Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

January in Guatemala

Friday, January 31st, 2014


I recently spent a lovely week in Guatemala, and Antigua in particular. It’s a charming town and the former capital of colonial Central America. It’s surrounded by forested hills and the tropical jungle is less than an hour away. Most homes have terracotta-tiled roofs, and their thick adobe walls are painted deep ochre, russet or azure. I stayed at the stunning Quinta Maconda, a colonial property that dates back to 1547 and currently a private residence and boutique hotel.











A favorite room, affectionately referred to as the “pagan chapel,” were several memorable meals were enjoyed:




Another glimpse: the wood storage area




Wandering through the giant Farmer’s Market, which was very colorful and bountiful with baskets overflowing with fruits, vegetables, beans, corn, and beautiful spices. I was looking for copal,  a tree resin used as incense that is similar to frankincense. In comes in various shapes and sizes, and contemporary Maya people light it in an incense burner in the morning to start the day. I love the way it smells:




Since I’m always on the lookout for ideas about how to live more sustainably as well as practical alternatives to plastics, I noticed these rattan woven trash bins:



And CFL’s in all the church lamps!


Driving into the jungle for some exploring, many fences  along the roads were made from planting small trees close together, an attractive and resourceful alternative to chain link:


One morning, I saw tiny stingless bees for the first time. They make the most delicious honey:





One of my favorite places in Antigua was La Tienda de Dona Gavi, a very cool shop where you can buy homemade ice creams, natural soaps, herbs and spices:




Other places worth checking out:

Coleccion 21

Casa de los Gigantes

La Casa de las Escudillas


Nim P’ot

Dona Maria Gordillo

Casa de Artes


To find out more about Quinta Maconda

See my Pinterest board about Guatemala


Monday, April 1st, 2013


I just spent a couple of wonderful days exploring Death Valley, California. It’s immense and awesome. The scale of it is hard to capture in photos. Best time of year to go is February to May, when the temperature is mild and the wildflowers are blooming at different elevations.

Bring a hat




and water


Stop by China Ranch’s Date Farm


Young Date Palm frond


From a Date Palm


It’s sounds nuts but it’s 178 feet below sea level in Death Valley…


Natural treasures seen in Devil’s Golfcourse


Naturally occurring at the Devil’s Golfcourse


Got up at 5:30 am to photograph the sun coming up at Artist Palette. So worth it!


Treasures seen at Artist Palette


Honey Mesquite beans are part of the history of Death Valley and the Native Americans who lived here for thousands of years. Mesquite grows along the valley floor and along springs. The bean from the Honey Mesquite tree ripen in May, and the Indians would gather them from the thorny branches. A portion of the beans would be stored for future use in excavated pits, lined with grass and then covered with stones to protect from rodents. Now the Indians were ready to move up into the Panamint Mountains to escape summer’s scorching valley temperature.


Mesquite beans are very brittle when dried, so they can be ground into meal. The pods have a high sugar content-25% to 30%- and the meal can be mixed with water to make a cereal, or baked into bread. The seeds can be soaked in water to yield a sweet, lemon-flavored drink. Native Americans have ground Mesquite beans and another nuts and seeds for thousands of years with a mano (pestle) and a metate (mortar).


The word for Mesquite in Shoshone is “o’phi”, and this plant is also a valuable source of wood for fuel in the desert.


Death Valley gorgeously located: Amaragosa Hotel and Opera house. It’s crying for an angel to come and rescue it.



Complete awesome-ness: Zabriskie Point. Stunning. Immense. Jaw dropping.


Meditative hiker @ Zabriskie Point


Rocking in my hiking gear while taking photos of Zabriskie Point with my daughter Lucie.


Back home with my treasures from China Ranch:  Date Palm part and Sage


Native Americans in Death Valley

Indians had been living in Death Valley for thousands of years before the first pioneers struggled through in 1849. The Indian name for  Death Valley was Tomesha meaning “ground afire.” The Indians had learned that the best way to live in this area was to leave the valley during the summer. As the hot weather arrived, they followed the lines of ripening vegetation upward into the surrounding mountains where they would gather seeds and Pine nuts. In the fall, they would return to the valley where the climate would remain mild during the winter.

The Indians of Death Valley are descendants of the Southern Shoshone tribeseman who wandered westward a thousand years ago from the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.


Note: All the information about Native Americans in Death Valley I learned at the museum located in The Furnace Creek Ranch.





Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

I was recently in the south of France, spending time with my beloved grandmother of 93 and visiting some of the places where I grew up. The years I spent there have had a huge impact on me and my life and still inspires my work, my aesthetic and my lifestyle.

My grandparents house at the foot of St Paul de Vence where I spent a lot of time and loved it

The absolute classic french car

Where I took my grandmother for lunch-We had a delightful time together

Pretty menu from La Colombe D’Or

My grandmother and I leaving the restaurant, and I am holding my very favorite blue market bag. It comes everywhere with me!

The national flower of this part of the south of France: Mimosa, which was at it’s peak when I was there. I was so lucky to see them in bloom.


I’d forgotten about all the lovely fountains in the villages

The streets are charmingly narrow in the old villages



Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Many years ago, I went to boarding school in the countryside about an hour from London and ever since then, I have had a tremendous affection for London/England. I’m always happy to visit, even if it’s a brief one like this last trip. I did manage to squeeze in a delicious lunch at the Daylesford organic restaurant in Knotting Hill, stopped by some of my favorite stores like Labour and Wait, Summerhill and Bishop and EGG and even spotted some of my own products  at a friend’s home, which was fabulous to see.

The bed where I slept

Daylesford Organic restaurant in Knotting Hill is fantastic in so many ways, and one of them being they donate their surplus food to three charities for the homeless.

Organic carrots from the Daylesford farm in Gloustershire

Labour and Wait in Spitalfields is a wonderful home and lifestyle general store

Labour and Wait: Hemp super strong string

Summerhill and Bishop is a gorgeous home and lifestyle store.

Love these tablecloths from Summerhill and Bishop

The store EGG is magical

EGG’S natural blankets

Spotted: One Burlap Plastic Bag holder at my friend’s home. Made me so proud!

Also spotted at the same home: Recycling stickers…Looking good!

Three Days In Maine

Friday, May 6th, 2011

I just returned from 3 days in Maine, where Spring is taking it’s time. Lovely Daffodils and Fiddlehead Ferns were poking out here and there.


If I hadn’t gotten lost in the hayloft of the big barn, I would not have seen this view from above.

View from the hayloft

The wood is just starting to look nice on my old playhouses.


Loving Maine a whole lot.

Love Cuixmala Mexico

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Being the immense nature lover that I am and have been since I was a child, when it’s time for me to take some time off from work, there is a place I go to that nourishes, heals and restores me: Cuixmala Mexico. Owned and run by two of my closest and very beloved friends, who have beautifully preserved the property’s 26,000 acres, as well as making it wonderfully livable. The vibe is very cool, authentic, and relaxed. What I love about going there is that you are completely surrounded by its natural beauty, so much so, that I forget my other life and easily immerse myself in nature walks through the palm tree groves, bike along the fragrant dirt roads and stroll the beaches for natural treasures. It’s heaven. I’ve been taking my children as well for many years, so they are as attached as I am to Cuixmala.

Palm tree grove

Palm tree grove

Beautifully fragrant biking road

Beautifully fragrant biking road

I can’t forget to mention the zebras, elans and antelopes lolling about, utterly unthreatening and just a joy to watch, free from the confines of a zoo. And the food is delicious and magically restorative; must be because it’s organic and they grow it all right there, next to the mango trees. Even the various cheeses are homemade, along with butter and bread.

Natural treasures found on the beach

Natural treasures found on the beach

Zebras and Elans lolling about

Zebras and Elans lolling about

My latest obsession is this sauce ‘salsa verde’ that is served with many dishes and is an exquisitely yummy and healthy companion to salad, most vegetables, fish or chicken. Since I got back home, I’m living off of it, eating it with anything I can but best with cold chicken and sliced tomatoes. The salsa verde is good for at least 5 days in the fridge, so make extra, so you won’t run out after one meal. Also, I add a little extra extra virgin olive oil and a tbsp of vinegar to loosen it up a bit once its been chilled.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

Recipe for Salsa Verde:

1 handful of Cilantro

1 handful of Basil

½ handful of Parsley

¼ Green Jalapeno Chile Pepper

2 cloves Garlic

¼ Onion

pinch of Salt and Pepper

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar


Put everything in a blender.

The Salsa Verde should be smooth in texture. Add more olive oil if too pasty but don’t let it be too liquidy either.

(I wrote the recipe exactly how I was given it, which I though was charming and it’s perfect.)