Breaking The Compact Without Regrets

This is the front of our house. See that orange thing climbing up the wall?

Can you tell what it is yet?

Ah ha! A ceramic gekko, a souvenir from our road trip a few months ago. Click here to read about our drive across Highway 40 and our stops along the way.
We bought this in New Mexico, and it was new, so I broke The Compact but I’m glad I did. My husband and I both love this memento, and I’m sure we’ll have it for years. And it looks so cute climbing up our walls.
I feel great about this purchase because it was handmade and local, and so it supported the local economy. The woman who makes these critters creates her own molds, and fires and glazes them herself. We had trouble picking one out, but we both love orange and we’re happy with our decision on this guy. Oh, by the way, the cost was $25. A bargain, in my opinion.
My favorite souvenirs of trips are photos and a journal, but it’s always nice to have a little something to remember a place by. And what a bonus when it’s a piece of local art or something handcrafted. When I was checking to make sure I’d spelled “souvenir” correctly, I learned that the etymology comes from the French: “literally, act of remembering.”
What have been some of your favorite vacation mementos? Tell us about it in the Comments section.


  1. Cate says

    In this case, I think it would have been a shame if you hadn't broken the compact!

    Like you, I really enjoy photos, journals, and things like ticket stubs as souvenirs. That said, some of my favorite vacation souvenirs is a porcelain sugar bowl I fell in love with on my honeymoon at an outdoor antiques market in France. My husband bartered for it for me, and now I'm just sad we didn't get the matching pitcher! It makes me smile whenever I see it–though now I'm terrified our baby or one of our cats will break it. :-)

  2. Kate Sommers says

    I love the gecko on your wall.
    We always have a gecko or two living in the house. One house we lived in had so many geckos I had to put my toothbrush away after using it so it wouldn't get gecko poop on it. I named that place the gecko hotel.
    One night while I was laying in bed watching a movie with my husband, I saw the cutest little baby gecko crawling across the ceiling. Then I saw another gecko much larger crawl up next to it. I said, Oh look it's the baby and it's mama, how cute. As I was speaking… the big gecko snapped the baby inside it's mouth and munched it. The baby geckos tail was sticking out of the bigger geckos mouth.
    The next day I bought a spray bottle, filled it with water and chased all the geckos out of my bedroom. It's survival of the fittest in the jungle!

  3. Kristen@TheFrugalGirl says

    I love your house too…it's so neat looking!

    Alas, the outside of my house isn't nearly as beautiful.

    Your gecko is awesome too.

  4. Cate says

    Also, I made your pumpkin bread last night! I didn't have allspice, so I added about 1/2 tsp of nutmeg and a dash of ginger. I also messed up and made it in two regular loaf pans instead of one, so I had some very short loaves…but it's delicious! It's really moist and tastes a lot like my mom's pumpkin pie. I'll definitely be making it again, but probably in one loaf next time. :-)

  5. Betsy Talbot says

    I love trip art! Your gecko looks terrific on the house. Orange is my favorite color – you just can't be sad when you're looking at it, can you? And it looks perfect on your house.

    We get most of our art pieces from trips. My favorite is a painting done on cardboard (!) of a bullfighter in the arena, except the bullfighter is actually a bull and the crowd is all animals. It is done in a sort of impressionist style so it takes a second look to notice that fact.

    We bought it in a street fair in Barcelona for almost nothing and then framed it when we got home. Looks like a million bucks!

  6. Angela says

    Thanks for all your comments! It makes me so happy every time I drive up and see that gekko! I am SO glad we made this purchase. And I think buying so much less this year made me appreciate it more.

  7. Julie says

    When I used to go to Europe each year (I have family there and used to work in travel, I used to work hard all year just to afford it), my favorite souvenirs were always earrings—small, easy to pack and transport, always unique and fun. I would buy from a local shop, whether something new made by a local artisan or something from an antique/thrift store. My all-time favorite earrings from Innsbruck, Austria, broke after about 5 years of wear, and I tried to get them repaired at home, but no luck. The next time I went, I looked in the same shop to no avail. I did keep the good one, though, and I always said that when I'm rich (hah hah), I'll have a jeweler replicate it.
    But for the house, my favorite purchase was an Austrian mouth-blown pitcher and juice glass set, hand-painted in the Tyrolean style with the most lovely lavender flowers. I had it shipped home, which was quite expensive, but whenever I look at it, I think of my most favorite place in the world: Innsbruck.

  8. Angela says

    Julie- What a lovely story, thanks for commenting. Your vase sounds beautiful, and I hope you get your other earring made someday. There's got to be something we can do with all those single earrings out there. I also lost my favorite garnet stud after 20+ years. My husband pointed out the obvious fact that of course we lose the things that are our favorites because we're wearing them all the time, while the others are sitting in a drawer. I agree that mementos are nice ways to remember places we've traveled. I've never been to Innsbruck, but I hope to travel much more in Europe in the next 10 years, now that we've started house swapping. It's the best!

  9. Julie says

    I love garnets too, it's my late grandmother's birth stone and I find them beautiful and yet very comforting. I think I read somewhere that they are said to protect travelers, so you should get another garnet stud before you go to Europe! :-)
    Also, I had meant to say that I too think the orange gecko looks terrific on your house—so very cheerful. I like it when people have a sense of humor and whimsy when decorating their home, inside or out.


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