One of the best things,for me, about travel is the treasures I find and collect along the way. More and more, I find myself wanting to fill my life with goods that reflect who I am and express my creativity and/or my values. This means I am drawn to items that are handcrafted and made locally from natural materials, making me feel connected with the maker(s) as well as our Earth. In our consumer, throw-away world, it feels great to buy something special and really appreciate it. Here are some of the things I picked up in India that I'm excited about.
1) Hand-carved wooden block stamps
These stamps are traditionally used in India for block printing on textiles, but I can't wait to use them in decorating my own stationary.
2) Scarf woven with nettle from Alaya Design Studio
Our friend, Joshua, and his wife Richa, work with artisans in Northern India to make a variety of beautiful products from local materials. I fell in love with this finely-made scarf and it was a staple garment for the rest of our trip!
3) Macrame garden swing
The very best impulse buy. We picked it up on our first stop and had to carry it around the rest of the trip, but it was very worth it, don't you think?
4) Hand-embroidered 100% organic cotton dress from Manvi...the Handmade
I will not hesitate to say this is the most comfortable thing I've ever worn. The cotton is unbelievably soft and each piece by Manvi is unique and hand-embroidered my women in Northern India. It's truly perfect.
5) Marble mortar and pestle
I picked this gem up in Agra - maybe I was inspired by the stunning marble work from the Taj Mahal! ...to be used for grinding herbs and spices.
6) Hemp place mats
Another great purchase from our friends at Alaya Design Studios to add a natural touch to the table setting.
7) Litchi honey from DevBhumi Natural Products
Our friends in Dehradun had this honey, made locally from bees raised near litchi trees, on their table each morning for breakfast. And each morning I spread it generously on my toast and remarked how it was the best honey I've ever tasted, which is very true. They kindly sent us home with our very own jar!
8) Wool socks
The most cozy purchase, worn every night to bed due to the very unexpected cold weather during our travels.
9) Organic nettle tea from the Himalayas
Nettle tea has all kinds of health benefits, including some great benefits for pregnant and breastfeeding women, so I grabbed this up when I saw it at Alaya's shop!
10) Khadi cloth
I kept my eye out for khadi cloth during our whole trip and finally found the goldmine in Delhi at Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan where I chose this cloth, which I plan to make into a dress. What is khadi cloth and what is so great about it, you ask? Khadi is a hand-spun cloth made from cotton, wool, or silk and, through the life of Mohandas Gandhi and India's struggle for independence, khadi has come to represent much more than the cloth itself. The spirit of simplicity, interconnectedness, self-reliance, and national pride are all spun and woven into the khadi cloth.
But maybe Gandhi can explain it better himself:
"The 'KHADI spirit' means that we must know the meaning that the wearing of khadi carries with it...If we have the 'Khadi Spirit' we would surround ourselves with simplicity in every walk of life. The 'Khadi Spirit' means illimitable patience whilst we are spinning the thread...The 'Khadi Spirit' means fellow-feeling with every human being on earth. It means a complete renunciation of everything that is likely to harm our fellow creatures."
11) Cotton fabric with an ikat weave
I found these beautiful materials at The Cottage Emporium in Delhi and I couldn't decide between the two, so I got both! The ikat weave is so beautiful and I can't wait to find a design to show them off!
11) Frankincense and Ylang Ylang essential oils
Ayurvedic treatments were everywhere in Rishikesh, so I decided to boost my collection of essential oils.