Morocco, je t’aime

Several years ago, I traveled to Morocco and it made a profound impact on my life.  It was a “wow!” moment for me.  It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

It’s so different than anything I’d ever seen, most notably, the architecture. Morocco is an Islamic country and in Islam, it is believed that making things beautiful brings one closer to God. The tile work on buildings, the intricate patterns hand painted on to everyday items such as plates and cups, the brightly painted buildings. Special attention is given to ceilings because it’s closer to God. The thing that makes it even more special to me is that most of it is still crafted by hand.

While I do have great appreciation for modernism, I also love lots of colour and embellishment.

My Inspiration

I had a little trouble writing this week’s post. I wasn’t feeling well and I have a lot stress in my life right now. Didn’t feel like being grateful or even getting out of bed until I came across this photo and it became clear that I needed to get off my ass.

Donar Reiskoffer, the copyright holder of this work via Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Spice market in Morocco

This picture reminded me of my trip to Morocco (more on that in an upcoming post). But more importantly, it’s the inspiration for the name of my jewelry business, Baharat Jewels – Spice Up Your Style. Baharat is the Arabic word for spice. My jewelry is inspired by colors and textures of Middle Eastern, Islamic and SE Asian cultures.

Once I had the concept, my extremely talented graphic designer, Nicole Marshall helped translate my vision into reality by creating this logo. It’s been at least 6 months since this was created and I’m still sooo excited about it! I have to remember this feeling when I’m down and feeling like my work is in vain. Ok, I’m too excited to keep writing – gonna get to work!

Baharat Jewels logo

How It All Began

My mom used to call me “gypsy” when I was a little girl because I loved to adorn myself with as many scarves and as much of her costume jewelry as my little body could handle and dance around our apartment.


On trips to visit my Grandma Lillie, I would ask her to please “take down” her jewelry box from the top of her closet. It was large white vinyl covered box trimmed with gold accents. Most of the items were costume jewelry, but opening the box with the shiny baubles inside was like entering Ft. Knox to me. I will always treasure those moments we spent together trying on different pieces of her jewelry. Coupled with wearing her fur stole, I pretended to be a famous movie star. It was always a little sad when it was time to put everything away and resume our ordinary lives.

I got my ears pierced for my 8th birthday. I was so nervous, I almost passed out from the loud sound of the piercing gun. That was the beginning of my earring obsession. When I was a teenager, I began to buy earrings almost every weekend at our local flea market. At one point I had a wall in my room covered with earrings hanging on a fish net. For years, I took that fish net and earrings everywhere I moved. Each morning, it was a fun ritual to pick out jewelry for the day. Because I didn’t have many outfits, changing my jewelry every day, made the clothes I did have feel fresh and new. You see, I was overweight for most of my life and accessories were a way to make me feel pretty even though I didn’t have an extensive wardrobe.


My vintage jewelry collection

On one fortuitous day, I was chatting with a co-worker and she mentioned she made beaded jewelry and showed me some of her beading magazines. She also told me where to buy supplies. The first time I stepped into a bead store, it was like nirvana. I started making earrings in every color of the rainbow. But of course it didn’t stop there, I had to have a necklace to match too!

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I grew up with a poodle named Fifi. I keep these to honor her memory.

Unfortunately, I no longer have any of the pieces I made back then, but I can share a photo of a pair of earrings that once adorned the “earring wall”.