Insta Living Vol. XI + {Giveaway}

How was your Christmas holiday? I had an amazing time with family and now off to enjoy with dear friends to bring in the new year. We had a couple of holiday parties, including a fun masquerade dinner party that a group of friends hosted earlier. 

My Christmas was also quite busy with catching up with loved ones that I've not seen in a while. There are just too many photos to sift through, but here's a couple of favourites, and several images below from the Christmas holiday and party preparations.

I am planning on bringing in the new year with a dash of sparkle, great food, champagne, and a semi-quiet New Year's Eve compared to our past celebrations. Do you have any plans to bring in the new year?
 (Above) Holiday table details, Glitter soles and a cute Chicfetti print I embellished with an antique frame, beads, and rhinestones, Sequins and Pearls, We made a large pot of delicious seafood pasta, Oven mittens: kitchen gift from family friends in Scotland. 

Global Giveaway:
I have also teamed up with some fellow bloggers to Co-host an incredible Amazon giveaway! If you win, you get a 500 USD Amazon card or cash via PayPal (winner's preference). It's the perfect extra bonus for you to grab post-holiday gifts for yourself.

You may enter by clicking the picture below, or click here to enter via Rafflecopter.  
Yes, this giveaway is open internationally. Good luck everyone! 
Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck! 
Rules: You may use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. International giveaway ends 20 January. Winner will be notified via email.

Prize: $500 Amazon Gift Card or Cash (via Paypal) - winner’s choice

 (Above) Holiday nutcrackers: more soldiers put up before holiday travelling, Early dinner/late brunch, Fun stenciled mask with Handmade sequins skirt and possible outfit option for New Year's festivities. More images here.


Insta-Living Vol. X // Christmastide

There has been a multitude of great moments that were shared during the beginning of my December, and others that weren't. Somewhere in-between all of the festive chaos, I remembered to savour some of those special moments---live in the present and unplug whilst enjoying those around me, and without being completely enraptured by my handy tech devices.

But, when those un-plugging moments passed, sneaking in a few snapshots did make it fun to have other keepsakes, even if only to be virtually amusing and appreciated.
Above: 2016 planning and teatime with golden accents,  Extra special nuggets of Jo Malone, I made a sweet potato mash with roasted garlic topped with lemon coriander sauce and mince truffle, Holiday prepping and making our Christmas crackers with some new trimmings.

By the time you read this, I am probably off to my sister's house with multiple carry-on bags in tow, and many more stops along the way until the new year. I will be returning later next week on the blog, and I hope that you enjoy all of your holiday celebrations with those who are dear to you.

Here's some of my favourite highlights from December, including a few more culinary moments and festive Christmas decor. Lastly, thanks very much for all of the love on my last post, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Above: Glimpse of holiday décor with a festive snowman,  I made Matcha pops with pomegranates, raw dark chocolate, and coconut, Gold embossed cards that I am making into table place cards, Homemade currant & orange scones, Finally tried out Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminaors (in "So Hollywood," and "Riviera") and love them, Quick hors d'oeuvres: fresh mozzarella, rosemary, and tomatoes with a reduced balsamic drizzle that I served as an alternative alongside our antipasti platter for a few friends before signing off on holiday. 

Shop the theme

A Tale of Six: Blog Birthday

Here are some highlights from 2015 for FASHION TALES. It was certainly a marvellous year for me both personally, and as a lifestyle blogger. Although, there were family hardships, like having to watch my mum go through breast cancer, but being a strong survivor. In the midst of chaotic periods there were many blessings as well: I got a promotion, helped decorate and attended weddings of dear friends, and met fellow bloggers in the flesh! I am immensely grateful for another year on the blog.

I'm uncertain how long I will continue the blog, as unrelated blog opportunities have come forward in other passions and skill-set genres. However, creativity will naturally be in whatever I do. As I am still growing this blog (six years strong), I look forward to discover what unfolds as I continue my journey.

A massive "Thank-you" goes to all of you dear readers, and supporters of this blog. I know, as a blogger we all have blogging days when it's absolutely amazing, and other moments when we might have writer's block, resulting in not feeling like blogging. There may have even been times when you've done much work on a blog post that was more labour intensive than others and it seemed that nobody may have appreciated it.

But, then there are moments when you receive such a thoughtful comment from unexpected bloggers, comments that lift you up, and inspire you to press on. This is why we must blog for ourselves first. When you are blogging for you (because you enjoy it and have a zeal for it), then you can also do it successfully for your audience. Yes, it's work. Hard work.

This year, I managed to share more food, recipes, new music, entertaining décor, emerging talent, helpful apps, and styling tips with you as promised. Don't ask me how time permitted, but somehow it did. There were a few DIY's, airport stories, and of course fashion (less outfit posts than previous years), but not less sophisticated style, nonetheless.

Thanks again for hanging in there and being such dedicated readers. Come celebrate with me of my six years of blogging. Stay tuned next week for something special! If you're a long time reader, do let me know what you've enjoyed the most?

How was your blogging year in 2015? 

 Above: Snapshots from some of my favourite posts, including, new artist spotlights, how-to tutorial on making potpourri, espresso corner decor, dark chocolate walnut muffins, styling gigs, and creative tablescapes.


Style Files // Lattori

I love it when unexpected things come to you, especially when your day isn't the brightest. That's exactly what happened to me last month. I almost never check my Klout anymore, because it didn't seem to matter as much, but thought I would on this particular day of sifting through some of my social channels. Since I am officially on my holiday, I managed to get unplugged for several days, hence the pause in blogging lately and even more on my social platform updates. It's been wonderful, and was much needed.

I will share more of my foodie recipes made here, and perhaps a few holiday decorating elements that I've done along the way. In the interim, it might take me a while to get around to your blogs, so I'll check out some of your socials to catch up.

Thanks to Klout, I was able to use a perk given to me to buy this designer dress from Lattori. And, although some people don't blog about their Klout perks per se (because it's not required), I absolutely wanted to share the designer, Lattori with you since I fell in love with this dress.

Above: Other Lattori styles that I loved, including the back details of the silk dress I am wearing.

The Designer:
Lattori offers a wide selection in unique ladies dresses from classic styles to modern silhouettes. The co-founder herself, Julia Savenkova chooses to make dresses that highlights a women's personality, captures the mood of the client for whatever occasion, as well as inspire them with each wear.

The Customer:
Some of Lattori's offerings come in bold colour combinations, or even printed styles. There's a plentiful working palette that's suitable to be worn by the art enthusiast, global sophisticate, or any woman on an expressive style mission.

I chose this roomy silk printed dress mostly because I knew that I had nothing like it in my wardrobe. Lately, I've also found myself being drawn toward softer hues, which is quite special in itself given my devotion to wearing bright and bold colour blends. And, it has just the right amount of sheerness for a versatile look!

The hues in this dress actually reminded me of fabric folds of vintage jacquard that I had once missed out on years ago. I was out fabric perusing, and secondhand shopping with a friend and saw said fabric, but neglected to bring my tape measurement with me, so I left the fabric on the shelving. Moments later after finding a saleswoman, and using her tape to measure the length myself, I headed back to the fabric shelf and the fabric had dissipated.

The essential thing that I learnt from that situation was to remember to "carry all potential items to buy with you" instead of leaving them, just in case you change your mind before heading to the cashier queue. In my case, especially when it's a unique piece of fabric. Clearly, another customer also valued that jacquard fabric just as I did, because I couldn't find it anywhere, nor could I see who had acquired it.

This dress feels luxurious and it's very comfortable too. Naturally, I didn't expect anything less than a luxe feeling with silk. I've donned this dress twice already, and chose to style it a different way than I originally wore it the first time due to colder temperatures on the rise.
The goods: Printed Silk Dress-Courtesy of Lattori, Tights-c/o Gudrun Sjoden, Faux fur-Consignment shop, Leather boots-Vintage. 

Have you worn Lattori designs? What do you think of their pieces?

The Details:
Lattori Designer Dresses Bloggers


Bundled Up Style: Outerwear

Now that you've probably sorted your holiday outfits, did you remember to include what overcoat or jacket would be suitable with them? Or, perhaps you're one of the fortunate fashionistas who will be basking in the sun during the holiday, so you needn't worry about heavy layering!

One thing about my wardrobe that isn't surprising to many who have followed this blog over the years is that I wear loads of jackets!

I was contacted by Lyst to create my favourite collection, so I decided to share my top picks for outerwear. Most importantly, these styles are perfect to have a warm, fashionable, and versatile winter.

These styles seen below cover most occasions for my autumn-winter, and I would probably add an obvious trench coat somewhere in-between as well. I have everything from retro-classics to modern embellished designs, and there will be plenty of occasions to wear pieces like these to dress up or down.
Lyst Designer Jackets
Above: 1-Elevenses, 2-Y-3, 3-Cusp, 4-Rebecca Taylor, 5-J.Crew, 6-Ichi, 7-Stefanel, 8-Stefanel, 9-Vivienne Westwood 

In my personal wardrobe, jackets are the most worn pieces. But, blazers and leather moto-jackets in particular are my favourite styles to wear. I don't fancy too many silhouette changes when it comes to jackets, but I've occasionally taken a few risks in the past (some examples above). However, there's a constant lean toward specific style lines, and lengths.

Key ingredients of my favourite jackets: style, durability, quality, and versatility. Of course, there's always that one jacket in your closet that has a certain je ne sais quoi, one that stands out amongst the group. And, if that's the case, then for me it just as well be some form of leather, or full-length luxe covering. 

You can create your own collection on 

What's your favourite style of outerwear to wear?  


The Stylish Foodie {Holiday Edition}

With Christmas holiday literally rolling around within weeks, there are alternative gifts and creations that I must think about. My dilemma is usually deciphering what to buy first, since I have a few family members who also have their birthdays around Christmastime.

The trick to still make it special for them, because there's nothing worse than blending everything together---my sister can testify to that one, being that she just celebrated her birthday on the past weekend. Sometimes, as you may already know, I make gifts throughout the year but this year there's not much time for that.

Fortunately, I have many foodie friends and family members, in addition to newlywed friends who are getting into the culinary spirit and foodie atmosphere in their new home.

Below are some great inspiring, and stylish suggestions for the new and seasoned foodies in your life. It's not just for the holidays. In fact, all of these are on my personal list to buy in the near future. From homemade spreads, to personalised kitchen tools, these are just a few of my favourite foodie items at the moment. And, just in case you aren't certain at all what to pick up, then a cookbook is always a great idea for any gastronome and cooking enthusiast, in my opinion.
1-Stelton-Vacuum Jug in Copper, 2-Malle w. Trousseau- Oyster Tool Kit w/ leather & knife, 3-Hey Boo-Coconut Caramel Sauce, 4-CB2-Copper Flatware, 5-Woodford Reserve-Bourbon Smoked Simple Syrup, & Aromatic Bitters.
Above: Shop custom cutting boards. You can also find cheese boards from The Cutting Board Shop.

I have a good collection of cutting boards, however I still believe that there's plenty of room for unique styles like these. When you regularly entertain as we do, then you will always need a variety of cutting boards, including tiny, curved, small, and large platter size boards. You can find these custom handmade beauties on Etsy.

Are there any foodies in your life? What do you think of these custom cutting boards?

Taste and See: Chinese Cooking {Book Review}

It never occurred to me to think of Chinese cuisine as being somewhat intensely complex. To be honest, it wasn't how I would typically describe authentic Chinese cooking at all that is, until I read the cookbook, Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees by Kian Lam Kho. Is that not a cleverly captivating title, or what?

My childhood consisted of moving and travelling, well, to put it mildly, quite a lot. It wasn't always fun and glamorous times. In fact, the joyful bit of being in an unfamiliar territory was always finding new culinary treasures.

I was never a massive Chinese food fan until I became an adult, but my parents loved it. Visiting authentic Chinese restaurants and having a close friend whose family practically adopted me upon each visit and welcomed me with huge Chinese feasts also had a great impact on my appreciation for Chinese cuisine. Not commercial fast food or a watered down version by any means.
Cookbook reviews food blogger

Let's face it, although I am no novice in the kitchen, there's so much that I don't know especially regarding this cuisine. I believe in having the attitude of wanting to better oneself in any genre. Heightening one's scholarship is paramount for understanding—at the very least to become proficient in some way.

The Review:
Chinese cooking Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees is fun, engaging, enlightening, and extensively thorough.  The easy to follow instructions for each recipe along with brief insertions of history  provides the necessary elements needed to master the art of creating basic Chinese  cuisine. I always suggest reading a  recipe twice before actually cooking, which is a helpful  tip that my mum taught me.

 I started with cooking about six of my favourite recipes from the book but then forgot to  take enough photos, so I made three again since they were so delicious. I had most of the ingredients for the dishes that I wanted to make. Thankfully, a friend of mine allowed me to raid his chef kitchen for a couple of Chinese ingredients that I didn't have on hand because the only fermented items we have in our home is pretty much fish and soy sauce. Wait, I guess you could add sauerkraut, pickles, and yoghurt too. But, I digress.

This book is a culinary crash-course in Chinese cooking and a worthy investment for any devoted cooking novice or even seasoned home cook. Anyone who has the passion to learn authentic Chinese cooking, its diverse flavours, and the differences between its varied regions, will appreciate this book. 

Chef Kian Lam Kho celebrates primitive Chinese methods, whilst providing an in-depth understanding of basic Chinese culinary techniques. I also loved how personal the book seemed, it was a great read. You'll learn everything from the science behind stir-frying (and the "pass-through technique) to making a marbled tea egg. There were also parts where you felt that you were learning a bit more about the author the more chapters that you read.

Stunning photography accompany the book's insightful text and, quite honestly, you will find yourself not wanting to put this book down, or way too excited to grab all of the ingredients to try a new recipe.

Either way, I was pleased with this book, and believe me, I have a multitude of cookbooks of old and new. However, this is one of my first Chinese cookbooks that I can say I have enjoyed from beginning to end. This is probably because reading it feels like taking a class in a really positive way. It provides direction for a plausible result. Even though every recipe may not be traditionally for everyone's palate (if you love Chinese food it likely is), there's certainly something for everyone in the book. For example, I made a few recipes with vegetarian meat alternatives.

We're planning on making other recipes from the book, which you will likely see on my Instagram in the future.
The goods: Hardcover of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees by Kian Lam Kho. Above: General Tso's with tofu.  All opinions and content are honestly written. *FTC disclaimer: I received this book from Crown Publishing Group. 

What do you think of Chinese food? Do you own a Chinese cookbook?


Gifts From France: Holiday Panier

Instead of a traditional holiday guide, I wanted to share a unique holiday pack that would be great for any foodie or Francophile at heart. Panier has created a special Christmas box of French goodies, featuring a few extras to savour during the holidays.

You may have remembered my review of their Terroir box, and this time they have a seasonal Christmas box. In this holiday box, you'll find a chocolate lover's paradise. The Christmas Panier comes in a little branded hamper packed well with themed items. There are also two full-sized sized containers that can be reused when finished, i.e., a tea tin, and stone tumbler with chocolate fondue.
The Goods Inside
Christmas Chocolate Fondue (stone container)
Hot Chocolate Powder (3 pkgs.)
Grillotines (mini-size glass jar)
Earl Grey Waffles (full-size box)
Christmas Tea (full-size holiday tin)
Terrine with Duck Foie Gras (small glass jar)
Papillotes (came in a bag)

Exclusive Price: 49.99 USD (until 10 December)
Verdict: I'd say that if you're not certain what type of panier hamper you want to try out, then the Christmas Panier would be good alternative option for you. It has both sweet and savoury items, but since it's in the theme and spirit of Christmas, there's more items to enjoy whilst getting get warm and cosy in front of the fireplace.

Unfortunately, I am allergic to pork and could not partake in the terrine, which was a pity, but it seems to be loved by pork eaters, and so the mister is quite happy.

Overall, this box included entirely different items from the Terrior box before, and a diverse amount of chocolate pieces to enjoy for the Christmas season. My favourite item by far was the delicious Earl Grey waffle biscuits. They were not only extremely good, but a real treat with a cup of peppermint hot cocoa.

If you're keen on taking a sweet piece of France with you this holiday season to share with your guests or special someone, then you can grab the Christmas Panier exclusively in the Panier shop at thirty-percent off here.
The goods: Christmas Panier-Courtesy of Panier, Other notions and styling décor-Fashion Tales. All opinions expressed are my own. Check out the other boxes offered, including the Seafood Panier, and Breakfast Panier here, or try the Truffle Panier box for the holidays!


Winter Décor: The Evening Blues

Typically, we plan our dinner parties, and I have ample time for me to conjure up a tasty meal and decorative setting. But, this was not one of those times. It occurred to me that I have done quite well under pressure, so I wasn't too flustered when we had a couple of friends stop by unexpectedly.

It all made perfect sense, as they are on their way preparing for a three-month trip away and wanted to personally hand their gifts early to some friends and family. We were one of their early stops, and obviously I had nothing yet, as I've not yet started any of my Christmas shopping. But, as any warm and loving friend would do I offered them hot tea, fruit, and an easy frozen treat that I made.

They were catching up with each other and they stayed for a few hours. I made beet ice cream yoghurt with a simple sauce, and my blueberry crumble. It was such a great pairing to balance out everything, and actually less intense than it sounded.

Gudrun Sjoden autumn winter home collection
Print Recipe

This brings me to how to prepare for unexpected guests. We seem to have many at times, and we cope pretty well since our friends are pretty much like family. At the Madison haus, you can expect your guest room to be filled with international amenities. Another thing that one might surmise is a home cooked meal when being welcomed. And, although we aren't near perfect by any means, my version of throwing something together was this simple and inviting setting. Here are a few #mobilemoments caught from the evening.

I had no idea what to do initially, so I let the linens do all of the work. I used these marvellous pieces (also from the new Gudrun Sjödén collection), which added texture and colour to the table.

#1 Use what you have on hand. I always keep fresh flowers somewhere in the home, so I used these mums for a dash of colour. I also had these blue French vintage-inspired bottles and swapped out the silk florals with fresh florals.

#2 Liven up with texture. When there's no time for elaborate embellishments, think fast! I mixed prints and patterns to liven up our mahogany wooden table. But, if you're more of a subdued colour lover, texture is key. If you're not certain what patterns will work, use the colour palette from one piece. I went by my Copenhagen-inspired table runner, and although it had several colours in it, the contrast with the printed kitchen towels and Icelandic plates worked for me.

These prints are actually all influenced by Nordic folklore: the Icelandic countryside, and Danish charm within the textiles. I went for an unconventional look; mixing goose eye stripes with florals, and the addition of the diamond motif was a bonus.

#3 Perfectly Imperfect: the ultimate finishing touch.
This simply means don't "over think"anything. Imperfection breeds creativity. You're already doing things in record time, so don't try to make it all look too perfect. In fact, the ruffling of the cloths sort of happened when I walked against the table, ahem …  admittedly, almost dragging the table runner with me, hurriedly.

I'm sure that has happened to you, no? I decided to scrunch the cloths at each end, add serving dishes on top, and then leave them alone. If your food is delicious, believe me, your guests won't mind.

Thankfully, it was a splendid evening with friends, although the food was simple gourmet desserts, it was the succulent part of the whole ambiance. But, it was the textured (and colourful) table linens that made the bold statement.
Gudrun Sjoden fashion bloggerGudrun Sjoden blogger homeware
The goods: "Helga" printed Mugs, "Helga" Plates, "Kardemumma" printed kitchen towels in eco-cotton, and Textured Stripe table runner-Courtesy of Gudrun Sjödén, French bottles-Antique store, Beet ice cream yoghurt-recipe, Blueberry crumble-recipe.
Gudrun Sjoden Homeware

What do you think of our fast acting table decoration? Do you ever have impromptu entertaining moments? 


Style Files // Dress-Lyst

Normally, when I have holiday parties and gatherings to attend, my outfit definitely falls into either a sort of classic elegance, or artsy glamour category. Probably more of the latter in recent years. But, here's the thing, holiday outfits don't always have to be in Christmas red and emerald hues. In fact, for me it usually isn't. Even though I don every colour of the rainbow, reds are few and far between in my wardrobe. Right, I must look into that at some point. Next year.

Fittingly, since holiday scheduling and the end of the year is fast approaching, there's nothing like the present to select dresses to suit your occasion.

I've partnered with Lyst to share with you some of my current favourite dress styles. Lyst is a digital platform that makes the user shopping experience easier by tailoring it to learn one's shopping habits, as well as virtually keeping diverse brand items all in one destination. For example, you can search designer items or retail store fashions and accessories on the platform for the best prices on say, a midi dress in green, or further filter the search by all things ACNE, which includes offerings from multiple online stores.
Lyst Holiday Dresses
Above: (L to R) 1-French Connection, 2-Sister Jane 3-Boutique Moschino, 4-French Connection 

Here are some of my favourite glamour-versions of holiday dresses, but also smart styles that you can wear for work and after-hours. My perfect dress for cocktails with friends during the holidays, but not necessarily when dashing out to a holiday party would be a basic sheath, or funky style that I could wear a cropped jacket or blazer with. These varied styles above can easily transition from city-chic to evening glam.

And, if you're creative with your choice of accessories like me, then you needn't worry about the mere thought of "less is more,"  because you can still cleverly wear accessories with a touch of sparkle and bold colour.

Go for daintier pieces with elaborately embellished dresses. Even statement dresses, as shown here in my "Versatile Dresses" style board can be accompanied by marvellous jewellery. Don't be shy! Holidays are rather lovely occasions to get dolled up and try something new, or challenge yourself with taking style risks. But, just in case you're not ready to go all in, well, a fitted Little Black Dress can always suit any stylish lady.
Lyst Bloggers Best Holiday Dresses
Above: (L to R) 1-MICHAEL-Michael Kors, 2 -Gat Rimon, 3-Malaica, 4-Darling

Metallic fabrics have made a comeback, but it doesn't matter because I would wear them anyway just as I do with lace throughout the year. I appreciate camouflage shown or worn in unconventional ways, and I chose the Michael Kors dress in an abstract "camo" pattern with sequins.

It's number one in "The New Glam" style board above because in my opinion, it makes camouflage somewhat opulent. Who knew? With the right shoes, hairstyle, hosiery, and painted pout of course, this could work for any holiday outfit! I would likely add some faux fur to this style as well.

So, whether you're fashionably ambitious or happily playing it safe with your holiday style, there are plenty of options out there to love. But, the most important element to remember is that you should be confident and comfortable.

View winter designer styles, or start your own Lyst collection here.
Shop new Lysts on party styles or dress favourites here. This is a sponsored post, all written content and honest opinions are my own. Lyst is a London and New York based tech brand. 

Which dress style is your favourite? What do you like to wear for cocktails or pre-holiday events? 


Harvest Delivered: My Texas Market

Sometimes, the best way to gift a friend or loved one is to give them a care box or subscription. It's especially good when you've tried the box first, because then you can specifically give them an honest opinion of what to expect. I like to give gifts that are tailored to the person. When I came across My Texas Market, a close friend of mine (who is originally from Texas, but residing in the land "down under") came to mind.

My Texas Market (MTM) provides monthly curated boxes that can really be felt from the heart. It's all about supporting their local businesses and sharing them with others. Special homemade Texas apple butter, cranopeno jelly, and pumpkin spice brown sugar scrub are just a few items that come from local farms from the area.

It was such a treat to use and taste the products in the MTM November box, and know that the containers can be recycled. In fact, the company supports the idea of reusing materials from your box. I would reuse them anyway since I don't even like to waste my candle jars!

From Scratch Farm, the makers of the homemade brown sugar pumpkin spice scrub, encourages customers to send the jars back if you prefer them to recycle the container, and receive an additional discount in return. This scrub has the aroma of fresh baked pumpkin pie, but even more fragrant (in a good way).

What's different about this box? It's not a foodie box subscription, so if you're looking for a variety of items, this box might be for you. The uniqueness of the My Texas Market box is the fact that they are eco-conscious, and every item within the box is from local artisans and farms, and independent businesses who produce their goods specifically in Texas.

Cost: 35 USD/Month: The November box is geared toward the harvest season. In my family, Christmas is the holiday for us, and quite a huge celebration. But, this box was a great way to embrace and experience a "Thanksgiving," with a Texas flair. There's also recipes that will be featured using some of the products from the November box delivered straight to your inbox.

Personal Favourites
My absolute favourites were definitely the gratitude cards, pecans, and wonderfully fragrant candle. To be honest, the pumpkin soufflé candle smelled good enough to eat. I usually travel with a candle and this one is small enough to carry with me, but large enough to change the mood and aroma of any environment. The Texas native crispy pecans were incredibly delicious as well.

The pecans are made with filtered water and sea salt on a family farm that has been in existence for three generations. They do not have any added sugar in them, which were perfect and had a nice buttery crunch. I'm not too familiar with apple butter, but I have had apple jams that my nan used to make. The apple butter was really good on toast, and I'm looking forward to trying it on scones as well.

A muslin bag filled with empty card-stock strips was included in the box. It's a game and an encouraging reminder to count your blessings. At the table during the holidays or anytime, each person writes one or two things that they are grateful for on each strip. I loved the concept of the bag to give thanks, and we will likely use it during Christmas holiday.

The Verdict: thankfully, everything in this box contained useful and practical goods, and also tasty items as well. This box certainly had a comfort feeling to it, and although I usually lean more toward foodie subscriptions (being the obsessed gastronome that I am) this one has a medley of different products that can be shared. I think my Texan friend would appreciate this box.

Additionally, My Texas Market fosters eco-friendly principles, which includes their recycled box packaging, as well as vendors who make small batch goods, which was good to know.

So, I'd say if you're not able to make your way to Texas, this subscription would be a lovely idea to get a taste of local goods that are both homemade and handmade from a different part of the world. You can also acquire other products via the MTM online market.

Have you been to Texas? What do you these harvest items from My Texas Market?

The goods: The Harvest box-November-c/o My Texas Market. *All opinions expressed are my own. View the subscription here


Style & Tech: Calypso Loop

We can all probably relate to knowing one person in our life that is quite difficult to buy for, whether for a birthday, or even a Christmas gift. Selecting the right gift for any occasion is often hard enough, especially when it's for a person who may already have some of the latest designer pieces.

With just weeks before the holiday frenzy officially starts (or perhaps it already has), tech products are usually a safe department to select from for gifting for me. There's no fretting about sizing, and of course plenty of ways to personalise many tech accessories. And, when there's a limited edition of pieces, that's even better.

Calypso Crystal has a new collection that's full of bold patterns and colourful style options for your technical devices. I've partnered with the brand again to share one of their latest accessories, the CalypsoLoop.

You may have remembered a few of my reviews of their luxe pieces from past collections, including the Mac laptop case, and mobile case.

The Loop is a wallet or clutch-style case that holds your charger, earphones, cables, cards, and keys. The case comes in fine Italian leather, and is sectioned with three compartments for storage. The interior has contrast colours in diamond jacquard fabric, and it's beautifully stitched with the solid Italian leather edging in the same colour as the face of the outer shell.

As always, there is a limited number of each design made, 999 to be exact. Quite a posh, but practical way to keep all of your tech pieces in order and in style. There's even enough room to hold your iPhone.

I was using the Loop quite a lot last month, which was really handy for travelling. You can ultimately keep your I.D. and keys for quick access when off to grab a coffee. Or, if you don't want to carry your handbag, it makes for a great quick clutch to hold a lipstick, credit cards, or fare cards for convenience, not to replace the good ol' satchel, of course!

Just like your luxe shoes and protecting their soles, taking care of your personal tech pieces are also important for longevity. But, when choosing luxury pieces, it's certainly best for them to actually suit your lifestyle. And, if you're already spending a great deal of money on your mobile devices, why not discover quality accessories that will protect them in style?

What do you think of the CalypsoLoop? How do you store your tech accessories on the go? 

The goods: CalypsoLoop in "Paris Glory"-c/o CalypsoCrystal. Not into bold colour? View the exclusive "Edition Black" line here. *Only 199 pieces from the "Edition Black" collection are made. 

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