To Warm a Winter’s Day: The Color of Curry

For those of us in arctic winter areas, it’s about time to see some color. In the snowbelt, we’ve been looking at white and brown outdoors for waaaaay too long. And it’s been awhile since I’ve done the ever-popular color posts. So today, I serve up some yummy curry colors. To warm your eyes, your tummy, your soul …

From Vervain, cotton/linen fabric in Pachora Curry colorway:

Vervain Pachora Curry Cotton Linen Fabric

Curry spice from My Fudo:

Curry Spice via My Fudo

Curry is for a sophisticated color palate.

As well as palette!

Here’s how Casa Midy — one of my favorite furniture and decor designers — used curry color in a sophisticated mix:

Curry Color Headboard from Casa Midy

Curries from around the world via Gilt:

Curries From Around the World via Gilt Taste

Handcrafted wallpaper from Dering Hall:

Handcrafted Wallpaper from Dering Hall

If you’re now feeling the need to taste as well as look, here’s a recipe for homemade curry powder, from Global Table Adventure:

Recipe for Homemade Curry Powder from Global Table Adventure

Tea towels that are hand block printed in a Raja pattern, in ochre color. From Papa Totoro Etsy shop:

Hand Block Printed from Papa Totoro Etsy Shop

Dal tadka curry recipe, via Veg Recipes of India:

Dal tadka curry recipe via Veg Recipes of India

That’s almost like seeing curry “in situ” in its natural form, in food. It’s also a guide to what looks good with curry color — it looks fresh against white rice, and copper metals, leafy greens and deep reds.

You can find curry in mosaic tiles, like this pattern called “Ganges Karma” from Mosaic Art. It’s either inspired by or actually made with clay tea cups made of Ganges clay collected in Varanasi:

Ganges Karma mosaic tile from Mosaic Art

With many of the colors in the tile mosaic above, here’s the ingredients of curry powder from a recipe at Williams-Sonoma:

Curry Powder Ingredients at Williams-Sonoma

As a grand finale (yes, sorry, this cannot go on forever!), here’s a hand-knotted antique Oushak rug from Turkey, once available at One Kings Lane:

Antique Oushak Rug from Turkey

If you still have the appetite for more curry colors, I serve up more than 100 images with these colors at my “Kinds of Curry” Board at Pinterest. I think this should be satisfying:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Color – Kinds of Curry on Pinterest.


Hamsa: Embroidered, Painted, Cemented

Moroccan style is becoming more popular. And along with it, people are more and more captivated by hamsa. Hamsa are shaped like a hand, and you often see them in Morocco and the Middle East. They hang on doors where they are used to block negative energy and evil from entering a home.

While it’s common to see brass and silver hamsa, they can be made from lots of materials.

Here is hamsa wall art I created for Paint+Pattern blogzine. It’s made with stencils, paint and scrapbook paper. I was inspired by the clay and blue colors seen in Marrakech as well as the Moroccan patterns. So I pulled those together with a gold hamsa painted with stencils to look like filigree. Visit my post at Paint+Pattern to see how to make it:

Stenciled Hamsa Wall Art

A collection of hamsa at El Fenn riad in Marrakech. They seem to be concrete or ceramic. This makes me want to pour a bunch of concrete pieces in a meaningful shape and install a collection on a wall:

Hamsa at El Fenn

Some of the prettiest filigree hamsa pendants can be found at eBay seller liel99 from Egypt:

Filigree Khamsa

Hamsa are also known as khamsa and Hand of Fatima, in case you want to search for more of them.

They can be embroidered, such as this sample in Chikkankari embroidery from India via Asya Store:

Embroidered Hamsa

I love the elegance of this next one, available in a few colors. It is handcrafted wall art  from, and they suggest it makes a wonderful housewarming gift. Because it’s intended to protect a home, that is a good gift:

Hamsa Wall Art from

This one is really interesting. I haven’t yet tracked the original source (all links lead to Pinterest and Pinterest is not a source!). Maybe someone uploaded it to Pinterest and it hasn’t been featured anywhere else online. It appears to be antique with coral and turquoise stones:


This mosaic from Muchnik Arts is different and stunning:

Hamsa from Muchnik Arts

You can find hamsa in even more forms, like drawn with calligraphy, beaded, and made with polymer clay and mosaic tiles.


DIY Stenciled Patterned Scarf

Some of you I know live in warm places year-round. Lucky, lucky you! I don’t know why I haven’t yet joined you, but for now I’m in the American Midwest under a blanket of snow and cold air. We bundle up here until we waddle like penguins under layers of coats, hats, scarves, shawls, thick socks and boots. Usually all these layers are in drab colors and we look like depressed penguins suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Which we probably are!

Instead of looking like these Chicago people:

Chicago Cold Weather

Source: CBS Chicago

I’d rather look like this:

Penguins in Colorful Sweaters from the Penguin Foundation

Source: Penguin Foundation

So why not wear some happy, colorful and pattern-full layers? As you know, I do a lot of painting with stencils, and sometimes I’ve imagined wearing these patterns! Why not?

Yes, you can stencil on fabric. In fact I stenciled on scarves and shawls recently, including a currently fashionable infinity scarf. Here’s how to do it, in a DIY stenciled scarf post I wrote for Paint and Pattern blogzine:

How to Stencil a Scarf

Hop on over to Paint+Pattern to see how to paint this mud cloth-inspired shawl.

Look for a scarf or shawl with a smooth flat surface. A smooth surface is easier to paint. I found mine at World Market at my local store but some colors are also available online — just search “pashmina” on World Market’s website and you’ll find colors like apple green, orchid, lilac, coral and more. They’re on sale right now for $4.99 and $7.99:

Apple and Orchid Infinity Scarves from World Market

Lilac and Coral Shawls

You can also find smooth shawls and scarves like this in lots of places like Target, TJ Maxx, etc.

Here’s another color shawl I stenciled. It’s posing in our freezing cold backyard in front of my dear dead garden:

Stenciled Shawl

I froze my little buns off taking photos out there, and then I got back in the house and saw the one little orange tassel is out of place and it is still bugging me! Call that “Design OCD.” Yes I can be a perfectionist and have “Design OCD” pretty bad. That tassel situation is a little too complex for me to fix in Photoshop and make it look natural. Believe me there are plenty of things I fix in Photoshop and you would never know! It was too cold to go back out in the whipping wind and photograph it again. This whole shawl was almost picked up by the wind, flung off the dress form and thrown across the yard to get stuck up in the sticks of the trees. The photo froze this in a moment in time so you have no idea how cold and windy it was! It might look serene but it’s all an illusion.

Even as I write this, it’s sunny out but don’t be fooled — the wind is outside my windows whipping snow around like mad and building drifts against the house.

And that is why, it’s good to have a bunch of warm things like these shawls to wrap around your shoulders and cuddle on a couch in front of a fire with hot cocoa. And when the shawl is colorful and patterned, all the better!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of compensation at no cost to you if you purchase after clicking the link. I post affiliate links when I’ve purchased from the company myself or used the product myself, and can confidently share the company or product. This helps offset the cost of running this blog for you!


Design Profile: Paarisha by Chinanshu

Today I wanted to introduce you to a lively innovative jewelry line: Paarisha, created by designer Chinanshu Sharma. All pieces are handmade and one-of-a-kind. Chinanshu’s creations are like woven jewels. She uses yarns and threads from materials like silk and banana fiber to add vibrant color to traditional silver.

Paarisha creations have been sold by some of the leading online retailers of Indian design. Jaypore recently featured her “Womad” collection, which was inspired by Afghani tribal pieces combined with weaves and braids:

Paarisha by Chinanshu at Jaypore

You can see the hallmarks of Paarisha style here — chunky pendants and metals mixed with colorful weavings. This adds a contemporary twist to things rooted in deep tradition. The “Womad” collection is intended to represent the nomad in every woman who doesn’t want to be restrained, and who seeks to explore the world. (Hmmmm … sounds familiar.) The jewelry was designed to express this spirit.

I appreciate new innovative twists on traditional things. So what drew my eye was how Chinanshu updates traditional designs for today’s times. In addition to the Afghani-inspired necklaces, she has also updated the classic Indian “mango leaf” necklace with colorful yarns:

Mumbai Woven Necklace by Paarisha

You can see more creative jewelry on the Paarisha by Chinanshu Pinterest Board and follow the company’s Facebook page for news about new pieces. Some people are buying right from the Facebook page and you’ll also hear about online retailers selling the line.

Design Profile Q&A

I was so inspired by Chinanshu’s vision to see something new in designs rooted in tradition, that I just had to ask some questions! For example she shared some of her techniques in a post on the Paarisha blog where she talked about combining Japanese Kumihimo braiding with the Indian jewelry designs. So here’s an interview we did to tell you more about the designer behind the designs …

What makes your creative soul sing? 

My inspirations are many, from nature and surroundings to words and songs. I pick up a small thing and try to work on it for some time to see how far it can be explored what more can be done from it. As every new day will bring a new perspective and newer ways to look at it.

What story would you like to tell through your jewelry?

Handcrafted jewellery is a piece of art and when someone wears it, to not only to look beautiful but because they love that piece of art and are connected to it. My endeavor is to make the wearer feel beautiful.

Design Profile Paarisha by Chinanshu

It looks like you are pairing combinations of materials in a unique way. What materials do you use to make jewelry?

Yes, by combining different materials a lot can be told and what comes out is something that has a character of its own. For instance my Mumbai collection was to highlight the contrast and coexistence of the mega city “Mumbai.” I combined silk and metal in a complementing way which shows contrasts of soft silk to hard metal and yet they complement each other.

Materials that I have worked with are yarns, fabrics, metal, stones, raffia, recycled stuff like denims, motor/cycle parts, found objects, rubber, wood, wires and more.

Paarisha Woven Jewelry

What materials would you like to use in your wildest creative dreams?

Living in the city I am influenced by the modern architecture – concrete, glass, steel. I am also fascinated by delicateness, intricacy and textures of nature. I often visit Cubbon Park to study the barks of trees and someday they will find their way in my jewellery. In my wildest creative dream I would love to do something that I cant even imagine now :)

How did you arrive at the idea to combine weaving with traditional metal jewelry shapes?

I have tried and learnt most by experimentation and I have been working with yarns for some time now. Colours have become the DNA of my designs. Not only do they convey a lot but also have amazing effect on us.

I love baskets and have always loved the way every region/place has its own style, and materials like grass, dyes and weaves to make those baskets. So it was a matter of combining the two first, then give it a contemporary feel. For my audience to be able to relate to it, I added Indian motifs, metal pieces. That makes it wearable and women all over can relate to it.

Woven Necklaces from Paarisha by Chinanshu

What is your background in design and how did you get introduced to jewelry-making?

I am a boring banker turned designer. Jewellery making happened to me as some ideas in my head that didn’t let me sleep and once I started putting them on paper, they just didnt’ stop. Sometimes I have visions and I have to get up and put it on paper, else it will be lost forever.

I studied jewellery designing and metal smithing at IIG Jaipur. But what I do today is far from what I learnt at design school. Its been a journey to find my style and my expression.

Paarisha by Chinanshu

As a resident of Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore) what are the top places you recommend travelers visit in your city? And for selfish reasons, I visit Bangalore occasionally and am always looking for new places!

If you are a little adventurous and don’t mind noisy streets and Indian market chaos — Chickpet. Every time I go there I discover something new. Nrityagram for experiencing some traditional Indian dance. Old furniture hunting at Bamboo market — I personally haven’t been there but think it might interest you. I can recommend a beautiful place I visited recently, it’s not in Bangalore but in Coimbatore — Isha Home school, at Isha Yoga Centre. It’s all very well done.

Paarisha Gift Box

And that’s a wrap! Yes I’m finishing up this post a bit late and getting cheeky. Thank you to Chinanshu for taking some time to talk with us! And seriously, how could you possibly choose which piece to get in your very own Paarisha gift box? Visit the Paarisha website to see one-of-a-kind designs currently available.


MoroCrafts Kickstarter Campaign: A Modern Day Online Souk

The internet connects the world together and I recently heard of a new entrepreneurial way to connect those of us who love Moroccan style directly with the artisans who make the wares. The idea is to structure things so that the majority of the product price goes directly to the artisans. With all the steps to bring handmade products from around the world to us consumers, we’re often unaware that often only a small fraction of the price we pay goes to the original craftspeople. The idea is to develop a more direct connection between us and the artisans, to help them build a better sustainable income for their families and communities which are often isolated from Morocco’s popular tourist centers and shopping souks. It’s doing business while doing good — I like that idea!

MoroCrafts Artisan

First let me tempt you with some Moroccan style, then I will tell you more about MoroCrafts, the company behind the idea. These products are all for sale as part of a Kickstarter campaign. As of today’s post, there are 12 days left in the campaign — the campaign ends February 15 — and they’re already about 70% to goal!

You can get colorful teapots:

Moroccan Teapot from MoroCrafts Kickstarter Campaign

Or cute mini tagines, perfect for jewelry storage and gift giving:

Mini Tagine from MoroCrafts

And true to the spirit of the venture, here are some of the artisans who make teapots and mini tagines. MoroCrafts wants to be able to connect you directly with these craftspeople:

MoroCrafts Artisans Creating Teapots

There are candles with shadowy glow similar to the popular pierced metal Moroccan lanterns:

Moroccan Candle from MoroCrafts

The artisans are good at creating products, but they don’t necessarily know how to run a business or a packing and shipping operation. This is why there are community managers like Yasmina to help take care of those things:

Community Manager to Assist Moroccan Artisans

The world has gone crazy for Moroccan rugs like Beni Ouarain and kilim:

TIfelt Kilim Rug from MoroCraft

Through MoroCrafts, it’s like you’re purchasing rugs directly from the artisans who make these rugs:

Rug Cooperative via MoroCrafts

Lanterns as blue as the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech:

Majorelle Blue Lanterns from MoroCrafts

Right now on Kickstarter until February 15, you can help support MoroCrafts’ idea — there are teapots, jewelry, handbag clutches, rugs, metal lanterns, candles, a whole variety of products for their launch. And they say the artisans are excited and can’t wait to make more! Here’s more about the venture in a video:

This isn’t just a starry dream — MoroCrafts has some serious thought and support behind the idea. I know a thing or two about entrepreneurship — my first job out of college for years was at an organization that helped entrepreneurs grow their businesses, I’ve been an entrepreneur in the past with a catalog and website during the very early days of the Internet (crazy times!) and my husband is an entrepreneur, revolutionizing how predictive analytics is done. So I know it’s important to have certain things in place beyond your dreams. MoroCrafts has knowledge about supply chain management — important when you want to develop a new way to get products from where they’re created to consumers around the world, and mentorship backing at MIT. The founder is from Morocco and served as an advisor to the Moroccan Ministry of Handicraft and Social Solidarity Economy so there’s “on the ground” knowledge.

I was drawn both to the business acumen as well as the idea of changing the situation for artisans who are isolated from the tourist shopping centers and don’t have access to sell their wares. For many of them, what they do is their only source of income. I think the fantastic thing the internet brings to the world is the ability to truly connect us all together, from our biggest cities to people in the remotest areas. You can think of this as a modern day souk — a digital souk.

Follow the MoroCrafts journey to connect you with Morocco’s craftspeople on Facebook, Kickstarter (if you want to support this, hurry, the campaign ends February 15!) and their website.

Food Memories from Travels: Homemade Muesli Recipe

Muesli is like cereal – you can eat it for breakfast (or any time at my house!) but without the processed sugars, preservatives and other fake chemical stuff that’s often in cereals. It’s natural and it’s good for you. I got the muesli habit during a Tuscan vacation. I would eat muesli, yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast right at this table here, soaking up the sunshine and overlooking the olive groves:

Tuscan Villa Outdoor Veranda Dining

Ahhhhh! Who wouldn’t want to keep remembering that when they got home?!?

During most overseas trips I discover a new food habit. In Italy years ago it was muesli. (I already had the wine drinking habit!) I came back from Morocco last November with a raging pomegranate addiction, and started sprinkling pomegranate seeds on muesli and yogurt and … well, everything. The best!

Yummy Homemade Muesli Recipe

But muesli is not easy to find. Even at Whole Foods the cereal aisle is dominated by cereal. At my local Whole Foods there was one box of muesli. For awhile. Then they stopped carrying it. My muesli obsession fell away. Recently I found muesli at Fresh Market. But it’s a little 12 oz box and its cost seems like it’s priced by the gold market.

So … how to secure an ongoing cost-effective supply chain of muesli into my kitchen?

Granola is easier to find but granola doesn’t cut it. Granola is not muesli. Granola often has sugars and oils in it. I question whether it’s really healthy. I’m in my mid-40s now and can’t eat like I used to any more. Sad fact of plunging middle age metabolisms. So I’m looking closer at hidden sugar, fat and empty calories lurking in my eating habits.

So, to guarantee access to muesli, why not make it yourself? It took nearly 7 years for me to get that bright, now obvious, idea. I’m giving the idea away to you, right away! Here’s typical ingredients in muesli and you can get most of them in the bulk food aisle at Whole Foods and other stores:

Homemade Muesli Recipe

  • Grains – 1 heaping bulk bin scoop each of mixed grains like rolled oats, flaked barley, flaked rye
  • Seeds – a handful toss of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, other larger seeds you like
  • Nuts – a few spoonfuls of nuts to your liking, like almond slivers or crumbled walnuts – choose softer nuts that aren’t too hard on your teeth
  • Dried fruits – toss a handful of dehydrated fruits to your taste, maybe choose a mix of 2 fruits like dates, apples, raisins, pineapple, cranberries
  • Flavors – a handful of dehydrated coconut flakes, a spoonful of savory “breakfast” spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

Homemade Muesli Recipe

Choosing for Texture and Good Looks

I choose a mix of textures so there’s not too much powdery flaky stuff. That wouldn’t feel pleasant to eat. That’s the main complaint people have about muesli – they say it’s dry and mealy. Not this recipe! I make sure I take full flakes and grains from the bulk bin, not ground-down powder. And the mix of different sizes and textures keeps the muesli from feeling mealy in your mouth.

I also choose different textures and colors so it looks interesting too. Like green pumpkin seeds to break up all the brown and beige. And I found the cutest little brown nuts at Whole Foods – they are called hunza sweet apricot kernels and they say “Himalayan” on the label. Just slap Himalayan on the packaging and I’m a sucker and I’ll happily pay too much for it!


You can leave the ingredients raw or lightly toast them. Toasting brings out some flavors (and great aromas too). Spread the ingredients over a baking sheet about 1/2″ thick, then pop them in a 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes. I left mine in longer. Just keep a close eye – you want it to brown just a bit but not start burning. You can toss it mid-way through the oven time if needed.

Toasting Homemade Muesli Mix


I actually just found out while researching homemade muesli recipes that you can eat muesli hot or soaked. I’m sorry I can’t offer much advice about that. I’ve always had a weird thing (okay call it a quirk!) that I don’t like any liquid at all on my cereal. I don’t get how people can put milk in their cereal! It seems so gross to me. I have to eat cereal dry. So there’s that.

Annnnnd … I loathe raisins. I will spend a lot of time picking them out of muesli so not a single raisin falls into the bowl. It’s really irrational. So the beauty of homemade muesli is you can make it the way you like it! Save yourself all the raisin-picking-outing time.

Homemade Muesli with Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

I always throw fresh fruit on my muesli/yogurt combo: diced apples, pomegranate seeds, blackberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, maybe diced honeydew. You can see I’m thinking of fruits that aren’t too juicy … because the muesli/cereal can’t get wet and mushy, right?!

You can use any yogurt you like. I’m partial to Stonyfield low fat or no fat “smooth and creamy” – either plain or french vanilla.

Homemade Muesli Recipe



A Trip to Sulawesi: Toraja Patterns

This uniquely patterned wood headboard found on Pinterest yesterday reminded me of an “online trip” I took to Sulawesi a few years ago, to the villages and homes of the Toraja people. It’s not just coffee that comes from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. There is pattern and design too. You should see. You must see! So come, let’s go to Sulawesi …

Patterned Wood Headboard via Christina Watkinson

First, see the houses these panels come from:

Toraja Houses

You can see the headboard up above has the remains of these colorful patterns:

Toraja Patterned House via Indonesia Traveler

Toraja House Patterns via Incito Tour Flickr

Here is a view of the arching architecture of these homes, surrounded by rice paddies:

Toraja Village in Sulawesi photo by Peter Connolly

The house style is called tongkonan, the Toraja tribe’s traditional house. The height and ornamentation communicate the owner’s social status.

Toraja Home

Here you can see how deeply carved the patterns can be. Sometimes the paint colors fade, but the carvings hold the pattern forever:

Carved Toraja House Shutter

What’s interesting to me is how other societies will take the decorative pieces of these homes and display them as a sign of wealth and the owner’s social status. That’s not a conscious move — “I’m gonna use a Toraja panel as a headboard to show you how well my investments have done! Hear my mighty wealthy roar!” – sounds pretty silly! But it takes being in a certain circle, usually involving a well-traveled interior designer, to even know these things exist. They wind up in settings like this and published in Elle Decor:

Toraja House Panel

You don’t find Toraja style knock-offs at Target. And it costs to source and ship these things around the world.

This is part of a huge 8-foot architectural panel on 1stdibs priced at $11,200:

Toraja Panel at 1stdibs

The dealer explains that the auspicious patterns carved into this panel include the Pa’tangke lumu or “moss branch” motif with five stylized buffalo heads. The ornamentation was meant to drive away evil influences. But the buffalo is also a symbol of wealth and prosperity. When funerals are held, families sacrifice buffalo and keep the horns. Wealthier families can sacrifice more buffalo. So houses that have more buffalo horns displayed on them are a sign of higher status and wealth.

This painting by French painter and sculptor Emmanual Michel captures a Toraja woman:

Femme Toraja by Emmanual Michel

The patterns they carve and draw have meanings. As with many cultures, they wish for fertility, good fortune and happiness and harmony for family.

Remnants of these panels can be turned into mirrors:

Toraja Panel Mirror

Mounted for tabletop display:

Toraja Panel Remnant at Andrianna Shamaris

Crafted into tables:

Toraja Panel as a Table

Framed as wall art:

Toraja Panel Framed at Andrianna Shamaris

I hope you enjoyed this trip to another world of patterns!

Sources: 1. Christina Watkinson, 2. Ronrada at TrekEarth, 3. Indonesia Traveler, 4. Incito Tour, Flickr, 5. Peter Connolly, Flickr, 6. Jakarta Post Travel, 7. Unknown, 8. Elle Decor, 9. 1stdibs, 10. Emmanual Michel, 11. One Kings Lane, 12. Andrianna Shamaris, 13. Jenny Bigio, 14. Andrianna Shamaris