Summer Stays and Delightful Bites

A brief stopover in my blog posting calls for a visual feast for the eyes. I was enjoying visits from my sister, and a few friends in town. Basically, many loved ones passing through as they were on summer holiday.

What's cooking in the Fashion Tales' kitchen? Well, as many of you know I love to cook and in recent years I have been getting back into baking more. For any foodie or cooking enthusiast there are always new gadgets and useful items that one can hope to acquire for the kitchen. Whether it's to help save time with prepping, or add to the exquisite kitchen tools collection. Sometimes a kitchen gadget is the perfect (additional) way to say, "I love you" to a stylish foodie.

Below are a few selections on my current wish list.*

Here is also a glimpse of a few random snapshots of several dishes that I've cooked, baked, and made for our weekend lunch and weeknight dinners.

We had a family friend visiting from Turkey (who currently lives in Spain), and I wanted to make Açma, a Turkish pastry similar to flaky bagels that my mum used to make in the morning. It's very delicious and not too difficult at all to make. I used this recipe, which is pretty much the same, but I added olive paste inside of some of them. The dough for this is so silky smooth and if you have ever baked a lot, then you can appreciate how beautiful the dough comes out.

One night I made vegetarian Thai green curry, then another night I did a spicy veggie noodle stir fry topped with jalapeños and fresh coriander (see below).
I was so excited to open a parcel from my sister, which included many drugstore beauty goodies that I have not been able to try or buy. Two favourites that I've been using quite a lot already are a matte lipstick from Milani (the colour is amazing and is a bit similar to my Chanel #40 Le Sensuelle colour on me), and this facial day cream from Finnish brand, Lumene. I'm wearing the lipstick above when she took a candid photo, as I was laughing on a Skype call.  

Instead of tossing the e.l.f. primer containers that I was happy to finally have finished using, I decided to turn the tops upside down and use the bottoms as a travel brush container. This works so well, especially if you want to give your brushes a breather from your compact cases.

I had a couple cans of chickpeas, and I made an easy weekend lunch of hummus (w/ olives, Hungarian paprika, parsley, lemon, tahini, and garlic), served with carrots, snap peas, and crackers.

(Above) 1 The cooking sauce: I made a sun dried tomato butter curry dish with garlic aubergine and steamed rice, obviously I added a few extras as well. 2 Summer salads are a perennial favourite, and since there are plenty of ways to create them, I made a pickled cucumber and onion salad with a side of canapés, and smoked Gouda slices.

At some one point there were oyster po'boys on the Tuesday menu as well, but they were rapidly digested before any of us remembered to take snapshots. Oh, the visual disappointment … yes, they too, were incredibly tasty as any seafood aficionado may imagine.

Next, I'm planning on making pepper jam, or gourmet pasties with some kind of veggie infusion.

Have you cooked anything recently that you're proud of? 
If not, then what's the last dish that you ordered at a restaurant and really enjoyed?


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Foodie Files // Roasted Cabbage

Sometimes cabbage gets a bad reputation, especially from those who did not grow up eating it. But, red (purple) cabbage is such a great source of vitamin C, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as many other excellent health benefits. But, again cabbage just like herring, kale, or even pickled foods are for an acquired palate.  

Fortunately, in my multi-cultured family I was raised on eating loads of all the types of food, including those previously mentioned. I got rather used to incredibly potent aromas found in vegetables (some strong like great tasting cheeses), and certain types of fish, but all indeed very good. 

Although vegetables may come naturally to me to add to every meal, it can be difficult to sway your guests who are gourmet vegetable virgins.    

I recently made roasted red cabbage for dinner for a group of friends, all of whom love veggies. However, one of our veggie eating guests did despise a few key vegetables that we eat regularly (particularly kale, Brussels sprouts, and Swiss chard, etc.). She did love cheese though, and I made sure to add it to one side dish that night. Often the sole reason one might not like certain foods can be because it may have been under-seasoned or prepared only one way. 

This is a vegetarian side that I've cooked many times, but I usually use blue cheese. It resulted in us liking this with feta cheese even better.  

Our easygoing dinner would be the first time that our "sort of vegetable eating" guest had tried red cabbage. Lucky for me it passed the test. I also recommend adding a side of roasted potatoes as well, which I served with baby greens, and shrimp satay. 
Ingredients: 
1 head red cabbage
Thyme (dried)
2 tbsp. olive oil (more for drizzling)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
Feta cheese (Greek)
 Kosher salt
 Fresh cracked black pepper

Bake: 200 C/400 F/ Gas Mark #6 

Directions: 
1. After rinsing cabbage off and removing core, slice cabbage into wide pieces, approx. 2 cm each slice (can be cut into wedges also).
2. In a pan with olive oil, lightly braise cabbage until slightly softened.
3. Remove slices from pan, and lay cabbage pieces on a large baking sheet.
4. Drizzle a little olive oil on each cabbage slice.
5. Evenly sprinkle onion powder, and chopped garlic on all pieces. Then, sprinkle a large pinch of thyme on top of each slice.
6. Bake in the oven about 25-35 minutes or until browned and crisp.
7. Put sliced or crumbled feta cheese on top of cabbage slices.
8. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste. (I also added fresh toasted pecans to mine).
9. Serve hot.

Time: Prep: 6 minutes or less. Preheat oven: 200 C Cook: 25-35 minutes.

Have you tried red cabbage? What's your favourite vegetable to eat?

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Style Files // Pop of Berry

These style shots are long overdue, but I finally had a moment to upload them, and even found one reflecting a caught off guard moment. I wore this look on my day off, although I spent most of the day purchasing art supplies – an overall casual outfit is the result that I was after. 

I was so pleased to find time to acquire bundles of arts and crafting tools to replace some that needed an upgrade, and it made me feel like a little child in a candy store. My eyes were wide open as I browsed various art mediums, textured paints, diverse paper grades, and bristle brushes, just to name a few.  

It's been a long time since I've stretched canvas, so I peeked over in that aisle too, gathering necessary items for new projects, and other supplies on my "wanted" wish list.  

Time went by rapidly. I was easily in the art store for a good hour or two, or long enough to have missed several messages on my Smartphone, which for my fellow social tech-loving bloggers probably equals to a fair share of double taps on Instagram (per minute).

This look was simple and comfortable. Above all it was a style that I could transform from morning to late-afternoon. Not exactly from day to night, because I wanted to change into another outfit for a friend's birthday dinner later on that evening. But, you can never go wrong wearing (cotton) jersey, so I opted to wear bright pink allover. It's also a colour that I don't have a lot of on its own in my wardrobe, and one that I don't typically wear that often in solid, but think it's rather lovely and bold.

I decided to take this beaded and rhinestone embellished clutch with me for my night look as well. A little sparkle doesn't hurt anyone!

Is there a colour that you love, but hardly wear?

Note: You may have noticed the blog has gotten a much needed makeover. Please let me know if you have any problems commenting, etc. I am still tweaking a lot of other things, so everything should be completed within the next week.  

HAPPY WEEKEND!


The goods: Beaded clutch in Silver-Walk Trendy c/o, Eyewear-Valentino, Leather flats-Target, Faux pearls-Costume shop, Jersey Dress-Monki, Striped cotton/polyamide leggings in Dark Hibiscus-c/o Gudrun Sjoden, Shoes-Charles David, Belt-Ladyofashion, Woven Tote-Old gift, Necklace/Pendant-Kendra Scott via Rocksbox (don't for get, you can still get one month free with the code TMBFF).


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Foodie Style: Unscripted


 
We were supposed to only have a few friends over for dessert, however somehow additional people were added to the list, then because of scheduling conflicts it was altered again. One of my friends had to unravel a situation, something about her work keys getting mixed up and having to chase down her husband before he left on a business trip. Another person couldn't seem to get off work in time (he joined us later on), and we were completely exhausted from the week.

I have never cancelled a gathering, especially on the night of, but all I wanted to say was, "perhaps we can reschedule, yes let's." It was too late. I took a necessary power nap—all twenty-seven minutes worthy of a restful blink, and it felt like an hour. My alarm rang—even with the dissonance of irritating cow bells, birds chirping, and gigantic ripples of water waves, I awoke frantically refreshed. I needed to create foodie snacks in record time. I work well under pressure, so I did not fret.

The menu that I had foreseen all of us indulging in seemed like a mightily ambitious task to take on, considering the day that I had myself. In fact, earlier that afternoon I was already a bit delayed because of a long meeting that felt like I had been in since the week before. Still, I didn't cancel. I felt like we all needed this night.
I managed to muster up enough strength to serve light sides: a cheese platter, antipasti, fruit, mixed nuts, and so on. Then, I remembered that I was clever enough to bake a cake in the wee hours of the night before (in preparation mode), to have as a back up. I reckon, it was for such a time as this.

On top of everything, my Smartphone was ringing nonstop, and of course it was someone that I had been trying to get hold of. But, the timing wasn't ideal. I took the call, being the multi-tasker that I am, because speakerphone is a godsend!

When all had arrived, it was hilarious to hear in detail about how everyone's day and week had gone. Yes, we were all a bit disjointed. It was nothing that chilled Perrier, a slice of cake, and a generous glass of champagne couldn't remedy; if only as a mental respite from thinking about the scroll of deadlines that awaited us.

Initially, I had a whole other table setting planned for the night, but with two missing from our group (and, at this point I really just wanted to soak in a hot bath sprinkled with French lavender), I improvised. I used these bright eco-linens and blue patterned bowls to lift the ambiance. Everything worked out, albeit not seamlessly, but with marvellous company and a colourful table it didn't matter. At the end of the night there was nothing except laughter, great stories, and full bellies. Mission accomplished.

Sometimes, altered gatherings can be the best mid-week mood boosters in the midst of chaos, especially when everyone is having a tough day. We actually have another foodie night planned this weekend.


Here are a few snapshots from the night. Have you done any impromptu things lately? 

The goods: Striped table runner in eco-cotton rep weave in colour Rowan, “Krumelur” bowls in Turquoise-c/o Gudrun Sjoden, Shop the Eco-home collection here. I made a Meyer lemon cardamom cake, a gluten-free altered version.



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Global Statements: Jane Kønig



Who says that statement accessories have to come in chunky bits and extravagant forms? It certainly doesn't!

Today's artist spotlight features Danish accessories designer, Jane Kønig. She produces high-quality statement accessories that are mere works of art. Her designs merge modern and edgy aesthetics. I styled a few of my favourite pieces from the designer's rose-gold ring collection for our style shoot. These are all pieces that I can actually wear everyday.

Sharp and sleek design lines give harmony to the juxtaposition of traditionally classic and fanciful elements in her accessories.

Kønig has been creating jewellery with her eponymous label for nearly thirty years. And, one might expect minimalism as an obvious flow in her designs, but it definitely has more than a striking effect than one might surmise.


The Jewellery:


There's dainty pieces like the diamond "simple earring stud" and "small ball ring," both of which can be worn for day or night, and exude unconventional elegance. But, there's also stately styles, such as the pearl diadem ring that's ideal for the bold accessories maven.

Kønig's signature is cleverly expressed throughout her line, and it's easy to see fanciful inspiration as well as an underlined Scandinavian influence in her work.

She uses precious stones like diamonds and sapphires, in addition to diverse metals amongst other elements to conjure the wide-range of offerings. The designs are motivated by everything from travelling to the variance in everyday objects.

The line as a whole can be viewed in the same way that fashion separates fit in your wardrobe; with the ability to wear each item alone or with multiple pieces layered together.

Another personal favourite is from the Magnetic Solo collection (launching soon), featuring eye catching magnet studded earrings (you don't even need pierced ears). The Magnetic Solo pieces have an industrial sophistication about them, and like the rest of her jewellery are still quite versatile.

Here's some of my other top selections from Kønig's accessories line.




Above: A-Pearl pendant, B-Love Tag anchor chain w/3 tags, C-Love Tag anchor necklace, D-Screw bracelet, E-Love Tag bracelet.


What do you think of Jane Kønig's designs? Which pieces are your favourite?



The goods: Shield Ring, White freshwater pearl V-ring, and V-ring in rose-gold plated silver-Courtesy of Jane Kønig.
 

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Décor Simplicity: Cacti and Succulents

There are so many ways to incorporate plants in your home or office, and make your space a little bit more stylish. Having plants in the home brings a smile to my face, and since I have such a passion for gardening (but, not the greenest thumb in the world, so-to-speak) plants with easy care instructions work best for me.

I recently helped a friend who is a landscape artist pick out various plants for a client. He was in a hens and chicks buying frenzy. But, then I remembered that I actually wanted some plants myself, namely Echeveria bella succulents. After visiting a nursery and several stores, I bought some herbs to start growing. Our little fresh herb and fruit garden is doing well, but we needed some indoor plants as well.

I bought a few succulents, cacti, and miniature blooms at the garden market. They're also the perfect type of plants for people who aren't necessarily expert gardeners—ideal for a travelling fashionista too, because you don't need to water them as often as other plants. So, whether you have a fitful schedule or a routinely uniform one succulents will likely be a safe option to start your plant dwelling corner. They're also the perfect addition to our vertical garden.

Creating terrariums can be as easy or as complex as you want them to be. Making a tranquil area in your home should include some of the things that you love the most. We love nature and the outdoors, so everything from small waterfall sculptures to ivy embellished arches are part of our outdoor/interior styling. My favourite house plants also include panda plants, aloe vera, and palms.

Succulent comes from the Latin word, sucus, meaning juice or sap. Hence, the name because of its juicy and fleshy leaves or stems that store water. Succulents are a good way to start the indoor seedling style section of your home. With a simple touch of creativity, I made two different terrariums, but used one strictly for decoration. It's been a couple of weeks since I finished these and my succulents are already growing quite well.
Materials:
Succulents
Quality potting soil (or cactus soil)
White gravel, pebbles, and accent rocks
Dried moss or grass
Glass container with a wide opening
Sand



Directions:
1. Place newspaper on the surface space for an easy clean up.
2. Pour rocks/gravel in the bowl (I layered in different colours first with small pebbles and sand for the sole purpose of an accent and colourful centrepiece for a table decoration). I filled my container approx. 5 cm deep. Add rocks/gravel first if you aren't using this for a temporary decoration, this also helps with drainage.
3. If you have moss or grass, add it now and layer it with the soil on top. After removing my plant (with soil) from the original container, I repotted it carefully in my container using cactus soil. *Note: I lightly damped my soil before placing my plant in the terrarium.
4. Next, style it as you like: I used two different types of river rocks, and added white gravel on top. That's it!
5. Place in an area that will get loads of bright, indirect sunlight. Do not over water your plants. If you do, then the leaves of the succulents will usually turn a yellowish colour. If your cacti gets too little light it causes the leaves to become stretched, consequently, if you don't like the look of it stretched you can always propagate them. 



Care: Remove enough of the white gravel and/or rocks to see the soil. Then, to get the soil wet use a spray bottle with water to dampen it. Between watering, allow the soil to dry. You can use a fast-draining soil like cactus soil, which doesn't retain much moisture.

During cooler months succulents have a state of dormancy in the winter, which means you can water your succulents less, as they can tolerate temperatures around 10C/ 50F. View more info. here.

Do you have plants inside your home or office?

(Above) Top: We started growing our own lettuce, Bottom: I created another terrarium (with built-in drainage tray), and repotted some cacti to add to our plant collection. Check out more brilliant information on what other foods you can easily regrow continually in your home, after buying it once at the grocery store here.

Needless to say, I've definitely got into the planting spirit. Now, we have already planted some mint, basil, onions, rosemary, jalapeños, and lavender—waiting on the celery at the moment.

What do you think of my succulents, terrarium, and new planters?

       
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