DIY: Holiday Coasters

Here is one many festive DIYs that I made. This project is done by using simple wooden blocks. In the past, I've made several coasters but used felt or linen as the backing. I finally designed a way to use these wooden blocks with the bonus of being able to revamp them for other crafts.

Materials:
Wooden Letters/Blocks
Scissors
Vinyl Paper/Sticky Back Paper or Contact Paper (Textured cloth backing works best)
Mod Podge®  or Waterproof Fixative (Optional)
Ruler (Optional)
Paperweight (Optional)

Method:

  1. Arrange words or letters to read as you prefer, (making a four block x four block square = to total  16 wooden pieces). You should now have assembled four rows across. Set aside, in the order as you want the blocks to read from left to right. *Tape can be used to hold the letters in place if you prefer. 
  2. Cut the textured paper into squares slightly larger than 14 cm or approx. 6"x6". Peel off the backing from textured paper and place it on a flat surface with the adhesive side facing up. Place each letter on the textured paper (atop adhesive side), lining each letter up as much as possible side by side and row by row. 
  3. Press firmly on the block of letters (which should now look like one whole square piece) for 30 seconds or put a heavy book on top of the square block of letters.
  4. Turn the block of letters over and repeat Step 3, smoothing out air bubbles if any are visible. Next, turn the block over again with letters facing up, and carefully cut off the excess material of textured paper on each side.
  5. Now you have a versatile coaster! You should be able to fold the blocks vertically or horizontally. The textured paper holds pretty well. *Alternatively, you may use Mod Podge®  or any waterproof sealant over the letters if you want them to stay this way permanently instead of having the folding feature.
*The sticky vinyl paper that I used had a cloth-like backing, which prevents sliding. You can buy this type of paper, and the wooden blocks at art stores, fabric stores or crafting stores.

Benefits of using the adhesive:

  • No damage made to the wooden blocks. You can always adjust your letters or phrases for any occasion.
  • Completely versatile.
  • They have heaps of character! The more you use the coasters, the more aged and stylish they will look, so don't worry about colour variation!
  • Great conversation starters, especially for foodies (I will share more interesting uses on that later).
I wanted to create these coasters in a way that could be later recycled for another project. For example, I have used similar letters in making homemade magnets that I created for a friend and used the leftover blocks in a place setting for a game night party that we hosted. By using the adhesive paper instead of glueing the letters together allows versatility for future projects. 

*Also, congrats to Shireen and Cheryl, winners of the holiday giveaway.


What do you think of my DIY coasters?


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Holiday Style For Him

Mainline Menswear is having a Black Friday holiday special exclusively on 100 items. These pieces will have an additional 25% reduction. So that you can take advantage of these savings I've created a few list of favourites that I love for the gents.

These styles below are a preview of some pre-holiday goodies for the mister, and one favourite is the Ted Baker socks set. Ted Baker's style is very distinct and ideal for a man with bold style, or an appreciator of playful and colourful patterns. There were Adidas Originals already on sale when I picked up the electric cobalt Gazelle trainers and Adidas zipper-front top.

If the guy in your life wears Nike, Hugo Boss, and other sportswear or designer brands, there are bountiful options to peruse so holiday shopping can start now. There are classic brands to love as well including Armani, Aquascutum, Sperry, Lacoste, and (Adidas & Nike) designer lines, amongst others. I'd suggest starting with pieces in the casual wear sections as well—often neglected but there is such a vast range of jumpers, activewear, and recently added jackets.

BLACK FRIDAY DEALS HERE + FREE UK DELIVERY WITH CODE "BFD16"
What are your current Mainline menswear favourites?


*This post is brought to you by Mainline Menswear, a Fashion Tales sponsor. All content and opinions are my own and honestly expressed. Comments disabled for this post.


I will return next Tuesday on the blog. Feel free to visit Instagram or Tweet me if you find some amazing holiday deals.



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Boots: From Classic To Trendy

Five Fabulous Styles You Need Right Now

Just like a great fitting LBD, every fashionista needs a good pair of quality boots! From wardrobe basics to elaborate ensembles, boots come in a variety of variations and can be styled for day or night. Don't worry, if you have trouble narrowing down what styles of boots you need in your closet, you’re not alone. With a plethora of options, it can be difficult to make these sole decisions but that's why I've put this guide of great boot selections. If you desire to be a strategic shopper and bring home boots that work well with many of your outfits, there are five essential and fabulous styles you need to buy. From ankle boots to tall boots, you’ll have a wide variety of options from which to choose. 

Ankle Boots: a Sartorial Essential

Ankle boots are easy to find in any heel height and are quite versatile in wear. Select them in diverse colours or if you're on the fence choose black or brown options which can be considered neutrals to go with any occasion. From corporate attire to creative CEO outfits, ankle boots will take your day garb to cocktail hour stylishly and with ease. Innovative and off-beat fashionistas pair them effortlessly with the classic little black dress. If your fashion sense runs towards the debonair and gender-defying, try a move from music maven Janelle Monáe’s playbook and work them with a jacket-and-tie ensemble. 

Calf and OTK (Over The Knee) Styles 

My preference is OTK boots, I tend to fancy flat riding boot styles first, but recently have been wearing loads of OTK boots and tall sleek leather styles. These are timeless silhouettes and have been worn by men historically even in the 18th Century. Flat-heeled riding types are great for weekend wear, but they’re also top performers at the office. For those who wear over-the-knee versions with skirts or dresses, assessing where your hemline falls is a good idea to judge which ones will work best with them. Ensure that the difference between your hemline and the top of your boot shaft is no more than five inches, and pair with a structured jacket or coat for a striking look. 

Chelsea Boots: The Classic Style For Every Season

With their typically low heel and ease of wear, these boots were made for walking. Once known as signature footwear among hip artists and rockers of the 1960s, Chelsea boots are now spotted on celebrity luminaries such as actress Emma Stone and TV personality and model, Alexa Chung. The originals were available in basic black leather, but now they can be found in a dizzying array of colours. Style tip: Slip these on with your casual ensembles when you’re strutting about. they also will make a statement for the gents. Try this style with crisp trousers and a blazer or leather jacket. 

Moto Boots: A Custom Embrace 

Just as biker jackets can look good on anyone, moto boots have made a comeback on the fashion scene. Today, personalities and tastemakers such as Gwen Stefani and former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, wear moto boots. They are both comfortable and edgy, which can make any outfit stand out! From the lace-up chunky-heeled versions made famous by punk and avant-garde icons to the buckled varieties familiar in the motorcycling world, these tough boots can be worn with nearly any kind casual look. I tend to love wearing them with lace slip dresses, denim, and day frocks. But, there are plenty of other ways to style moto boots to suit your lifestyle and personal fashion style. For a contrast between rugged and feminine, try them with loose, flowing fabrics or floral prints.  

Elevated Heights: Stiletto Boots

Did you know that high heels were worn by fashionable men in the 1700s? Although these height-defying wonders were first donned by the ancient Egyptians, CBS News revealed that they were also sported by European noblemen and royal lads like King Louis XIV. Stiletto boots not only gift you with some extra height but also a longer-looking leg. Boots with shafts ending at or above the ankle add a little refinement to any dressy ensemble. Afraid of sore feet? Fashion expert Stacy London advises slipping in a pair of insoles for added comfort. 

Tell me, what is your favourite boot style to wear?

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Sound Sophistication

I have a handful more of papers to write before heading to a much needed holiday in a couple weeks, and this past weekend I managed to get the bulk of things finished so that I could relax and try a decent attempt at holiday shopping (initially online, of course). 

"But First, (it's not) Coffee," instead, it's a proper manicure waiting for me and let's not forget good tunes are continuously in my ears—whether studying or on a long commute to the office. I am tailoring my winter playlist as I type this post.  

Sudio Sweden was kind enough to send these beautifully designed bluetooth enabled earphones. The brand offers a range of headphones with that Scandi aesthetic to love. I selected a pair in white (blue, pink, and black is also available).


You may now buy their earbuds at Best Buy, which would be a lovely holiday gift for tech-savvy loved ones. My co-worker saw the earphone styles and said, "these would be the perfect stocking gifts!" for her children. If these are your stocking-fillers, then you're probably the most loved when it comes to gift-giving! But, I digress ... now, on to the details. 



Pros and Cons: Rated: 7.9/10
The Sudio Vasa BLÅ Bluetooth wireless headphones are of excellent quality and come with a leather case along with a USB charging cord, built-in microphone, USB charging port with rubber closure, extra silicone ear tips (in various sizes), rose gold metal clip, and informational booklet. Everything is also packaged well in separate boxes, and a large magnetic box holds all of the contents.  

These wireless in-ear headphones have a battery life up to 8 hours before charging again with the provided USB. The sound quality for these earphones are very nice and there really is a crystal and crisp sound when listening. For example, listening to a classical piece vs. a pop piece of music both will allow you to hear in detail the layering of instruments within the song. However, I am used to earphones with better base quality (especially for specific songs). 

As beautiful as these are, I wish they had a skip button on the earphone cording (to switch in-between tracks), instead of just a volume and on/off switch on the remote, which would mean that you wouldn't have to have your device near you whilst listening. It's my personal preference, especially considering the quality of the earphones themselves. But, design-wise, I love the elegant aesthetic with the rose gold on white.  

Note: Be sure that you are using the proper ear tips because this will make all of the difference in your listening experience. I'm much looking forward to using these again, as they're ideal travelling style headphones.  

What do you think of Sudio Sweden? Have you tried their earphones? 
The goods: Buy the Sudio Vasa BLÅ style here. Wireless Headphones-c/o Sudio Sweden.*As always, all content and opinions are honestly expressed. Shop the range of headphones here. 


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Breaking Bread With Viva Terra

Copper rose gold and all of its prettiness is having a moment in the design world—from interior décor to the fashion industry. I get nostalgic when I see copper in the kitchen because it reminds me of seeing the hanging pots and pans in our family country kitchen when I was younger. When feasts were prepared for weekend gatherings and seasonal holidays, copper mules, cookware, and utensils could be found throughout the open kitchen. 
VivaTerra is an ethical brand with a passion for mixing nature into a green thoughtful design. The brand has a sustainable approach to design with a kind soul that is shaped by ethical principles. They offer contemporary designs that are made from natural and eco-friendly materials—fittingly the brand name, VivaTerra means "living earth."

The new kitchenware collection has a luxe, yet homey aesthetic; it's handmade in India, and globally supporting artisan craftsmanship. The pieces are made from sustainably sourced copper. I styled some of my favourite pieces from the kitchenware collection, including copperware pieces that are exceptionally stunning to use for testing out a couple of recipes from the new cookery book by Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. This is a marvellously detailed book that would be ideal for foodies with a passion for baking.

The book is a very easy to understand with a thoroughly executed guide to bread baking—from elaborate sweet loaves of bread to savoury creations—if you love making homemade dough or want to learn how to make it, then this is a good buy and a proper reference for your future creations. I will share more about my latest reads and top selections at a later date, however, in short, this book exceeded my expectations.

There's nothing like beauty in natural soapstone, especially when surrounded by copper. To bring a colourful ambience into your space for casual settings, using fruit is always a great alternative with décor. I used pomegranates, which are beautifully vibrant but also tasty for holiday cocktails. It was also an excellent addition to the berry-pomegranate pudding that I made, a revamp of this recipe.
Holiday Bonus: GIVEAWAY
I've teamed up with Viva Terra to gift pieces from their holiday (catalogue) collection. I am giving away these beautiful hand-hammered mini-copper leaves, or these copper and wood measuring cups? Either piece is quite perfect for the festive season and what better element to evoke feelings of autumn than leaves!

Just enter via the Rafflecopter link below and tell us which one of the two copper items listed above you would rather have?

*This giveaway has ended.

The goods: Mini Copper Leaves, Copper Measuring Cups, Rolling Pin, Temple Bells, and Brazilian Soapstone round Grill-Provided by Viva Terra, Styling: Madison. Tea Towel-London, Marble Cutting Board-(Buy similar), Fine China, Lace table linens-Vintage, *Book: The Baker's Apprentice-Advanced copy given via the publisher (Buy it here). All content and opinions are honestly expressed*Shop the Christmas gift guide here. 


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Comfort At The Table: Gather Round

When comfort food comes in many forms, pasta or noodles are sort of on their own level due to their diverse varieties. This culinary spotlight comes to you via Italy. Enter, the burgeoning brand, Eattiamo (cue the music solo to set the mood). 
After visiting a friend during a business trip, I came across this wonderful emerging brand that I definitely felt I had to share, given their unique concept and niche market. Eattiamo is a food subscription service that allows customers to eat authentic Italian food by local artisanal brands in Italy in the comfort of their own home. Eattiamo supports small Italian producers and provides high-quality goods, so that you as the customer get to taste regional authentic flavours of Italian cuisine.

This particular service would seem to be an obvious choice if you already fancy Italian food, although even if you're impartial you might be pleasantly surprised with the ingredients overall. 


What To Expect:
A closer look at each Italian brand with a brief description about their product and locale. Boxes come with an assortment of authentic Italian food for 4 people: Seven gourmet products for a three-course meal. I recently reviewed one of their boxes last month, which included one of each of the following:

Tiberino - Bucatini All'Amatriciana (Pasta)
Pecorino Cheese block (Fresh)
ReModena Truffle Balsamic Vinegar
Borgia Cremolio - Solidified Olive Oil with Lemon
Borgia Peperone Dolce - Italian Crushed Red Pepper 
D'Onofrio Coffee (Fine Ground)
Savoiardi - Biscuits (Ladyfingers)
Bonus -Organic Apple Pomegranate juice
The Details:
This themed box whisked us away on a rustic holiday (right into the heart of Amatrice to be exact), in a small centrally located Italian village. The village is also known for the infamous "pasta all'amatriciana." Because of quality production, all of Eattiamo's ingredients are also free of chemicals according to the brand. There is definitely a wonderful quality to the Borgia goods, the extra virgin olive oil producer and innovator in Montenero di Bisaccia. Our particular pasta package said three servings, and actually did serve three comfortably for a regular amount, instead of four.

Tiramisù is not my favourite but thinking outside the box I used the lady fingers biscuits provided to make an alternative version with almond flavoring, whipped goat cheese, raw dark chocolate and a touch of amaretto.

Overall, I think this is a great box for any Italian food lover to experience new brands. I cooked the pasta and nothing was left in the plates, so I guess everyone rather enjoyed the meal. Each box is different and curated by Italian chefs and foodie experts. I also appreciated the lovely personal handwritten note was included by the founder, Filippo. These small details from brands make all the difference with customers. 

Coffee Lovers Unite:
We loved the finely ground Italian artisanal coffee, it was smooth and bitterlesss, which was well-suited as an after supper dessert accompaniment or an even better liquid morning boost. The D'Onofrio coffee is roasted using an old-fashioned method of a wood combustion engine. Therefore, the old traditions of smart roasting blended with years of experience comes through in the robust taste of the beans.
Subscription: 69 USD/ month.
You can subscribe for the upcoming Eattiamo box here. *The brand donates 10% of every subscription to support earthquake victims.

What do you think of Eattiamo's box? 

The goods: Eattiamo October box-c/o of Eattiamo. * All content and opinions are honestly expressed. Shop or subcribe here. Visit the Italy EU/EN site here or, USA here. 
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Thermal Pampering

Now that the weather is getting colder, it's the perfect time to restock on hydrated skincare as well as bath and body products. I recently tried three products from Perlier's Volcanic Thermal line, which includes a scrub, body cream, and bath foam (view full ingredient list here). This isn't exactly a new line, as it's been around for years. The primary product that I wanted to try was the Volcanic Thermal Renewal Scrub since it was made to be comparable to a spa experience.

Perlier's Claims:  
Much more than just a scrub, it is a real beauty treatment for the body. With the energy of volcanic stones, it revives the vital functions of the skin and makes it firm ... All the benefits of a true Thermal Bath and energy of volcanic stones at home. Contains water from the hot spring concession in Padua, Italy and helps combat visible signs of ageing and dull skin. 
I take my spas seriously, so it's always difficult for me to compare home products to actual spas, but I digress.
The renewal scrub has a cooling gel consistency which was really amazing. The scrub helps to renew the epidermis, allowing skin to look and feel less rough. The scrub has made my skin feel softer to the touch, and it did provide a mild spa experience that also smelled even more delightful when blended with the body cream afterwards. Although I would thoughtfully consider using the scrub sparingly, as it dissipates quite fast from the container if applying generously and massaging on the body.


The scent and packaging: The packaging is designed to have the aesthetic of a luxe spa with labelling in black, grey, and teal throughout the range. This line has an interesting scent for all three products that I used, and I imagine the other products within the extension would smell the same. The scent is very nice, and I liked that it wasn't as potent or perfumy as the Almond line, which still had a lovely fragrance and as a result, the Volcanic Thermal line is suitable for both male and female. The aroma is a cross between fresh linen and an oceanic breeze scent.

The reinvigorating body cream is a non-greasy thick white creamy textured formula that is rich in mineral salts. The cream hydrates the skin well, but after several hours you may need more. I liked the thickness of this, especially for cooler months. It rubs in easily and massages into the skin.

The water bath foam is a water based vitalising foam that was not quite as thick as many bath bubbles. Overall, this was my least favourite, but I still liked the scent, so I used it several times in conjunction with the body cream. This is a line that would be good for travelling since the product smells refreshing and generally, leaves the skin smooth and hydrated. This is an affordable range, and my favourite item was the Volcanic Thermal Renewal Scrub.

*As a holiday savings, Perlier is offering all of my readers a discount of 25% off of items in their online shop here. Use code: VOLCANIC25 

The goods: Volcanic Thermal: "Renewal Scrub," "Reinvigorating Body Cream," and "Vitalizing Water Bath"-PR sample-Courtesy of Perlier. Shop this range here. The discount code is good until April 2017, so you have plenty of time. As always, all content and opinions about these products are my own and honestly expressed.
Have you tried volcanic thermal or stone massage body products?
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October Nights: Insta-Living Vol.14

Lately, my weeks are occupied by reading more than my share of case studies, everlasting (unnecessarily wordy) journals of scientific rhetoric, and theorising my head out of bleeding everything imaginable.  

My friends, family and loved ones keep telling me, "It will all be worth it in the end." I'm sure it will be, however, like all beginnings, it does seem a distant light at the end of a tunnel. I have some great little surprises for you soon but until then here is a properly packed post for you.  

There has been plenty moments of inspiration—an after work art show for balance, random foodie nights without having to host the actual event (for sanity), and autumn decorating for fun (because as you may know by now, it's one of my passions.   

Most time spent is working or doing research and doesn't involve a lot of the music that I typically listen to because that would be a distraction involving singing and dancing instead of concentrating. Though, I've managed to sneak in some downtime for a few hours or so to sedate my mind in normalcy—even if for the ephemeral joys of sweet melodies and catchy lyrics. And, then there was one day where I spent an hour watching YouTube videos, but that's a whole other story.   

Here are just a handful of things that have been inspiring me lately.    
Tunes: I have followed Matt Corby's music for some time, but more recently I find myself listening to many of his older tunes. He has a rich, soulful voice with a full range and pitch that you will also hear in rock, and gospel genres. I'm currently listening to this track here, and this magical and unplugged moment happening here.  
*Also, do check out these artists: "Sing to You," by John Splithoff, or Jack Garratt's "Weathered," and Hold It Together" (feat. Willy Beaman) by Nico & Vinz. When I am doing some light reading I love ambient sounds of, "Truth (Helios Remix) by Balmorhea.  

Oldies but Goodies
Maria Badescu: I have been very fond of their skincare for a long time, but somewhere along the way I've neglected this great brand. I am currently indulging in their bee pollen night cream, caviar cream, and grapefruit cleansing lotion, which is a great toner. I also have a stash of goodies including a small Clinique haul, and new skincare (Pep-start Hydroblur and a home facial peel) that I am looking forward to trying out soon.  

Do you remember this post? Well, after using the Irish Moor Cleansing Gel since, I still absolutely love it. I use it in rotation with my foaming cleanser or mattifying cleanser but I have packed this Peter Thomas Roth cleanser with travelling essentials for the next couple of weeks.
Beauty: I had been wanting a nude colour palette for lipstick, and after viewing a couple of Youtubers use many variations, I was still uncertain which one to buy. I finally decided on the BH Cosmetics (Buy it below). There are so many shades, and I didn't think I would like these, but I adore the colours so far. Even the darker hues blend well into a quick gloss or lip tint if preferred. A few are a bit sticky, however, I have found them to work well with lightly moisturised lips for blending with a lip brush. It's perfect for a naturally tinted lip or if you like the trending "smudged effect!"

Cooking & Baking: I made incredibly delicious oatmeal cookies with homemade ice cream, which was all gluten-free, sugar-free, and lactose-free. I am making new recipe developments for an upcoming holiday dinner party that will have a few gluten-intolerant folks as well as vegan. This one will surely be somewhere in the mix of holiday succulence and evening treats.    


I also made homemade herb cheeses: cashew and almond earlier in the month and picked up this cookery book of Middle Eastern food, Soframiz which I adore so much. This book is an incredible compilation of baked goods, breads, and side dishes in the spirit of traditional and modern Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine. It's a book from the well-known Cambridge bakery, Sofra Bakery and CaféI've not been to the actual bakery, but if it's anything like this book I certainly want to make a visit one day. 

What have you been up to lately? 


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