A cold land with a hot sun

When flying internationally by yourself, you really have to take a big leap of faith – trusting that God will not seat you next to a complete wacko for a 9 to 10 hour cross-Atlantic flight. This was the only nervous thought that crossed my mind as I prepared to travel to North Africa. Having purchased my tickets last summer, excitement was my main emotion. As the plane began its decent into Tanger, I knew that I had an amazing 10 days in store as I travel through the country of Morocco.

From a rooftop in Rabat

   

Looking out on the Atlantic Ocean and a well-known surf spot in Rabat.

Inside the fort, full of orange trees and street cats

   

Inside the fort – Outside the fort

Afternoon mint tea and nous-nous

Looking out on river between Rabat and Sale

Rabat acted as our hub for the week I was there. As the capital of the country, there were surprising not that manly tourists. We found ourselves in the medina at least once a day. And the city might have had the most beautiful view of ocean. Further north, we traveled to Meknes, an old imperial city outside of Fez. We stayed in this city for 2 nights with a day trip out to Fez. I adored Meknes, and the guest house we stayed in. We paid to take a cooking class lead by a local who was in graduate school studying English. (The tagine we made was out of this world!)

   

A beautiful (and huge) door right outside the Meknes’ square and medina

View of the square in Meknes - the market starts back in the far corner

Our guest house in Meknes with cooking school on 1st floor

   

Orange trees lining the streets – the alleyway leading to the guest house in Meknes

   

Carriage ride to the train station

Traveling to Fez and stepping into its medina was like stepping back in time. The medina was huge! Sadly it was Friday, so many of the shops were closed down for the afternoon, but we were still able to view the famous tanneries from the rooftop of a leather shop. Plus, the city had mapped out these wonderful walking tours that you could follow by colored signs.

The tanneries in the heart of the Fez medina

Awesome walking tours in the Fez medina (note the green sign)

   

A sign of democracy and sweet wall message in Fez

My flight back home flew out of Casablanca, so we traveled down a day earlier to check out the city. To be surprise, Casablanca is not the huge tourist attraction you would think it would be. Though we did check out the two things that were “tourist-y” – the 3rd largest mosque in the world (located right on the beach with this huge, beautiful square) and the Morocco Mall (something you would think belonged in Las Vegas or Dubai).

World's 3rd largest mosque in Casablanca

   

The three of us in Casablanca

I didn’t take a million pictures like I wish I did, but what made this trip so amazing was its constant sense of adventure. There were no museum lines or major tourist attractions. Instead, we wondered around the medina markets, full to the brim of people, food and crafts. We ate and shopped among the people who lived there, with lots of help from my brother and sister-in-law’s Arabic skills. It was a trip all about the experience. And the experience blew me away.

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50 Nifty United States

I am a big fan of Pinterest because it opens the door to many craft blogs I would never have found on my own. This project is the first one I have completely copied from the website. I figure if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Plus, I’m always a sucker for a good map.

Thanks to a box of fabric so lovingly given to me by my aunt and old puzzle from my childhood, this project is super easy and super cheep!

I used the puzzle to make stencils on printer paper. When cutting each state out, don’t cut on the line but instead around it. Then I found a piece of fabric for each state (note, I chose not to do Alaska and Hawaii).

Next, I used Heat-n-Bond which I purchased at Joann’s. The directions on the package is pretty clear, but basically, cut a piece the size of the fabric. Iron the liner side. Cut the fabric to the shape you want (in this case, the shape of the state). And then once I had each state in place, I pealed off the liner and ironed it onto the muslin.

Above shows how I laid each piece out. Once ironed down, I took to the sewing machine to stitch the outline of each state. I used an embroidery foot (or a darning foot) for the first time. It was difficult at first, but you learn to get the hang of it.

I mounted the finished piece to a flat canvas (and when I say mounted, I mean I used packaging tape). I obsessed over the finished thing for about an hour, thinking I should definitely whip up another one. I could totally see this being sold at Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters for a crazy amount. Thanks to my box of scraps, this cost me less than $3!