DIY Tales of Geodes

For months, I’ve pondered about the perfect craft to use these geode slices that I had—from jewellery to home décor. There are loads of options that definitely exist. My decision was to create something that I could use long after the project was finished as well as a handmade piece of art that would be suitable for gifting. Surprise, surprise ... entertaining came to mind! 
There has been plenty of crafts that I’ve made for friends, and they thought I bought it at a shop during my travels. That's the best compliment, isn't it? Iyou box and wrap your creations well, then it makes every bit of difference. It's all about the execution process.
  
If you love a charming yet simple do-it-yourself craft, this one is for you!  Now, I am here to show you how to make agate napkin rings. 

Regarding jewellery, geodes or agate slices have never really left the industry, although it has possibly taken a back seat in the past. Recently, there seems to be resurgence in all things geode—from pendants to jewellery boxes. Faux geode pieces are fine for this DIY but use whatever works best for you in this project 

I happen to have a small lot of about sixty or so natural and dyed agate slices as well as  naturally irregular geode pieces from crafts and old random shoots in my studio. Instead of letting dust collect on top of the others, I decided to recycle the polished agate pieces because, you know, I don't like to waste good things! 

View two different versions below; some with added golden wire, which gives the napkin rings an artful look, then I made other pieces without the wire for a more casual aesthetic. If you add jewellery wire, use a small gauge then just wrap, and twist it around each agate piece before adding the ring base. 

Materials Needed: 
6 Cut agate pieces   
E6000 or clear industrial glue 
Adjustable metal ring bases (gold or silver) 
Newsprint or plastic lined flat working surface  
Silveror gold metallic paint pen  
Rhinestonesloose – (optional) 


Method:
  1. Using a metallic paint pen, take one geode slice at a time and carefully paint the entire edges in gold. Set aside to dry on a lined flat working surface as preferred with newsprint, etc *I had extra geodes and painted 4 slices in gold and 4 in silver. 
  2. In an open-air environment, lay your geode slices (on a flat working surface) on the side that you don't want to show, facing up (toward you). This will be the back side of your napkin rings. 
  3. Now, hold one ring base in your hand and use your other hand to carefully place glue in the centre of the ring base top, slowly working from the centre and going outward with the glue. *Be careful not to drip any glue. 
  4. Immediately adhere the top of the ring base to a geode slice directly in the centre of the geode, with the ring bottom facing horizontally. Press firmly *Tip: depending on how you want your napkin rings to look, you may glue the ring bases askew if you want a more artful aesthetic, or have your geode slices vertically. Play around with it! 
  5. Set aside and let dry overnight. After geodes are dried, you can add an embellishment if you prefer. I left my gold geodes alone but wanted the silver geodes to have a small rhinestone. Glue a rhinestone to each geode slice. Let dry for 2-4 hours before using the rings. 

I was very pleased with the result, and as I mentioned you can use any colour in faux agate or actual geode pieces. *For the metal napkin rings, I used adjustable ring bases. You can find them at a craft store or jewellery findings supplier/shop. I bought some wholesale online. Let me know if you try these or have any questions, I'm always here to help.



What do you think of these napkin rings?  


Above and below: The finished results with all sides painted. 



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Travel-Friendly Scents

Murphy & Daughters launched a new range of travel tin candles and I tried them all. When I travel, both for business and for leisure, I actually typically bring one small candle with me, sometimes lavender other times jasmine. It makes perfect sense to me since I like to clear the air with a nice smelling candle to add a personal touch to any temporary lodgings.

Whether you prefer a glass of bubbly or filling your clawfoot tub with dramatic bubbles, one thing is certain, these candles will make you smile. It's all about their elegant aroma. 

This collection from the Aussie brand comes in five scents. Here is a brief review of each one. 
Firstly, I will start by saying that I really loved all of these scents—each fragrance blend is a delightful medley of everything delicate, feminine, and sophisticated. With that said, don't fret chaps, these candles will also suit any room, including filling the bedroom or any closet space with an aroma that even a man will love.

Swoon-Worthy Collection: Candle Size: 100g/3.5 oz.
The two travel tins that are most male-friendly, in my opinion, would be Midnight and Cloudstreet.
Midnight is a splendid blend of pink grapefruit and bergamot in which both come through instantly upon the first sniff. Other ingredients include the following: blackcurrant, lily of the valley, and jasmine. Cloudstreet is a smaller version of the candle that I featured here, reminiscent of spring's lightness with the sweetness of honeysuckle and pear with a mandarin infusion. Other notes are lemon, musk, and orange blossom.

Think of Tender Night as a subtle kiss blown into your space. "A midnight dash through the orange orchards, time to spare, time to live," that's such a great description of Tender Night because to me, this particular candle has a striking aroma but is somewhat a neutral one in the collection in comparison to all of the other bold, romantic, and memorable scents. 

Tender Night is also a candle that would be perfect to burn for guests if you don't know what is their favourite fragrance. It's a good alternative if you want to fill the room with a lighter aroma that's somewhat inconspicuous. First notes: A whiff of tuberose is apparent and such a personal favourite, then hints of orange blossom also linger afterwards. Other ingredients: Lily, musk, neroli and green tea, and tangerine.


Secret Garden encapsulates the scent you would want to have for post-bath experiences. It's a calming, and pretty concoction of roses and violets, with geranium leaves and lilac petals. Other ingredients include vanilla and musk. This is what you burn when you have the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.

Wild Things is a hybrid of the feeling of luxe cashmere, the aroma of orange sorbet and essentially what you'd want your hotel room to smell like when you walk in for the first time. With pepper, ylang, ylang and sandalwood in the contents, one might suspect it to radiate a less soft or spicy fragrance but this one is soothingly sweet. First notes are of orange blossom, amber and waterlily, then with tuberose, lemon and cedarwood as a fresh finish. 

With a fifteen to twenty hours of burn time, you will definitely have time to spare if you're burning all of these. The travel candles are hand poured and made with a cotton wick, and pure vegetable soy wax.
Each of these travelling candles has a convenient screw top closure and are small enough to fit in your carryall, yet still large enough to burn with ease.

Lastly, if you're a candle person, then you will absolutely love these, from the packaging (as you've seen in my previous feature of the brand) to the quality of products, many of these tins would be ideal to stow away easily in a weekender tote or display in your vanity area. My top three selections are Tender Night, Wild Things and Cloudstreet. 


Have you smelled Murphy & Daughters
travel candles? Which scent would you choose?


The goods: Travel Tin Candles-Courtesy of Murphy & Daughters. All opinions expressed are my own. Shop the candle collection and travel tins here.

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Fashion Tales Boulevard

If you've been to a nice bakery, namely a French one, then you've likely seen these beautiful moulds but never thought beyond the deliciousness that was inside. Enter, Panibois!

Panibois, the inventor of the wooden baking mould brings an exquisite touch of French class to any chef or home baker's kitchen. Panibois emerged from an initial concept geared toward the fruit and vegetable market; the result over time and with high demand was a sturdy bread box that could withstand heat. Panibois's patented designs easy to bake in due to using natural wood, and without metal (such as staples or the like), which can corrode and alter the taste in foods.

These wooden moulds can also be customised for businesses and brands with their logos, and are 100% non-treated, biodegradable natural aspen. It's a premier mould to use, especially for baking the brand offers a variety of moulds, tart rings, bannetons, trays and boxes, etc.

We made a classic French recipe with a modern twist: mushroom quiche with black truffles, which you may see in the next instalment and one of my recent favourite recipes for an early morning coffee break, almond and cinnamon biscuits. For this cosy setting, I used a colourful blend of orchids, hydrangeas, and a motley arrangement of greenery, including ferns and succulents.


If you're looking to give your meals a professional look or if you have a passion for baking, then these stylish moulds will do the job! It's also the perfect kitchen companion for anyone who entertains regularly on a gourmet calibre—it reigns extremely high in my opinion due to the heat sustaining properties it has, therefore the wood allows versatility in usage.

The best part is that the Panibois moulds can be used for decadent pastries and more. Try using them for with the lids for sandwiches, savoury meals, canapes, takeaway lunches in the park, or brunch specialities! Stay tuned for more dishes featuring these moulds.

What do you think of these brilliant moulds? Have you heard of Panibois?


The goods: French baking moulds: Octo 145, Le Marquis, and Pani-Bague rings-Provided by Panibois, or shop more styles at Technobake, Basket topper-Design Market, Sola florals, teacup and saucer set-(Buy similar). As always, all opinions are honestly expressed and my own.

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Wedding Centrepieces & DIY Décor: Part One

Hi lovelies, I'm back! 

Between helping to style friends and family events to clients and co-workers' special occasions, over the years, I’ve finally amassed a proper collection of interior décor accents and props. Thanks to some DIYs, it has actually saved me a great deal of money when implementing those along with requests for certain events, including one a friend commissioned me to stylea small wedding party. 

So, when I had the opportunity to create a handful of inspirations for weddings, of course, I jumped at the chance! Each year, there seem to be at least a few people that I know getting ready to tie the knot but this year is a bit calmer. I only have one wedding to attend so far this season.

I decided on a couple of themes for this post: modern rustic wedding, and dashes of bleu. The latter actually has a purpose in the pun due to the couple meeting at a cheese farm and I think the bride is still deciding on which exact blue hues to choose, however it still works here. I also said that I'd give her some budget-friendly tips along with table inspiration. 
Now, view part one of the FASHION TALES Wedding Sessions below: 

After taking a brilliant floral workshop last year, I can honestly say that I have applied some of the techniques to recent events. That, paired with my background and memories of watching my mum do infinite catering events has allowed me to develop my own style of designing arrangements. There's always so much to learn in any trade, and my advice to you for whatever you want to do is to educate yourself—it doesn't matter if it's blogging, graphic design or creating a podcast. Be proactive and you will flourish! 


Table Favours: Memories:
Whether simple, sumptuous, elaborate, or shabby-chic, the worst thing is not having enough boxes or small table tokens to go around. If you do male or female specific themed bags, it can be done with proper organisation but I would advise doing neutral party favours, especially if you are on a budget; even if semi-luxury inspired. 

Here, I have used two different concepts for this décor—party tokens are miniature birdcage boxes to pair with the wedding ring embellished biscuit boxes that I put together for one theme. Then, I used more of a farmhouse rustic styling approach for the other. Hello, gorgeous hydrangeas and vintage containers! 
DIY Boxes: I used contrasting washi tape (coordinating it with the wedding colours) to decorate these white scalloped boxes, then assembled them and added strands of faux pearls and wedding ring charms.
Above: A sneak peek of another shoot. I used wisteria, ivy, and old retro images to create a vintage setting. 

Weddings, Renewing vows, or Engagements: 
Ah, yes, the utterly sweet moments that can be too stressful for even the most organised bride. For budget conscious sophisticates, it's not always suitable to 'keep it simple!' Minimalism has its place but doesn't apply to everything. Instead, keep it memorable and still unique to you as a couple, it's still your special day—this way if everyone already knows that you are a couple that leads a vegan lifestyle, or are more beach seekers than snowboarders, then your guests will likely know not to expect a pig roast or tickets to "snowy mountain."

I have been to a wedding where the couple did something as unique as boxing their favourite party popcorn mix with free movie cards or as simple as sending guests off with a little jar for a homemade spiced hot chocolate recipe. The options are endless!

Lastly, the best part is that all of these concepts can be modified on a larger scale and everything is budget-friendly. Whether you're hosting a teatime or planning an engagement party, be frugal and smart with your quantities and quality. You needn't compromise on both if you know where to shop and if you don't mind being dexterous with crafting skills to make take away tokens for guests or table preparations. 

(Above) DIY Balloons: Would you believe that these 'Just Married' balloons were once simple white balloons? I used metallic paint pens and wrote on each balloon. 
This was fun to do but also saves money if the event is a smaller one.  I made fifty of these balloons before my hand began to shake. I also used one of my brass candelabras and added a vintage farmhouse milk container with the wood and antique theme. 

(Above): Budget-friendly DIY mercury jars to create floral arrangements. Add baby's breath as a white flower filler to add depth to any arrangement. Gypsophila bouquets are great for weddings. These loosely dispersed flowers are the perfect accompaniment for centrepieces and special occasions.

Rustic and modern elegance: A copper lantern can be a great evening accent for wedding decor. I also used rose gold cutlery and lace chargers with gold filigree-inspired plates (seen above). 

Part two is underway, so stay tuned for more decorating tips, table inspiration and wedding DIYs.



What do you think of my behind the scene décor, wedding accents and table creations? 

The goods: Some items featured in this post were provided by Oriental Trading. Shop wedding decor! All opinions are honestly expressed and are my own.

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We've Gone Nuts In The Kitchen

As promised, here's a quick version of the recipe for the energy bars that you may have seen on my Instagram. I tweaked it from my almond bark recipe from last year. I make several versions of these bittersweet energy bars, sometimes with cashews and other times with different dried fruits, etc. These bars are less sweet but have enough alternative sweetness to satisfy those guests with a sweet tooth, especially if you are trying to eat more raw dark chocolate, which has amazing health benefits. 

I could never eat regular desserts or milk chocolates growing up because like most candies it was laced with too much sweetness for me (albeit normal for everyone else) due to a rare cane sugar allergy. As I got older I started to use raw cacao/dark chocolate in my baking. All is somewhat better, therefore I can make unique treats for loved ones in my life ... but with a few minor adjustments.

I decided to make an easy snack, it's what I call "wake-up bars." They can be enjoyed anytime of the day and have a nice creamy and nutty crunch for those afternoon cravings. Also, the use of agave allows the cacao to have a unique texture that pairs well with the addition of various nuts.

Did you know that cacao is a great source of iron, magnesium and has forty times more antioxidants than blueberries? I eat blueberries frequently and could hardly believe the amount of antioxidants raw cacao powder has when I first started using it. 

Coconut oil also worked well for this recipe because it blends easily but also tastes good. Most people think that coconut oil is a new ingredient but it's been used for ages. I keep coconut oil in my home, as my mum used to use coconut a lot in home remedies and cooking. 

From skincare to internal health benefits, there is a multitude of ways to use coconut oil: a few benefits to note include helping to clear up UTIs, aids with inflammation reduction, and has been used for centuries for oil pulling, which helps to cleanse the mouth preventing bacteria and heal periodontal disease.

It also has a high percentage of naturally saturated fats, and those fats in coconut oil increase healthy cholesterol also called MCFA (the medium-chain fatty acids which) provide energy. Medical studies have shown that MCFAs are easily digested, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and instantly transforms into energy instead of being stored as fats.

With that being said, have you used coconut in your regular diet?



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Note: Be sure to use organic raw cacao (pronounced "cu-COW") in this recipe. Cacao is referred to the Theobroma Cacao tree, it's what cocoa stems from and this is what unprocessed versions of the cacao bean is generally called. Dutch-process cocoa powder (also called alkalized) is when the cocoa beans have been washed in alkaline with potassium carbonate, this process neutralises the acidity making it less bitter than raw cacao powder. When selecting which powders to use, it really depends on what you are using it for, as both types are used in addition to natural cocoa powder. Raw cacao is more acidic, it's pure powder from the cacao bean and with less processing involved.

Watch out for faux branded versions, as some commercially processed powders have been chemically processed or treated with toxic pesticides—ruining a huge amount of the amazing flavanols (Phytonutrient compounds = the good elements, A.K.A. the plant-based nutrients that is also found in green tea, red wine, and cherries), and antioxidants that are naturally in cacao.  
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Yield: Serves 8-12, makes 6 large bars to cut in half.
Ingredients:
150g (3/4 cup) unrefined/ extra-virgin coconut oil, plus 1 tablespoon, separated, and at room temperature
120g (3/4) cup 100% raw organic cacao powder
150g (½ cup), plus 1 tablespoon Agave nectar
120g (½ cup) of organic crunchy peanut butter (no sugar added)
70g (½ cup) raw almonds
4 tablespoons pecan halves
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
1 ½ tablespoon of your favourite protein powder (I used pea protein or maca root) - Optional

Method:
  1. Place a silicone mould on a small baking tray. Set aside. 
  2. In a food processor or grinder, add raw almonds and 2 tablespoons of pecan halves. Pulse until chopped (having a large breadcrumb consistency). Set aside.  
  3. Mix the raw cacao powder, almond extract, protein powder, Agave, and the 150g coconut oil in a small bowl until blended smooth, with a textured paste consistency. Tip: (If you need to heat the coconut oil, do so only for about 10-15 seconds or less in the microwave). 
  4. Next, pour the dark chocolate mixture into the prepared mould, using a spatula to smooth it out evenly in each cavity. Then, sprinkle the chopped almonds on top of the dark chocolate mixture. 
  5. In a microwave, melt the peanut butter until easily stirred, then take out and add the 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and blend well with a spoon. 
  6. Pour the peanut butter mixture right on top of the almond dark chocolate mixture in each mould cavity. Next, use a knife or spatula to swirl the peanut butter mixture into the chocolate mixture. Add the other two tablespoons pecan halves atop each cavity. 
  7. Place the entire mould in the freezer for 50 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until dark chocolate is solid before breaking into chunks. Serve immediately as a snack or store in the freezer or refrigerator. 
*Extras: If you're wondering what the white drizzle is on top of these bars, I added melted cacao butter on top of my bars to act as white chocolate but it's optional. 
 

Do you use raw cacao powder in cooking or baking?


P.S. I will be slowly making my way to all of your blogs soon. Apologies, as I've been away due to an important business convention and had to step back from social channels and the blog. I have also been working on a few fun projects to share with you soon.  
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