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January, 2015 |

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Celebrity Travel: The 10 Coolest Things to See in Marfa, TX

Beyonce in MarfaInstagram/@Beyonce


January 31, 2015 @ 12:15 pm

“Marfa is a really good dare,” said the artist and accessories designer Orly Genger. At roughly twelve hours of travel time from most major cities, Marfa is indeed off the usual beaten path. Unless you’re part of Beyoncé’s entourage (Queen Bey chartered a private plane to visit the town in 2012), the closest major airport is three hours away by car, and with some exceptions, most flights to El Paso or Midland require a connection.

It’s a good thing then that Marfa is magnetic. Since the early ’90s, when influential artist Donald Judd decamped from NYC to this vast stretch of far West Texas, celebrities, such as Natalie Portman, Robert Pattinson, and Jake Gyllenhaal, have made the pilgrimage here. Some fashionable visitors even set up secondary residences. The small town (population: 1,981) is filled with renounced urbanites, who once hailed from the most exciting cities in the world, NY or LA or Paris, stumbled into Marfa and never left.

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It helps that Marfa is its own mini cosmopolitan, with the trappings usually reserved for more well-known locales. The food scene has everything from fine dining establishments to fascinating ones, like a weekend-only grilled cheese shack where diners sit surrounded by vintage TVs that display various forms of static. There are gluten-free options, pop-up restaurants and a burrito-only restaurant in the home of a woman named Ramona.

Marfa’s mystic appeal has only built upon its reputation as an art capital. In addition to the town’s two main foundations, Judd and Chinati, there are a slew of galleries, art collectives and multi-disciplinary spaces. For further evidence of the town’s urban ties, one of the most popular institutions, Ballroom Marfa, hosted a benefit last fall in New York City, attended by the likes of Reed Krakoff, Naomi Campbell, Sofia Coppola, Dustin Yellin and Oscar de la Renta’s Peter Copping.

Despite Marfa’s outsize profile, its pace is purely West Texas. Stores are open when they want to be, and much of the town shuts down on Monday and Tuesday (Hint: check marfalist.com for mostly up-to-date information on hours and events).

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But if done right, Marfa is more than a really good dare–it’s a great one. Up for the challenge? Here are the ten coolest things to see:

1. Sunrise Tour at the Chinati Foundation: Even if you’re not an early riser, make an exception for a sunrise viewing of Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum. Each work has the same outer dimensions, while the inside’s angular divisions are unique. As the sun hits the aluminum, each piece takes on its own personality, reflecting the light in a different way.

2. Prada Marfa: You can’t leave with one of Prada’s new crocodile bowling bags, but you can get a great Instagram shot. Contrary to some rumors, there isn’t actually a working Prada store on the dusty desert road from El Paso to Marfa. It’s actually an installation by Elmgreen and Dragset, supported by the Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa, whose existence fuels an ongoing dialogue about permanence, minimalism and consumerism. The door doesn’t work, but it never hurts to window shop; the shoes and bags displayed inside are actually from Prada’s A/W 2005 collection.

Grey Malin Marfa

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3. El Cosmico: Think of it as the chicest campground ever. El Cosmico’s collection of vintage trailers, teepees and tents almost begs for a fringe-heavy fashion shoot. Tents start at $85/night and require the use of a communal bathroom, but if you’re looking for true glamping, reserve the Imperial Mansion, starting at $170/night, which boasts a full bath, kitchen, heat/AC and a patio to pose on.

4. Marfa Burrito: Matthew McConaughey is a fan of this quaint spot, helmed by a giggling woman named Ramona, who will make you a breakfast burrito in her own kitchen. She speaks no English, so brush up on your Spanish (or your hand signals) and brace yourself for the best gastronomic pleasure you can get for less than $7.

5. Book Marfa: Bibliophiles and belletrists alike will love this expertly curated bookstore, with an attached coffee shop and garden that makes it as pleasing aesthetically as it is intellectually. Browse the store’s varied selection, view exhibitions from visiting artists, or bring home pottery by local artisans.

6.The Museum of Electronic Wonders Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour: There’s no glaring signage alerting you that you’re in the right place, but once you gingerly open the door of this tiny bôite, the wafting smell of gooey grilled cheese makes it worth it. Run by Food Shark, which also operates a lunchtime food truck, the menu changes often, but a recent offering included brisket, pickled jalapenos and jack cheese. For $12.50, you can order the Motherf**cker, an oversized sandwich that includes every ingredient on the menu.

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7. Cobra Rock Boot Company: The handmade cowboy boots at Cobra Rock can come with up to an eight month waiting list. Each boot, made from American full-grain leather, takes two and a half weeks to make and costs $495 (plus tax). If you can’t make it to Marfa, but are desperate for a pair, you can put your name on the waitlist online with a $100 deposit.

8. Freda: A lifestyle shop perfect for finding envy-inducing souvenirs for friends who weren’t brave enough to make the trek to Marfa. The store carries clothes, house wares, art and a wide selection of jewelry, both from established brands like Pamela Love and more up and coming names like Adina Mills, whose pieces incorporate sculptural elements and natural materials.

9. Comida Futura: A rustic, cafeteria-style restaurant in the middle of town, Comida Futura’s menu is the opposite of big, bad Texas food. The charming locale offers mostly protein and vegetable-centric options that diners enjoy on communal tables. But luckily, after you’ve cleansed your system with their lentils and kale, you can make up for it with one of their freshly baked pies.

10: Thunderbird Motel: The Thunderbird Hotel maintains an ideal level of sparse chic while still being comfortable enough to stock their minimalist bathrooms with Malin +Goetz amenities. Write a novella on one of their vintage typewriters, peruse the vinyl library and keep an eye out for visiting chefs at Capri, their event space that often hosts pop-up restaurants. Rooms start at $140.

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Mary Beth Breckenridge: 7 easy decorating projects to beat the blahs



By Mary Beth Breckenridge

Beacon Journal home writer


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Small Trellis wallpaper form York Wallcoverings, used to decorate the back of display shelves. (Alexis Mills/York Wallcoverings, Inc.)




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The blue kitchen shows an accent wall with Benjamin Moore Covington Blue. (John Bessler/Benjamin Moore)




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The red kitchen shows an accent wall using Benjamin Moore’s Tomato Tango paint. (John Bessler/Benjamin Moore)











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College students dream up the kitchen of the future

At this point, everyone from tiny startups to multinational corporations have taken a crack at dreaming up the home of the future. Between Electrolux’s flying mini-robots and GE’s automated laundry machines, the practice is an easy (and marketable) way to blow the internet’s collective mind.

Well, now we can add public universities to the list of domestic futurists.

A group of students and professors from Virginia Tech’s Center for Design Research has revealed a concept kitchen called the FutureHAUS—and it’s already making futurists blush. The idea draws a number of disparate themes into a single package, and is markedly more ambitious than any other smart home concept we’ve seen.

FutureHAUS is a complete, modular housing system that allows buyers to combine readymade “cartridges” (for kitchen, bath, living, and more) into stackable, high-density condominiums.

It’s a bold idea, but is it ready for the real world? We visited the group’s prototype display at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) 2015 to find out.

The most notable aspect of the current FutureHAUS kitchen concept is its use of sensors. These sensors are present in the refrigerator, where they keep track of things like how full your milk carton is. So when you’re at the store, you can check in with the fridge to find out whether you need to buy more 2 percent.

These monitors are also in the dishwasher, where they measure the size of the load and instruct the washer to dispense just the right amount of detergent. It’s a rather clever use of simple technology for a complicated task—one that could eventually save you time and money.

The FutureHAUS kitchen prototype is built around four large LCD displays. Running Windows 8, the giant tablet embedded in the center—the “social table,” as it’s called—can be used pretty much exactly like a regular PC. You can theoretically fling webpages and YouTube videos to the three “backsplash” displays for the sink, cooking surface, and countertop.

Each appliance has its own touchscreen app, from the induction cooktop to the dishwasher. The cooktop app was running in the prototype kitchen when we visited, though not actually working.

The designers say the FutureHAUS will adapt to owners’ needs, automatically adjusting “temperature, security, lighting, and more, based on voice recognition, touch, gestures, and motion.” Little of that projected functionality was on display at KBIS, though.

The kitchen design comes from boutique custom cabinetry firm Plain Fancy, and it absolutely screams quality—with a modern, clean aesthetic that uses space wisely.

The drawer-style cupboard has built-in lighting and shelves that can be accessed from either side—a setup that ensures your spices and baking goods won’t get lost in the dim recesses of your cabinets.

Virginia Tech’s designers even put some serious thought into the sink and faucet. The former has a beveled edge that can play host to a variety of accessories (cutting boards, drying racks), while the latter is gesture-controlled—you simply wave your hand to turn the stream on or off, and right or left to raise or lower the temperature.

There’s a lot going on in the FutureHAUS kitchen, but it’s hard to tell in these initial stages if this is a setup we’d actually want to live with.

Most of the sensor tech on display is merely proof-of-concept. In fact, virtually all of the FutureHAUS’s smart functionality is conceptual at this point. Inventory management sounds great, but information is scarce on how it would actually work.

The stackable, modular “cartridge” design is also far over the horizon for now. And while we like the ergonomics and design sense on display, most of that is imported from other companies and already available today for buyers with the right budget.

So, for now, the FutureHAUS is a beautiful idea, if slightly unrealistic. We look forward to hopefully seeing a more fully realized version next year.

For more smart home coverage from Reviewed.com, click here.

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A plate that’s English in an Asian way

What: English Imari pattern plate by Minton

Where: Kofski Estate Sale, 5501 Georgia Ave., West Palm Beach; 561-585-1976 or kofski.com. Next sale is Feb. 14-15.

A plate that’s English in an Asian way photo

How much: $20

Why it’s special: OK, I admit it: I’m a hoarder. Open any cupboard chez-moi and it’s full of dishes and glassware of all kinds.

But lately, I have been stashing 19th century English dinnerware.

Why? The colors are so vivid and the shapes are so sensuous.

This Minton dinner plate, which according to its English registry mark was made in January 1881, draws inspiration from Japanese Imari porcelain designs, with bright oranges, soft blues and greens and plenty of gold.

The only thing better than a single plate? A whole set, of course.

SCOTT’S TIPS

There should be plenty to whet your collecting appetite this weekend and next.

Doll Show Sale: Be sure to say hi to my mom at the show, set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, St. Luke’s Catholic Church, 2892 S. Congress Ave., Palm Springs. $3 adults, free for Scouts in uniform; 561-965-9460 or 561-748-7962.

41st Annual American Glass, Pottery, Dinnerware Show and Sale: The South Florida Depression Glass Club holds its annual show 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Emma Lou Olson Civic Center, 1801 N.E. Sixth St., Pompano Beach. Tickets: $6.50; for discount ticket, visit www.sfdgc.com.

West Palm Beach Antiques Festival: The biggest show of the year is noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 7 and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, 9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets: Early buyer admission (gets you in the door from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 6) is $25 (good for all three days); $10 adults, $9 seniors, free for younger than 16. Two-day admission is $12 (not good during early buyer). Info at www.wpbaf.com or 941-697-7475.

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Deer Valley High’s student store well stocked with DIY lessons

The Wolverines’ Den is open for business.

But the fledgling student-run store that opened on the Antioch campus last spring is considerably more than a convenience — it provides real-world lessons that can’t be found in any textbook.

The enterprise is the brainchild of Steve Kish, a teacher in the school’s Business Technology Academy who converted an adjoining classroom into a laboratory of sorts where his marketing students put theory into practice.

“Anything that can be taught in the book can be taught in the store,” he said.

Painted entirely in black and outfitted with ultraviolet lights — remember, teens are running the show here — the room was bustling during a recent visit as students replenished inventory and worked on ads for the custom posters the store soon will be selling.

Ball caps bearing team logos, wallets and sunglasses were neatly arrayed in display cases near a bouquet of small balloons bearing birthday greetings.

Mindful of the money they could make by catering to an older demographic as well, students had stocked one corner with cookware ranging from frying pans and spatulas to pizza cutters.

“You got teachers going in to buy?” Kish asked a boy upon glimpsing a couple of his colleagues leaving the store. “Excellent, excellent.”

Over the course of a year, his do-it-yourself approach has students shepherd a product through the marketing process from concept to cash register.

Students distribute surveys to their peers to determine what products potential customers want and price them competitively. They also promote the store on Deer Valley High’s closed-circuit TV and work on overcoming what Kish calls its “backwater” location by making it an inviting spot to visit.

Teens spend the first part of the year on bookwork, learning such skills as how to be an effective salesman, identify a target market and track cash flow as well as how to analyze a product’s success and decide which items to put on clearance.

A recent stop by Room 111 found many of Kish’s 27 juniors and seniors embarking on one of their SWOT sessions, marketing-speak for a self-analysis during which they discuss the store’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities for expansion and factors that can threaten its success.

One pitfall that novice entrepreneurs encounter is choosing a product to promote simply because they like it without considering whether it holds a broader appeal.

“You have to learn it’s not about what you think; it’s understanding what the customer thinks,” Kish said.

Junior Ruben Morado discovered that truth for himself when he pitched the idea of selling faceless wristwatches; classmates nixed the suggestion, saying the general student population wasn’t familiar enough with the design.

The 17-year-old also has learned not to approach customers by asking if they’re looking for anything in particular because they’ll typically say they’re just browsing.

To be an effective salesman, you have to know a product well enough to be able to point out the features that meet the shopper’s need, Morado said.

After students reach a consensus on how much of which products to buy, Kish takes them on an annual spring field trip to a flea market in Galt, where they stock up on goods at near-wholesale prices.

Even with a markup of about 10 percent, the items are still deeply discounted: Ball caps are $10 each, earbuds, wallets and sunglasses sell for $5, and the price for a memory stick is $2.

But the Den is not just about hands-on experiences; it’s where students learn valuable life lessons.

Kish makes it clear that running the store is serious business and should be treated as an actual job. Referring to students as “employees” and their grades as “pay stubs,” he leverages the store’s popularity to instill self-discipline.

He once “fired” a student who, though a natural at sales, was habitually late to class. Losing the chance to work in the store soon turned his apathetic attitude around, said Kish, noting that when the boy rejoined the staff he put his talents to use recruiting customers during the lunch period.

“This is the only (one) out of my five classes that I have no tardy problems,” he said.

The teamwork required to operate The Den also motivates students to toe the line; students responsible for ordering balloons know that if they miss their deadline, they won’t have the product ready to sell by the time it’s advertised on campus TV, Kish said.

The store also is a source of encouragement. Students gain self-assurance when a product they have chosen to market does well, and that enables them to succeed in tough classes like economics, Kish said.

Understanding basics such as sales techniques and the importance of keeping displays tidy leads to small victories beyond the classroom as well: Teens will seek Kish out to tell him they landed a retail job or got a promotion.

“They’re beaming with pride and confidence,” he said.

Reach Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.

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#PretaPostcards: Where to Eat, Shop and Sleep in Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, running through Feb. 7, kicks into high gear this weekend, with Jennifer Aniston receiving the Montecito award for Cake at the city’s historic Arlington Theater tonight, Jan. 30 and Birdman’s Michael Keaton being handed the Modern Master Award on Jan. 31. We’ve mapped out some of the best places to stay, eat, drink and enjoy.

Where to Stay

Rejoining the ranks of Santa Barbara’s most luxurious lodgings – which includes the Four Seasons Biltmore, the San Ysidro Ranch and Bacara Resort Spa – is the Belmond El Encanto (800 Alvarado Place; 805-845-5800). Situated above the city in the Riviera neighborhood, the hotel is unrivalled when it comes to views, offering a sweeping vista overlooking downtown and the Pacific. After a seven-year, $134-million reno, this beloved hotel, built in 1918, is back with Spanish and Craftsman bungalows featuring marble bathrooms and heated stone floors. Rooms from $425.

For something fresh and hip, head to Kimpton Hotels’ new The Goodland (5650 Calle Real, Goleta; 805-964-6241), a 158-room, pet-friendly boutique hotel (pictured below) with a vintage Woodie parked out front. With a turntable in each room and vinyl from the Carpenters and Joan Baez, you’ll feel like your spending the weekend in your cool friend’s apartment. Rooms from $229.

Where to Eat

At the Santa Barbara Public Market (38 W. Victoria St.; 805-770-7702), a gourmet marketplace and collection of cafes, purchase local seafood, sustainably and humanely raised meats and poultry from Belcampo Meat Co. or enjoy pot stickers or a bowl of noodle soup at the Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar. 

For a pick me up during movie weekend, downtown’s Kotuku Elixir Bar Superfood (25 E. De La Guerra St.; 805-897-3382) offers plant-based juices elixirs, smoothies, even omega-rich ice cream. 

Arigato Sushi (1225 State St.; 805-965-6074) just hit the big leagues, with the honor of being named one of the best sushi restaurants in the country by Travel + Leisure. The uni (sea urchin) is guaranteed fresh — Santa Barbara is the uni capital of the U.S.

For a sweet organic indulgence – such as strawberry cheesecake with graham cracker crust ice cream — try Rori’s Artisanal Creamery at the Montecito Country Market (1024 D Coast Village Road, Montecito; 805-220-6019). Owner and founder Rori Trovato began her career as a pastry chef and has written for Bon Appétit and Oprah, in addition to publishing her own cookbook.

Olio Crudo Bar (11 W. Victoria Street, Suite 18; 805-899-2699) is a spin-off of one of Santa Barbara’s favorite Italian places, Olio e Limone. The Atlantic bluefin tuna belly with a ginger vinaigrette and wasabi shoots is a house favorite.

Featuring a striking penny-covered exterior, Lucky Penny (127 Anacapa St.; 805-284-0358) in the Funk Zone serves up La Colombe coffee drinks, wood-fired pizza, salads and sandwiches. As an added bonus, it will deliver its fresh fast food to nearby tasting rooms. 

Also situated in the Funk Zone – an evolving warehouse area featuring bars, restaurants and art galleries situated between the beach and Highway 101 — The Lark (131 Anacapa St.; 805-284-0370) offers innovative takes on traditional favorites such as Belgian waffles paired with duck liver.

Where to Shop

Step into interior decorator Tamara Kaye-Honey’s House of Honey (525 San Ysidro Road, Montecito; 805-969-7444), an outpost of her original Pasadena location, where you can browse everything from her debut custom lighting line to accessories from Alexandra Von Furstenberg and Heath ceramics. 

Nestled in the Paseo Nuevo shopping center is Whistle Club (819 State St., Suite A+B; 805-965-7782), a boutique featuring accessories, gifts and women’s apparel from A.L.C., Thakoon Addition, Cynthia Rowley, Zimmermann and Tom Dixon.

At Chocolate Maya (15 W. Gutierrez St.; 805-965-5956), Swiss-born owner Maya Schoop-Rutten has collected her favorite organic and fair trade chocolates in addition to some of her own concoctions. You might even be tempted to taste a shot of thick European-style hot chocolate.

At home furnishings shop Hudson Grace (Montecito Country Mart, 1014F Coast Village Rd., Montecito; 805-565-9600), look for classic white dinnerware and unique vintage silver serving pieces bearing the signature stamps of The Ritz, The Savoy, and The Connaught.

At Santa Barbara Guitar Bar (Funk Zone, 137 Anacapa St.; 805-770-7242), relax on a couch and peruse the dozens of acoustic and electric lines this shop has to offer, including small Australian company called Cole Clark, which produces environmentally friendly guitars. If you find something you like, give it a whirl in one of the four private lesson rooms. 

Where to Drink

The Spanish Revival-style El Paseo shopping center (812 State St.), built in the 1920s, is one of the city’s newest wine hubs. Its Wine Collection of El Paseo now boasts six wine tasting rooms, including Happy Canyon and Au Bon Climat.

Three new wineries have opened tasting rooms in the Funk Zone. Lafond Winery, Fox Wine Co. and the Santa Barbara Wine Collective with selections from Babcock Winery Vineyards, Fess Parker Winery Vineyard and Ca’ Del Grevino. They join Les Marchands Wine Bar Merchant, where master sommelier and owner Brian McClintic (notably seen in the sommelier documentary Somm) stocks a selection of more than 600 wines and offers 25 wines by the glass. (Lafond: 111 East Yanonali St.; Fox Wine: 120 Santa Barbara St..; Santa Barbara: 131 Anacapa St.; Les Marchands, 131 Anacapa St., Suite B)

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