Wednesday, May 5, 2010


one of the most special parts of travel, to me, are the things that i bring home with me. some of these things, of course, are intangibles - they're memories, stories, lessons. some are in the form of photos that become an indelible part of our lives and our home - mitchell and i have a series of beach pictures from our first trip together to florida of each of us individually and of us together that are everywhere in our home.

some souvenirs are in the form of phrases or songs - our family still sings a johnny appleseed song from our stay at an amish bed & breakfast twenty years ago, and we all whip out the strange whooping sound we picked up at a staff show at an all-inclusive mexican resort. so yeah, memories come in many forms, and many languages.

as far as the tangibles, the souvenirs i would pick out as a young girl were choices made out of desperation - i would often choose something on the first day of a trip, because i was afraid that i wouldn't see anything else i wanted and i felt the need to secure my purchase right up front to avoid going home empty-handed. i think that's how my souvenir spoon collection came to be. many years and many trips later, i have learned much about myself - mainly, that there will never be a day i don't see something i want, so not to worry little carla. but also, that the items i bring home from my experiences in the world contribute to the feeling of being in a home that is reflective of my life.

when mitchell and i first moved in together, we each threw out a lot of junk that we had accumulated over the years. it was important to me that we did that, so that we didn't fill our new home together to the gills before we got to acquire anything together - i wanted us to have breathing room, but also to have space where we could accumulate things as a couple. i hated the idea that we would be somewhere and see something we liked, and then have to ask ourselves, "where are we going to put that?" i wanted us to be able to fill our home together
over the next however many years -- a home that reflects the life we are living. and as we have traveled, we've chosen things that have become special parts of our home and allow us to remember different places we've been geographically, but also where we've been in our story - living together, engaged, just married, still married :)

on one of our trips to florida, we bought a porcelain pig towel holder that has hung in all the kitchens we've shared so far. in woodstock, when we were planning our wedding, we bought a capiz shell windchime that hangs on our balcony, and on our first trip to fire island together, we bought a beautiful wooden windchime (actually made in woodstock, funnily enough) that hangs there as well. we've also bought handpainted crab salt and pepper shakers in chestertown, maryland and a tropical fish spoonrest on another fire island trip.

one of my favorite souvenirs from our honeymoon in the bahamas is a set of watercolor prints that hang in our bathroom which i admire every day. probably the most memorable souvenirs from that trip are the ceramic pieces we painted quietly on a rainy day and the sand from the beach that mitchell ran to collect as we were leaving for the airport.

another favorite idea of mine (and i did this on our honeymoon with bulgari notte) is to buy a fragrance on a trip (could be duty free, could be a local blend, or just at a department store) and wear it while there. then, even when i'm home, i have a scent that will always remind me of the really works!

and i have to tell you what my stepmother-in-law does that i absolutely adore. she and my father-in-law travel a lot, and from each place they visit, she buys a tablecloth. how perfect is that? i love that her collection is of something that adorns the table that the family sits around - for holidays, celebrations, parties. it's a beautiful way to not only remember the places you've been, but to incorporate them into the life you live every day. and they fold flat. double love!

a friend of my mother's collects dishtowels and my aunt collects salt and pepper shakers. i love all these ideas because they're small, usually inexpensive and they pack well. plus, they don't crowd your home with bulky items that seemed way better in a store thousands of miles away than they do next to your stateside clutter.

on our trip to paris, i plan on collecting some interesting, unique items like textiles and local artwork. i'm not looking for anything designer - i can get that anywhere, and that's not what i'll remember most. most of all, i'm looking forward to the flea markets, the little parisien streets full of shops and the small pieces of french culture and beauty i can pack and take home with me.

do you have any souvenir traditions? i'd love to hear!

photos from, next autos, mary baker eddy library, marie's marche, jonathan adler via bo haute


molly said...

i LOVE the perfume idea. i'm totally going to pick up a new scent duty free on the way to Paris!!!

Maria said...

I love the perfume idea too. Mike and I went on our first trip in March, and we bought a Christmas ornamant. We plan on buying one on every vacation. I love the art you bought on your honeymoon...great idea.

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