Gifts for theTraveler

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012 | Posted under Shopping

Okay, clearly it’s 2 days before Christmas, but maybe some of you are STILL stuck about what to get your special traveler? I hope I can help. It’s not too late!

 

1. Color makes travel better.

Maybe I’m just addicted to color this year, but don’t bright colors make you happy, too? I love this passport holder from J. Crew. Will I look chic at the immigration check point? Perhaps.

Leather colorblock passport case

2. The Braggy Traveler?

Okay, I have my own travel map for the blog, but I’m still jazzed about possibly putting up a map of my own in an office or family room (if I had those rooms anywhere in my home).  For this map, all you do is scratch off the countries you’ve been to. Fun or braggy? Who knows?

Scratch-off map poster, $24

3. Juiced up.

It’s almost 2013, and there is no way to travel without some form of technology, even if it’s an IPhone. At the same time, I think the hotels are trying to hide their outlets. Have they not gotten the memo about the needs of the modern traveler?  I love these extra long cords from ICordination. Problem solved?

J. Crew makes another appearance on this list with these teeny IPhone backup batteries. I would love to just keep this in my purse to whip out when I need a charge.

 

4. Counting down the hours.

Tell me that you don’t love the New York Times’ 36 Hours weekly series. Sometimes it’s a bit off the mark. Am I really going to go to every fancy restaurant in town for one weekend? Probably not. Yet it does give a nice overview of what a place has to offer. Now you can read them non-stop. This book is limited to the U.S. and Canada, but the limitation isn’t a bad thing. There’s so much to see in these two countries.  Enjoy!

The New York Times 36 Hours: 150 Weekends In The USA and Canada

 

5. Comfy and soft…

This gift is beyond my budget, but maybe not for you. I would use this slipper and blanket set from Max Mara on my couch. No travel necessary. 🙂

 

So that’s it. A little late, but you can always give an IOU for any late gifts. I feel like the holiday season lasts until New Year’s Day anyway.

Merry Christmas to all!

 

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Gifts for the Foodie

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 | Posted under Shopping

I know that I’ve completely missed Hannukah and that Christmas is less than a week away, but I am sure that some of you are still searching for that perfect gift for the traveling foodie or foodie traveler in your life.

For some reason this year, I can’t think of anything that I’d like for myself. I’ve been so overwhelmed by lots of things the end of this year that I just haven’t had the time to focus on myself. With that said, I hope I can inspire you to give to others to brighten their day this holiday season.

Here are some things I’ve found that would make the food person in me swoon:

1. Make it brighter in the kitchen 
Martha Stewart Colored Cutlery

Talk about giving your kitchen a pop of color. I love these knives from the Martha Stewart Collection. Why not be fashionable while you cook?

 

2. I love a man who can cook.

Culinary Bootcamp for Men

I don’t mean to play into outdated and rather stupid gender stereotypes, but I would love to get this series of cooking classes for Husband J. I do 95% of the cooking in our household, and it’s about to get really old. Husband J has mastered a few things himself, but I would love for him to be able to make a whole meal like those that would be taught at this Culinary Bootcamp for Men. Unfortunately, this is only in the New York area, but I am sure a cooking class might go over well with that special someone, male or female. For those of you with partners who cook, consider yourselves lucky.

3. Learn how to think about food.

An Extravagant Hunger Book Cover

If you enjoy dining like I do, then you really have to educate yourself about M.F.K. Fisher, a woman considered to be the founder of modern food criticism in the U.S.  An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher is a highly acclaimed biography of her life that came out this year. I’m dying to read it myself (if my reading projects and other things don’t get in the way).

4. Butter makes everything better.

DIY Butter Williams Sonoma

Make your own butter in 20 minutes! Butter, one of the best inventions…ever!!! Only at Williams-Sonoma (or at least that’s what they are claiming).

**Drops microphone and walks away**

 

5. Cook the book

You will never go wrong with a cookbook in my eyes. Here are a couple to consider:

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

While I tend not to read recipe blogs, even I have come know of Smitten Kitchen. This year I added  the tomato and sauage risotto to my cooking rotation, and Husband J loves it. Many of the recipes are not super complicated, which is always great when you’re looking for something new to add to your meal repertoire that requires little fuss.

Burma Rivers of Flavor

Myanmar, aka Burma, is one of the least traveled countries in Southeast Asia, but that’s about to change. President Obama went there recently, and it’s slowly emerging from years of isolation. Why not learn how to make some of the food from this country? Apparently the author, Naomi Diguid, spent years researching not only Myanmar’s food but also its history and culture.

None of these suggestions are earth-shattering, but I hope it gets the ideas flowing for food lover in your life.

What food related gifts are you thinking about this year?

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Traveling & A Clothes Purge

Monday, February 27th, 2012 | Posted under Personal, Shopping, Travel General

Hey there!

So, I know that there haven’t been many actual “travel” posts recently. I just want to say that the travel is coming. If things work out the way I want them to, then April, May & June are going to be something of a whirlwind. Yippee! In the meantime, indulge me while I write some “travel related” posts.

Maybe it’s a Caribbean mother thing, but my mother never allowed guests to see her home looking a shambles. I have inherited that, so it is even shocking to me that I am revealing what my closet and bedroom looked like when I did some spring cleaning and clothing purge last year.
EEK!!! My bed eventually did recover.
I just want to say that I feel as if I’ve grown as a person by showing this picture. 🙂
While I was aggressively performing my twice per year clothing purge, I finally decided to let go of some items of clothing that I’d been holding on to. Many of them reminded me of travels that I’ve taken or were bought while I was away.
Although the pic doesn’t really show it, this is a black corduroy blazer that I picked up in South Africa. I arrived in Cape Town in late August, which is the end of winter/beginning of spring there. It was cold. Yes, South Africa is on the African continent, but it can get VERY cold. I was wearing a coat for my first month there. I bought this at a cute boutique a few blocks away from my internship’s office. I think the women who owned the store loved me because I would drop money when I went (more like the equivalent of $20 or $30 USD, but at the time that was a lot of rand). It was nice being a student with access to US dollars when the rand (South African currency) was trading at $10USD to $1R. For a variety of reasons, I did a lot of retail therapy when I was in South Africa (breaking up with someone half way around the world deserves a shopping trip or three).
Status: At the Salvation Army. Hopefully someone bought it.
Until recently, these Merrell walking shoes were the only real outdoorsy gear I owned. I now forget when I actually bought them. Husband J grew up being very outdoorsy, so he gets a little excited when I buy outdoorsy things and resemble an L.L. Bean catalog model. I used these quite a bit during our trip to Turkey. These will get a lot of use this year.
Status: At the bottom of the closet, rearing to go.


I bought this shirt in a souk in Morocco. I obviously had much shorter hair then because I often don’t wear this shirt because the sequins catch my hair. I’m always having to pull my hair from out of the sequins. I think I bought this and a longer dress-like thing for my Mom. She still wears hers.
Status: Not sure. It’s probably gone to the Salvation Army.

I usually buy clothing and shoes with the intention of wearing them. What was I thinking even buying these? I love a nice, sexy shoe but I can’t believe how high shoes are these days (Yes, I am an old lady). I can’t wear this. I wore them for a little while during my trip to Las Vegas. I figured that I could look scandalous there, and it would be okay. I’ve never worn these again. They are so uncomfortable. I feel awful because it was a wasteful purchase, but I hope they get new life on someone else’s feet.
Status: Salvation Army or on someone else’s feet



I got this green pullover the first and only time I’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard. Menemsha is a smaller fishing village on the island that doesn’t get as many visitors as Oak Bluffs, Edgartown or the other more touristy summer towns. Husband J and I drove out there and enjoyed how quiet it was compared to the rest of the island.
Status: Still in the closet. I like this shade of green
By the end of the afternoon, my closet looked normal again.
I’ve always had my own closet since living with Husband J. I am convinced it is the key to a happy marriage. 😉

Do you have any clothes, shoes or other garments in your closet that remind of you places you’ve been or shopping you’ve done there?

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All I Want For Christmas Is…

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 | Posted under Personal, Shopping

The holiday season is here, and I have to admit that I have been having a hard time thinking about presents for other people, much less for myself. I really don’t have any pressing desire for much of anything this holiday season other than good company and fun times. Is this the onset of my ever imminent “old lady syndrome”? Is Christmas only for kids? Pass me the Geritol.

I thought about a few things that a travelling foodie or food-loving traveler might like this year. This is mostly an unoriginal list of things I wouldn’t mind in case someone (**COUGH** Husband J**) is reading. Most of this is way too expensive for just one Christmas, but it’s fun to dream, right? Here it goes….
I have been wanting to read Lucky Peach magazine since its first issue came out earlier this year. David Chang of Momofoku fame, writer Peter Meehan, and Zero Point Zero Productions, which produces Anthony Bourdain’s shows (he has written for both of Lucky Peach’s issues thus far) have collaborated to produce this magazine. The magazine is about food culture, experiencing food, food and art and then some. It looks at food from a perspective that I like. As if I don’t have a ton of magazines to read already….It’s quarterly, which would help me read through it much more easily.
A LeCreuset French Oven for braising and stewing. I’ve heard these are fabulous, and they are definitely not cheap. 🙁 I’m not sure if I want to be receiving kitchen and other household gifts from Husband J or really anyone else. At least not yet. 🙂


(source)
I like this color.


The Serious Eats Cookbook. I usually don’t want or ask for cookbooks, but I think I might make an exception for this one. Serious Eats is one of my favorite food blogs because it’s a good balance between the Eater and Cooker phenomenon I once wrote about. Their cookbook is no different. There is still the usual recipe fare, but there’s also excellent food photography and sections about the best eating experiences across the U.S. Many of their recipes are simple, and they make you feel as if you’ve made something restaurant quality at home. This is definitely my kind of cookbook.



Some kind of luggage. I am due to get some new luggage. Old Betsy II, my 21 inch carry-on suitcase, who replaced Old Betsy I, is really ready to retire. There is this ugly big black blotch on her. I prefer soft-sided suitcases because they are more flexible and can squeeze into the overhead compartments more easily.
Maybe not orange for me, but at least you can see it in a sea of black suitcases.


Pimp my phone?


A glittery IPhone case

The 2014 World Cup will be here before you know it. It might be time for a return to Brazil. This time it would be nice to be able to understand Portuguese better (I speak better than I understand. Isn’t that odd?). I’ve heard mixed things about Rosetta Stone, but it would be quite nice to have the practice, so that I could develop an ear for the language.



Aaahhh…A DSLR. I have been hemming and hawing over whether to get one for the past year. If there was really anything that I would want this year, it’s a suped up camera. There will be a post about this. I know everyone has an opinion about the “DSLR vs. No DSLR question” and which type of camera to buy. I’m just warning you, in case you hate those types of posts. I probably would need to research this purchase, so I wouldn’t even get it on Christmas.



Also other random things I’d possibly want:
Fancy new workout clothes. I’ve heard nice things about Lulu Lemon, but some yoga pants for $98?! Really. As my mother would say : “But you can’t even wear that to church.” LOL! I hear they are worth the investment though.
-Amazon gift certificate to stock on up books for my Kindle like the Best Food Writing 2011 and Grant Achatz’s Life on the Line biography.
-An easier 2012 🙂
What about you? Are you having a hard time thinking of what you’d want for Christmas? What are you wishing for this year?

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If I Didn’t Travel, I Would Have No Home Decor

Monday, November 28th, 2011 | Posted under Shopping, Travel General

I do love pretty design and great living spaces. I get my daily fill at Sugar and Spice Living and Bien Living Design, but I thought I would do a little design post myself with a bit of a travel twist.

I present to you, the TAO living room.
Please don’t focus on the deformed sofa pillows. 🙁

I guess I would call our living room “modern ethnic,” if I was going to categorize it in any way. The ethnic part really comes through in many of the accessories we’ve used to decorate our living room. The majority of those have come from traveling. I wish I could say that we have these museum worthy “pieces,” but they’re just things that we’ve picked up throughout the years.

Our ledge of stuff: Zulu basket, a berimbau, a little Buddha, another basket, calabash instrument


I bought this basket below in South Africa. It’s called a ukhamba or a Zulu beer basket, and it’s traditionally used to serve sorghum beer at Zulu ceremonies. I have yet to try to put any beer in here. 🙂

I also bought an mbenge, another example of Zulu basket weaving, and they hang on one of our walls. I thought they were bowls, but they are actually covers. I hang them convex side to show off the designs.
For years, I had these sitting in a box because I lived in apartments where I couldn’t hammer anything into the walls. 🙂

I bought these baskets at Ilala Weavers, which is a craft and curio collective in the small town of Hluhluwe in the ZwaZulu Natal province of South Africa. They hope to keep Zulu craft traditions alive while allowing the residents of the village and surrounding areas to have a viable income. I’m glad I was able to support such a worthy cause.
Shifting gears, my berimbau from Brazil now lives on the ledge too.


Here I am learning how to play it in Salvador, Brazil. It kills your fingers. What you’re expected to do with your pinky alone is enough to make me cringe while playing. If I take up capoeira like I want to, at least I know I’ll have strong fingers.


The last piece on the ledge worth mentioning was this little Buddha we bought in Bali. I really wanted to get a nice one from one of the many art galleries in the center of Ubud. Husband J wasn’t on board. We stopped into a small shop on Jalan (jalan means “street”) Hanoman, one street over from the main commercial strip of Jalan Monkey Forest. Crafts and really anything were so much cheaper just one block off the main strip, in case you’re shopping some time soon in Ubud.

The last item in our living room is also our most recent purchase. I think I may have talked a little about Turkish carpets before, but what I failed to mention was that we bought one. Mental note: If you want Husband J to buy something, put him in a room, whip out some raki (licorice tasting Turkish liqueur) and start taking out carpets of different shapes and sizes. We had a really educational tour at Bazaar 54 in Avanos, Turkey where all of the carpets are handmade by local women (they showed us how to recognize ones that were not handmade).
Our carpet. This is a traditional Ottoman design from the 18th century
We actually needed this carpet. We have been arguing about carpets since we began living in the same space. Either Husband J doesn’t like the one I pick or vice versa. This is the only carpet we don’t fuss about.
I really appreciate all of these items because they help make my our living room look great, and they are reminders of some of the places we’ve been.
Do you have souvenirs or special objects in your home from your various travels or life experiences?

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