Carrie Allen – Cool Shiz

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This past week I’ve been noticing beauty in many things from the mundane to fabulous, from the specific, faded color of blue on a shed to snow-covered ghost trees on the mountain, and fireworks over the ski village at night.  There was a chihuahua named Princess dressed in pink sitting in front of us on the plane – cool?  Maybe…  She was better behaved than some.

This got me thinking about things that inspire in general.  I thought I’d pull together some cool shiz from this week and beyond.  Enjoy.

  1. Tiny Ceramics

On a plane a few weeks ago in the American Way magazine on American Airlines, I read a short piece on Jon Almeda’s tiny pottery.  I was intrigued and checked out his site.  They are gorgeous.  I love anything in miniature.   Here are a few images from his instagram page, which I love – tiny, beautiful pottery inside fruit!

2.  Snow Ghost

I had never heard of Snow Ghost trees before my love used that moniker when we were atop a ski mountain in Idaho in January.  The sheer beauty coupled with the name has left a haunting impression on me. They are quiet, with grace and beauty.  I could look at them all day.  Apparently they are covered in heavy accretions of ice, called rime, instead of snow.

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3. Blackbird Doughnuts

Doughnuts.  Who doesn’t love a doughnut?  Have you tried a gourmet one?  Boston has Blackbird Doughnuts, which creates unique gourmet doughnuts and uses brioche dough for their raised doughnuts and old fashioned recipes for their cake doughnuts.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Here are a few images taken from their instagram page.  Shiz is getting real.

4. Fireworks on a Ski Mountain

I believe I have only ever really seen fireworks annually on July 4th or at least in warmer months.  This week during our February break from school we got to see these lovely fireworks over the ski village at Schweitzer as the snow came down. It was magical.  I took a little video so you can see them too, complete with snow ghost trees in the background.

5. Princess

I will close with pictures of Princess, of course.  When I asked what her name is, her lovely Russian owner said Princess in a low sultry voice, barely acknowledging me or making eye contact, which was pretty cool too.  Princess remained aloof.

Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – What’s love got to do with it?

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Tina Turner asked “What’s Love Got to Do with it?”  Well, pretty much everything.  In honor of this Valentine’s Day week, yes I made that up, I thought it important to reflect on love in our lives.  Every day – not just one day of the year.   There are many forms of love.  The deep, soul-stirring love for your soul mate, best friend and lover (which I am happily blessed with) to the profound love for your children, love for family, friends, and colleagues.  Exchanging kindness, even with strangers, is a form of love. Every person deserves love and wants to be loved and wanted.

Many people do not know the root of Valentine’s Day, some even think Hallmark made it up.  I won’t give a history lesson here but the root of it stemmed with an ancient roman pagan festival and grew into a Christian feast day, dubbed St. Valentine’s Day, in honor of a St. Valentine.  It was in the 14th century that this day became associated with love.

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Ironically it was Esther A. Howland, a female entrepreneur from Worcester, MA, who first started mass producing cards for Valentine’s Day in the 1850’s at the young age of 19.  I think that is noteworthy and pretty cool.  Prior to this handmade cards with ribbons and lace were popular.  Today I prefer handmade anything, but especially a valentine.

Putting aside the present day commercial face of Valentine’s Day, I think it serves as a reminder and opportunity to truly focus on love in its many forms. Sometimes it’s hard to show your feelings or to move past small irritations and to let your loving feelings rise up.  Try.  We all have people in our families who make it hard.  I have dreamed of sending certain family members this book:

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I challenge everyone to focus on love.  Make sure it’s genuine, heartfelt and full of meaning.  Seriously, slow down and hold your loved ones a little closer today, stop and really listen to what people are saying.  This is what life is about.  Connecting with others, feeling loved and letting others know we care.  It really isn’t about racing to your next meeting or the next big thing and thinking how great tomorrow will be.  Make each moment count and make today great.  Make an effort to love more, and as your relationships deepen, your life will expand.  Love is a selfless investment in others with great returns for yourself. I promise.

So, won’t you be my Valentine?

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

Julia Csekö -Surviving turbulent times

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the many events that have been taking place across the world recently. If you feel the same way, follow me for a second, maybe we can figure out some interesting aspects of this state of urgency we are experiencing.

While I find it necessary to analyze the bigger picture each day, consume information (real news – always fact check!), I also find it helpful to take the time to dedicate a little brain flexing to not thinking about the bigger picture, checking in with myself and understanding what I need, when I need it, and trying to make space for self-care each day. For some (like myself) a little exercise can go a long way, for others, meditation or a balanced meal can cleanse the mind from the excessive chatter of media and worldly matters.

Recently I’ve found that what has kept me on my feet has been finding the time, the people and the place to talk. I find it extremely helpful and even therapeutic to have long conversations with folks that are in my social circle and more and more with folks that are not in my immediate range of friends and acquaintances. Sometimes these conversations are difficult and uncomfortable. Small disagreements on sensitive topics can send anyone spinning in a rut.

If there is one big lesson to be learned from extensive conversations on controversial topics – it is the importance of developing the art of listening, which is much more complicated than it sounds. The urge to speak, to correct, and to openly disagree flourishes quickly in heated conversations and can derail a subject or generate frustration.

Living with two sociology majors, controversial subjects can be scrutinized for hours… even watching a movie can be challenging, since the movie can become the trigger for scrutiny. More recently these pleasant and largely theoretical conversations have understandably become more and more applied to reality and the political scenario. Not surprisingly, emotions have started to run high. One night as the volume of our voices increased and no one seemed to be truly listening to one another anymore, I had one of those Aha! Moments. I suggested that whenever the conversation derailed to: “you’re not letting me speak” or “you didn’t let me finish my point” and similar sentiments, that we would use a simple, yet super effective debate technique.

This technique consists on giving each speaker three minutes on the dot (you can use the timer on your phone) to lay out opinions and view points. It helps each person organize thoughts and put together ideas, and immediately lowers the level of frustration in complicated conversations, be they political, social, or moral. Each speaker has one minute for a rebuttal after which the three minute rule is applied again. This goes on until each person feels like they’ve made their point without being interrupted. Sometimes this will happen after only one round, sometimes more, but usually after a few rounds each speaker takes less than the three minutes to make their point and the timer is no longer needed to keep a coherent atmosphere, and the group can resume to “normal” conversation. This small but powerful tool has made heated debates much more fluid and productive in my house.

I can distinctly remember how much time and hassle this simple rule saved me as student in meetings and forums. It is a great way to avoid a cacophony of voices trying to overpower each other, and reinforces that a conversation is not about who speaks loudest.

Being uncomfortable is a necessary part of listening. Being uncomfortable makes you curious, alert, more careful about choosing your words carefully, and promotes thinking and preparing counter arguments and further research on divisive topics. Good conversation is the art of maintaining the balance between being upset and satisfied, between informing and learning.

Although avoiding being upset is a huge part of self-care, I believe that being upset is an important part of a healthy mind. Going outside of our comfort zones demands courage, which is a great quality to aim for, while listening demands patience, another fantastic goal to pursue. In times like these, a good balance between happy and sad, patient and eager, comforting and bold, are necessary elements to keep up with the whirlwind of abrupt changes we are experiencing.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is to create spaces and a mind-set in which disagreements can be voiced and discussed, in which we will listen with as much love and patience as we speak.

I encourage each and every one of us to speak up when we feel strongly about a subject, and keep in mind that in order to speak up one needs to listen intently. To survive turbulent times we have to stay curious, and try to heal at the same rate as we are hurt. The more we listen, the more we will have to say; and remember, three minutes is a significant amount of time to make a point, perhaps much longer than it seems. If you find yourself raising your voice, or in a group conversation that seems to be generating confusion and frustration, try the three minute rule, perhaps it might find that three minutes is a long time after all!

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Julia Csekö was born in Colorado and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2011, Csekö moved to Boston, Massachusetts to pursue a MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. Graduating in 2013, she mounted her thesis exhibition at Laconia Gallery in Boston. Csekö is the recipient of a 2016 Walter Feldman Fellowship, awarded by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston resulting in her 1st solo exhibition in the USA. Csekö divides her time between being a Practicing Artist and an Independent Curator, serving as a Community Arts Liaison at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Program Coordinator at the New Art Center in Newton. Since graduation Csekö has participated in numerous group exhibitions at national and international venues. Her work is featured in collections including the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; as well as private collections in the United States and Brazil.

Todd Maul – Valentine’s Day Nectar

I think a lot of people overthink Valentines Day, fancy this or surprise that. I think it is at its core a day to say “I don’t take you for granted”.  Going out to dinner or staying home, simply just saying thanks for being part of my life is going to hold up better than stuff that ends up in a drawer or in a box in the attic.

This leads me to the drink that I would have, as it is a winter wonderland here in the Northeast – I would serve a Frank Sullivan. This classic drink, the Frank Sullivan, does what it is intended to do very well. It is a riff on the Corps Reviver #2 but with cognac. It does everything that a Side Car is supposed to do but better. It says thanks for understanding and drinking the better beverage.

If you are sitting by a fire with your best guy/gal I would strongly suggest listening to Django Reinhardt.

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He was a very talented gypsy jazz guitar player. He played before amplification, and was a big influence on Charlie Christian and Les Paul. He played with a sense of purpose and quiet beauty. Hopefully, these will be the words used at the end of your Valentine evening.

Frank Sullivan

1oz congac
1oz luxardo triplum
1oz blonde lillet
1oz lemon juice

Shake and strain into a large coupe glass – garnish with lemon twist.

toddmaul
Todd Maul is Co-Founder of Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge, MA and an amazing mixologist who has revolutionized the way we see cocktails.

Carrie Allen – My own private snowy Idaho

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As the snow continues to fall over Boston, covering us in its soft, white blanket, I cannot help but also think of snow-covered Idaho.  Last year, after 28 years, I found my first love again living in Idaho.  Prior to this, I had no concept of the natural beauty of the state.

img_1647According to this site, Idaho is the 17th most beautiful state in the United States. Now that I have my own private relationship with Idaho, I am continually stunned with every visit as the Gem State shows me its many jewels.

Northern Idaho’s sheer beauty can be startling and take your breath away.  Snow-capped mountains, gorgeous lakes, quiet walks in the woods with towering trees all around and more.  Enjoy the tranquility of these caught moments. I sure did.

And a few poems by Robert Frost of course…

Desert Places

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it – it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less –
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
WIth no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars – on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

Robert Frost

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Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Robert Frost

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here.