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A look back at 2014

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As I sit and write this last post for 2014, I can hardly believe that we are on the cusp of a brand new year!   And what a memorable year 2014 has been! As we wait on the eve of 2015 with all its glorious possibilites, I wish you all dear friends and readers a most wonderful year ahead–full of blessings, great and small and heapings of great happiness!

Here’s a look back at some of our most memorable moments..


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I don’t remember anymore when or why I signed up to receive Afar magazine but I’m certainly glad to have done so! Its such a wonderful travel magazine. Its the best way to quickly get away from it all, without ever leaving the comfort of your chair.  I just finished their latest one and the article that struck me the most was its feature on the Silk Road.  Photographer Frederic Lagrange set out to travel the remote region of the Wakhan Corridor which formed part of the Silk Road.  His images are just amazing and out of this world beautiful.  I was beyond pleased when I realized that there was an accompanying video to the article to be found in the Afar website.  I just have to share it with you and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!



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Putting a piece together

Friends, remember the yellow pendant that was part of my loot from Greece? The yellow bead is glass, most likely from the Czech Republic, and dates back from the 50s.

I love it’s punchy color but it’s not the easiest thing to match with other beads. Last weekend, I looked through my bead boxes and found two beads I’d bought in France and realized that they were the same color! I added some pretty gold caps to decorate the beads and voila, I had the perfect match for the pendant.

It’s ready to make its public debut this weekend at my first big fair for the fall! More details on that to follow !

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Travel Tuesday: Greece

Hello friends, today I thought I’d share some scenes from our recent trip. Much as I hate to admit it, there’s a crispness to the air that signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall. These pictures are a way of holding on to summer just a wee bit longer.

A view of the Aegean Sea

A distant view of the Parthenon

It wouldn’t be Greece without the ubiquitous mati that wards off the evil eye


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Travel Thursday

Hello friends, today I thought I’d mix it up on the blog and do a travel post instead of a Throwback Thursday post. Wherever I am, I always find myself checking out local bead shops. It’s always interesting to see what’s available and one way or another I always come away inspired.
Sometimes I’ll even get lucky and find some old beads I can use for my own jewelry.

This time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I am right smack in the heart of bead street. I got positively giddy when I realized that Corso Vittorio Emanuel in Palermo has so many bead stores lining its entire length. I haven’t walked the whole stretch of it but the short distance I covered already had 5 stores! Of course my euphoria was a bit tempered because all the stores carried the whole spectrum of gemstones and semi-precious stones but not one of them had the antique beads I was looking for.
Still and all, there were so many wonderful gems and beautiful findings that I could have easily spent the whole day in these stores. Oh I did stumble, just before heading back, on one store that had some vintage silver charms. Maybe I should get one of them…


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Retracing our steps


One weekend, we decided to take a trip and visit Chicago, a city that holds many great memories for our family.  I’m amazed to think that its been at least 10 years since our last visit  here. I had the feeling while we walked around that we were walking in the steps of our youthful selves. There is the iconic Hancock tower where I watched one 4th of July spectacle of flying jets.

There is still the beautiful park near the wonderful Art Institute where you can rest just after viewing the great collection of the Institute. The weekend we were there, we saw that this tall block is actually an art installation which just happens to also be a giant fountain of water much to the amusement of many children.


I guess I really am a city girl at heart because I loved being among the skyscrapers and noisy streets, the energy kinetic and dynamic, always on the go. IMG_0847 Its still a city of great food with such stalwarts as Rick Bayles’ Frontera Grill and some newcomers like Stephanie Izard’s Girl and Goat and Little Goat Diner. More on that on a future post!


Of course it wouldn’t be complete without a bit of shopping so we went and checked out Ikram. Don’t you love their choice of storefront color?IMG_0875

For all its hustle and bustle, there are quiet spots to be found. We took a rest on a quiet spot just above the River where the trees provided some shade from the sun and we watched the boats go up and down.IMG_0922

Another quiet spot we found was just steps off the busy Magnificent Mile, inside the cool and silent cloisters of this church.


I think its safe to say we won’t wait another 10 years for our next visit!


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The dream that is Venice


I have nothing but the loveliest memories of Venice.  Its such a magical city, almost dreamlike in its allure. How can I not adore a city that has produced so much of those wonderful antique beads I now have the pleasure of working with?  And I am only one among its many admirers, Byron perhaps being one of its more lyrical ones. So I was devastated when I came across an article on the New York Review of Books titled The Coming Death of Venice?



The article lists down the ills that beset the city and to say that its troubling is an understatement. Venice was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Since then, the number of tourists have risen in staggering numbers. A big number of these tourists come in those gigantic cruise ships that ply the route in the Mediterranean.   They come into  the city and disgorged literally thousands of people onto St. Marks Square.  Unfortunately these great numbers have taken a heavy toll on the city because Venice simply wasn’t built to accommodate such numbers.  And because there is, as yet, not firm plan to handle such massive numbers, nor a plan to make tourism support the city, the problem is greatly aggravated.


As a tourist myself (though the closest we ever got to a boat was a water taxi), it was disturbing to read how much our mere presence could endanger this lovely city.  I imagine that you dear readers, much as I, are never really quite aware when visiting other places, that our presence could take a toll. We are there to enjoy its newness, discover its charms and partake of local culture. We chafe at the lines outside the museums and historical sites but respect nonetheless the limits it sets.  We try to blend in with locals and do our best to avoid being that obnoxious traveller.  But, do we ever ask ourselves, at what price we enjoy all this? All this newness and wonder of discovery?

Venice seems to tells us that our mere presence exacts a heavy toll.  Because of the way it was built, all these big numbers cause pollution levels to skyrocket, it disturbs the fragile moorings of those beautiful buildings we so admire and worse, cause the water levels to rise above what the city is prepared to handle.  The problem of flooding is now only a matter of when, not if.

But if there were no people like you and I visiting the City, then there would also be much less jobs for the people who rely heavily on tourism not to mention much less money generated by all the tourists buying souvenirs and enjoying the delicious restaurants. What would all those gondoliers do if we were to all stop visiting? Like it or not, there are lots of lives that depend on the visitors. The city would still be lost if the people who live in it have no means to live.


The answer may lie in the fact that Venice needs us and we need Venice. We need to be aware of the toll it takes for the city to welcome us.  So let’s be light footed visitors and travelers doing our bit to save this city (or for that matter any other city we find ourselves in).  We need to preserve this magical city full of gorgeous color saturated buildings and wonderful art work, the least of which are those wonderful beads, some of which are still being blown the old traditional way.  And we need to actively support those who would fight, yes fight, to preserve Venice.

See all these pictures I took?  I want to be able to go back to Venice and show these sights to my children. I want to share with them the beauty that so enchanted me and make new memories.  And if to preserve Venice, there comes a  day when limits are set on the number who can come and when, then I will follow. Because at least then, I will know that Venice still exists and not only in faded old dreams.