There is one thing I hate more than winter: shitty mugs. I’m a mug snob. I’m not ashamed to admit that. As a young(ish) person who recently breached year 30, born and raised in the Midwest, appropriate dishware for combating the winter blues is paramount. A steaming cup of tea or coffee is nirvana when it hurts the skin to walk outside. Living in one of the windiest parts of the city (Bayview), I have a keen appreciation for all of the ways we come up with to survive the frozen tundra for five months because wind chill is the great Northern defiler. When it is dangerous to leave the house for more than three minutes, I turn to my comforts, in moderation of course. We really need a Wisconsin-esque translation to hygge. Midwestern hibernation? Midwesternation? A shop opened up in our neighborhood before the weather took its predictable turn and you may have heard of it: Ursa. I am a pawn of my generation; I’m a houseplant fiend and initially visited the shop to check out their botanical wares. I walked out with the best mug of my life. This is my love letter to a coffee mug. It’s creamy like a cauliflower bisque. It’s speckled like farm fresh eggs. It’s sturdy like a handcrafted table my Daddy built with his hands. It keeps the nectar of the gods the appropriate temperature for the appropriate duration. It is a thing of beauty and things of beauty are what get us through these frigid, dark days. This is also a love letter to Ursa. Privately owned, specialty shops elevate this city. They invoke a connectedness, a sense of ownership, standing alone in a sea of big boxes. They are an opportunity to see the passion that exists in the people who choose Milwaukee. They show the personality of the people who live here. Ursa embodies all of this and has a firm spot on my short list of shops to visit on the weekend or the rare weekday off. For those who believe we are our environments, Ursa is a place you can connect to the Southwestern part of your spirit, the brightly, intricately patterned part of you; it is the place where you go to find the antithesis of a nauseatingly fruity candle. It is where you go to find the most perfect tea mug in the world. If you believe winter comforts are found by immersing yourself deeply in the aesthetics of our city, I encourage you to cultivate your own by exploring some of the storefronts even if it means enduring the chill. Cold fingers, warm heart. You can find Ursa on Facebook here.