A Pottery Village in Delhi


In February 2015, I arranged a tour of a pottery village for members of a group I belonged to in Delhi, India. On the outskirts of the city, people made most of the pottery for the city. Older workers passed down their skills to the younger generations.

Here is an excerpt from my journal of the the tour:

“So five of us headed off to western Delhi to explore the largest pottery village in Asia. There are 750 families living in the village if I remember my numbers correctly and all of them make pottery. 15% are decorative or “fun” pottery items and 85% are more traditional or practical items. At Diwali, each family makes thousands of diyas—the small, shallow clay candle holders.

All the pottery I have seen sold around Delhi comes from this village it turns out. They sell it wholesale to vendors who then sell it in markets and on street corners to anyone needing pots. We were allowed to buy directly from the families we saw working and I bought a few teeny tiny vases, just big enough for one bud. They were adorable….

…The tour included stops at a number of potters’ homes. One made the tiny vases I bought. Another was a larger family who made tons of pots, some of which they painted black. Most of the pots are not painted or glazed, but a few families do paint them. One stop was a potters’ cooperative where a group came together to work. Each family in the village has their own kiln and only runs it when it is full. This makes turn around time a bit slower. Our guide mentioned that if families shared kilns and all worked to fill the same kiln, they’d have faster production times…”


Christmas in the Tropics Part 1


Are you wondering why there is a Christmas tree in a tropical country? I’ll tell you, but first a little background.

The Marshall Islands are predominantly Christian, stemming back to when missionaries came and converted most of the islanders. A range of denominations exist across the country and the church plays a central role in village life. While some towns are large enough for several churches, Lukoj where I lived was tiny and had only one and my host father, my baba, was the pastor.

Christmas is a really big deal in the country and the focus is way more on the religious aspect of the holiday than commercial gift giving. At least in my town, Santa didn’t exist and kids got a new outfit for Christmas Day celebrating and that was it. BUT, our church program and feast lasted two days.

So back to the tree. The Marshall Islands are near the equator. They have palm trees–lots of palm trees, but it’s not particularly known for having pine trees. So how’d we get a tree? Well, it turns out that a connection in North America (I think the US), sent a bunch of Christmas trees to the RMI and our town ended up with one. However, they didn’t know what to do with it. I happen to wander through the church one day after teaching (as my host father was the pastor, we lived on church property), and noticed it propped up in the corner of the church waiting for Christmas. No water. Just hanging out slowly dropping needles.

I track down my baba and explain that if we want the tree to last until Christmas we need to put it in a stand (which luckily also arrived with the tree) and water it regularly. The ladies of the church decorated it and it added a festive, if slightly out of place, feel to the church.

Up Next–A Christmas program with organized dance moves


Give the Gift of Photos


Tis the season for gift giving…at least according to the stores! Putting photos on items is an easy and popular way to personalize a gift. And given that stores like Target, Wal-mart, Costco, CVS and more do photo gifts, it doesn’t even need to cost much.  So, what can you put a photo on?

Mugs! Grandparents love mugs with their grandbabies’ photos. It also makes a great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day present. Do one photo or, my favorite, do a collage of shots. Or pick your favorite travel photo and make your own souvenir. Pick a fun color to make it stand out. I personally do my mugs through Wal-mart, but almost any store with a photo center offers it. Pick a style, upload your photos, and in a week or two you’ll have a great present!

My other favorite item to gift is a calendar. I’ve done both the traditional 12-month wall calendar with either a single photo or collage on each page and a table calendar with a smaller month view and a single image. These are great for grandparents or great grandparents who have everything. It’s also great for all your travel photos so you can relive your trips while at work.

Most sites also offer photos on blankets, pillows, coasters, plates, playing cards, puzzles, t-shirts, magnets, canvas totes, phone covers, placemats and more. You could do your whole shopping just with photo gifts. Mugs for grandparents, puzzles and placemats for nieces and nephews, playing cards for the college age set, canvas totes for moms, phone cover for dad, decorative plate for Grandma, etc.

Not to mention, you can do more traditional photo printing on canvas, metal, and high quality papers. I wrote a whole blog about those options here.

Coincidentally, the other day I got the November issue of Popular Photography (highly recommend if you want a photography magazine that combines technical articles with easy how-tos and cool shots). It had an article on companies to use for printing cool gifts. Some I knew and some I didn’t. Here is who they suggested:

Nations Photo Lab

Bay Photo

Artifact Uprising

Parabo Press

Short Run Posters

Metropolitan Picture Framing

Meridan Professional Imaging

White Wall




Dreaming of the Maldives


My baby’s been waking me up at 5 am each morning eager and ready for the day. Me–not so much. Some things make waking up early easier, and for this non-coffee drinker, a walk on the beach helps. Of course, most of the year I don’t have that luxury. But a year ago we were in the Maldives with our toddler and a pregnant belly and she was getting me up early. We’d grab some breakfast to go and creep out of the villa so Hubby could sleep. She and I would wander up and down the beach or just sit on our back deck. These water hens learned very quickly that a certain 2 year old loved sharing her breakfast bread with them. They’d show up every morning eager and ready for the day, much like my baby was this morning.

Angkor Wat at Sunrise

Siem Reap Sunrise over Angkor Wat WM

Angkor Wat is perhaps the best known temple in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor is worth the trip and is absolutely gorgeous at sunrise. Built as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire originally, it changed to a Buddhist temple at the end of the 12th century. Angkor Wat is the largest religious site in the world and is extremely popular at sunrise when hundreds of tourists come to snap photos.

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Floating Village of Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

Siem Reap Blue House wm

Tonlé Sap Lake near Siem Reap, Cambodia is a seasonally inundated freshwater lake. This means it grows and shrinks with the monsoons. Its surface area ranges from 1,000 square miles to 6,200 square miles! During the monsoon season, the houses above and many like it are surrounded by water and rely on boats for transportation. When the lake shrinks, the stilts become apparent and little islands of houses appear. We visited during a dryer period and were able to walk around one of the islands.