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. 


Autumn Floral, Winter Green

The leaves have fallen, and shorter days are upon us! The crisp air against your face with the additional cool winds blowing let's you know that there's a change in season. As always, autumn has given us some of the most splendid hues that are just hard to ignore. I spent the past weekend getting holiday plans sorted, and being captivated by Mother Nature.

The weather had been volatile most of the past couple of weeks. With the exception of office environments, I was in scarves on some days, and then in short-sleeved garb on others.

I was anxious most of October to grab these comfortable eco-leather boots, ever since I viewed them online. Finally, I had the chance to don them on the weekend for a proper fall-inspired outfit.

Gudrun Sjoden Blogger Ambassador

Although, the Gudrun Sjödén autumn line has a plethora of zestful influence from Scandinavian countries other than its own origin, the winter collection is essentially motivated by the German cold. From the greenery of southern Germany to the frosty bits of Freiburg (the winter woodlands of the Black Forest), all set the tone for the collection.

There are puffy coats made from recycled down, and Himalayan yak wool patterned pieces to surely keep you bundled up during severe climate. But, then you'll find classic stripes in basic silhouettes that can be worn for all seasons. The collection: lively, patterned, and printed. And, obviously there's a colourful palette of solids to brighten up autumn-winter as well.

One of my favourite prints from the winter collection was the one on this dress. At first glance, I thought that it was a thick sweater dress, but it's made of Lyocell. It's also soft and easy to layer under multiple pieces. I wore this outfit to run errands, and go farmer's market shopping, namely for spices and produce.

Fittingly, since the winter collection was inspired with Freiburg (initially interpreted as a free market town) as a design focus, the area's deep history and it being a well-known university town is what I drew my personal influence from for this look. I was reminiscent of visiting the markets early in the morning as a child when my mother was doing catering gigs. She'd acquire the best and freshest goods from international food vendors. Also, probably the first time I saw and learnt what a truffle was—a worthy culinary favourite. That experience will always be with me.

There's so much to look forward to in the coming weeks, and here are a few elements that I am currently happy about.  Adele's comeback, and her new single, "Hello," this charming oversize cardigan, warm relaxing evenings, and harvest baking.

Have you enjoyed your autumn so far? What are you excited about at the moment?

Gudrun Sjoden Ambassador collection

The goods: "Isört" dress in Lyocell/spandexTights in micro fabric-Forest Green, and Lace-up boots in nappa leather-Cocoa-Courtesy of Gudrun SjödénJewellery-SF flea market , Scarf-Gudrun Sjödén c/oHandbag-Urban Outfitters, jacket-Seen here.

Gudrun Sjoden Blogger

Gudrun Sjoden autumn winter

Kelp and Caviar

I know it's been a long time since my last style post, so here it is! To be honest, these images were taken some time ago, but it will have to do. As always, I have been immensely inspired by art and food. Nonetheless, this outfit is influenced by a culinary experience. Although, not entirely my own.

We usually have sushi days, sometimes more than once a week, depending on the post-work mood, if anyone is joining us for dinner, and/or the weather. I'm not certain how much the latter really affects the "sushi" decision, because we're obviously going to eat anyway, but it seems to, in my opinion.

On a not-so typical sushi Tuesday night, we met up with a couple friends for an early dinner. It was nearly five o'clock! I was quite jet lagged, and between the four of us, I wasn't the only one. My friend Karin had recently come back from a trip and was telling us about her jaunts to candy shops from her travels. She has a very, very sweet tooth and seeks out candy shops like I seek out coffee bars and bistros, so this was nothing new. 

She arrived at the sushi restaurant with a medium-sized bag filled with miniature gifts and candies in tow. We ordered immediately, and she continued to give us her animated version of each candy shop experience. There was mostly salt water taffy, caramels, and various types of liquorice in her bag. My instant observation were the hues: all of the candy was full of colour, both bold and neutral.

Finally, it was time to dive in the sushi. By this time, she's explaining and pouring from her mid-sized bag … There was little room on the table, aside from the main course, with a hue spectrum of its own calibre. Only delicately wrapped pretty candies were able to be seen after she unloaded the one bag of what seemed to have a magical false bottom attached.

Just imagine, our sushi feast covering the table, but also a beautiful array of sweets (none of which I could eat, but I digress). Naturally, I was still eating my sushi, meanwhile everyone else indulged in the candies.

Our hospitable waiter, clean cut and lanky, kept checking on us as if he wanted to genuinely partake in our table conversations. He rapidly paced the floor with the speed of one trying to catch a moving train. His nervous energy only added to the already amusing dinner. He came by to check the table again, and everyone (with the exception of myself) had tongues of different colours from the candies eaten. But, I held down the fort and (after intense eye contact from the group) voluntarily became the spokeswoman for our table. All the waiter could do was laugh and shake his head.

That sushi night was basically what I thought about when I put my outfit together. All of that taffy, candied fruit drops, liquorice, and caramel candies all blended into my outfit. It was only later that I realised that it wasn't the candies at all that really influenced my outfit, it was merely the whole sushi experience on that particular night. So, here's my kelp and caviar look!

Keeping it comfortable in layers, I used my favourite vintage scarf as the main focus, since it's an absolutely gorgeous paisley print. I've had it for many years, and haven't worn it in a while. The hand of the fabric is even better—lustrous and smooth. And, can you believe it has the audacity to be "silky" too? As a textile enthusiast, sumptuous threads are indeed hard to ignore.

Needless to say, I was hardly lethargic after that meal.

The goods: Blazer-Zara, Grey V-neck sweater-La Redoute, Woven purse-Ann Taylor, Silk scarf and Boots-Vintage, Necklace-Happiness Boutique, Denim-Lucky, Hat-ASOS, Tank-H&M.
This post is part of the link up by Doused in Pink. View other bloggers here.

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