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Being a Gracious Party Guest: 12 Ways of Showing Appreciation to Your Hosts

Invitations to a person’s home are always memorable. It may be a birthday or special celebration, a house warming or just a more or less informal get together for a group of friends to catch up.
Obviously your gift for the host or hostess will depend on the occasion, but even if the gathering is just for fun you don’t want to arrive empty handed. Start by asking if you can bring something for the party, a beverage or dessert maybe. A stylish carrying tote, dessert platter or lovely tea towel can easily double as present.
Alternatively choose from the suggestions below. While some assume that you know your hosts’ lifestyle and habits, others are quite universal.

One – Homemade food specialties

Your homemade Jam, Chutney, Pesto, Liqueur or cookies presented in an attractive container are sure to please and are truly individual. Add a personalized label and if you like include the recipe.

Presentation is everything. Make sure your homemade delicacy is wrapped in style.
Two – Wine

A fine bottle of wine is an obvious choice for oenophiles.  Afraid it might come across as unimaginative? Spruce up your offering with a creative wrapping. You can find inspiration here.

A fabulous bag makes any wine or beverage special. Image source
Three – Mixed drink kit

Arrange all the ingredients of your friends’ favorite mixed drink in a basket or ice bucket along with cocktail napkins and/or stirrers and coasters.

This Margarita gift crate comes complete with a miniature lime tree .
Four – Wineglass markers

Glasses get easily misplaced at parties. Color coded glass markers are a fun way to help everyone identify their drink. A small gift that is sure to be appreciated. You can follow this step-by step guide to create a one of a kind set.

These handmade wineglass markers are as cheerful as they are practical.
Five – Candle holders

Candles are a gift universally liked, however unless you know the recipient really well I recommend staying away from the scented kind. Complement them with candle holders – you might even want to make your own for a unique flair. Here are some charming yet easy projects.

Use your imagination to create charming candle holders from materials you may already own.
Six – Flowers

Flowers are always well received. If you choose cut flowers present them in a receptacle, your host/ess is probably busy enough as it is and won’t be too happy having to hunt for a suitable vase in the back of a kitchen cabinet. Or you can opt for a potted plant instead.

A humble mason jar embellished with a string serves as a vase for this adorable arrangement.Found here.
Seven – Plant for the garden

Your hosts live in a house with a garden or patio? How about a perennial plant that can be moved outdoors? A lasting gift that will grow with time. Depending on the size of the property and the type of garden you might even consider a tree sapling.

Give a perennial like this eye catching Mandevilla.
Eight – Herbs for the windowsill

For  your friends who like to cook potted herbs for the windowsill make a splendid offering, especially if it’s a collection of several different plants.

Assorted herbs are arranged in a wooden planter box. Source
Nine – Special olive oil or vinegar

Food lovers will likewise appreciate that distinctive bottle of olive oil or vinegar. Buy it ready at a gourmet store or make your own by infusing good quality olive oil with herbs and spices.

Delicious herb infused olive oil.
Ten – Apron

Yet another option for the cooking or barbecue enthusiast.  Available in a wide range  of fabrics and styles, from classic to colorful to whimsical. For a more personal touch sew it yourself.

You can find a sheer endless variety of apron DIY projects on Pinterest. I like this unisex model for its classic simplicity. Instructions here.
Eleven – Picture

Maybe you have a great photograph of your friend or of the two of you together. Print it and frame it for an genuinely personal present.

Choose a frame that matches both your picture and the personality of your host.
Twelve – Breakfast kit

After a successful (and tiring) party the last thing your hosts want to worry about is breakfast the morning after. Put together a basket with the ingredients for a healthy – or totally irresponsible – way to start the day.

Your hosts will adore a nicely arranged breakfast kit. Why not include something home made, like a loaf of delicious banana bread?

You’re all set for your next invitation. Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to sign up for e-mail notification or follow me on facebook or bloglovin’.

























Vibrant Markets from around the World

Wherever my travels take me, markets are invariably on my to-do-list. Fruit and vegetable markets, spice markets, flower markets, crafts markets … their colors, their smells, the cacophony of sounds and voices immerse me and for a short while grant me the illusion that I belong.

Some are famous, highlighted in guide books, others are hidden treasures; one stumbles upon them by accident when turning a street corner or driving down a country road. Often I like those best. The produce is grown by the sellers in their own gardens, the arts and crafts are made by a family member or a neighbor and each piece tells a story.

Here are impressions of markets from around the globe, some I’ve visited, some are on my bucket list and some just struck my eye for the beauty of the images. I invite you to let your mind be transported.


Like most Brazilian cities Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais has a covered market in a central location, aptly named Mercado Central. Whenever we go to the “big city”, we make sure to pay it a visit –  to shop, to have lunch or sometimes just to take in the atmosphere. Being – almost – regulars we know where to find the best variety of spices, the best deals on Portuguese olive oil or my cherished German style pickles.

This vendor at the Mercado Central in Belo Horizonte specializes in peppers. image


Stanley Market is one of the tourist attractions of Hong Kong. You can find just about anything there, from traditional Chinese foods and typical items such as china, fabrics and crafts to knock-off designer handbags and electronics.

Multicolored textile items are among the countless offerings at Hong Kong’s Stanley Market. image


On the other side of the globe in La Paz is the Mercado de las Brujas or Witches Market. No trip to the Bolivian capital would be complete without visiting it. Here you can find medicinal plants, potions, good luck charms as well as dried frogs and lama fetuses. The latter are used as sacred offerings in Aymara rituals and are frequently buried in the foundations of buildings to protect the construction workers from accidents.

Good luck charms are for sale at the Witches Market of La Paz, Bolivia image


The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is possibly the most famous market in the world. It is certainly one of the largest  with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops  which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.

Passage in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul image


During our last visit to Paris we were lucky enough to stay at an apartment minutes from the famous Rue Mouffetard. Located in the 5ème arrondissement this narrow street is closed to traffic and the stores lining it extend the display of their culinary delights onto the sidewalks. A paradise for food lovers!

Rue Mouffetard, Paris image

Legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson has immortalized the street with his iconic picture of a boy carrying two wine bottles:

Rue Mouffetard by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1954


One of the numerous Parisian outdoor markets is the Marché Monge, on Rue Monge.

Marché Monge, Paris
Cheese vendor at Marché Monge, Paris


The Viktualienmarkt  is an open air market in the center of Munich complete with adjacent beer garden. Beloved by locals and visitors alike it dates back to 1807 and has recently been landmarked by the State of Bavaria.

Viktualienmarkt in the heart of Munich –  Photo by Katy Spichal


Most German towns have farmers markets, like this one in Tübingen. Some are held twice weekly, some every day.

Farmers market in Tübingen, Germany – Photo by ichbinsEvi


As you stroll down La Rambla in Barcelona you will pass the famous Boqueria Market – a true feast for the senses. Despite its location on one of the great tourist thoroughfares of the city, a surprising number of locals shop here and prices are competitive.

Boqueria market in Barcelona image


In the Mexican state of Chiapas the customers are as colorful as the products for sale.

Shoppers selecting produce at the market in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. image


The floating markets in Thailand and neighboring countries are a testimony to the importance of the waterways as means of transportation.

Floating market in Thailand image


This woman sells fabulous multicolored basketware in Ethiopia. image


And finally some impressions from our own market in Diamantina. The Mercado Velho (Old Market) is also known as Mercado dos Tropeiros, which means Muleteer’s Market, because – you guessed it – the merchandise used to be brought here from the surrounding farms and villages on the back of mules. It was built in 1835 and is duly landmarked. Today it is home to a fair only on Saturdays. On some other days it is venue for cultural or popular events.

Saturday fair at the Mercado dos Tropeiros in Diamantina. Photo by ZELÉO


A selection of cachaças or sugar cane liquor for sale at the Mercado dos Tropeiros. Photo by ZELÉO


Of course there are countless other markets on this planet and millions of photographs to attest to their fascination.

I hope you enjoyed our little journey. Maybe it inspires you to go exploring on your next trip or to rediscover the markets of your own town.

Thanks for visiting. And remember to look us up on facebook.


Remembering Tatá Gomes

Tatá Gomes – artist, friend, neighbor. He left us on this day 10 years ago, on the eve of his 63rd birthday. Those who had the privilege of knowing him remember his kindness, his spirit and his sense of humor.

He lives on in his art, mixed media pieces often inspired by the architecture, culture and religiosity of the small village in Minas Gerais where he chose to make his home. A lot of times he incorporated discarded or disposable items in his artwork, creating tongue in cheek objects like his signature fish in a sardine can or briefcases fashioned out of colorful tin cans.

Tatá’s sudden and untimely death deprived us of many more wonderful works of art. But most of all it deprived us of a very special person.


The fish in a sardine can is one of Tatá's signature pieces
The fish in a sardine can is one of Tatá’s signature pieces.


A series of multimedia panels pays homage to the traditional architecture in Brazilian villages
A series of mixed media panels pays homage to the simplicity and charm of colonial architecture in Brazilian villages.


Here the traditional wattle and daub construction was recreated.
The traditional wattle and daub construction is represented in this panel.


A transom from a colonial style house frames this mirror.


Religious imagery is a recurring subject.
Religious imagery is a recurring subject.


Here the face of Jesus Christ can be seen in the silver heart.
Here the face of Jesus Christ can be seen in the metal heart.


Special thanks to Adriana Reis and Evandro Reis Coelho from Pousada Capistrana for their contributions to this post. And as always thanks to Photographer Jorge Vasconcelos.

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