Kitchen Bound In Provence

I have been sharing with you an in-depth feature of some of my favourite and unconventional subscription boxes for the gastronome, and more. This time we went to the South East region of France, concentrating on Provençal and Corsican specialties. As an epicure and traveller myself I always enjoy trying new foods related to areas we have travelled, or places we've longed to visit.

It's nice when you can savour memories (that remind you of special moments from the past) through food, or experience new flavours that you'd not typically buy. Panier (Pan-yay) is one brand that does just that, in a luxurious and delicious way.
Panier is a French food subscription service founded by fellow foodies, Pierre and Vicky. Panier simply means "basket." The husband and wife team created the brand to allow others to experience authentic culinary French delights. It's a different subscription box because they focus on specialty food prepared in each region as opposed to just selecting random fine foods. The variety is directed from the region selected.

I waited to dive into this box until we had a few foodie friends over, so it worked out perfectly. Panier offers three themed hampers: Goûter, Terroir, and Luxe Panier. They are each created in the spirit of French lifestyle and the culture of the (monthly themed) region.

Price Varieties: Goûter: $30.00 (includes sample items, and a couple of full-size items, not region specific), Terroir: $70-75.00 (includes 4-6 full-size items region specific to that month), or
Luxe: $100 (includes 5-8 full-size higher-end items region specific to that month) Each month a different region of France is covered. *You can also opt for getting prepaid boxes or monthly boxes.

There's also other seasonal panier "Combo" boxes that start at $25: Seafood, Breakfast, or Candy view here.


We received the Terroir Box, which definitely had that je ne sais quoi. Overall, this box came with several items that we were much familiar with, such as lavender honey and A L'Oliver brand. However, there were also marvellous regional favourites like chestnut cake inside the box, which we ate after dinner with coffee and tea. The chestnut cake came packed in a small tin.

Terroir is a regional area that is well-known for certain foods or drinks specifically produced only in that area; in which the food that's grown and produced there gives its unique characteristics, i.e., flavours and quality found only in that region.

I actually didn't know that chestnut cake was very popular from this region, as I've only had it when my grandmother used to make it because chestnuts are a great source of starch and fibre. This particular chestnut cake was dense, delicious, and not too sweet, which I favoured. I added fresh sprigs of mint to ours.

The packaging is well done. The outer part is of sturdy logo printed cardboard, and each item inside came securely bubble wrapped. There's a product informational card that tells you about the items within your box.
*You can Grab $10 off your first Terroir Monthly Subscription box with code: Panier10.


Verdict: This box is of great quality. Although this is one of the pricier foodie subscriptions I've tried, it's worthy of the expense if you can afford it --- most certainly if you're a zealous foodie, and Francophile. The Luxe hamper also seems like a tempting one to try.

If you aren't certain if you're keen on getting super fancy French delicacies, I'd say the Goûter box is for you. It gives you a good combination to sample and experience a variety of traditional French snacks, and sweet and savoury foods.

*Panier also donates a portion of each purchased box to UNICEF. This box came in about 85 USD worth of product, costing more if bought separately.

Extras and Inspiration:
I loved that Panier also thought about customers who may potentially want to visit the South of France. They included a visual paradise of a pamphlet with updated information on sightseeing to Marseille (Provence), and accommodations at Domaine de Murtoli's luxe villas for a dream worthy holiday in the countryside or by the sea.


What do you think of this French foodie box? Have you tried French cuisine? 


The goods: Terroir Box-Courtesy of Panier. Shop Panier's store here. This box was only sent for a review, all opinions are my own and honestly expressed. Right now, Panier has free shipping via US for Terroir and Luxe boxes. *Grab $10 off your first Terroir Monthly Subscription box with code: Panier10 (Expires 31 Dec. 2015).

   Fig & Walnut Jam also great on sweet potato waffles with cinnamon, scones, and olive bread. 
   
 Above: Raw dark chocolate with preserved orange slivers sans sugar topping.


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October Moments

I  had the misfortune of being unwell the past four days, and had to take care of myself through the weekend. I'm back now, but had to stay off the blog, as rest was much needed.

Even though my October was completely filled with a jumble of things, I wanted to share a few highlights with you, including a crafty project, and of course food.

My workplace did a charity benefit dinner in support of breast cancer research and awareness, which I've always supported even before my mum was diagnosed with it. Fortunately, she is a survivor. Then, I was able to be part of a couple of other campaigns including Glamulet's pink charms for breast cancer.

I also chose a custom bracelet with a few charms that expresses my style that the brand sent me, fittingly including an aeroplane.

There are also other brands that are supporting Breast Cancer Awareness with donating not just a portion, but 100 percent of their profits from selected products in October; brands like Ralph Lauren, EoS, and Estee Lauder to name a few.
(Above) I made two topiaries for the house (it's a messy job but surprisingly easier than I thought), Homemade vegan bbq with carrots and honey mesquite crisps, I tried out a new Chanel nail colour Ballerina #167, Memories from our Hong Kong meal, A new lip colour with a hint of orange (I am taking beauty risks in autumn), Bundled up with eyeliner and lipstick, Favourite vintage silk scarf with Happiness Boutique necklace.


(Above) An autumn Clarins beauty haul (seen here), I cooked Shakshouka (Tunisian spiced poached eggs) in my cast-iron for our weekend brunch, Cashmere, wool, and navy outfit details, Bracelets given to us for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month charity benefit.

Stay tuned, I've a few more culinary favourites coming up in the next couple weeks, including a seasonal low-sugar recipe to love. I am visiting family later this week, and finishing up a few autumn decorating crafts for an upcoming dinner party.

How has your autumn been so far?


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Hong Kong and Curry, Gather Round

Kitchen Table Passport (KTP) is a culinary and cultural experience  the monthly subscription service allows you to learn about different countries as well as their specific traditions.

The concept is geared toward sharing a unique and authentic experience with family or friends in a fun way whilst taking an adventure to a new country each month. But, you can do all of this from the comfort of your home. KTP creators, Lisa and Murray are both fervent travellers, and have tailored each box to include a mound of up to date information that is both visually appealing and educational.

There's even a music playlist from the country given, and can be found on your welcome card. *If you really love the music, there's a special hashtag that you can use, and the company will put a CD in the box for you next time. But, the real treat is the herb or spice pack that comes with your selected country.

I received the Hong Kong box. Each box comes with four specifically focussed pack of cards, which includes a welcome card, a "Taste" pack, "Mementos" pack, and "Discovery Cards" all country specific including a recipe to cook.

A new country is added every month, and takes you around the world with your culinary passport from the selected destination straight to your own kitchen. It's a nice addition to a dinner party when having guests over. And, there's plenty to keep everyone busy (trivia questions related to the county, and random country facts), and the best part ... the food.

The Dish:
Our spice pack included Chinese curry, enough to make the recipe twice. I love curry, but I was a bit hesitant at first about this version. Chinese curry really tastes a bit different than Thai and Indian curry, etc. This was milder than what we're used to. Our recipe was fish balls with curry sauce and rice. It turned out really delicious! All ingredients for recipes are items that can easily found from your local grocer. We used cod, as recommended and I'm sure mackerel would be just as good for next time.

I could see this box also being great for parents with precocious children, because I know my little well-travelled nephew (who is only five) gets so excited learning about new cultures. Eating together and going around the table to read through the discovery cards allows everyone to engage in the activities and get the full experience.

The Details: 
The full subscription costs $24.95/month, but you're welcome to customise your box. For example, if you only want a Taste package, and Welcome Card with a different country every month, then you can deselect receiving discovery cards and mementos for $9.95 instead. Or, if you just want to do the package as a one-off, then you can select the country of your choice for $29.95 for a full pack.
The goods: Country focus: Hong Kong Box-Courtesy of Kitchen Table Passport, Candle holders-Pfalzgraf, Eco-table linens-c/o Gudrun Sjödén, Italian fruit and vegetable towel (Buy similar), Place mats-BHG, Autumn leaf platter-(Buy similar), Handmade-DIY topiaries, Flatware-Reed & Barton.     



What do you think of Kitchen Table Passport? 
Kitchen Table Passport Reviews
Kitchen Table Passport -Food Blogger reviews

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Caribbean Foodie: Irie Mon Box

I am taking you to the Caribbean today. I promise that your hair won't get frizzy nor will you get sunburn, because it's a tasty virtual jaunt to Jamaica.

Irie Mon Box is a gourmet food subscription service brand that provides curated foods, namely from the Caribbean.

As a foodie, I absolutely love trying new culinary products, especially if it's from a culture or region's cuisine that I did not grow up eating. I've been to several great Caribbean restaurants on holidays, and have always liked jerk seasoning, but have never made my own dish using it. This subscription delivers a great mix of foodie items to help you get a taste of the island in the comfort of your own home.

Cost: $40.00 /month
What To Expect: 
The box is quite big and comes in roughly at 34 cm x 33cm. I was impressed by the quality overall, in addition to the packaging of their items. Jamaican born Irie Mon Box creators, Nicki and Stephan seem to have found a great niche market — not only is the box filled with edible goodies, but they've even thought about the culture and the people specific to theme of the box.

Goodies In The box: 
I've had not the best luck with a few beauty and fashion subscription boxes in the past. However, with foodie boxes I've been very fortunate. The Irie Mon Box is probably one of the most underrated foodie boxes I've tried out there, in my opinion. It's a good deal, given the fact that you actually get full-size products within the box. There's nothing like a small food sample that's only enough to go on one biscuit. Caribbean lifestyle magazine, Maco, and music CD comes with the monthly subscription. You'll also find other deluxe samples that are packed with plenty of goods to share with your household with each item.
 
 Above: vegetarian chicken with Jonkanoo pepper sauce, and coriander.

This Box Included
Chippie's Banana Chips, which were delicious. These have a much lighter weight than others I've tried. They taste really good, and considering I like plantains and not usually bananas at all, this says a lot. Green bananas are used in making these, so the result is very light and tasty crisps sans the overpowering banana flavour.

Eaton's Guava Jam: This was also really good with a nice sweet and fruity flavour — perfect to spread on morning toast, or an afternoon scone, which is what we did on the weekend. I only needed a little, but I imagine the normal dosage for a fellow guava lover would be very generous.

Walkerswood Jonkanoo Pepper Sauce: We love spice in our foods, but dare I say, all you need of this sauce is a little bit. I loved the (almost mesquite) flavour of this pepper sauce so much that I made vegetarian chili and used this in it to spice it up. Definitely a #win.

Coconut Passionfruit Candle from Arawak Islands: I loved this sensual touch to the box, if I could take this candle with me in my carry-on I would. It's quite fragrant, in a good way and sweetens the ambiance (you know, since the heat is already turned up with the other flavourings).

Maco Magazine: a Caribbean lifestyle magazine that includes home interiors, artwork, culinary cuisine, and even botanical inspiration.
Music sampler: another great element for this themed box. The CD includes diverse genres of the Caribbean compliments of Putumayo.

Tortuga Rum Cake-Coconut: I've never had this cake before, but I love coconut. I could only eat a small piece not a proper piece of this cake, since it's a bit too sweet for me. But, it gets an approval from the mister.

Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning (Mild): I'm glad that this was mild because often with this wet version of the seasoning, I wanted to add my own heat to it just in case we have others over who aren't into too much spice. I actually made baked fish and roasted potatoes with this seasoning as well, and it was great!

Strawberry Hill Coffee: Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is one of our favourites, amongst others. This was a nice sample for a full pot of coffee or for our home about 8 generous cups.



If you like a bit of spice in some of your food, then you will love this subscription. Don't worry, there's also other savoury and sweet items to get you cooking in the kitchen in each box, and give you a generous sampling of Caribbean flavours.

What do you think about the Irie Mon Box? Have you tried a Caribbean food before? 



The goods: Monthly subscription box-Courtesy of Irie Mon Box. All opinions expressed are my own. Grab your box at www.iriemonbox.com
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Fitness Jambalaya

Although it's tough at times to stay on a workout schedule when travelling, I do manage. As a former gymnast sometimes I reflect on the younger years, being so youthfully fit. But, to be honest, some days I don't feel like working out. I'm a morning person though, and usually prefer to workout in the wee hours of the morning to get it all finished. Otherwise, I know it likely wouldn't happen.

I'm the person in the airport who is doing a few discreet arm raises as I'm holding my carry-on luggage. I know, I'll even give myself an eye roll! Even in those extremely "comfortable" airline seats you can likely catch me getting up a bit and walking around at least once (for longer flights) on the plane, or getting creative and sneaking in small yoga style stretches in my seat.
Don’t worry, when travelling I respect others around me -- it's never anything like this!
UK based fashion retailer Get The Label is running an excellent campaign called, Stay Fit Don't Quit, to help expel the idea of what society deems as the "perfect body." Instead of being on a bikini body diet, they are being proactive in raising awareness for staying healthy. The concept is to let it be a lifestyle, and keep yourself fit throughout the year (without quitting), as opposed to trying to live up to the glossy standards of some of the mainstream media.

I chose to challenge myself with my own workout, in addition to wearing a couple of new fitness pieces that I have not tried before. In the past, I've only worn Reebok trainers, and I've never tried their performance wear. I'm happy with my Reebok selections -- the printed capris feel great on, and fits like a second skin (in a good way), and they're quite comfortable. The racer back sports bra is even better with the lining helping to keep you dry during a full workout! Both stood up against the test of a sweaty run and Pilates session pretty well.

Adidas and Nike has always been my staple brands for activewear, as I've mentioned several times on the blog, so it's no surprise that I m wearing them here. I loved the colourful print in this jacket by Stella McCartney for Adidas, as the bold colours were an obvious attraction at first glance. It's comfortable and lightweight too.

But, the only con about this StellaSport windbreaker is that online it says that it's a full-zipper in the front, which is why I wanted it. But, in actuality it's a half zip at best. On the Adidas site, it also says full front zipper, so that is definitely an Adidas error that should be corrected.

The hooded jacket is a pullover style, and comes with a breathable mesh lining. I loved that it wasn't long sleeved, but a semi-crop style and that the back of the jacket was longer in length, because I usually like to roll my sleeves up if I am on an elevated walk or morning jog. The 3/4-sleeves helps with that.



Do you have a favourite activewear brand that you usually buy, or do you mix it up like me? 

The goods: Stella Sport Training Windbreaker Jacket/Stella McCartney for Adidas, Reebok Strappy Sports Bra, and Reebok Capri Pants-c/o Get The Label, Grey tank-F21, Mesh breathable tank-Babalú, Padded yoga mat (buy similar), Nike Roche-c/o Mainline Menswear.

 Get The Label ships internationally. Check out new seasonal apparel and top styles here.

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Autumn and Brighter Days

It doesn't happen often, but there are days where I feel like this. When this occurs, I usually pile on the layers, basically anything that is comfortable, but also full of colour to help brighten my day.
Let's face it, we all have blissful days, bloated days, busy days, and very eventful ones, amongst many other types.

I wore this outfit on one of those, "I'm feeling a bit bleak" type of days. I think the cause was a mere combination of being on-the-go, having too many high-priority deadlines, and imperative family matters to tend to all squeezed together. So, I decided to wear some bold colour. I also decided to somewhat bundle up ... To be honest, I actually had a scarf on that's not pictured, but only because later on in the day it got warmer.


The office is literally ice age temperatures generally, so it's not abnormal to bring cardigans and scarves along in your daily tote or satchel. This dress is a style repeat, one that I bought earlier this season, and love wearing. Since versatility is essential for my wardrobe and lifestyle, I was fortunate to snag this dress at a deal. And, yes, finally I can also wear this dress to express an autumnal vibe.

I decided to pair this outfit with these beige booties. They are surprisingly comfortable for the first five hours, but I had to change into another pair afterwards. I must had the precognition about it, because I wore these boots on a day that I had my golden foldable flats in my workout bag.


The goods: Printed dress-H&M, Lace-up boots-c/o Sammydress, Leather belt-gifted, Striped Eco-leggings-Gudrun Sjoden, Denim Jacket-Calvin Klein, Studded clutch and Cloche hat (I added peacock feather)-Oasap c/o. *I am also wearing my pink button in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, mentioned here


Do you have a special way of dressing when you're not feeling your fashionable self?


Shop the look


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Style Tips: Best Ways To Organise Shoes

You’ve amassed more shoes over the course of a few months than you care to admit to. Your loafers are all mixed up with your brogues, your collection of trainers would put professional athletes to shame, and you’ve lost the special pair of heels that you wear perhaps once a year but now need for an up-coming social engagement.

We’ve all been there, and had to recognise when the chaos (that is our shoe collection) needs to be organised. It's undeniably stressful at times, but there are several ways to combat the problem to make it as smooth as possible, whilst ensuring that you never descend into shoe uproar again (hopefully). Here are a few tips to help you get tidy.
  1. Invest in some good storage: It is so easy to chuck your shoes on any available floor space, especially after a long day spent being fabulous. It is, however, better for your sanity and all round well-being (hands up if you’ve sustained injuries after tripping over a stray boot?) if you have a basket, a box or a rail to keep all of your shoes in one place. Think about how much space this could open up in your home! You could even get creative with your storage, using ingenious and sustainable methods of  keeping your collection neat but pretty. Alongside the obvious IKEA classics, people have used empty wine racks, colourful buckets and empty paint cans nailed to the wall to store their shoes. Shelving and proper storage is essential! Sometimes shoe boxes take up too much room, especially if you have limited closet space. If you're on a budget, then go for a creative DIY.
  2. Pair up: This is the part that could take quite a long time. For your collection to be truly organised, you need to find all corresponding pairs of shoes and keep them together. This could involve you rooting around in all sorts of bizarre places for shoes that you didn’t even realise were missing. Once found, dust down and keep together in whatever storage receptacle you have opted for. For me, I separate my vintage shoes from the rest.
  3. Edit your collection: Often, this is the part I personally find the most difficult. You might not realise it yet, but you probably do not need as many shoes as you actually have. Many of us have very sentimental relationships with our clothes, making it hard to part with pieces that we have enjoyed wearing and that have helped us to project confidence and assuredness. Shoes are no exception, giving us the boost we need and providing the perfect twist or finish to our ensembles. I can guarantee, however, that there are shoes you have not thought about wearing for a long time that can be donated to charity, or are simply beyond the point of repair. Be ruthless and get clutter-free! 
  4. Make a promiseYou are a responsible grown-up, independent and self-sufficient human being. Life can get hectic at times, but you are fully capable of keeping your shoe collection organised. You may even find that coming home to a neat and tidy space helps to clear your head after a busy day … I know that I do!
Images: (c) visualphotos.com, giphy.com, and pixabay.com. This post is sponsored by Manchester based UK women's wholesale fashion supplier, MaryJaneFashion.com. All opinions are honestly expressed.


How do you store your shoes? Do you use shelving, baskets, or have everything stored by colour, style, and/or heel height?

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Check out more inspiration from these spacious closets. 

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