Monthly Archives: March 2017

Chance

Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing All Saints dress, Vivienne Westwood animal toe shoes, Pieces wide leather belt. All black dark street style outfit. Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing Wolf + Sadie Lucid Petite silver necklace and Theurgy claw ring, Elemental Luxury raw phantom quartz ring. All black outfit details. Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing All Saints dress, Pieces wide leather waist belt, Wolf + Sadie Lucid Petite silver necklace and Theurgy claw ring, Elemental Luxury raw phantom quartz ring. All black outfit details.

One of my favourite things to do lately is to browse through eBay looking for old season All Saints pieces. It’s been quite a few years since I could walk into All Saints and literally want to buy everything. I used to dream about saving up a huge chunk of cash and blowing it all on a massive spree, but the last few years just haven’t filled me with the same excitement, bar the odd couple of really great pieces. The flip side of this though, is that all of those pieces I’d coveted years ago but couldn’t afford to buy are now up on eBay for tiny prices.

This dress was one of those pieces. I remember twirling around in this in the changing rooms, fluffing the skirt out and thinking of all the places I could wear it, before begrudgingly putting it back on the rail and walking away empty handed. I almost brought it in a size too large when it went in the sale, but then my common sense kicked in and I put it back once again. Now here we are, years later and by some random chance it pops up on eBay and I catch it 30 minutes before bidding ends, barely worn and in my size, for £25. It was every bit as perfect as I had remembered and now it’s set me off on a mission to hunt down a few other pieces I’d missed out on too.

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Rum Cocktails

Rum cocktail recipe the Dark 'n Stormy with Zacapa rum. Rum cocktail recipe the dark rum Espresso Martini with Zacapa rum.

Something that I love almost as much as the colour black is good dark rum. Anyone who has ever had even a few drinks with me will know that a classic rum and coke, or Cuba Libre if you’re being fancy, is my signature drink. But I could will happily drink almost anything with rum in it.

I actually used to work in a cocktail bar, so I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks over the years and I still enjoy mixing up a good drink. The Dark ‘n Stormy and rum Espresso Martini are two of my favourites. They’re both super simple to make and require only a few ingredients, so they’re perfect for whipping up to impress friends.

I prefer my Espresso Martini with a little twist, replace the vodka with dark rum, and add sugar syrup for extra sweetness. Rum and coffee are such a great combination, and this makes an already great drink even richer and far more delicious, in my opinion. If you prefer a stronger and less sweet drink, just double the rum to 50ml and remove the syrup.

Sugar syrup is something that’s called for in many cocktail recipes. It sounds fancy, but if like most people it’s not something you have lying around, you can make your own at home in just a few minutes. Simply add equal parts sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stir continuously for 2-5 minutes until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened slightly. Any kind of sugar you have will do, but I think brown sugar is especially nice with rum!

A little tip for the Dark ‘n Stormy – when building a drink in a glass, the easiest way to create a layered effect like this, is to gently pour in the liquid you want to ‘float’ over the back of a spoon. This stops it mixing with the other liquids as it’s poured in. You can also use this technique for any drink that should be layered, such as another one of my favourites, the White Russian or Cuban (with rum!) and various shooters.

Rum is such a versatile spirit to have around and a great staple to have in your drinks cabinet. A nice rum like Zacapa is wonderful all by itself, but it can also be combined with lots of simple ingredients to create everything from easy mixed drinks to the fanciest classic cocktails.

For more rum cocktail recipes check out theBar.com.

This post is in collaboration with theBar.com

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Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort

Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, tropical pool with flowers and bridge. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, room and bed with towel swan. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, room and bed. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort room in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort lounge area of room in Siem Reap Cambodia Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, view from balcony terrace. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort balcony terrace in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, pathway through the trees. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, pool area with palm trees and flowers. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, tropical pool area with palm trees. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, tropical trees and flowers. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, path through the trees. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, pathway through the forest with tropical plants. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, dining area next to pond with lily pads. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, bridge over pond water with lily pads and flowers. Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, dining area next to pond water with lily pads.

After a hectic few days battling the crowds and enjoying city life in Bangkok, arriving at Sokhalay Angkor Villa Resort felt like another world. A tranquil little oasis surrounded by nature, it was exactly what our worn out bodies and minds needed. We arrived around mid-afternoon, and after sacrificing sleep to make the most of our time in Bangkok, we decided to spend the rest of the day relaxing in the sunshine and playing around in the pool to wind down properly.

Our room was so beautifully furnished and such a generous size. With gorgeous dark wood throughout, traditional textiles and a spacious open plan layout, it felt both luxurious and homely all at once. The beds here were also one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever slept on, in fact we both found ourselves reminiscing about how dreamy they were for pretty much the rest of our holiday! I don’t think I’ve ever slept so well. Our room was on the ground floor and its doors opened out onto a private terrace overlooking the pool, surrounded by greenery and tropical flowers. We couldn’t have asked for a prettier view to wake up to, especially in the early morning as the sunlight peeked through the trees and glinted off the pool.

We spent quite a few of our afternoons and evenings around the pool, even if only for an hour or so. It would have been a real shame not to take advantage of such a pretty area and it was pure bliss to jump in and cool off after spending the day getting hot, sticky and covered in dust at the temples and from walking through town.

Wandering along the the lush, tree lined pathways in the early morning light and again in the evenings as we made our way home under the lanterns and street lamps was such a wonderful way to start and finish each day. It’s rare for me not be rushing out of the hotel eager for the days adventure, but everywhere was so beautiful and relaxing here that it was hard not to slow down and take your time.

Breakfast was delicious, and there was a huge variety to choose from, all laid out buffet style in the main dining area. The staff here really deserve a special mention too, they were wonderful, especially Luy who worked in the restaurant at breakfast. He was one of the friendliest, kindest and most helpful people we have ever come across. He asked our names on our first day and said hello to us every morning. We so enjoyed talking to him about life in Cambodia and hearing his recommendations over breakfast.

One important thing to note, this resort is actually a number of separate hotels all in one place. We stayed at the Villa Resort, which is made up of the wooden villas surrounding the pool, but there are also 3 hotel blocks on site to choose from too. They all have access to the same facilities, including an indoor pool and spa inside the main hotel block. Despite this, it never felt crowded and the large grounds meant it often felt like we had the place all to ourselves.

Far enough away from the busy centre to be a relaxing and peaceful retreat, but close enough to all of the main attractions, it was the perfect base to explore Siem Reap from. The town was just a quick Tuk Tuk ride away and it took us barely 30 minutes to reach Angkor Wat. We had such a wonderful stay here, and I’ve already recommended it to almost everyone I know.

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Temples of Bangkok

Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.

Even though our time here was cut short, we were able to spend one full morning and afternoon exploring the temples of Bangkok. There were a few smaller temples on our original list, but we didn’t want to rush between them and end up feeling like we hadn’t given each one enough of our time to fully appreciate, so we decided to focus on just the main three.

What I found most interesting was the way each temple had its own unique style, but yet was still unmistakably Thai. The three are all excellent examples of traditional Thai architecture. Each one has been expanded, added to and remodelled numerous times over the centuries, and the combination of different architectural styles that exist side by side is really quite charming.

One thing you need to keep in mind when visiting the temples is that you should dress respectfully. Many temples will not allow you to enter if you have your knees, shoulders or chest on show, or are wearing tight fitting or sheer clothing. I found Wat Phra Kaew to be the most strict with this, however I think even if it’s not technically enforced, it’s just polite to cover yourself up when visiting somewhere that is regarded as a highly sacred place by a lot of people.

 

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, glittering gold. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, glittering gold mosaic tiles. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, gold kannari kinnon statue. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, glittering gold mosaic tiles and gold yaksha demon statue guardian at the entrance to Phra Mondop. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, colourful yaksha demon statues around gold stupa. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, glittering gold. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, girl lighting incence offering with flowers.

Temples of Bangkok Thailand, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, glittering gold.
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew are both housed within the same complex and are one of Bangkok’s biggest tourist attractions, drawing crowds so huge that it would be almost unbearable if the surroundings weren’t quite so breathtaking. This was the first temple we visited and it remained my favourite of the three. As far as I’m concerned it’s a must visit if you’re in the city, and somewhere that is definitely worth battling the crowds to see at least once.

Wat Phra Kaew dates from 1782 and is also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as it houses one of Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist relics, Phra Kaew Morakot – the Emerald Buddha. Carved from flawless green jade and adorned with gleaming gold, it sits enshrined high above the altar in the main hall. Due to the treasures it holds and its links to Kings past and present, Wat Phra Kaew is considered to be Thailand’s most important and scared temple.

The complex was an awe inspiring introduction to Thai culture and a complete assault on the senses. Glittering mosaics studded with jewels adorning almost every surface, golden spires, the smell of incense, fresh flowers and candles, the bustling crowds and the sounds of thousands of excited people outside being reduced to a whisper as soon as we stepped into the main shrine. It was unlike anywhere else I’d ever been, and I felt completely awed by its scale and sheer beauty.

Whilst we were here, Thailand was still in mourning for King Bhumibol Adulyadej. As we walked into the grounds we saw thousands of Thai people, all dressed in sombre black, queuing in a snaking line around the perimeter to pay their respects to the King, whose body was lying in state in the Throne Hall. It was really quite humbling to see how much he was loved and how much he meant to the people of Thailand, with many of them waiting for hours in line just to pay their respects and say goodbye.

 

Wat Pho

Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Pho bronze lion statue. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Pho gold buddha statues. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Pho garden with statues. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Pho garden with temple. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Pho stupa mosaic details close up. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Pho gold buddha statue with flowers and mosaic stupas. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Pho gold buddha statue with offerings inside central shrine. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Pho gold reclining Buddha statue at the Temple of The Reclining Buddha.

As we walked in to Wat Pho, or the Temple of The Reclining Buddha, it immediately had a different vibe to the glitzy Wat Phra Kaew. Here the mosaics adorning the temples were more earthy and neutral toned, it was less crowded and it felt much more relaxed and in tune with its surrounding area. It was incredible to think this was just down the road from where we had been.

That all changed as we got closer to the main draw of the site, The Vihara of the Reclining Buddha. Suddenly we were right in the middle of a crowd again, and the large open spaces were now taken up with brightly coloured marquees selling water and offering prayers and blessings. The atmosphere became much livelier as people gathered around the area and excitedly queued to see the Buddha.

The 46m golden Reclining Buddha really is a spectacular sight and the scale is quite overwhelming. Honestly, it’s far bigger than the photos make it look! I spent a good few minutes just staring up in awe at the huge face looking down on me.

Wat Pho is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, dating back to before Bangkok was established as the capital. It houses the largest collection of images of the Buddha in Thailand and is also considered to be the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have time to get ourselves a massage, which is still practiced here, and spend a little more time in the quieter areas.

 

Wat Arun

Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Arun the Temple of Dawn. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Arun the Temple of Dawn at golden hour sunlight. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Arun the Temple of Dawn garden and close up of guardian statue. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Arun the Temple of Dawn close up of mosaic detail. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Arun the Temple of Dawn, money offerings hanging across pathway. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Arun the Temple of Dawn at dusk. Temples of Bangkok Thailand, Wat Arun the Temple of Dawn at night.

We arrived at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, just as the very first signs of twilight were beginning to darken the sky, and found ourselves with the complex almost to ourselves. Just a handful of others, monks and members staff were still walking around. It felt much more serene here. It seemed quiet and empty in comparison, and the dying light bathed the whole area in a soft glow as it bounced off the porcelain encrusted towers.

Whilst still beautifully decorated, the style is much more paired-back here. Seashells are mixed in with china fragments to create the rustic mosaics which decorate the main stupa, and white space dominates giving it a lighter, more airy feel. It was the perfect end to our day, walking around in the twilight and taking in the view as we waited for the boat to take us back across the river.

Renovation work is currently being performed on the main stupa, so it was covered in scaffolding and we didn’t get to go to the top or see it lit up at night. It wasn’t any less incredible though, and it’s actually great to see that these wonderful pieces of history are being actively preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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Peek

Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing Theyskens' Theory cropped tailored jacket, River Island draped chiffon dress and nubuck platform boots. All black everything dark street style outfit. Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing The Silver Cafe Blue Topaz druzy crystal necklace. Dark style outfit details. Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing Theyskens' Theory cropped tailored jacket, Pieces leather waist belt. Dark style outfit details. Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing River Island platform black nubuck suede leather platform boots. Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing Theyskens' Theory cropped tailored jacket, River Island draped chiffon dress. All black everything dark street style outfit.

I love little details in an outfit. An interesting cut, an unusual flash of texture, a great accessory, can all turn a basic outfit into something far more compelling. Like the way this jacket is cut higher in the back, letting the thick leather belt peek out from underneath. It’s a small, simple touch, but one that I can never resist playing up when wearing a piece like this.

I’ve been wearing this topaz necklace that I picked up in Chiang Mai to death ever since I got back. It was one of those pieces my heart wanted as soon as I saw it, and it’s already had so many other admirers who’ve fallen in love with it too. I love that it’s such an eyecatching piece, but one that I can wear with everything I own, day or night. Plus it always makes a piece feel extra special when people ask where they can get one for themselves and you can say it’s a one off.

Classic black ankle boots are my weakness, I can never seem to have enough pairs and I can always find a reason to add another pair to the collection. I actually cleared out a heap of shoes a few weekends ago, but barely a week later and these River Island boots have made their way into my wardrobe! I’m hopeless! The classic shape and shimmery textured nubuck sold them to me, but they are incredibly comfortable too making them a perfect addition to my everyday footwear.

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