CREATIVE FIELD TRIP : BIRMINGHAM

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Despite the brisk temperatures last week, I bundled up and ventured out to Birmingham. They have a great walkable downtown and although I’ve been there a dozen plus times, it’s been a long time since I’ve looked around with no motive. Lately when I’m there, it’s to get something like envelopes at Paper Source and then rush back to my car before the parking meter expires.

My intent with these “field trips” is to get out of the house for a few hours and leisurely explore. Not just "go shopping." To putz at my own pace. For each city I’ll create a loose game plan + make a list of stores, cafes, and restaurants to visit, but be on the lookout for inspiration in between. I may come home with a few treasures as well, but the hope is that my mind is soaking in my surroundings as I think about how I can take what I’ve seen and apply it to what I’m doing or working on. Inspiration is everywhere.

Creative Field Trip : Birmingham

My first stop was for coffee at Commonwealth. They serve breakfast and lunch, so at 9:30am, they were packed. The space, and the vibe, was amazing. High ceilings, white walls, dark wood, great signage + a fab logo. I was in. I picked out a few macarons to take home and grabbed a Commonwealth Latte (with sweetened condensed milk – yes please!) before heading back out in the cold. Next time, I will plan to stay and eat.

Creative Field Trip : Birmingham

Next I hit some shopping destinations – Anthropologie, West Elm and Paper Source. I could have stayed in Anthropologie all day. I took a chance at looking fishy because I didn’t buy much, even though their holiday clearance table was full of pretty things. Their window displays are always beautiful and I was especially intrigued by this layered alpha block display (above right). I think that would be fun to replicate at home, or even on a scrapbook page.

Creative Field Trip : Birmingham

If I could furnish my home with items from just one store – West Elm would be at near the top of that list. Furniture, bedding, rugs, throws, pillows, vases – I’ll take one of each. I loved their selection of Rewined Candles (I’m regretting not grabbing one) and they even had a table full of products from local makers, including Warpaint Studio. Kristen is also behind Worthwhile Paper and is one of my favorite handletterers.

Creative Field Trip : Birmingham

Mark’s office isn’t far from Birmingham so he met me in town for lunch at Toast. I’d never been there so this was my first time, and it wasn’t my last. The inside was funky, eclectic and really cozy - and the food was so good. I got the Toast Burger, which was like breakfast on a burger - topped with a sunny egg and Canadian bacon - and Mark got a Turkey Brie sandwich - complete with slices of green apple which he loved. Next time, I’ve got my eye on the table with sofas around it for seating. We wouldn’t leave.

Creative Field Trip : Birmingham

I did come home with a few goodies. And those macarons – they were as delish as they look. Once the weather warms up a bit, I hope to head out to another city before the kids are out of school for the summer.

One of my goals in 2015 is to explore 4 local cities. I love the idea of being a tourist in my own town and am excited to find some new-to-me places along the way. You can read more about my 2015 goals here + my "field trip" posts here.