Category Archives: India

India and a Pop-Up Shop

_MG_6064It has been a hectic year, 2014, with quite a few personal challenges and transitions.  For one thing, my husband has been traveling a lot for work and that means that I’ve been single parenting more often than I would like.  Recently, my husband was in India and I have to admit that I was sick with envy.  How I miss the vibrancy and chaos, the architecture and colors, the spices and markets.  I spent time remembering our last trip and going back through my pictures, and it occurred to me that I only shared the smallest sliver of our trip with you.  Perhaps you’d like to see more?  I sent my husband with a shopping list and I’m thrilled to announce that I’m going to be launching another pop-up shop in a few weeks, early November, just in time for some holiday shopping.  There will be kantha quilts, hand-blocked notebooks, and beautiful hand-blocked cotton tunics, along with some other treasures.  I have trained that man well- and he brought back some beautiful items that I can’t wait to share!  I thought I would also offer prints- I know a few of you asked, and I never got around to it.  Please let me know which prints you’d like me to offer!  As a refresher: Delhi, Bhutan, Rajasthan (I know many of you loved those doors!), Travel Realities, and the first Pop-Up Shop.  Without further ado, a trip down memory lane, starting in Delhi, working our way through Bhutan and finishing with my favorite, Rajasthan.

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_MG_5195_2All of the above were from the beginning portion of our trip, when we were in Delhi, getting adjusted and finding our footing after a 14-hour flight and serious jet lag.

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_MG_5630Isn’t it interesting how Bhutan has such a different and distinct look, both the people, colors and architecture?  That is what amazes me about this part of the world- each region in Inda, and bordering country, has its own language, food, culture, and religion.  I feel as though you could study India and its neighboring countries for your entire life and still not grasp the full story.

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_MG_6544Rajasthan, shown above and below, is by far my most favorite region that I have visited in India (though there are so many regions I have yet to discover).  The vibrant colors of the woman’s saris against the faded desert landscape is the visual that I associate with the region.  That, and the wild colors of the homes and buildings, again standing in such contrast to the muted landscape.

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_MG_6460And finally, into the countryside of Rajasthan.  This was probably one of the most memorable days of the trip, as we were welcomed into the homes of these farmers, and offered lunch as we watched our kids play together.

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India Pop-Up Shop OPEN!

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 1.59.02 PMI promised to bring back some amazing goodies from India and I really hope I delivered on that promise.  I had such fun sourcing for my little shop- I searched through market stalls, scoured tiny alleyway shops, and scored big at the two most amazing stores ever, one in Jaipur, one in Udaipur.  Imagine an old haveli lovingly restored and stocked with a collection of vintage textiles amassed over the past 50 years from abandoned castles, crumbling palaces, and forgotten villages throughout all of India.  I walked in and nearly wept from all the beauty and handicraft on display.  I think it takes a seamstress/ crafter to appreciate it (I can’t say my husband understood my joy!)- each stitch lovingly threaded long ago, the extraordinary color combinations, the quality of the materials.  It was all too much for me!

2014-01-24_0006If you were looking for cheap finds, you won’t see them here.  This is the thing about shopping in India- many visitors go for the cheapy stores.  Pillow cases for $5!!!  Amazing!!  But I can’t do that kind of shopping simply because I have to know that it was made/sourced fairly, the materials used are authentic, and that the artisans were fairly compensated.  I also want to find very unique, possibly one-of-a-kind goods.  And I have a real thing for the vintage stuff (some may call it a weakness!).

_MG_7124_2At the cheaper stores you start seeing the same pillow cases and scarves over and over and over again.  It just gets to be a bit nauseating thinking about where/ how all that cheap, reproduction stuff is made.  So, I hope this explains my shopping philosophy.

_MG_7183Over the weekend I furiously photographed, measured and wrote copy for over 30 carefully selected items.  I tried to keep the photographs very simple so that you get a real view of the product- no fancy styling (not that I know how to do that!).  There is only one of each product (with the exception of the scarves- there are doubles of a few of the colors).  So if you see something you like- jump on it!

_MG_7098And if you have any questions- shoot me an email, or leave it in the comments.  This is my first time attempting a shop and I tried to be as thorough in each explanation as I could, but there is a possibility I left something out.

_MG_7179So jump on over for an eclectic selection of pom-pom scarves, kantha quilts, pillow cases, ceramic knobs, blocks and embroidered ribbon!  Happy shopping!  And for those of you who requested prints of some of my photographs- I’m working on it…but it might be a few months!

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Delhi, an Epic Case of Jetlag and Taking it all in

_MG_5061Here is something they don’t tell you about traveling half-way across the world with kids.  It’s not the 14 hour flight that kills you, it is the jetlag that lasts for days afterward and causes the kids to wake and sleep at all hours of the day and night.  We got lucky- our boys slept for most of the flight, making the traveling leg of our journey shockingly easy.  The real fun started once we landed in Delhi and discovered how many different ways you can pass time from 2am-7am in a hotel room.

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_MG_5083I think we finally figured it out, after forcing the kids to stay awake all day yesterday they successfully made it through a night and woke at 7am.  For the first time since landing, we are all feeling a bit refreshed and ready to take on the day.  Not that our bone-crushing tiredness has held us back from exploring.  Oh no- we have already been to a few temples, seen the ruins of the 6th city of Delhi, pushed our way through crowded markets and done a bit of shopping (just wait ’til you see what I’m bringing back!!).

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_MG_5051India is such a mixed bag- it’s hard for adults to take in all there is to see, I can only imagine what it is like through the eyes of a child.  Vik is too young to understand most of what he sees, but Vijay is taking it all in and trying his best to process.  He has so many questions, and his emotions have ranged from excited to terrified.  He is a sensitive soul, and the crowds, noise and chaos are hard for him to take.  He also is my little herd dog- he is always wanting the “whole family” together- mama, dada, baby Vik and Vijay.  He loves taking a head count to make sure we’re all together.  So it is very hard for him to see children without mama’s and dada’s, and he is smart enough that I don’t try to sugarcoat the truth.

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_MG_5110_2“Where is his mama?” he’ll ask, his eyes wide with sadness.  How do you possibly explain such things to a three year old?  And so we’ve sought out “safe havens”- quiet playgrounds and gardens where the boys can run around and feel safe.  This is all I know how to do.

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_MG_5143Delhi is difficult with young children and I must say, we are very much looking forward to making our way to the smaller towns on our itinerary.  The traffic, congestion and noise of Delhi will not be missed.  Yet there is so much to see, and I am trying my best to take it all in with my camera- mostly when the boys are napping, or taking a swim at the hotel.  When I have them with me, I try to focus my attention on them completely- but oh, how hard it is with so much visual stimulation.

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_MG_4904For now, my friends, I am wishing you all a blessed and peaceful Christmas.  It is an odd feeling to be so far removed from snow, twinkling lights and Christmas trees, not to mention the loving embrace of our family.  But onward we go, seeking out our next adventure during this wild month!

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A Blessing

Udaipur PujaAs the birth draws closer, I find myself reflecting on my journey through pregnancy. It seems like a lifetime ago, but in March/April of this year, we were in India, and I was in my first trimester. It was a difficult trip because I was experiencing terrible morning sickness, and the (normally heavenly) smell of spicy curries was enough to send me running for the door.
Udaipur PujaBut it was a beautiful trip as well. We took time out of our busy travel schedule to have a puja (blessing) for our child. It was a long ceremony (2 hours!) and I didn’t understand what was being said…but I appreciated the beauty of the ancient rituals, and I was moved by the many offerings made on behalf of our baby.
Udaipur PujaI thought it might be fun to show you a few pictures of the ceremony… Let’s hope the blessing extends to the birth, which I am hoping will be healthy (and quick and painless too!).
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Happy Mother’s Day

Mom and her fan club!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and expectant mothers the world over! I was looking through my childhood photographs to find more vintage shots of my mom like the one above, but then I thought about this picture below, from India, which so perfectly captures her spirit, Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and expectant mothers the world over! I was looking through my childhood photographs to find more vintage shots of my mom like the one above, but then I thought about this picture below, from India, which so perfectly captures her spirit,and I thought I would share that instead.

She is beloved by children worldwide, I swear it. Whether she is leading my brothers boyscout troop (she deserves sainthood for this endeavor- a large group of wild 11 year old boys with too much extra energy and too few listening skills…), or interacting with children on the streets of India, patience, gentleness and kindness just radiate from her. I was so blessed to have such a wonderful women as my mom, and I aspire to be just like her one day when I am raising my own family. I love you Mom!

And since we are sort-of, kind-of on the topic of India, did you see the most recent Anthropologie catalog? I felt a sense of deja vu as I flipped through the pages. See if you can find the catalog pictures similar to mine below!
The City Palace, Jaipur agrashopMarkets of UdaipurSo I am wondering…why didn’t they just call me up, I would have gladly shot the catalog for them!! Really, it would have been no trouble at all!

And finally…a great piece on What Cards Don’t Say on Mother’s Day. Thank you for passing this along Mrs. Lenhoff!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

The Great Art of Procrastinating

IMG_5895I have yet to go grocery shopping. It is now Wednesday, we arrived home on Saturday and yet…I keep procrastinating. I feel so uninspired. What to buy? What to cook? Who knows, who cares. IMG_5894I know…what a bad attitude. But can you blame me? I just came from the land of color, where the markets are an explosion of exotic textures and smells, and now going back to my sterile grocery store feels like some sort of punishment.IMG_5835 Is it so wrong that I want my milk delivered on the back of a motorcycle?IMG_5831 Is it so wrong that I want this sweet boy to roll me out fresh naan with his little rolling pin?IMG_5887Is it so wrong that I want my spices presented to me in colorful heaps and shiny silver bowls, and my chillies displayed in burlap bags?IMG_5878 Okay, okay….you are tired of my petty complaints…I’m going, here I go, off to market. This house will be barren no more. And at the very least, I can be thankful that I don’t need to bring home my groceries on top of my head, or slung over my back!IMG_5873

Home, At Last

Ribbons from IndiaWe are home…at last, and my goodness, it seemed like a long journey back. 15 hours on the plane and another 3 hours driving from New York to Rhode Island. I am utterly exhausted and I am afraid that it is going to take all week to get my energy back. We spent the weekend lounging about in bed, venturing out only for movies and food. I was asleep by 4pm on Saturday and proudly made it to 5pm last night. I am so OVER having jet lag…
Ribbons from IndiaOn a positive note, I was up at the crack of dawn this morning and I used my energy surge to begin unpacking. Of course I will save the dirty clothes for later…I just wanted to unpack my souvenirs and gaze at them lovingly.
Ribbons from IndiaNow these pictures are not meant to incite jealousy…but I cannot be responsible if the green monster happens to rear its ugly head. I get it…these are perhaps the most beautiful ribbons I have ever seen in my entire life.
Ribbons from IndiaI found them tucked away at the back of a textile shop in Udaipur and I went absolutely crazy. My husband bargained them down to a mere $5 a roll…and we are talking yards and yards on each role. The only problem is…I can’t imagine cutting into them, they are just too beautiful. They are going to require the perfect project…any ideas!?
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Saying Goodbye

Henna HandsThis is a rather bittersweet goodbye…I am ready to return home to Providence in full bloom. My hands ache to dig in the dirt, tend to my chickens, finish my quilt, and visit my springtime farmers market. And yet, I have a heavy feeling in my heart. This will be our last visit to India for a little while, and I am not sure if I am ready to say my goodbyes. I have so many more pictures and stories to share with you, and I can’t wait to show you some of the amazing loot that I will be hauling back home! But it will have to wait…I am going to enjoy our last day here, bask in the noise and heat, soak up every ounce of India, and hope that it will last me until we return.

Boys Will Be Boys

Cricket Match, UdaipurI guess that no matter where you are in the world, some things are always the same. Boys will play, and women will work, holding up the household on their shoulders!Cricket Game, Udaipur The Indian Premier League (IPL), which is the national cricket league, is playing while we are here…so everyone, everywhere has cricket fever (even more so than when we were last here!).We happened upon a pick-up cricket game while the school kids were on lunch break. They were so excited to have their pictures taken, so they really hammed it up for the camera.Cricket Match, Udaipur Lunch Break, Udaipur School ChildrenNearby, their grandmothers, mothers and sisters continued their labor, hauling water, wood and straw for miles on their heads. Their strength and stamina is just incredible. I feel like I would crumble after walking a single day in their shoes (actually barefoot, in most cases).Village Life, UdaipurVillage Life, UdaipurVillage Life, UdaipurVillage Life, UdaipurVillage Life, UdaipurVillage Life, Udaipur

The Story of One Village, One Family

Flour scale swing, UdaipurI feel a certain sense of peace being here in Udaipur, a more rural part of India. The town here is small, the people extremely friendly, and the scenery beautiful. We have been traveling so much over the past week that it is nice to pause for a few days and enjoy the slow life. Today we drove out to a village, and I took a series of pictures of the sweetest family. What initially captured my attention was this little girl, swinging away on a flour scale while her family worked their shop…how very resourceful!Flour Shop, UdaipurWhile her daughter happily swung and munched on biscuits, mother ground the flour, and carried it over to another part of the store to be bagged.
Flour Shop, UdaipurOur arrival on the scene caused older sister to rush down from their home atop the shop, and lo-and-behold, our little swingers twin brother.
Udaipur VillageCouldn’t wait to give those cheeks a squeeze, but I am not sure if he felt the same way about me.
Udaipur VillageGrandfather quickly tried to look busy by feeding the little one a few more biscuits…
Udaipur Villagebefore putting her back on the scale while he went to lie down…all in a days work!
Flour scale swing, Udaipur