gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

MTI Baths

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I got to go to MTI Baths last Spring for a training through work and it was such a wonderful experience that I will not soon forget. They were hospitable and embodied my idea of southern hospitality. Their products are beautiful and carefully crafted right here in the U.S. in the Atlanta, GA area. We went on a tour of their factories and had the pleasure of meeting the people who make their unique products. I especially like their stone tubs, a couple of which I got to try for myself in the Woodward Mill House where MTI hosts their visitors. While it’s a new house, it’s filled with both new and old furniture and decor pieces that date back to the 1860s, giving it a bit of a southern plantation feel. The room I stayed in had two bathtubs in the bathroom – the lovely stone Juliet and the Jasmine, a Japanese style round soaker. I can’t say enough about the amazing whirlwind experience I had at MTI for the two days I was there. To top it all off, they have a female CEO! Katherine Adams was kind and her passion for her work and the company she has helped foster was palpable.

This is a nice little video to give you some insight into their company culture.

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Ed Sheeran & Andrea Bocelli – “Perfect”

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Having recently seen Andrea Bocelli in concert, I was so happy and surprised to come across this collaboration with Ed Sheeran on “Perfect.” I have a lot of respect for Andrea Bocelli and he was absolutely amazing in concert. What a powerful voice! And a fun little duo here with Ed Sheeran. I have a special place in my heart for Italian because I was born in Rome and lived there for the first few years of my life. Not that I don’t think the song is beautiful in English when Sheeran sings it, but it takes on a whole new dimensions when Bocelli opens his mouth and starts belting it in Italian. I have to say I’m impressed with Sheeran’s Italian though 🙂

IIDA Headquarters

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The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) in Chicago, IL has a sleek new office on the riverfront designed by Gensler.

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Click here to read about the design process of this space and to see more pictures.

 

This jam

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

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The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, where is it to be found?

J.B. Priestley

In the most recent Winter issue of The Magnolia Journal, I came across this lovely quote and visual, and I have to say I think this is so true. I definitely get frustrated with the cold sometimes, but I do think snow is so pretty. I think this is true for any snowfall, but especially for the first of the season. There is something about the purity of the white fluffy stuff on the ground that brings peace and joy to my heart. It’s also fun to wake up in a world that looks different from what we’re used to. It’s a beautiful surprise and brings a sense of renewal with it.

The holiday season is such a happy and comforting time, but it always feels too short. I don’t love the cold, but I do love snow, and a white Christmas is better than a snow-less Christmas. Here’s to hoping we have a white Christmas in the Midwest this year!

West Elm Headquarters

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This looks like a fun office to work in…the West Elm headquarters designed by VM Architecture & Design (VMAD) in New York City featured in Contract Design magazine reflects the aesthetic that West Elm promotes and looks like a fun collaborative space. Click here to see more pictures!

The connections between

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Every motion in the world taken separately was calculated and purposeful, but, taken together, they were spontaneously intoxicated with the general stream of life which united them all.

Doctor Zhivago

I’ve had a special place in my heart for Russian literature ever since I took a Russian literature class my freshman year of college, which I kind of fell into by accident and it turned out to be one of the best things that’s happened to me. I needed to fulfill a writing credit, as well as a philosophy credit, and there happened to be two classes taught in tandem, an introduction to philosophy and Russian literature (which fulfilled the writing credit), so I took advantage of killing two birds with one stone. They were both taught by incredibly smart, kind, and genuine women who I admire dearly. I also happen to have known them since I was a child because they were friends with my parents, which made having them as professors extra special. It was because of this class and how inspired I was by the philosophy professor that I went on to major in philosophy and took most of my classes with her. She really became like a mentor to me.

In the Russian literature portion of the class we read Fathers & Sons by Ivan Turgenev, short stories by Nikolai Gogol, A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov, Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and of course Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. We didn’t read Doctor Zhivago, but it’s something I’ve been reading on my own after watching the 2002 TV Mini-series and loving it. It’s definitely become one of my favorite things to watch around Christmas time; not that it’s particular festive, but there’s something about the wintry atmosphere that it makes it feel appropriate to watch around the holidays. I don’t read nearly enough anymore, but thinking back on these classes inspires me to cuddle up on a cold day and get lost in a book for the afternoon.

I love this quote because for me it summarizes how I feel about the string of events that make up our lives. I don’t think of these events as isolated from one another, but rather very connected in a way that we might not be able to grasp. I often wonder why related things seem to pop up around the same time and I find it hard to believe that it’s just a coincidence. So I have to believe that the way things line up in life is tremendously important and somewhat out of our hands.

 

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV is absolutely a staple of Thanksgiving at my house. This year, since I live in Chicago,  I went to the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade downtown on State Street. I was sad to miss watching the Macy’s parade on TV, but I was also excited about seeing a parade in person. The parade in Chicago is obviously on a much smaller scale than the one in New York, but it still felt very festive.

It was also very different. Rather than big floats and balloons, the Chicago parade focuses on diversity and inclusion by representing various ethnic groups complete with authentic costumes and music from their cultures. I didn’t see the whole parade, but the countries I saw represented were Bolivia, China, Thailand, Mexico, and the Punjab region of India (and I’m sure there were others). I really admired the Bolivian costumes because they wore these interesting wooden clog-type sandals with some kind of bells that made a nice sound.

There were of course many high school marching bands, tap dancers, and cheer squads. There weren’t too many musical performers though, as there are in the Macy’s parade. The one disappointment was how anti-climactic Santa’s arrival was. There wasn’t any music accompanying his sleigh and there just wasn’t a lot of excitement among the crowd when he finally did arrive. I think one thing that makes the Macy’s parade so fun to watch are the commentators from The Today Show with their witty and dynamic narratives. So maybe Santa’s arrival was disappointing because there was no big announcement or tale about his gift-giving to all the boys and girls around the world.

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Houston, TX

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I went to Houston last weekend for a good friend’s wedding and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it, since people have told me that it’s not the nicest city. Granted there may be other factors that play into my favorable impression given that I was there with close friends and for a happy occasion, but there’s something about that southern hospitality that just feels so welcoming. I had a similar feeling when I visited Atlanta and New Orleans, so I think I just like the south. People seem so much more laid back and relaxed than in the Midwest, or at least more so than in Chicago. The weather at this time of the year was amazing, of course, but I’m not sure I’d be saying the same thing if I went there in August…

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The downtown has a sweet little park called Discovery Green, which was nice because it wasn’t crowded. It was so relaxing to have beautiful green space in the middle of a big city and not feel claustrophobic with lots of people around. The Museum District is convenient if you’re a museum-goer like I am because they are all clumped together and you can easily walk from one to another. Some of them are even free! Near the Museum District are Hermann Park and Rice University. Hermann Park is huge and it includes the Houston Zoo, which I wanted to go to but I definitely didn’t have enough time. I did make it to the Museum of Fine Arts, which has an impressively varied collection and is housed in a magnificent modern space. The art lover in me always wants to go to the primary art museum when I visit a new city. I also took a stroll around Rice University and I was blown away by how beautiful it is. It’s full of Romanesques architecture, which feels very Spanish-inspired and Mediterranean. The architecture, combined with the cypress trees scattered about, made me feel like I was in Italy. Speaking of trees, there were palm trees everywhere – something I’m definitely not used to seeing and I loved it!

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We had an authentic Mexican brunch at Chuchara in Midtown the morning after the wedding, which featured cuisine from Mexico City. I know it was authentic because the groom is from Mexico City and he had great recommendations of specific things to order. I got a Café de Olla (Mexican coffee with cinnamon and chocolate), which I loved! It also came in a really cute terra cotta pitcher that I wanted to take home with me.

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My friend explained that Midtown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Houston, which makes sense given its narrow streets. The restaurant is situated in what seems like a residential area, which gives it a very homey feel. This is the area that reminded me most of New Orleans.

My visit to Houston was a good introduction to Texas, with the help of a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide (my friend)!

Love is a beautiful thing when you have it. Chase after it and don’t let it go.

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