Champagne: At Your Service

Entertaining is a lifestyle in our home, and in the past there has definitely been occasions where creating the cocktail menu seemed more complex than it should have been. The hassle of acquiring multiple bottles for the sake of making a handful of cocktails can often be a daunting task, especially if you're not an expert.

Imagine, a curated box of inspiring cocktail recipes, and all the bits needed to actually make them without having to dash out the door. If you've ever wanted to make your own cocktail like a true mixologist, or at least have the fundamentals to do so, then this is where Shaker & Spoon (S&S) comes to the rescue.

Shaker & Spoon's monthly subscription based service provides you with all the essentials needed (sans the alcohol) to concoct quality, bar-worthy cocktails to enjoy and impress. Don't worry, glass juggling or showstopping pouring techniques aren't required—these recipes can easily be created by novices as well as any seasoned cocktail making enthusiast.

I've teamed up with the brand to give you a glimpse of their offerings. We tried out the Celebrate With Bubbles box for a fun-filled weekend of cocktail tasting.

June's Box: "Celebrate with Bubbles"
This S&S box included elements to make the drinks, "Time After Thyme" (a punchy and refreshing citrus-veggie cocktail with cucumber, grapefruit, celery bitters, and thyme), "Pink Peppercorn Potion" (a sweet vivacious brew infused with pink peppercorns, lemon, and strawberries), and the bittersweet symphonic notes of nectarine syrup, and kumquat-raspberry nectar garnished with orange wheels in the drink, "Kumquat Whynot?"

Other items in the box included one grapefruit, two bottles of bitters, three lemons, and four bottles of syrups/nectar, sugar cubes, and orange wheels needed for all twelve cocktails.

Each cocktail was quite unique in its own right. Our top pick was instantly the Time After Thyme drink, and with Pink Peppercorn Potion ranking as a popular second amongst the group. We used prosecco, rosé champagne, and carbonated water (just to taste the flavours for guests who might be non-drinkers).

The Insider Details:
Price: $50/month, or $42.50 with the discount (see below). There are month-to-month, and pre-paid options available as well.
  • When your box is shipped, you're notified via e-mail, which is also filled with suggestions pertaining to your themed box, and even how-to video links to ensure that you will have a marvellous no-fail experience!
  • Each subscription box comes filled with info. cards with glossary terms, recipe cards, and all the necessities to make three recipes: a total of twelve cocktails (four drinks per recipe).
  • There's an easy to follow guide for each cocktail, pre-portioned syrups, bitters, and even the garnishes to accompany your creative cocktails.
  • Professional bartenders also helped with the origination of the drink recipes.

This is for YOU if …  you're looking to try something different in the realm of cocktails, or simply want to up your cocktail game. Or, if you already have a bar cart filled with several types of liquor, this would be a great way to make use of those bottles, and experiment in making proper cocktails with specialty ingredients. However, even if you don't have a bottle collection quite yet, this would be a great way to test out different concoctions without having to buy multiple full-size liquor varieties.

What do you think of Shaker & Spoon's concept?  

Try next month's box of goodies with 15% off, but act fast and sign up by 30 June to receive the upcoming Summer Scotch Box (For US readers), or sign up for a future themed box. View past boxes here.
The goods: "Celebrate with Bubbles" Box-Courtesy of Shaker & Spoon, Printed cocktail napkins-(Buy similar), Spicy herb pretzel bar mix (get the recipe here), French blue bottles-(Buy similar), Etched purple glass-c/o Gudrun Sjoden, Printed paper-Hallmark, Slate board-(Buy it here).

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FT Kitchen: Beets, and Biscuits

Last month, I made homemade biscotti for the first time, which was quite easy. It also reminded me of growing up, as my mum used to make homemade biscuits especially for my sister and I. These were so satisfying with coffee, milk, or tea. Since my first attempt, I've made different flavours and loved these with almond and orange the most. 

I have been experimenting more with the maqui berry powder, and I made almond-beet berry ice cream, using maqui berry powder, and red beets. It's a healthier alternative if you like ice cream (which I could never eat before when I was young because of the sugar content), so I served this to our friends after dinner a few weeks ago, and never told them that it didn't have any refined sugar in it. 

The result was an amazingly refreshing berry flavoured ice cream with coconut milk. Stay tuned for more original recipes and summer favourites!

*Don't forget, you can still save 25% off anything you order at Sunfood.com until 31 July, including the maqui berry powder. Use code: FASHIONTALES25 


Do you like biscotti or have any favourite ice cream flavours?



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Absolute Sheer Luxe



As a fashion, beauty, and all things "stylish and luxe" enthusiast, it's often a bit tricky to decide on what favourites to share, and particularly when to share them. There are heaps of diverse sites that I fancy throughout each month. But, I have been revisiting a few online destinations that I've loved in the past.

Sheer Luxe and Mint Velvet are just two of those favourite sites that I have been revisiting.
They are not exactly new, but between the both of them they will satiate your luxury cravings for food, fashion, and lifestyle. Sometimes reverting to sites that you've coveted in the past, but have somewhat forgotten about can give you just the bolt of inspiration needed.

I often come across new boutiques, and even revisit old ones on a weekly basis. More currently, the latter. It's been a good lengthy time of personal browsing, shopping, and creating repetitive wish lists with these two sites, so here's a shoppable guide that I've created below.

Most items are from Sheer Luxe. And, since I will be taking a weekend getaway very soon next month, this style board specifically reflects weekend city strolls, and casual holiday selections that I am loving at the moment.

From window shopping to gorgeous park walks, something semi-basic and casual for day, and then a dash of colour for night is perfectly fine with me for the weekend.

Do you have any weekend getaways planned?


Above: (1)Kendra Scott Carole Necklace (2)-French Connection Siena lace dress, (3)Frame Denim Le Slouchy Tencel Tank (4)Stella McCartney cat eye sunglasses (5)Dune London nude travel set (6)Jorgobe Skin Care peel off mask, (7)Ciara Leather Mid-heel Sandals, (8)Selected Femme Aliva Striped Shorts, (9)Rag & Bone Straw Panama Hat, (10)French Connection Cilly Boots, (11)Mint Velvet-Chalk Abia cross body bag.

Have you shopped Sheer Luxe?


Shop the Inspiration



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Weekend Links and Netflixation

A bit of a short post today, and yes, for the bloggers who skim, I can almost hear your pondering this. But, read on (in entirely under two minutes) ...

Thank you very much for your lovely comments on my post last week. It was chosen in IFB's Links à la Mode round-up. Do check out other selected bloggers in the list below.

What are your plans for the weekend? After a recent business trip, I finally have time to unwind, so I am off to a friend's housewarming. Afterward, I am spending time with my sister on the weekend for some much needed relaxation / spa pampering. A manicure and a Swedish massage is on the agenda. I will be back on the blog on Tuesday.

Sunday will be a laid-back day, and a Netflix evening. What is on your radar? Do you have any theatre suggestions, or must-see films? I might be a tad behind, since we typically watch more foreign cinema as of late, and helpful film recommendations, new series, or your current indie favourites are certainly welcomed.



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Tales of Spritz

Aside from this being in my top summer foodie book buys for 2016, along with these, Spritz, a book by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau offers a perfect guide to the infamous Italian aperitivo cocktail. I wanted this book primarily because of the focus (Spritz!), as I don't have many cocktail books at all in my archives. Since we entertain quite a bit, this sounded like a favourable book option to have on the shelf.


Like many, I've delved into the occasional cocktail/bar bible, followed directions, and read a couple of books on creating your own bar drinks. For some reason, I never really got into it. My often dauntless ways in the kitchen didn't quite make it to expert cocktail making, and baking merely outranked it all. But, there's something incredibly enticing about cocktails, perhaps it's all aesthetic for the most part before taste. That's what I thought before getting nose deep into this book ... it turns out, it's all the above! And, the taste bit? Yes, that's definitely essential!

The Spritz Sessions:
I tried out several concoctions myself, and infused varied bitters along with sugar-free syrup options. We loved them! It's a slightly more elegant way of weekend quaffing with fizzles and all, and the absolute summer cocktail to love.

The real treat though wasn't solely the diverse cocktails that the book promised ... indeed, there was so much more! Not only is this book surprisingly detailed, but it also comes with recipes. There are great small plated bites to accompany your spritz. Some of the hors d'œuvres and snacks include Baccalà Mantecato, essentially a canapé with Norwegian stockfish (a Venetian favourite), oven-roasted olives (because regular olives are overrated), Spiedini di Mare (Venetian-style shrimp calamari skewers), and Mondechili (Nothern Italian meatballs), amongst others.
Books on Spritz cocktails

The Who, Why,  & Where:
Who: Even if you don't partake in any beverage concoction that involves alcohol, you can make virgin-style cocktails from this book. There are plenty of options for inspiration, lessons in Italian spritz, and intricate tales all compiled into this vibrant treasure.

Why you need it: 
  • If you get this book just for the retro graphics and images alone, I'll say it's worth it. 
  • With minimal ingredients, it's also one of the easiest cocktails to create, therefore extremely simple to surmount nearly any spritz recipe, even the somewhat "complex" versions. 
  • This would make a marvellous coffee table book, although the book would gleam nicely on a small counter all on its own (with proper back lighting, of course).
  • Other offerings include, an in-depth knowledge booster on spritzes: from classic origins to some history with "Prosecco 101."

Where: Looking for a spritz hot spot? No worries, you're covered. In the back of the book, from Milan to Venice you will find cafés and other establishments serving spritz, as well as other cities. It's an added bonus and road map to treat yourself whilst travelling on your Italian holiday. Now, go forth and get your spritz on!
Above: Images are my own, and other images are taken from the book, Spritz. *I received this book from the publisher, all opinions are honest and solely my own. This post may contain some affiliate links.


Tell me, how do you take your spritz? What's your favourite cocktail?
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Organika Cases

Organika, an emerging tech accessories brand is bringing the outdoors directly to you (and your mobile devices). It wasn't too long ago (in fact, just this year) that the initial idea and development of these new style of cases came into fruition.

The conceptual design behind Organika's new line of decorative cases is quite unique—producing a diverse range of mobile case—inspiring the customer to regress to pleasant flashbacks and fond moments ignited by familiar scents.

These styles are indicative of nostalgic scents and made with dried plants, and leaves. Some of the styles include, Coffee Beans (energy), Alpine Hay (memory), Rose Petals (love), and Jasmine (calm).

Tech cases that carry a subtle scent intensity? It's an innovative concept, indeed. This special concentration on the sense of smell is something that I've not actually seen before in mobile cases, and I can honestly say that I've never had a tech case that had any scent other than that of new leather. Even then, the "new leather" smell is a distinct aroma, one that most people either love or loathe.

Based in Slovenia, the brand uses organic materials embedded in the design of every case produced.
The Organika team kindly sent me this rose petal style iPhone case, and upon opening the box the first thing that I did was obviously smell the case (it's not something one does ... ever. But, this time you'd actually want to)! Sure enough, the case radiated of rose, yet it wasn't overpowering.

The Details:
Early Bird Price: 29 USD
Materials: Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), in addition to organic materials and FSC certified. The outer shell material makes it versatile and semi-pliable, yet still sturdy. The case has grip texture on each side for slip-free handling.
Packaging: Came in a branded box with natural raffia shavings.

Protection: This case protects the outer realm of the phone, not the face of the phone. I have a screen shield on my phone, so this was not a problem.
Made in EU. Organika mobile cases support Apple, Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, and Huawei products. 

 (Above) Image Credit: Organika

Verdict: Rated: 8.5/10  
Overall, I really loved the case, and the idea behind it. If I could tweak one thing, it would be to offer other colours for the frame of the cases, but that's minor. The case is made very well, and of good quality. You can really view the embellished details with the rose petals; a smooth and somewhat textured surface that also give off the rose fragrance.

Who is this for: If you're looking for something different with the splendid element of nature attached to the design, then this is for you. People who want an everyday case, or tend to lean toward a more natural aesthetic in selecting mobile cases will probably like these cases. At the very least, this would be a good addition to your collection of tech cases if you already own lavish leather, or other gilded styles.

*View more details about Organika , and other styles on their Kickstarter page

The goods: Mobile case style: Rose Petals-c/o Organika (MMore Cases). PR sample: I received this mobile case for an honest review. All other images: Fashion Tales.


What do you think of Organika Cases? What scent gives you a fond memory?


Iphone cases Scented Organika MMore Cases

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Foodie Tales and Summer Tunes

We do a lot of entertaining, and although in the last few months we have not been hosting as many dinner parties and brunches as we usually do, we'll surely be rectifying that soon. Haven't you heard? Grilling season is ascending!

Since you enjoyed my diverse playlists from the past, namely this one, and my workout list, I've put together just a handful of different artists for entertaining. I don't listen to as much mainstream music typically, but I have included more in this list.

With hopes of brighter days and the absolutely aperitive fragrance of fresh grilled veggies, your preferred protein, and fresh caught sea delicacies, you will need tunes for the great weather. Just close your eyes and pretend you're at my backyard BBQ. Yes, that's right, this time you are invited so come as you are and bring your favourite sunnies!



Don't fret, we've a fully stocked ice chest of every libation imaginable, and I'm making power cocktails with fresh herbs from our garden that you will love. Not to mention, we've several feasts for vegetarians, gluten-intolerant folks, and meat-lovers. I've even made a special frozen dessert or three. Treats for the sweet and the savoury palate. I've taken care of everything. Oh, did I mention, there's live art from a couple of our good friends in town? An acoustic show will be happening later in the evening as well.

Don't be shy, I promise, you will savour every bite, and your belly will be filled. There is plenty of gourmet food for seconds and thirds to go around. When you need a break from eating, the laughter in abundance with a side dish of these tunes will keep the conversation going.

Yes, you may take a couple of Selfies (if you must), but you'll be having way too much fun for that, and I doubt you'll even take out your Smartphone. Ahem, wait ... correction, you'll only need it to take snapshots of the food, obviously!


 Click the text below & listen: EDM, renditions, soft ballads, jazz, and more!

Side A: Dancing in the Daylight 
  1. *"Not Too Young" by Sabina Ddumba  
  2. *"Waiting All Night" Rudimental feat. Ella Eyre
  3. "Bonbon" by Era Istrefi 
  4. " The Get Go" by The New Young Pony Club 
  5. "Let's Dance" by David Bowie
  6. "This is What You Came For" by Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna
  7. "Capsize" by Frenship

Side B: The Evening Feast: Wine Down
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Sunny Side Cravings

I used to think that whenever you're travelling (whether for business or leisure), it's nearly impossible to eat healthy the whole time, but that's not true. Nowadays, even more than ever, it really is simple to eat healthily … if you want to. Of course, we're human, so the occasional indulgent treat, be it a sweet fix of [insert your favourite pastry name], or even fresh baked breads can get the best of us at times.

Being a person with certain food allergies is no walk in the park. So, for me, reading ingredient labels is merely as natural as ... blinking.

I've collaborated with prime natural food retailer, Sunfood, to share with you a variety of their products, including superfoods and raw snacks.

Do you whisper to yourself, "My body is a temple" countlessly throughout the week? Right, ahem, neither do I, but if you're a raw food lover, a health and fitness advocate, or simply a "super-foodie" (pun intended), you will adore their range. The whispers will come later.

The diverse range doesn't stop at food. Their hair care, body care, and personal care products offered will have you buying vegan-friendly items without even becoming a vegan! I know, I'll give you a moment!

Rest assured, you needn't be alarmed about harmful chemicals in any of their foods, as the brand has items entirely free of toxic nasties. Their products are tailored to fit many dietary needs: gluten-free, kosher, organic, non-GMO verified, and vegan-friendly foods. International shipping is offered, so be sure to grab the special coupon code. Now, read on ...

I tried the maqui berry powder, cacao butter, pea protein, and coconut wraps. Here are some of the ways that I used them.  

Foodie Details:
The Coconut wraps were very interesting. I have not had these before, but they were so delicious that I will be buying more of them soon. These organic wraps are raw, filled with potassium and calcium, and made from the meat of the coconut. They're delicate with a crepe-like texture, and flavourful without carrying an overwhelming taste. I sliced fresh vegetables tossed with sesame seeds, and roasted red pepper sauce. I also toasted the wraps with cacao butter, and placed the pan-fried crisps atop a Greek salad. The paleo-friendly wraps can be used in lieu of flour tortillas.

We loved the pea protein, and I used it primarily in two different smoothies with the maqui berry powder, Greek yoghurt, almond granola, and organic peanut butter. It's also great with cashew milk in a morning muesli. It will keep you energised like a good protein bar, and I definitely foresee a savoury pea protein pasty experience in the future.

The pea protein is mild and made by using yellow peas, and it's filled with nutrients, amino acids, and eighty-percent protein by weight. This is the perfect alternative if you're looking for a soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free protein source. Phew, now that's a lot of "frees," so yes, I think you're covered!

I used the maqui berry powder and cacao butter in these delicious lemon-almond cakes that are also free of refined-sugar. Native to Chile, the maqui berry is similar to blackberries and is packed with flavour, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, and C, amongst others. Eat this ancient fruit in yoghurt, savoury dishes, smoothies, or make ice cream and waffle syrup as I did. The rich colour is not only beautiful, but you're also eating a wonderful fruit filled with antioxidants (cue the hand clapping).

Verdict: I was impressed with Sunfood's products; all were of excellent quality. As a foodie who also loves to cook, I don't think you should have to compromise with quality, flavour and great taste when it comes to eating healthily. Stay tuned, you can likely see snippets of favourable recipes on my Instagram.
   
What do you think of these foods? Have you used Sunfood products?  

Sunfood Superfood Coconut Wraps
The goodsCoconut Wraps,  Pea Protein Powder, Maqui Berry Powder, and Cacao Butter-Courtesy of Sunfood, *Table linens, and Eco-printed napkins-c/o Gudrun Sjoden, Slate cheese board-(Buy similar). *This post is sponsored, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Winning Bonus
The Sunfood team is giving all of my readers an incredible summer discount with twenty-five percent off your order of goods that you purchase at their online store.  

Summer will officially be here quite soon, and there's nothing better than a refreshing smoothie or healthy fix after a workout. Click the image below! Let me know which items you try with this great offer!

 
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