Style Files // Plush Pink Moments

I have found myself wearing this comfy pink coat faithfully on a weekly basis. The comfort is surprisingly addicting: plush, soft, and fluffy. We went out to brunch over the weekend as we do, and I almost didn't mind keeping the coat on indoors. I did say, "almost" because let's be honest, wearing a fun sequins and lace top should always be seen and appreciated.

After Christmas holiday I wore this coat with a long dress, and then again during a New Year's dinner party. There were a few night shots that were blurry so I decided to take these afterward when we were back earlier this month. The weather was freezing everywhere, but I managed to get a few shots.
These croc-heels were on sale at ASOS, and I was fortunate to find this belt as well just moments before I pressed the "checkout" button.

We went to a few antique stores over the weekend to shop for props with a stylist friend and I heard a customer already talking about spring … what? I am rather enjoying winter, believe it or not.  But, I'm sure it would be different if I were snowed in with no electricity.


Aside from that, here's some highlights from January. Needless to say, it's been quite a crafty month, as you will soon find out.

Lately, I have been enthralled with paper art books, and reading a lot about the craft to further my inspiration to create more of my own. I made paper flowers, but this time they were out of stiffer paper, then used plastic notions from the art store, and I crumbled the paper multiple times for pliability. They were merely an upgrade from these. I will also have a different little DIY for you soon.


How has your January been?


The goods: Denim- Belt and Heels-The Truffle Collection via ASOS, Coat-F21, Leopard top, and Hat with added peacock feather-Oasap c/o. *affiliate links enclosed in post.
*Linking this post up with "Thursday Fashion Files" here.
Above: Rigatoni w/spinach, mushrooms, and nori peppered salmon, Sneak peek for a DIY. Beauty try-outs: Marc Jacobs Highliner gel crayon, and e.l.f. deep berry lip colours (so far, so good), Adorable cocktail napkins my sister sent me, and hand-made paper art/flowers. Also, I used the contour palette from e.l.f. and Anastasia Beverly Hills in this look, have you tried those?

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FT Kitchen: Orange Currant Scones

This has been a long time coming, but finally had time to share a few foodie delights that I recently made, including these delicious scones. Growing up with a mum of English roots means that there will be some very English recipes, especially when a mother like mine can cook very well. I tweaked my mum's regular scone recipe and decided on making these orange currant scones. She usually makes them deeper, but I did not have a deep cutter on hand at the time. Since then, I have bought one about 4 cm.

Variations for scones are abundant loads of places. There are plenty diverse versions to savour, and each one of my friends will say that their grandmother or some family member makes the best (right, as they should). Some of my favourite combinations that I grew up eating were maple sultana, rosemary-thyme, cinnamon and cardamom, or even lemon-blueberry scones are pretty much made with the same base. Minor adjustments depend on what fruit or herbs are added into the mixture.
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I like savoury scones as well, since they aren't overly sweet, to begin with, and obviously love eating them with a dollop of Devon cream, or side of fresh fruit. We used these more for an afternoon dessert, though a great lil' sweet quick-bread to enjoy post-lunch with coffee.

I recently bought a few new pieces of bakeware, so stay tuned for more delicious experimenting in the near future.


Ingredients: 
360g (3 cups) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
42g (1/3 cup) icing sugar/confectioners' sugar
20g (1 1/2) tablespoons caster sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
113g (1/2 cup) (=1 stick) unsalted butter (chilled)- cut into small chunks
95g (1/2 cup) vegetable shortening (chilled) - cut into small chunks
240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk (chilled)
90g (3/4 cup) dried currants
1/2 - 2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons buttermilk to glaze, or (use 1 beaten egg - optional)

Prep: 10 min. or less. Bake: 15 mins.
Use foil to line baking sheet. Preheat oven to 220°C = 425°F, or Gas Mark 7
Yield: Makes approx. 10-12 scones.  

Method:
  1. Tip flour, baking soda, salt, icing sugar, baking powder, and caster sugar in a large bowl, then mix.  
  2. Add the butter, and vegetable shortening, and use fingertips to rub together until a coarse mill consistency (small crumbs) forms.  
  3. Add 1 cup buttermilk, the orange zest, and currants. Now stir the dough mixture gently until large moist lumps form. 
  4. Pat dough into a round ball. Transfer dough to a lightly dusted floured work surface. Carefully knead dough by turning 2-3 times to combine well. Do not overwork dough! 
  5. Divide dough into 2 large pieces. Flatten each piece into 2cm-3cm thick rounds (or for thinner scones about 1/2"-1"). With a cutter or floured cutlery knife, cut each round into 6 pieces. Dive back into the dough and repeat again until you have 6 more scones. 
  6. Press out what's left of the dough and cut into another round. 
  7. Carefully transfer scones to foiled baking tray/sheet. Brush the tops with the 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or a beaten egg).  
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve warm with jam or clotted cream.

Do you have a favourite recipe from your childhood that you love to make?


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FT Travels: Holiday Planning

Although the new year has only begun just weeks ago, it's really one of the perfect times to set out to plan future holidays. We generally do most travel for business, so it's extra special when I can enjoy a leisurely getaway.

Friends of ours, and even my parents are planning to go on a cruise soon, and it made me ponder about conjuring up a travel list of my own, one with entirely different places to visit. I was always told, "It's free to browse, and smart to compare pricing," a family statement that holds true especially for travel searching online. By browsing you might find great packages to locations that you never would have visited normally.

It can also be an excellent way to ignite spontaneity in your life in some way; not necessarily pertaining to last-minute booking, however in choosing new adventures and destinations. Taking a risk in travel destinations can be fun at times, but always do your research.
Even if you aren't ready to fully commit to booking your travel arrangements at this exact moment it's a clever idea to browse future options. Peruse luxury hotels or cheap holidays: seasonal flights, and inexpensive packages help because sometimes the idea of luxury can intimidate your wallet. But, there are times when hotels have deals that might be within your budget if your dates are flexible.

I remember one year we wanted to go to Cape Verde, but everything was expensive. Later, we found extremely affordable tickets randomly on a package for a weekend holiday, and decided to book them for the following month. An unforeseen holiday ended up being a wonderful break, a much needed one in fact. Whether you're planning a weekend excursion for a few days or a fortnight holiday, making travel plans can often seem daunting if you're not used to taking your time. Be patient.

I usually make a handwritten list. It sounds like a natural thing to do, but there's something about visually seeing my travel list that helps me to check things off more expediently. Of course, I still use a digital list, however the initial travel list of city selections, best packages, and our flexible dates are all on my written list.

Where would you like to go this year or next year? Fancy taking a trip to ancient horizons, attend the Bodrum ballet festival in Turkey, or enjoy a Western Mediterranean cruise—either way hopefully these images will inspire your next destination.


Do you and your significant other typically travel to the same places or are you adventurers? Do you like to travel with friends or alone?  




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Wedding Inspiration: Outdoor Style

I have always enjoyed attending weddings, expressly outdoors. I've only attended a few indoor weddings, and although they were very lovely, I absolutely prefer outdoor weddings the most. Since my mum was a caterer, I was used to attending grandiose events and even small intimate dinner parties in my youth. And, since I grew up with parents that constantly hosting and entertaining, it was inevitable for me to not love it as well as I got older. I've had a love affair with wedding planning for decades, but have never got into the business.

I thought The Knot Outdoor Weddings, by Carley Roney and the editors of the knot was an ideal way to indulge in my wistful wedding fascination. Firstly, the book is filled with a mound of inspiration from choosing wedding cakes to ceremony seating.

I have recently been commissioned to help a co-worker friend with his wedding, but with furnishing table details and décor. It's a joyful, yet laborious undertaking, but one that I'm rather thrilled to participate in. I have not styled huge weddings on my own much in the past, only large fashion events. However, I have done more wedding projects in the last few years, and also loved helping with my friend Zoë's pre-wedding details for inspiration.

I was excited to read The Knot because I was seeking new concepts for the upcoming wedding. I have loads of ideas and hope to share some of them in the near future, if time permits.


Inside The Book:
Some areas of influence will come natural as outdoor styling "do's," especially if you're already a DIY décor junkie, a floral arranging guru, or decorating enthusiast, namely a tabletop styling aficionado. But, this book offers a full serving of flawless details and elements of reference, nonetheless. Not everyone can be Martha Stewart, but I adore perfecting creations just like the next crafting devotee This book will definitely give you inspiration to take it to a higher calibre. In time, hopefully your event will look just as incredible.

 The thing about weddings (especially, today) is that you really can do  anything.  Merging old traditions with modern concepts, or creating your  own traditions entirely can easily be done with proper preparation and order.

 My favourite parts of the book includes: venue details (top wedding  locations by the season), menu layout embellishments, as well as  marvellous captures from actual weddings. The diverse photography from  each wedding is stunning, and close-up images of all of the charming  details that you'd want to see are present.

 Helpful tips on what to do for all-weather situations come rain or shine was also a great section of the book. I remember at one of my close friend's weddings, they provided shoes for us since the secluded area was quite a walk to get to by foot. The women were given comfy foldable flats. This book suggests wellies or parasols—it's a rather practical and smart idea if it happens to rain.

I favoured all of the varied wedding venues, from the countryside to a cityscape setting. The Knot is compiled with an exceptional showcase on how couples can blend nature into weddings whilst still adding that personal touch that every couple desires for their special day.

Overall, if you love weddings and are interested in learning how to plan, decorate, or blend minimal elements with the elaborate for weddings, then you will enjoy this book. There are tips on selecting the best reception tents: pole tents vs. frame tents, and the best flowers to stand up against the heat, and outdoor wedding check-list essentials.

This book is a worthy reference for the wedding planning novice, bride to be, or seasoned outdoor event stylist. So, yes it did live up to my expectations, and gave me a fair amount of inspiration for future wedding projects.  

Did you have an outdoor or indoor wedding? If you've not tied the knot yet, what would be your perfect wedding location?
The goods: The Knot Outdoor Weddings by Carley Roney. For more info. about the author click here. I was given this book for an honest review via Crown Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own. 

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Prime-Time Beauty

Coming off an extended holiday is always the difficult part. Actually, I am just getting back into the swing of things and it feels as if January has just begun today for me, although we're rapidly entering the middle of the month this week. No worries, something stylish is on the way, in addition to new crafty concoctions in the works to share with you. It's just a matter of getting everything sorted.

In the past six months or so I have tried to find another makeup primer that I love. It's been a tough gliding slope of highs and lows, however I finally narrowed it down to a faithful few. My personal primers that I've been using recently are Smashbox's Photo Finish Primer Water, Make Up For Ever's (MUFE) Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primer in Smoothing, and Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch.

These have been somewhat my saving grace on-the-go, and the first two come in travel-friendly sizes, which are perfect. Smashbox's primer water also is alcohol-free, oil-free, and silicone-free. The Clarins Instant Smooth (makeup base) is a thick and cream-like formula, and one that I love. It works well even with the Smashbox primer water. It's a bit pricer for the quantity than some, but does work and comes with a scooping spatula.

My makeup routine is pretty easy-going during the week. At the very least, as long as there's hydration, mascara, and a fabulous lip colour involved, I'm generally okay. I am not too fussy when it comes to my daily beauty look, and due to having a slight incline of impatience, I usually can't be bothered to take an extremely long time to get ready in the wee hours of the morning. Hence, having the Smashbox spray bottle is a prompt addition, and spritz of genius at dawn.
Smashbox primer water - Clarins instant smoother - Make Up For Ever Primer

I haven't found a miracle product, but the pairing of Smashbox with MUFE's "smoothing" primer did wonders when I needed my makeup to last longer. And, since I don't wear full makeup everyday, I knew these would last me a while. The consistency is a satiny, non-oily, smooth texture that gives a blurring effect. It comes out as a flesh colour, but blends well. I've only used a couple of MUFE's new range of primers, but have found that the "smoothing" primer worked best for me.

I have combination skin, and I did not experience any drying after use nor did the product ball up as some primers do. But, it depends on the foundation/powder you are also using with primers. I've used Boots No7 Photo Fix primer in the past, but feel that these three used in rotation were more effective. I liked Dr. Brandt's primer awhile, until I used it with a different foundation, then it would come off or ball up, so I ended up only using it paired with a different product.

Everyone is different! I've found that some of the primers that even work for my friends with similar skin doesn't work for me, despite glorious appraisals. I would suggest to simply try them out for yourself,. It really does depend on what you're seeking: a matte finish, smoother texture, colour correcting, longer (makeup) wear, pore-perfecting, etc.

Do you use face or eye shadow primer? What's your favourite makeup primer currently? 


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Lastly, I was so pleased at the amount of feedback that you gave me from my New Year's goals and lifestyle inspirational post. Consequently, that post was chosen in IFB's Links a la Mode last week. Thank you!


SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop Acne StudiosStuart Weitzman BootsJonathan Adler Home & GiftsLIVE THE PROCESSSara BarnerMarie MarotFaux Fur CoatsLace Up TopsMicro BagsMen's To Boot New York


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Winter Favourites

I have been wanting to find a unique vintage style dress unlike some of the ones that I already own. After visiting a couple of charity shops I took the search online, and then to a friend's trunk of fabric remnants that she was going to toss.

Fortunately, I found two pieces of yardage from the trunk that I believe (if I cut very carefully) will be able to make a dress or skirt. It's one of the many tasks on my 2016 list, to sew more like I used to professionally and showcase occasionally on the blog.

Also, after perusing online I found similar vintage-inspired dresses that I liked on Sammydress' site, including this tartan belted dress, and a classic polka dots retro silhouette. There are plenty of items and selected pieces that include free-shipping. The brand asked me to select a few of my online favourites. I've not worn any of their dresses yet, but I've tried my luck with their tops, and jumpers as well as a few accessories. I laughed when I saw the Doctor Who inspired necklace, because I have a friend who would adore it so much!

I actually haven't bought much at all recently except beauty products (makeup and skincare) mostly. But, I did manage to grab a snugly faux fur coat before Christmas and saved it to wear afterward, then again for New Year's Eve. I loved it so much that I added a couple of colourful fur options below. Now, all I need to do is find an emerald green faux fur to add to my list of entirely practical seasonal wardrobe essentials.

Shop via Sammydress.com Save an additional 10% with the code: "PromoproSD." This post is brought to you by Sammydress, but all opinions expressed are my own. Shop related items below:

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What's your favourite dress style? Have you bought anything new this winter season? 

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Cuppa Cool: Poetic Melodies

As an avid tea drinker, teatime has been a part of my lifestyle and started in my childhood. Having afternoon tea with my family and looking forward to going to tearooms to meet my nan was always a great experience. When I got older, I started to venture out into new tea flavours but, to be honest it invariably resulted back to classic favourites like Earl Grey and English Breakfast. Correction: with the exception of French lavender-infused Earl Grey, which is absolutely amazing by the way.

In the past, my regular tea selections were pretty much traditional and constant. However, as you may know by now when it comes to fashion and food, I do tend to lean toward bold, luxe, and vibrant threads as well as unconventional flavours. So, when I came across August Uncommon Tea (AUT) I was very firstly intrigued by their tea selections.
From the initial aroma of the first package of tea opened, I knew it was going to be something quite unique. Tea for us is just as much about the experience as making the perfect espresso drink for guests, or sometimes even choosing the right table linens.

AUT offers special sets, including the Completist, and the Starter kit. We tried August's Starter Kit over the holidays with a small group of friends for an evening of tea tasting. This kit included the current fall-winter collection: Leatherbound, Mood Indigo, Tropic of Capricorn, Nighthawks, and Veins of Gold.

FlavoursThey really had me at the great tea titles, namely "Mood Indigo," and "Veins of Gold." With names like those, I had high hopes of the tea living up to its bold captions. Fortunately, the collection did not disappoint.

One of my favourites was definitely Mood Indigo. It's the perfect unity of smouldering fruit, and charming notes of herbal liqueur. Savour it as you're enjoying your favourite vintage vinyl record of soulful rhythms at night. After trying it out first, I almost did not want to share the rest. Yes, it's that good. The flavour transports you to an urbane lounge, and taking a bite out of a sweet orange right on the barbie.

My least favourite was probably Nighthawks, the label says it's "an organic Darjeeling style black tea from Nepal." It was good in taste, but not as exciting for me, despite that it was favoured by others. The package says that it tastes like "dark oak, dried roses, and red bordeaux"— all things that I love but, I reckon the other tea flavours captivated my taste buds more.

For rooibos fans, Veins of Gold will strike a chord nicely with you. It's caffeine free and embodies classic holiday flavours of chocolate, and a dash of nutmeg. We paired it with a Grand Marnier cake that I made. Obviously, it's also perfect with your biscuit of preference.

The most surprisingly addicting flavour though goes to Tropic of Capricorn, a fragrant green tea enveloped in eucalyptus leaves, and dragonfruit. This tea comes in at number one alongside Mood Indigo for us, we tried both flavours hot and iced, and enjoyed it.

Leatherbound reminded me of baking flavours from my childhood. It's smooth and satisfying tea that's comforting by the sip. This bold black tea has organic dark cocoa, and organic caraway. It's the tea that you'd drink whilst being engrossed in a great novel.

Based in Los Angeles, Calif., the brand's mission is to provide fine tea options in a diverse range to contemporary tea enthusiasts without compromising quality. The loose teas are sourced and skilfully blended in Germany.

Packaging: Onyx box with Mint hued accents and branded label. Overall: a simple, polished, and luxe aesthetic. The Fall-Winter 2015 Starter Kit comes with a one-cup tea infuser, brewing guide, a scoop, and 4-serving resealable bags (five tea flavours) that make up 20 cups of tea.
For the collection jars of tea, they come individually in matte black 100g tins.

If you fancy quality flavoured tea or know someone who appreciates the unconventional, then I'd suggest the starter kit. The brand ships worldwide, so it's a win-win! We also tried our hand at mixing some of the teas with spirits, which resulted in a few marvellous concoctions.

The goods: Starter Kit: Fall-Winter 2015 Collection-Courtesy of August Uncommon Tea. For more info. on how to brew visit Augus.la, Eco-friendly "Helga" table linens and Snösiska printed napkins-c/o Gudrun Sjoden. 

Have you tried flavoured tea? What do you think of August Uncommon Tea? 



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Bells, Whistles, and Holiday Cheer

Happy New Year everyone! We had the most fantastic New Year's Eve, and as mentioned earlier it was a quieter one. I hope that you are ready for 2016. Here's to making this year a lot better than the last. I know that I've loads of new ventures under way, and even more goals to mark off. I am actually finishing/amending my monthly calendar now as I type -- and trying to squeeze in a couple extra spa/pampering moments for January and February. Here's a few key things that I wanted to share with you that I exercise in my lifestyle.

For Brighter Days
But, just as any month goes, I will simply continue to instil daily affirmations as well as set personal tasks and work related goals for myself. Having daily affirmations helps me to stay positive, especially during a chaotic day. My parents used to give my siblings and I booklets of ancient proverbs. I still have those. Nowadays, a family e-mail of encouragement and/or joyful nuggets of inspiration are sent. You've got to love technology!

The Monthly Splurge
Once a month I give myself a little splurge. This does not necessarily mean that the splurge is spending a lot of money on fashion, tech, or beauty, etc. My lifestyle can often be quite hectic, and sometimes the splurge is spending an extra hour in my favourite bookstore, buying a new nail colour, going all out at a fine dining restaurant with your bestie, or just getting a fantastic massage. Whatever is needed the most at that time, I try to make it happen.


On Being Grateful & Charitable
I've learnt at a very young age that you should be both grateful for each day, but also be giving. My parents are both some of the most charitable people I've ever known. It really does matter, and you can make a difference in someone's life in the smallest way. Sometimes, mere courtesy as a smile is all a person needs. Showing kindness is free and it can be the one act that day that can change a person's perception.

Maybe it's because I've moved around so much growing up, but I don't fancy amassing too much when it comes to unused pieces, be it with textiles, sewing notions, or garments. I generally wear everything that I own fashion-wise (even though I may not create a style posting of every piece), instead of my pieces collecting a lot of dust per se. But, everyone is different. To remedy hoarding unworn garments, I usually do an annual purge of items that I've not worn within the year or more, and donate to charity. Sometimes, I do a clothing sell/swap with friends, which is always loads of fun.

Although, there are several pieces that I may not wear constantly, such as special heirloom and vintage pieces even so, those are items that I know will perpetually be implemented in my wardrobe. Of course those are kept.

Here are some lasting snapshots of more holiday favourites. Do stay tuned, there's DIY's, recipes, and event décor inspiration coming soon.
 Above: one of many centrepieces for the table, Black & Gold: NYE outfit #2 for early dinner, A few travelling beauty favourites that I've been using. 

How was your Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve? 

 Above: Back from dinner & too stuffed for anything else other than champagne and these German spice biscuits, Toasting to the new year, A sneak-peak of some sustainable table linens, Cold weather wear: furry goodness around the neck with a new berry lipstick. 

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