A Nomad’s Holiday Gift Guide

Is there a frequent flier in your life, and you need gifts? Or maybe YOU are the frequent flier and you deserve the gift? It’s okay, treat yourself! When I go gift shopping, I’m all for the “2 for me, 1 for you” shopping. No offense! Mostly because the rest of the year, I shop for necessities not for fun.

Here are 5 things I pack when traveling and they’re all good gifts …

1. Travel Journal

Maybe I’m old school, but I think capturing memories in a travel journal is super important. The little snippets, things overheard, thoughts that pass through your mind … they fade over time. But not if you get them down on paper. That’s why journals like this Rifle Paper Co. travel notebook at ShopBop are a useful gift for the nomad:

Rifle Paper Co Travel Journal

Journals are good to have on hand when planning a trip too. You can write “things to do” ideas, addresses, phone numbers, draw little maps, everything you need is in your journal. I know we all have computers. But there’s something about writing on paper.

There are also classy leather-bound travel journals and I have more than a few of those full of travel memories. Here’s a leather journal from Amazon with a travel theme:

Classic Leather Travel Journal

At only 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, it’s small enough for light packing.

2. Lotion

Our skin takes a beating when we travel. I’m going to keep the solution simple. I LOVE Peter Thomas Roth All Day Moisture Defense Lotion. I’ve used it for years. I’ve used a lot of lotions, because I’m, hmmmm, 40-something, and my skin is drier. I hate most lotions, honestly. They don’t last more than an hour before you look dry again. They’re greasy. They leave a slick on your skin. Yuck! For me, the Peter Thomas Roth lotion sinks in, no greasy feeling, and they mean “all day” when they say “all day.” I don’t need to put lotion on again until the next morning. LOVE this stuff:

Peter Thomas Roth Lotion

I carry that lotion with me at all times just like I carry money at all times. It’s that great (at least for me it is). They have a smaller travel size but the 1.7 fl oz size has never been a problem for me to carry onto flights.


I like a pair of great big headphones on flights. Even short flights. I like the big cushy ones that cover your ears and surround you with sound. The earbuds that go in your ears feel uncomfortable and dinky. Noise cancelling headphones are great. Just plug in your music or movie and you’re ready for the travel time to fly by.

Now I’m not an expert on headphones. I have pricier Sennheiser headphones and they’re fine. I like them mostly because I can crank them up real loud and the people next to me on flights cannot hear anything. No sound leakage is important, because it’s really annoying to your fellow passengers. I do wish the bass was a little stronger. But I know I shouldn’t expect a concert hall in headphones. These look really cushy and comfortable for long flights:

Sennheiser Headphones

These are my Sennheiser headphones. They collapse small in a handbag:

Sennheiser Headphones for Travel

Bose is another often-recommended brand for travel headphones. You know Bose knows how to deliver big sound through small speakers. I don’t know about all the Dr. Dre headphones. But I’m probably not Dr. Dre’s target market!

4. Shawl or big scarf

A shawl is one of the most versatile accessories you can pack. There’s so many ways to use a shawl when traveling:

  • Layer of warmth on shoulders
  • Folded into a scarf
  • Blanket on the plane
  • Sarong at the beach
  • Dash of color and pattern for monochromatic capsule travel wardrobe
  • Tie over pants and t-shirt for different layered look

Here’s a few shawls from artisans at Novica …

By Novica artist Isha Jain in India, a cotton and silk shawl block printed by hand:

Novica Hand Block Printed Shawl from India

By Indian artist Sandeep Malhotra, this wool embroidered scarf at Novica is stylish and warm for winter travel. And at 70″ long and 26″ wide there’s plenty to cover:

Novica Wood Embroidered Indian Shawl

Okay this I might even grab for myself! See what I mean about “2 for me, 1 for you”! It’s another shawl by Sandeep Malhotra with embroidery on wool:
Novica Indian Wood Embroidered Shawl

Some of you may want more color! Well here it is, another wool shawl by Sandeep Malhotra – wild color florals:

Indian Wool Jamawar Shawl at Novica

When I travel, I pack mostly black – black pants and black tops – then I add shawls and scarves with colors and patterns and this makes the outfits less boring. I tend to not want a fashion show when I travel, I want to pack light, and that combo is my go-to solution.

It looks like Novica has more than 1,000 shawls to choose from!

5. Picture frame

We have pictures in our laptops, our phones, our Facebook, our Instagram. I think photos still belong in picture frames too. Print some out and keep them on your desk to motivate you for the next trip. I like really unique decorative frames, and I like to match the frame style to the trip.

This frame from Amazon might be good for someone who recently went on a European vacation:

Parisian Picture Frame

This is a special frame that elevates photos to another level. Literally:

Unique Picture Frame

For a frame that’s a gift, try to find something uncommon, something embellished, something in a different shape.

Something like this frame with embedded iridescent beads in colors is great for someone returning from an India trip, or Guatemala or Mexico, somewhere with colorful photos:

Iridescent Beads Picture Frame

What else is a good gift for travelers? Feel free to share in comments!

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!


Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What are you interested in?

Shhhhh … It’s for Adults Only

My dad sent an email a few months ago that said, “you won’t BELIEVE what your mom is doing!”

“What what WHAT?!” I said.

“She’s coloring in a coloring book!”

Oh. I thought it was gonna be something like, she’s dancing around in her underwear to a Shaun Cassidy album!

The next day I was in O’Hare airport and saw a big display of adult coloring books. Two signs in two days was enough evidence of a trend, no need to see a third sign on a third day. My parents caught this trend before I did! The New Yorker wrote about the trend, giving it sure-fire “adult credibility.”

Apparently it bothers people to see line drawings that aren’t colored in, so there’s a compulsion to fill them in. I understand. Look at this, how can you leave this scene as it is?

Johanna Basford Enchanted Forest

That is an Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford. According to Slate, her coloring books for adults have sold more than 1.5 million copies. Oh boy. Like I need another visual hobby!

And like many hobbies, it has benefits beyond making something pretty. It may reduce stress, and people say it feels good. Definitely people are drawn to the drawings (heh heh heh). According to Psychology Today a few months ago, five of the top 30 books on Amazon were adult coloring books! (Looks like that Psychology Today writer doesn’t like the adult coloring books but not everyone wants to get into meditation, and not everyone can draw these scenes from scratch. Let people have their fun!)

Here are some popular adult coloring books. There’s the Secret Garden by Johanna Basford:

Secret Garden Coloring Book by Johanna Basford

Here’s a coloring book with designs inspired by henna and mandalas:

Coloring book with henna and mandala designs

How about a book full of stress relieving patterns? We could all use some of that:

Stress Relieving Adult Coloring Book

Once you’ve chosen your coloring book(s), you need pencils and pens! Let’s add some color. Buy all the colors! Here’s a few “crowd sourced” best sellers on Amazon:

Sargent Art 50 Colored Pencils

Sargent Art Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

Prismacolor Premier 48 Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

Or you can get 24 Prismacolor colored pencils if you don’t need 48 colors. And of course you need a pencil sharpener!

Prismacolor Pencils and Pencil Sharpener

So … go ahead, be like a kid again and even color outside the lines if you want. This is a great project to do on a winter day or a rainy summer day with the kids too — a coloring book for them, a coloring book for you!

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!


Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What are you interested in?

Painted Moroccan Tables

I’m painting a Moroccan table right now (FINALLY doing the project posted about here), and while researching I found some painted Moroccan tables that are too good to not share. Mine will be very different than these, but these are pretty and colorful and so boho chic …

Bohemian Chic Painted Moroccan Tables



  1.  Treasures of Morocco on eBay
  2. Fikra
  3. Fikra
  4. Moroccan Accents on Etsy
  5. Lalhaveli-us on eBay

Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What are you interested in?

DIY Stenciled Pendant Lamp Shade

Eventually the India pied-a-terre will be a place full of patterns. And color, though you might not yet believe it from all the white walls. For now, the very first step toward a pattern-full place was the “Arabian Nights Lights” I made for the entry area. They’re ceiling pendants with exaggerated two-foot long shades:

Stenciled Ceiling Pendant Lights

I was finally able to install them and shoot quick pictures during the last few hours before we had to catch a flight back to the U.S., and this chair is one of only a few pieces of furniture in the apartment right now, so minimal styling!

The full tutorial showing how to make these stenciled pendant shades is posted over at PaintandPattern.com


The stencils are from the Royal Design Studio Mini Craft Stencils line, which takes some of their popular big stencils and scales them down in size for smaller projects like these pendant shades. Then I painted with a simple combo of black, brown and metallic copper paints.

The copper hardware is from World Market. I’m loving copper lately, and copper is all over our apartment in India, so I was happy to find this ceiling pendant hardware in copper! And at a reasonable price too.

Copper Ceiling Light Hardware from World Market

I get into the little details, and one detail I loved about these pendant shades was the little copper screw on the bottom. I had to order it from a tattoo machinery supply shop!

Copper Screw

Well, among the seven big suitcases of stuff we hauled to India for the apartment, you can guess it, the little copper screws got lost. After all the Googling and the expense (they were not cheap including shipping cost), I wound up getting brass replacement screws from a hardware store in our India neighborhood for only pennies each. So I put copper paint on the parts that show and called it done.

Also somewhere on one of the shades is a paw print. You can see Chaai the Crafty Cat got involved in this project too. One night while the fabric shade pieces were laying on the floor, Chaai plopped onto the fabric and started cleaning himself after eating dinner. Of course I shoo’d him off and in the process, he stuck a wet paw on the fabric. So a little reminder of him is on the other side of the planet now!

If you’re interested in making a ceiling pendant like this, check out the step-by-step and supplies for stenciling and assembling a shade at Paint and Pattern.

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!


Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What are you interested in?

Happy 5th Birthday, Nomadic Decorator!

Five years ago there were dreams.

Five years ago there was a different, dreamy blog name (one I later admitted I didn’t even know how to pronounce).

Since then, there have been lots of forks in the roads, and changes in those dreams. That happens in life. If you’ve been following along recently, you know things are finally starting to happen again in India.

The one thing that’s remained the same here is sharing of gorgeous photos. Today I honor the Nomadic Decorator blog with favorite inspiration photos shared over the years. Let’s celebrate with eye candy …

There was the time I pleaded for Cher to adopt me so I could live here, in her Indian Fantasy home. Many elements here inspire me for the India pied-a-terre:

Cher Indian Fantasy Home

The carved wood, the antiques, meditative patterns, soothing natural palette. (And there was the time I met the designer of this place – Martyn Lawrence Bullard! I unfortunately did not ask him any smart, substantive questions about interior design as I should have; I was a bit starstruck.)

I was dreaming recently about massive double Chinese storage cabinets. They’d be great in the India apartment foyer and play well with the Indian teak furniture. Really big, like these Chinese cabinets I saw at Primitive in Chicago:

Chinese Cabinet at Primitive

That’s so much more interesting than the modern MDF wardrobe cabinets.

I like a neutral pattern mix, like these from Robert Allen I shared a few years ago in a post about decorating a South Indian country courtyard house:

Robert Allen Fabrics

There was this old crumbling texture, from the time I strolled through the real South Indian country village where I fantasized about the traditional courtyard houses there:

Osur Village in South India

I like the various dilapidated textures from the wood, stone and terra cotta roof tiles.

In stark contrast to the visit to a rural Indian village, I’ve also visited the Royal Mansour in Marrakech, where the wealthy and famous stay. The pattern play there was so inspiring! Moroccan style is very much inspiring me for our India apartment’s design. This isn’t my photo, because it was night and dark when we visited and mine are grainy. I think this is from the Royal Mansour’s website:

Royal Mansour Moroccan Tile Pattern Play

Occasionally I do a post focused on a color. And in a post about the color olive, I shared this photo from Envers du Decor. Love the combo of elements here from different cultures:

Culture Blend

Oh there have been so many inspiring photos over the years. I should find a way to make more visual links to older posts.  The above photos capture what’s sticking with me now, and all together, they show a style. Actually, it’s a style that’s nomadic — a mix of cultures. Influenced by the elegant and the rustic. Definitely more neutral, because I find that peaceful.

Hopefully the real India pied-a-terre, as we continue to work on it, will eventually do justice to the blog! Thank you for following along, I know some of you have been here for quite awhile and I hope it’s been inspiring to you too!

Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What are you interested in?

Turkish Lantern Makeover in the India Apartment

Next time we’re in India, I’ll do a better job of capturing the little moments. Like the moment when we took glass sconces from HomeGoods to a lighting shop in Chennai. There’s a whole row of lighting shops in a neighborhood not far from our apartment. Most shops look the same, so you take your pick, like eenie-meenie-miney-mo. So which to choose? Our taste is a little … different. Who could deal with it? (Because, honestly, most people there argue that we shouldn’t do what we want to do.) In a flash moment, my husband noticed what looked like garden ornaments transformed into lighting, and asked our driver to stop. A place with the vision to turn garden urns into pendant lights — we should get along with them!

And we did. The shop owner doodled a drawing on paper as we talked with him, turning what we saw in our heads into a real picture. He was spot on. That moment when you can share your vision with someone and they get it, it’s always fun! I wish I’d photographed that! Or asked for the drawing. Next time …

It’s hard to see what caught our eye here, but I assure you there’s interesting stuff in this shop:

Lighting Shop in Chennai

We needed backplates to turn Turkish style glass globes into sconces, and attach them to the wall. But the plates were gold, and we needed silver, and we liked the guy, and we wanted to work with him, so I figured I’d use paint to turn the gold here into silver:

Gold Needs to Be Silver

Then began the treasure hunt.

At home in the U.S., I just go to the basement for paint needed. It’s like a whole shop in my house. Or anything I want from craft stores to specialty art stores are all very accessible. There’s even an Annie Sloan stockist nearby. But in Chennai, I don’t know where to go! So we started the hunt at our local Asian Paints store:

Asian Paints

They know us well. I was there nearly daily buying sample pots. Including metallic paints. But they said no, out of the whole entire store, they do not have this silver paint to sell to us. They said, you need automotive paint. Automotive paint? Where do we find automotive paint? Or … a craft store paint, they said. Craft store? Well I know my way around those. But it’s not like there’s a Michaels in Chennai.

Oh, but I hadn’t found Tina Arts and Crafts yet! Thankfully they are online and that’s how I found them. Because we know no one in Chennai (yet!) who does DIY or crafty stuff. You just hire someone to do whatever you need there.

Here’s the place that made me very happy — they had paints to solve all my problems!

Tina Art and Craft Shop in Chennai

I had run out of Modern Masters Antique Copper metallic paint for a project that was half-done. I needed to match the copper. Exact match. A mismatch would forever bug my eyes. (And believe me, I feel I should note that I fully realize this kind of problem in India is privilege and silly.) The Tina shop hooked me up with acrylic paint tubes in metallic bronze and metallic red to mix until I made a perfect match to the metallic Antique Copper! Can you believe? Woo hoo!

Metallic Copper Mix

But wait there’s more.

They looked at my gold metal sconce plates and suggested mixing silver powder with picture frame varnish to make a silver paint. I hadn’t ever done that before, so wasn’t sure, but it worked. It worked!

Silver Powder and Picture Frame Varnish

Varnishing Metal

It took some doing. At first the silver was too new, too blue and too shiny. Not “just right.”

Transforming Sconces

So I smeared some light copper metallic paint over the silver to warm it up a bit.

Warming Up Silver Paint

Here you can see the sconce on the left is a little warmer color:

Warming Up Silver Paint with Copper

Then I smeared some black to make it look antiqued. I mixed the black paint with water so it wasn’t too thick, it was more of a wash. See the difference in the sconce on the left:

Antiqued with Black Paint Wash

It was a pretty close match to the original silver metal on my glass globes. Here’s the final result. Ta-da!

Finished Sconce

I was working on deadline because our electrician was on his way. Thankfully the picture frame varnish mixture dried super fast. Once turned over to the electrician’s hands, the sconces were installed on the master bedroom wall:

Master Bedroom Sconces

I will be stenciling between the sconces. Here, what I expected to be warm gray paint turned lavender on the wall:

Master Bedroom Stenciling

So I changed plans and the base coat is now Silk Route from Asian Paints:

Master Bedroom

First base coat only! This is going to get far more interesting. And that’s where I had to leave things. We had a flight to catch. Until next time …


Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What are you interested in?

Inspired by a Moroccan Artist’s Colony

My workdays are full of logic, science, and project management. The bit of art during the day is about the communications we create to influence people. So by nightfall, I’m looking for balance in visual arts. One reason I went to Marrakech in 2014 was to get surrounded by beauty, to get inspired to create visual things I hadn’t thought of doing before.

An inspiring place was the Al Maqam artist’s colony in Tahanaout, about a half hour drive outside Marrakech on the way to the Atlas Mountains. A New York Times article tells you more about the place. 

A lot of doors and windows caught my eye there, and the NYT article mentions that the founder of the colony bought old doors and windows at Morocco flea markets and gradually built the compound room by room.

Al Maqam Artist Colony Stone Window Wood Carved Door

Al Maqam Artist Colony

Old Moroccan Wood Door

Maybe that’s how we’re going to decorate the India pied-à-terre, bit by bit from pieces from here and there. 

Here’s more photos from the artist’s colony, decorated as you might expect — creative, eclectic, lots of interesting proportions, playing with balance, and curious collections of objects. I spent too much time there looking at the place through my iPhone, I think now, but at least I captured these.

Clearly I had a fascination with their doors. But my doors at home in the American Midwest don’t look like this, so it was like get an eye-full of these fantastic doors while you can:

A Moroccan Door

Do  you see stencil patterns there? I do!

Lots of color and style in a little courtyard seating area:

Moroccan Artist Colony Courtyard Seating

It’s just a simple bench. But the shabby paint job, the fabric on the too-big cushion, all a perfect boho combo:

Boho Bench Morocco

The kitchen and all its collections:

Moroccan Artist Colony Kitchen

I liked this collection of frames, maybe collected over time but all coordinated. So don’t get too super matchy-matchy, mis-match a bit:

Morocco Picture Frames

Frames like these don’t have to cost a lot. I’ve found frames very similar to these at Target and HomeGoods.

Yes. These are what you might think they are. We asked:


They were in a corner of a dining room. Told you. Eclectic. Creative.

Stylists, designers, bloggers and instagrammers all over the U.S. are doing this mix-matched textile boho-licious look with piles of pillows. Perhaps this place is an original for this:

Pile of Moroccan Pillows

There was no time spent on creating a “just enough carelessness” look. (I know how photo shoots and styling can be!) That’s just how the pillows were.

Here I back up a bit. There’s the shabby simple bench, a carved door used as a table (!!!), and the full effect of all the pillows and patterns:

Moroccan Seating

And the always-present wine glasses. Of which I had too much on an empty stomach before lunch and photos got fuzzy after awhile.

Just a pile of posts against a wall. I liked the composition. Or maybe this was because of the wine. Whatever. Enjoy:

Posts in Moroccan Artists Colony

I have a pile of wood posts leaning against our house in the backyard right now, and I assure you, it definitely doesn’t have any artistic effect. So I say appreciate this — it’s not easy to make a pile of posts look attractive!

A little eclectic composition of things:

Garden Composition in Moroccan Artist Colony

I’d like to create this effect with some old things just lying around my living room. But in my hands, they might look like things that I was too lazy to move down to the basement, so there they sit.

Pots. Wall. Window grates. Each by themselves, no big deal. But together, a stunning combo, I think:

Moroccan Style

All these pieces added up to an inspiring creative space. It’s a big place – we got a tour through many indoor and outdoor rooms and this is just a glimpse. What stands out to me are the contrasts, the textures, the collections, the colors. You can take bits and pieces of ideas and weave them into your own space.

Because there’s too much to capture in photos, here is a video with the founder. It shows scenes of the compound and art through to the end, and you get a good idea of the place:

Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What are you interested in?