course and set sail!

TIP: Print this out and keep it on you during the month!

Boston Public Library Holiday Sale
Dec. 1, 10-5
Johnson Lobby, 700 Boylston Street, Boston.
Rain or shine. Free admission.

Crafts at the Castle
Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street (first floor), Boston.
Dec. 1, 10-8 pm
Dec. 2, 10-6 pm
Dec. 3, 10-5
Rain or shine. $15.00 for adults. $12.00 for seniors. Children under 12 are free.

Rag + Bone Factory Sale
Rag + Bone Bindery, 1088 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI (near Providence)
Dec. 2, 10-4 pm
Rain or shine. Free admission.

Wears + Wares pre-Holiday Market
Downtown Crossing, on Summer Street (past Filene’s) in the lobby of 101 Arch, Boston.
Dec. 2, 11-5 pm
Rain or shine. Free admission.

Cultural Survival Bazaar
Two locations. December 2-3, 10-6 pm at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge.
Dec. 9-10, 11-7 pm at the Hynes Convention Center 900 Boylston St, Boston.
Rain or shine. Free admission.

MassArt’s Annual Holiday Sale*
MassArt, Tower Building (lobby), 621 Huntington Ave. (corner of Huntington Ave. and Evans Way), Boston.
Dec. 4-9, 10-7 pm
Rain or shine. Free admission.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts December Sale*
SMFA, 230 The Fenway, Boston.
Dec. 6, 12?8 pm
Dec. 7, 12?8 pm
Dec. 8-11, 12?6 pm

RISD Alumni Holiday Art Sale*
Rhode Island Convention Center, One Sabin Street, Providence.
Dec. 9, 10-5 pm
Rain or shine. Admission is $5; children under 14 or current RISD students (with ID) get in free.

Union Square Winter Craft Market
Union Square, Somerville where Washington Street, Prospect Street and Somerville Avenue meet. Additional vendors will showcase their goods inside Toast Lounge, located directly off the central plaza.
Dec. 9, 11-5 pm
Rain or shine. Free admission.

Fort Point Holiday Sale
Artists’ Building at 249 A Street, Boston.
Dec. 9, 11-7 pm
Dec. 10, 11-5 pm
Rain or shine. Free admission.

Sowa Holiday Market*
Cathedral High School Gym, 74 Union Park Street (South End), Boston.
Dec. 9, 10-8 pm
Dec. 10, 10-6 pm
Rain or shine. $5 admission. Free for children under 12.

Bazaar Bizarre*
Cyclorama (Boston Center for the Arts) at 539 Tremont Street (South End), Boston.
Dec. 16, 10-7 pm.
Rain or shine. $1.00 Admission.

Month Long Markets

Harvard Square Holiday Craft Fair
First Parish Church, on the corner of Mass Ave. and Church St. in Harvard Square, Cambridge. This fun fair runs for 12 days, Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 15-17, and 19-23.
Sats: 10-7, Suns: 12-6, Weekdays: 11-7.
Rain or shine. Free Admission.

Craftland Show (month long!)
70 Eddy Street (near city hall), Providence.
Friday Dec. 1st until the 23rd, open five days a week, Wednesday – Sunday 11-6, and Thursdays from 11-8 pm.
Note: The storefront retail area is the back of the Peerless Building behind City Hall at the corner of Fulton Street.
Rain or shine. Free admission.

Whew! (wiping forehead) What a list! If I’ve missed a venue for Boston or Providence, please comment below with the scoop.

*Events that rock it like your momma, grandma, and little sister Sally!

[Stay tuned, tomorrow decor8 west coast contributor Anh-Minh Le features the best markets in the Bay Area! If you feel like writing about markets in your neck of the woods, contact me at decor8blog AT yahoo DOT com for specifics. But for now, decor8 is only covering Boston, Providence and San Francisco.]

(images from risd)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Events + Markets, Shopping + Products, Travel on November 29, 2006

Rabbit Toes Personalized Dinnerware – New!

A huge thanks to Jessica who wrote in yesterday about Rabbit Toes – her fun and contemporary new line of personalized dinnerware. A new limited-production design is available each month! From her lovely 1884 carriage house in Minneapolis, Jessica creates designs to commemorate weddings, anniversaries and other events that you feel the need to highlight in your life. Each plate is made in Italy, but the custom design and application are her own creations. I’m in love with the silhouette plate – perfect for wall or shelf display, don’t you think?

Thanks for the tip Jessica!

(images from rabbit toes)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Handmade, Rooms on November 29, 2006

Thomas Paul Pillows

I’m sure these already made their way around the blog circuit, but these Thomas Paul pillows made me really happy today and for those of you who may have missed them, enjoy. I think they are so charming, I love the two tone patterns – a leaf here, a bird there, some coral… All are available at Pillows + Throws online. They remind me of the colors in my own home as a child with all the navy, goldenrod, and various shades of green. Do you have any TP cuteness in your home? I only have his melamine silhouette serving trays…

(images from pillows and throws)

Posted in Objects on November 29, 2006


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