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Fri Nov 02 00:00:00 EDT 2018

Hiking the incredible Caldera foot path on the island of Santorini has inspired artist, authors and photographers to record the crisp whites and deep blues that can be found all throughout. The island is sought after by many as a romantic getaway in Greece where food and wine is enjoyed while surrounded by exquisitely clear waters. 

Santorini2

On the west side of the island, the picturesque villages of Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostefani charm the senses with culinary delights that feature locally grown cherry tomatoes, white eggplant, fava, capers and “hloró tyrí”, a special kind of fresh goat cheese only found on the island. 

Santorini3

Some of the villages are cosmopolitan while others more peaceful but all are surrounded by vast vineyards and whitewashed cliff-top towns with castles affording amazing views out over the Aegean.

The vibrant mix of this charming island is where we were inspired to design our 100% organic Santorini bedding collection. We pulled deep blue hues from the ocean and light blue from the sky to create a crisp and clean embroidered diamond pattern throughout the collection. Made from ultra soft GOTS-certified 100% organic cotton, they’re crafted using reclaimed water in our factory in Portugal, which employs generations of families in the local community. 

Santorini4

 

Notable things to experience while in Santorini:

Volcanic Islands Cruise with a Palea Kameni Hot Springs Dip

Wine Tasting Tours

Santorini Cooking Classes

Watching the sunset in Oia

Hiking from Fira to Oia

Explore an Archaeological Excavation Site

Eat at a Classic Taverna

Click on items below to see all Santorini inspired products:

Slumped Vases

 

Seaglass Jewelry

 

Stone votive

 

Starburst rug

 

Nesting baskets

 

Loloi rug

Savoy vases

teak

Fri Nov 02 00:00:00 EDT 2018 Alessandra Journeys 
Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017

Our Summer 2016 collection is brimming with the tones and materials of Mother Nature, displays of time-honored methods of craftsmanship, texture, bright color, unique design, and the traces of human touch on each artisan crafted product. As always, our mission in selecting these products remains to help you transform your home into an eco-sanctuary. From sourcing and selecting, to styling and photographing, and finally printing and mailing, we pour time and care into every step of the process before these items land in our catalog and into your hands. As you flip through its pages, have you ever wondered how it’s all done? Well, we are going to give you a behind the scenes sneak peek at not only one of our favorite photo locations, but also a look around the location of one of our close neighbors in our home, Virginia. 

Meet Early Mountain Vineyard:

Early Mountain Winery

Located in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Early Mountain Vineyards is a part of the well-known Monticello Wine Trail. The trail and land around it is steeped in American history. In fact, the first owner of the land that Early Mountain now calls home was Revolutionary-war veteran, Lt. Joseph Early, who served General George Washington at Valley Forge. And ironically, the story goes that Lt. Early was home one night and caught wind that there was a traveler in the region seeking shelter for the night. He sent out word that the weary wanderer was welcomed into his home, and low and behold when he arrived, it was Washington himself. While this is certainly a unique fact about the vineyard—“George Washington was here”—the story's true significance is the spirit of generous hospitality it tells us embodies the land. Early Mountain’s owners Jean and Steve Case have made it their mission, and some would say passion, to keep this hospitable spirit at the heart of their vineyard.

Adding to the hospitable vibe is the beauty you’ll see at the vineyard indoors and out. From the charming décor to the rolling mountain views, it’s easy to feel welcomed here. Take a look at some of the breathtaking views below, as well as a few of our favorite shots from our last visit to Early Mountain Vineyard.

Early Moutain Winery Photo 2Photo Credit:Paula Bartosiewicz

Early Mountain Winery Photo 3

Photo Credit: Andrea Hubbell

 

Early Mountain Winery Photo 3

Photo Credit: Andrea Hubbell

 

Early Mountain Winery with VivaTerra Chair

Early Mountain Winery Photo 4

Photo Credit: Andrea Hubbell

 

Early Mountain Winery Outdoor Dining

Photo Credit:Paula Bartosiewicz

 

Early Mountain Winery Interior Room

Photo Credit: Andrea Hubbell

 

Early Mountain Winery Rattan Sofa

Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017 Jesse Interior Decorating & Design  Journeys  Thoughts 
Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017

A truly age-old craft, the backstrap loom has been used in Guatemala for over two thousand years, pre-dating the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores. It is a traditionally Mayan art form, one that has remained relatively unchanged since ancient times. Representations of women using backstrap looms can be found in many pieces of ancient Mayan art, and it is also present in Mayan mythology and folklore. According to Quiche tradition, the art of weaving comes from the moon goddess Ixchel, and she is often represented as the Cosmic Weaver, seated in a backstrap loom.

Even now, backstrap weaving is a still part of the daily lives of Mayan women. The ancient craft is used to weave fabric for clothes and other household textiles, and most importantly, it is used to create the traditional dress of Mayan women, known as a huilpil. This garment is closely tied to cultural identity—each woman weaves her own huilpil in the same fashion as her mother, grandmother and the many generations of women who came before her, taking up to months to weave her unique fabric. Each Mayan community has a specific, identifiable weaving pattern and color palette; making this art form a direct reflection of community pride, while granting Guatemalan women the opportunity to express their individual worldview.

Young women begin to learn the craft of weaving at the age of seven, but an important cultural rite of passage occurs when a young girl is just three weeks old. The child's midwife bathes her in a Mayan sweat lodge, known as a temascal. The baby's mother gives the midwife miniature versions of what will be the girl's weaving instruments, and as the midwife bathes the child, she passes each instrument into the girl's hands, praying for the girl to become a gifted and talented weaver, like the generations of women who proceeded her.

Not only are the fabrics created on the loom a unique expression of identity and culture—the tools themselves are made individually by hand or passed between generations. The loom, also known as a belt loom or telar de cinteron, is simple and often made by each weaver, a collection of sticks, rods and threads that is easily portable—it rolls up compactly when not in use. To weave, the back rod is tied to a tree, post or other support, while the other end has a belt that encircles the weaver, wrapping around her back. These belts are often hand-woven also. The weaver sits on the ground, rocking forward and backward to create the needed tension in the warp as she weaves.

The warp is divided in half by the shed roll, typically made of bamboo or sugar cane. Pebbles are inserted into the hollow tube of the bamboo or sugar cane, making a kind of rainstick rattle as the weaver leans forwards and backwards, adjusting the tension of the loom as she works. Another important element of the loom is the heddle rod, which is often made of a stick with three or more prongs on one end and from which the bark has been removed. This heddle rod is very important to the weaver as it further separates the warp, making it easier to weave swiftly. However, the most treasured part of a blackstrap loom is the beater, which is used to compress the woven weft threads. It is made of a heavy wood that has been carved into a kind of wedge shape—it is thicker at the top and then thins to a fine, almost knife-like edge that is used to pack the weft threads into a tight, close design. The beater is prized by each weaver and is often passed from mother to daughter through generations.

The threads themselves are also created in a way that has changed little throughout the centuries. Since antiquity, these women have woven with cotton wool, traditionally dyed using natural plant pigments, creating a variety of bright and subtle shades. These dyes are made from various organic materials, such as carrots for orange, hibiscus flower for a rosy pink, quilete for green, and guayabe for a deep gold.

In the modern world, this age-old craft has also taken on an important economic significance. The fine fabrics made with meticulous care by these artisans have become highly prized, sparking a rise in financial independence for the talented women weavers. In 1983, Rigoberta Menchù, a Nobel Peace Laureate and indigenous rights leader, spoke of the importance of backstrap weaving for the women of Guatemala, observing that "it's women who preserve the art of weaving; we are the weavers. Our knowledge concerning weaving ourselves is very advanced. That's why many people everywhere consider the Guatemalan women to be an artist. And weaving is an art." As a cottage industry, backstrap weaving allows Guatemalan women to turn their cultural heritage into a life-sustaining practice—and the world profits too. The amazing artworks created by these incredibly talented women are unlike any other fabric to be found anywhere else on the globe—an art form refined by time, practice and care.

 

Sources:

http://www.educationandmore.org/pages/backstrap-weaving-in-guatemala

http://iweb.tntech.edu/cventura/backstraploom.htm

http://blog.kiva.org/fellowsblog/2013/05/09/weaving-women-and-justice-in-guatemala

http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-americas/weaving-world-ancient-mayan-women-001976

Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017 Jesse Artisan Stories  Journeys 
Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017

As we begin to notice fresh green growth and blossoms bursting into color, each sunny afternoon fills our minds with thoughts of vibrant outdoor gatherings filled with the joy of good company, beautiful weather and fresh food. There's nothing that quite rivals an evening al fresco shared with friends and family. Spring and summer entertaining call for the celebration of the earth's all-natural bounty, reveling in fresh ingredients bursting with flavor.

Here at Viva Terra, we've fallen for the brightness and subtle decadence of Italian cuisine, especially it's served up with such style and grace as at Eataly in the heart of New York City. A combination market and dining experience, Eataly features seven different restaurants, all located around a central market that provides the fresh, high quality ingredients served up in each restaurant. Both market and restaurants are dedicated to providing fresh, local produce and fine, artisanal ingredients, offering a divine, little taste of everything Italy.

We like to keep this same mindset when it comes to spring and summer entertaining, enjoying the decadence of the finest, freshest things in life. When it's time for backyard barbecues and al fresco evenings, our selection of classic and chic outdoor furniture is the perfect way to bring an extra touch of comfort, function and charm to your gathering. With everything from unique and colorful seating to just the right table for any space, it the perfect way to extend your entertaining space into the beautiful outdoors. See our stunning selection of weather-sturdy yet elegant outdoor furniture here. And like any good Italian meal, don't forget the vino! We love serving our wine in casual tumblers and goblets that speak to the relaxed elegance of al fresco dining.

Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017 Kristen Journeys  Thoughts 
Fri Oct 02 00:00:00 EDT 2015

We love to share news with you about what’s going on around VivaTerra, and we’ve got something very exciting today. While you know us by our catalogs— and we hope you’re getting excited for the holiday catalogs that will be landing in your home soon—and know us from shopping on vivaterra.com, we recently branched out to our first ever “brick and mortar” venture, if you will. As temporary as it may have been, we we’re elated to host our first pop-up shop!

We set up shop to display some of our most beautiful and quintessentially VivaTerra products, most notably, our Root of The Earth collection. Filling them with goodies, such as organic produce, our team created a charming display for shoppers to browse and purchase right then-and-there. And we’re still not sure who enjoyed it more, them or us.

Ultimately, we loved the experience of being able to meet you, our valued customer, face to face, and to be afforded the opportunity to interact with you in a whole new way. When and where VivaTerra with be “popping up” next, we’re not sure. But rest assured, we will keep you in the know right here on the VivaTerra Blog. For now, check out a few images of our first pop up, and stay tuned for news on upcoming VivaTerra ventures!

Sincerely,

The VivaTerra Team 

 

root bowl basket with fruit

VT Popup 2

VTG Popup 3

Fri Oct 02 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Jesse Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

The annual “changing of the leaves” in autumn is one of the best things Mother Nature has to offer, and with 15 million acres of foliage, Virginia is a great place to take in the show! Each fall, without fail, the landscape becomes a kaleidoscope of color as leaves turn every hue under the sun. From the vivid orange of beech trees to the deep purple of dogwoods, the golden yellow of poplars and the reddish brown of oaks, this seasonal transformation is simply spectacular.

We took a road trip recently in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. We thought it was only fitting to pay homage to the trees whose natural beauty had inspired some of our favorite fall products, including pillows and rugs featuring colorful leaves, and our recycled glass Autumn Tree Nightlight crafted by an artisan glassmaking family. Read on for some highlights and stopping points on our memorable journey:

  1. The Blue Ridge Parkway, a.k.a. “America's Favorite Drive,” provided us a wonderful opportunity to experience the brilliant fall foliage.
  2. The Barn Swallow, an artisan gallery/gift shop in Ivy (just a short drive from Charlottesville) is chock full of charm and unique goods handmade by more than 80 local artists. A lovely flower garden leads to the shop – a rustic 1800s barn, actually –where everything from pottery and glassware to jewelry, scarves and soaps await.
  3. Apple picking is an autumn tradition, for two good reasons: it’s fun, and fresh-plucked apples taste amazing! The hardest part was deciding which Virginia orchard to visit, because they’re almost as plentiful here as the breathtaking fall foliage views. We love the Carter Mountain Orchard, in part for its family friendly ambiance and scenic views of Charlottesville. But truthfully, their scrumptious apple cider donuts are what make this place a cut above.
  4. The Old Rag Mountain hike in the Shenandoah National Park is consistently voted by locals as the best the region has to offer. With its panoramic views of the mountains and fall foliage, shaded woodland trails and a challenging rock scramble at the end, there is something for everyone.
  5. Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park: this historic 105-mile road meanders along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers 75 scenic overlooks. Along the way, you might spot deer, black bears, wild turkeys and other woodland creatures.
  6. A nice place for a casual lunch in Charlottesville is Al Carbon Chicken, which features the traditional tastes and textures of South American cuisine. Their charcoal rotisserie chicken is a favorite, as is their Elote Con Mayonesa, a Mexican street corn on the cob with mayo that’s rolled in cotija cheese, and sprinkled with chili powder and lime zest. For dessert, the Bavarian cream filled churros are divine!
  7. The Monticello Wine Trail is comprised of 30 wineries that were inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s vision of winemaking. In addition to wine tastings and sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the trail is dotted with historic sites, including the former homes of three U.S. presidents (Jefferson, Madison and Monroe), and the Landmark Ruins of Thomas Jefferson's mansion for James Barbour, Virginia’s governor during the War of 1812.
  8. Rise early to take a hot air balloon ride through the Shenandoah Valley. The changing leaves, crisp air and morning dew are best seen and experienced from 2,000 feet in the air.
  9. No Virginia getaway would be complete without a stay at the renowned Clifton Inn, which skillfully blends world-class service with the comfort and intimacy of small inns. Each of the Clifton’s 17 individually designed rooms and suites are uniquely enchanting, a perfect match for the bucolic 100-acre setting with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

There is no better time to go to the American Southwest than in the fall. The sunny days are perfect for exploring the breathtaking landscape and the cool evenings are spent by the warm fireside. We loved the pueblo architecture with its smooth lines and pops of vibrant color. Throughout Arizona and New Mexico we found unique art galleries and shops that are a testament to the creativity that thrives in this region. What we loved most of all, was the inspiration many of these artists took from their surroundings that melds nature in art. Georgia O'Keeffe might have said it best:

I have picked flowers where I found them, I have picked up sea shells and rocks and pieces of wood where there were sea shells and rocks and pieces of wood that I liked. When I found the beautiful white bones on the desert, I picked them up and took them home too. I have used these things to say what is to me the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.  - Georgia O'Keeffe, 1976

There is something about the vast expanse of this area that finds its way into your heart and keeps calling us back.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

In Antigua de Guatemala, the streets are as vibrant as the culture. As we laced our way through the cobblestone avenues, flashes of color greeted our eyes from all directions, painting a brilliant landscape of azure blue, saffron, indigo, vermillion and avocado green. Around each corner, strings of intricate and inviting wooden doors promise charming courtyards within - alive with lush gardens and effervescent fountains in the shadow of Volcàn de Agua.

The vivacity of this city of color carries over into the traditional artisan handicrafts of Guatemala, and it was exactly this brilliance that we had come here in search of. We had traveled to witness the fabled backstrap weaving process, which centuries of women here have practiced, perfected and passed on to the next generation. Cross-legged on the floor with the loom wrapped cozily around their bodies, each of these artisans use reams of warp and weft to create intricate, breathtakingly beautiful designs - each the product of deft, practiced hands and traditional methods. In our travels, we discovered many cooperatives that maintain each step of this process in the age-old tradition—starting with raw local cotton, that is then hand-spun into yarn and then hand-dyed with plant-based hues. With meticulous dedication, these artisans begin their craft by painstakingly removing each seed from locally grown and harvested cotton, which is then pounded into masses of pure cotton. This raw cotton is then spun by skilled hands for fifteen days to create a ball of the finest cotton yarn.

Local plants, esteemed for centuries for their lasting, colorful qualities, are ground into a fine powder to create the vibrant hues that are so iconic of this city, culture and artisan handicraft. From indigo come the shades of blue and purple, from beets the deep reds and from achiote the brilliant oranges. The powders created from these plants are mixed with water into a deep, staining dye, and, as each color is bound to the cotton fibers using natural banana stalks, the yarn takes on a new vibrant hue.

As we watched each of these artisans work, we were each overwhelmed by the palpable sense of tradition in these workshops, witnessing first-hand knowledge that has been practiced by centuries of women and shared for generations. Here, we discovered that each step of the process is firmly based in natural, local resources and represents a true example of sustainable, heirloom handicraft. We're already planning our return journey to Antigua, the city of heritage, history and color.

Explore our Striped Hand- Towels to see what we brought back from Antigua.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

This past summer we had the pleasure of traveling to the picturesque Pacific Northwest. As we flew in over the Oregon coast, we marveled at the scenic beauty below: azure water stretching as far as the eye could see, large craggy boulders surfacing from the sea and dotting the landscape, waves crashing rhythmically onto the shore. It was a mesmerizing sight, and a perfect beginning to what would become a most memorable and inspiring trip.

The main purpose of this excursion was a visit to the family farm where our succulent wreaths and other garden plant products are raised. We like to say that our succulent wreaths are like “living art” for your wall. The wreaths are designed and meticulously handmade in Oregon with a multi-part process. First, hardy succulents in shades of green, gray, burgundy and silver are grown with loving care until they’re ready to be placed by hand into a wrapped metal frame. With their artful blending of muted hues, interesting shapes and distinctive textures, each living wreath is a one-of-a-kind American-made treasure.

Next, we called upon the talented Oregonian artist who handcrafts our unique and ruggedly handsome driftwood succulent gardens. The artisan walks the local beaches with his dog while he collects the surf and sand-smoothed coastal driftwood, which he then fashions into compact, rustic planters for locally grown and nurtured succulents. These low-maintenance plants are a perfect complement to the driftwood planter’s natural beauty.

Our last official stop was a visit with the gifted artist who handcrafts our unique cedar succulent holders. Beautiful cedar wood is collected locally, stained and fashioned into gorgeous single-succulent planters as well as 5-slot centerpiece planters that look amazing on your dining room table, fireplace mantel, coffee table and anywhere you want an eye-catching focal point.

Before returning home, we were able to spend some time relaxing on the serene coastal beaches. All in all it was a wonderful trip, and so great to see firsthand how the Pacific Northwest region has inspired local artisans to craft such stunning pieces from natural driftwood and succulents.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

At VivaTerra, “eco-friendly” is more than just a buzzword. It’s a philosophy that’s ingrained in every product we offer. We know it is possible to decorate the home with furniture that is not only beautiful, but crafted from eco materials with environmentally conscious manufacturing processes. Which is how we recently found ourselves on an airplane, heading to southern California to meet the talented woodworkers who handcraft our Vintage Douglas Fir Furniture.

These carpenters are a true inspiration to us. Every handsome piece they make is crafted from reclaimed wood salvaged from demolished buildings in the Los Angeles area, including several sound stages on the old MGM Studios lot. Now the old-growth timber that was used to build this historic Hollywood landmark (and many other southern California buildings) finds new life in contemporary furniture instead of ending up in a landfill.

Much of the reclaimed wood used for creating our Vintage Fir collection was harvested and milled from ancient primal forests nearly a century ago, when resources were plentiful. Repurposing this old-growth wood reduces forest clear cutting, air pollution and landfill waste, and results in furniture that is sturdier, harder and has a natural aged patina and distinct beauty that can’t be replicated in new wood.

It was such a pleasure to get to know the woodworkers and to learn more about the eco-conscious way they create our Vintage Fir furniture. Each piece is meticulously hewn, handmade and then hand-finished with rich water based, non-toxic stains that allow the wood’s natural character to shine through.

We couldn’t say goodbye to L.A., a shopping mecca if ever there was one, without visiting a few of the city’s major furniture marketplaces. We enjoyed browsing the vast offerings, but soon realized that none of it could hold a candle to our exquisite collection of vintage fir armoiresbedsside tablesstorage chestsconsoles and other unique pieces crafted by the carpenters we’d just met.

Headed for the San Francisco Bay Area, we drove up the coast on Highway 1, which has to be one of the most scenic roads in all of America. As we traveled along the Pacific Coast Highway, we were simply in awe at the stunning ocean vistas that greeted us at every turn. The Big Sur area on California’s central coast is a designated American National Scenic Byway, and it’s not unusual to see condors in the sky and migrating gray, humpback and blue whales in the water. We didn’t on this trip, but we did see elephant seals basking in the sun (they’re huge!).

On our way up the coast, we stopped for lunch at the Dametra Café in Carmel. Their Greek cuisine was delicious, and the atmosphere was vibrant and friendly – just what we were looking for. The tasty dolmas whetted our appetite before the main course of Greek salads and Gyros, and Baklava for dessert. Yum! After our meal, the owner and a cook serenaded diners with a song. This got people up and dancing all around us, which made our visit even more memorable.

Before returning home, we just had to make a special trip to see the majestic trees in the Redwood National Park. Coastal redwoods are among the oldest living things on earth, and they’re also the tallest, stretching skyward up to 367 feet (roughly the height of a 35-story building). California once had two million acres of these old-growth coastal redwoods. Sadly, these giant trees are still being cut for lumber today, and less than 5% now remain. This sobering fact underscores the importance of doing everything we can to preserve our nation’s forests. Our Vintage Fir furniture made from reclaimed wood is a step in the right direction.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

In France, it's not hard to discover la vie en rose. Every aspect of life is regarded and undertaken with that particularly French form of serenity, a sense of calm and pleasure that permeates each and every moment. From the daily stop at the boulangerie for a fresh, warm baguette, to taking a moment to sit and share a café with friends (or just with the newspaper), to marathon five-course meals in which every morsel is savored, life in France is truly a breath of fresh air—and a much appreciated séjour from the rat race of our daily lives.

We took a trip recently to indulge in these treasures first-hand. While there, we discovered small city of Orléans, nestled snugly in France's Loire Valley—a region renowned around the world and even in France itself for its superb cheese, wine and châteaux. The city is also well-known for its majestic Cathédrale de Sainte-Croix, dating from the 14th century. It is the simply picture of a perfect Gothic cathedral—its sculpted façade towering over the square below it, covered in gargoyles, saints, and breathtaking stained glass. We found ourselves awed and inspired by the impossible heights of the structure and the amazing slivers of colorful light thrown about the interior by rays of sunshine. The city is also the birthplace of Joan of Arc, and the French heroine is ever-present in the broad, cobbled streets and open social squares of the city. In true French fashion, these streets and squares are peppered with countless little cafés, each with a collection of tables outdoors that invite strollers to take a pause and enjoy the day—even in the cold (most cafés have heat lamps that keep the outside tables comfortable)!

While visiting, we also found it absolutely essential to experience the beloved ritual of l'apéritif, whetting our appetites with delectable tastes of the region's finest cheeses, from patay to tomme, always with a glass of the traditional cocktail kir—a mixture of crème de cassis liqueur and white wine—in hand. As each day passed, we also couldn't help ourselves but to fall into the utterly French tradition of a daily trek to the nearest boulangerie, feeling ever-so authentic walking through the streets with a warm, crunchy baguette in hand. The dedication to freshness in cuisine here is transfixing—from the ubiquitous boulangeries to the local, open air markets that pop up all around the city throughout the week—and we discovered that the fresh, handmade delicacies we were lucky enough to taste are truly unmatched. Throughout our travels around the world, we gain something a little different from each culture we experience—and what we brought home from France to share with you is a dedication, understanding and love for artisanal, authentic and handmade treasures.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

The Atlas Mountains linger like snow-capped clouds in the sky above Marrakech, an ancient city that unfolds in subtle, clay red architecture and buzzing streets lined with orange trees. Inside the red walls of the city, built in the 12th century during its imperial age, lies the most popular square—Jamaa el Fna—filled with rows and rows of stalls brimming with fresh citrus fruit—from oranges to grapefruits to lemons—all ready to be juiced and savored. Everything in Morocco has this sense of being fresh and made by hand—available right from the source. The souks, winding streets of small markets and shops, form a maze just off the square, offering everything from adorable miniature tagines to intricately patterned punctured metal lamps and luminaries to hand-woven Berber rugs. In the rug markets, the attendants unroll beautiful rug after rug after stunning rug, each bursting with a unique and colorful design. As you chat, they'll bring you the pleasantry of Morocco—thé à la menthe—fresh mint tea served sweet and hot in a gracefully patterned tea glass.

On the south side of the Atlas Mountains, the landscape quickly changes from the sometimes lush vibrancy of a Mediterranean climate to the stark, stunning dryness of the approaching desert. The landscape and architecture transforms in color from the deep red of Marrakech to the warm, baked sandstone shade of the Sahara. After the last city south, commonly known as the Gate to the Desert, the desert truly begins in a somewhat unexpected fashion—dotted with twisting acacia trees, purple bursts of flowering thyme and fields of succulent shrub-like greens, adorned with delicate yellow flowers and edible leaves (which were surprisingly crisp and moist—and tasted strong and peppery). As we wound deeper and deeper into the heart of the Sahara, the moisture of the landscape quickly dissipated, and the Dunes of Chegaga appeared. These ever-changing, ever-moving dunes create a field of soft, curving spines and fluid peaks, an endless mountain range of silky sand blown into place along the horizon. The desert is calm, quiet—bright. There is an unsullied blue sky above and a smooth carpet of sand below.

The Kingdom of Morocco most certainly impressed us with its overwhelming sense of vibrancy. From the friendliness of the locals—who are truly welcoming and helpful and always ready to share tea—to the warm and budding colors of the landscape to the unmistakable freshness of the flavors of life here, Morocco most certainly offers a lifestyle and a experience to be savored and remembered.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Kristen Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

As the New Year approaches and the weather gets colder, we’ve been searching for some sunshine. During our recent trip to Mexico, we not only found some sun, but a vibrant culture celebrated through beautifully made handicrafts and delicious food. We wanted to share some of our experiences exploring this colorful country and the beautiful artisan-made pieces we found through our photo journal below.

Oh, Mexico
It sounds so simple I just got to go
The sun's so hot I forgot to go home
Guess I'll have to go now

- James Taylor, "Mexico"

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Journeys 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

The collision of antiquity and the modern age is omnipresent in Egypt, the storied, age-old atmosphere and landscape blending and interlacing with a burgeoning culture and style of life. There is an inescapable knowledge of history in the winding streets and expansive desert alike—a feeling of the permanence of nature intermingled with our own ephemerality that is written into the culture here like hieroglyphics on the walls of man's existence. Alongside the iconic, Egyptian antiquity of the land- and cityscape, the cuisine here presents yet another ancient cultural addition, influenced over time by the proximity of the Mediterranean and the other lifestyles that were introduced here as a result. Each meal is bursting with the freshness and flavors of the Mediterranean, offering a taste of the region's varied and intriguing history with each bite.

As the hustle and bustle of the city subsides and the silent life of the desert begins to unfold in sunbaked, silky plains of sand, the Nile cuts a winding, vibrant line of plant life and flora. Bursting with life, the flow of the river brings with it the promise of growth, allowing the desert landscape to blossom into green. The starkness of this contrast enhances the beauty of each extreme, and at the collision of the two we found an entrancingly vibrant, brilliant style of life and culture. This feeling of collision, of seemingly divergent existences, embodies the charm and beauty of Egypt—in culture, lifestyle and landscape alike.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Journeys 
Thu Jun 20 07:35:37 EDT 2019