Winter Sauna

Dec 30, 2014

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While I grew up on the Canadian prairie, my family always celebrated the Scandinavian connection we had through my grandfather. His parents were immigrants from Scandinavia, and as their great-grandson I can’t speak any Scandinavian languages, but more and more I identify with their culture.  I feel as if my Scandinavian heritage has predisposed me towards saunas. I have always liked them. Whenever I am breathing in the hot fragrant air of a sauna, the combination of wood, fire, smoke and steam elicits a cerebral response in me and I can tell that this experience is imprinted somewhere way back in my psyche.

 

Residing in Winnipeg, a city which reaches winter temperatures that easily classify it as one of the coldest urban centres in the world, I’m a little envious of other Nordic countries like Finland where saunas are part of the everyday culture. What a powerful way to nullify the cold and embrace winter’s elements. As a designer, I’m attracted to the structures and spaces that make up the Finnish sauna experience too. Rough-hewn timber architecture, wood burning stoves, red hot stones, and rustic wooden furniture all create a primal yet sophisticated atmosphere. A cosmic, centuries-old spa treatment that always feels fresh and invigorating.

 

Winter sauna

 

Lately I’ve fantasized about the saunas my ancestors may have used. I imagine walking out through the snow towards my own savusauna early one frigid winter morning. The icy wind howls through my bathrobe, but I don’t mind because I know it’s only a few more steps away to the warmth of the sauna. Hot air welcomes me as soon as I step inside the timber cabin where the temperature is almost ninety degrees Celsius.  A large stack of rocks held above the woodstove is heated to glowing hot and a ladle of water from the bucket instantly sends a plume of steam rising from the rocks towards the ceiling. A few more ladles and the room is completely filled and cloudy. Sitting back on the wooden bench I inhale hot humid air and bathe in the steam.

 

Savusauna

 

After resting a while, I gently swat my back and legs using boughs of birch, a strange seeming gesture but I can feel built up tension in my muscles easing. The birch vahti also gives off a refreshing woody fragrance that adds another dimension to the bouquet of natural aromas in the cabin. The heat is almost overwhelming.  Moisture covers me, and my head and lungs seem steam saturated. I rise off the bench, and feeling slightly light headed, I steady myself for the bracing cold of the lake water dip that comes next.

 

Vihta

 

Uimareita varten tehty avanto jäällä.

Avanto

 

I hastily exit the savusauna and make a direct path towards the dark mouth of the avanto, a hole cut through the ice. Without hesitating, I plunge feet first into the super-chilled lake water and a collision of burning and tingling sensations electrify my body. I wait, bobbing in the dark water for a few moments to savour the dual sensations of warm inner core and icy skin surface. Bursting back up through the water’s surface I waste little time in grabbing my robe and towel while scrambling through the blowing snow back to my family’s farmhouse.

 

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Piirakka

 

Sitting by the crackling fireplace, I sip on chilled low-proof kalja and savour pork sausages and piirakk with crispy rye crusts. Through design and architecture systems which humans perfected centuries ago, the sauna’s confluence of fire, steam, heat and ice somehow transports me to a different mind space. Winter is lovely.

Best of ‘Best-of 2014′ List 

Dec 29, 2014

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I’m a fan of year-end ‘Best of’ lists. Not so much for the subjective one through ten rating systems, but rather for the nice overview it lends to a year’s worth of media. Below are the Best of: Best of 2014 Lists for hours of click throughs and wasted time. Enjoy.

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Best book covers 2014

 

Best Longreads of 2014

 

Best Tracks of 2014

 

Dissolve Best movies of 2014

 

Physics Breakthroughs of 2014

 

Tumblr 2014 Year in Review:

 

Top Temporary Structures of 2014

 

Top New Museums of 2014

 

50 Best Albums of 2014

 

Booooooom’s 75 Favourite Images Found in 2014:

 

Nowness Most Loved of 2014:
(“The Chief” is a favourite of mine…)

 

Best podcast Episodes of All time (as of 2014):

 

New Years Eve Bubbly Beverages

Dec 27, 2014

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champagne_bottles

Don’t bring in the New Year with an ill informed beverage choice. You can get an enjoyable bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne no matter what you budget is! Here are my six choices for New Years Eve bubbly beverages based on price point, from entry-level up.

 

Bottega Il Vino de Poeti Gold Brut Prosecco – Italy, $24.99

If you’re unsure that you will appreciate a more expensive bottle, go for the Italian classic, Prosecco. At $24.99 the gold bottle edition feels a little bit more celebratory than it actually is!

 

Cave Spring NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Niagra Escarpment VQA – Canada, $35.99

My Canadian sparkling wine pick is a dry, medium bodied, Niagra brut-style sparking wine with hint of sweetness.

 

Lallier Grand Reserve Champagne GC Brut – France, $54.54

At under $55 dollars you can celebrate New Years Eve with this entry-level priced French Champagne instead of the less impressive sounding sparkling wines.

 

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Champagne 2002 – France, $83.19

If you genuinely enjoy sparling wines and Champagne, but have never gotten past the entry-level priced bottles, then this is great Champagne to start with. You’ll get a long, rich finish with subtle, refreshing notes at an exceptional value.

 

Bollinger La Grande Année Champagne Brut – France, $157.02

This Champagne is fermented in oak barrels with exotic spices and has silky smooth bubbles.

 

Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon Champagne Brut – France, $235.99

If you’ve had a particularly exceptional year and want your choice of champagne to reflect that, my favourite is the vibrant and classic Dom Pérignon.

 

Availability ​and prices may vary depending on your city/province.

 
Happy New Year!

Our Hands – Marcy

Dec 22, 2014

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Marcy

 

OurHands-Marcy

 

OurHands-Marcy-2

 

 

5 Questions with Marcy our Team Leader Seamstress

 

Charles – How long have you been a seamstress?

Marcy – 24 years.

C – What do your hands do all day?

M – They distribute work + organize.

C – What makes your hands unique?

M – They are ambidextrous.

C – Would you change anything about your hands? If so what?

M – My right hand is a bit crooked (she laughs). Perhaps I would have it straightened (she smiles).

C – What is your favourite thing to hold? 

M – I can’t help it but when I am going down the grocery isle where marshmallows can be found, I need to press on them! A marshmallow is my favourite thing to hold.

 

Winter Craft: Gold Stippled Acre Napkin

Dec 20, 2014

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Want to get crafty this winter? Take our simple cotton Acre napkin and jazz it up for your next holiday family gathering or New Year’s Eve dinner party. With only a few supplies and some free time, you can fancy up your dinner setting without having to spend the big bucks.

 

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What you need:

-White Acre napkins

-Gold fabric paint (can be purchased at any craft store)

-Paintbrush(es)

 

holiday_craft_02

 

Use the end of a paintbrush to dip into fabric paint. Transfer onto your napkin multiple times to create a festive stippled pattern.

 

Tip: You can use different paintbrushes to create dots varying in size.

 

holiday_craft_03

 

You’re all done and ready to host the holiday party of the year!

 

Products featured: Acre Napkin, Ames Flatware, Jebel White Wine Glass, Wila Dinner Set

 

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