Friday, June 28, 2013

Oh, Canada!

It's Canada Day weekend so what better way to celebrate than to wear the national colours of red and white. Happy Canada Day and have an awesome long weekend everyone!

PS. Don't forget to enter the $50 gift card giveaway here.
































Maje defines Parisian chic with price point and styles that are unmatched of in the mid-range market. Like Sandro and Claudie Pierlot, the Maje line is accessible yet unique. Every piece is made of phenomenal quality and by master craftsmen. I love the macrame inserts on the front and along the sleeves on this sweater.

Maje Cilan Open Knit Sweater (cute option on sale) // J Brand jeans (skinnier version here) // Hermes clic clac H bracelet, Ferragamo leather bracelet // Proenza Schouler Journal Bag (sold out but this is a cute PS11 that I'd love to have) // Ash Joyce studded boots (taller version here, original Chloe Suzanne bootie version here)





































































Monday, June 24, 2013

Shabby Apple $50 Gift Card Giveaway - closed

Hi everyone, I am excited to bring back the Shabby Apple $50 gift card giveaway!
Shabby Apple is an online dress boutique that specializes in vintage and retro dresses. Check out their gorgeous selection of sexy retro-inspired swimwearpretty summer dressesaccessories and shoes. One lucky reader will be randomly selected to win a $50 gift card to buy anything of their choice from the web shop. 

The contest rules are simple:
  1. To enter, you must be a follower of ChicAdvisor via Google Friend Connect  AND "Like" Shabby Apple Fcebook page here.
  2. Leave me a comment with your name and contact info and tell me which Shabby Apple dress or item is your favorite!
  3. For extra entries, please comment separately that you have:
  4. Followed ChicAdvisor on BlogLovin'; Followed @shabbyapple on Twitter; Shared this giveaway on a platform of your choice (Blogger, Twitter, Facebook).
Open to US residents only (you must have a USA shipping address to be eligible for entry). 

Giveaway entries will be accepted until Monday, July 15th, 11:59pm PST. 

The winner will be announced via email and on this blog, so please check back. Good Luck!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Casual in Blue

I was in London last month, and while making my way to Liberty, I happen to stubble upon this cute store, & other Stories on Regent Street. Everything was very Alexander Wang inspired at more affordable prices with tops between 29-59 pounds (considered affordable for quality and London standard). I have never heard of the brand before but I now read that it is a Swedish brand that is under the same ownership as H&M. If you are in the Mayfield area of London, pay them a visit at 256-258 Regent Street. It's a fun store with fashion forward clothing, shoes, hand bags and makeup. A definite must visit one-stop shop.

I would also like to announce that I will have a $50 gift card giveaway on Monday June 24th so don't forget to come back to enter.



Peekaboo back top by  & Other Stories from London // Theory shorts (summer version) // ancient Leoffler Randall flats // Proenza Schouler double sided leather PS1 in sorbet and black // Accessories: Hermes twilly worn as a bracelet, Hermes Hapi reversible leather bracelet, Hermes "H" clic clac enamel bracelet, vintage torquoise ring.





Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Knit, Skulls and Studs

I have heard so much hype about the Valentino rockstud but I didn't understand why anyone would pay over $1,000 for them...until I owned my own. To start off, they are one of the MOST comfortable pair of heels I have, the design goes with everything and I just love the little studs that make the shoes look so young and fun. I am a proud advocate of the Valentino Rockstud pumps now!
 
Is there a piece you are lusting over or you regret not buying? Please share in the comment box below.
 


Club Monaco two-sided cashmere sweater (similar) // Rock and Republic jeans (similar dark wash jeans here) // Alexander McQueen skulls scarf // Celine bicolour Mini Luggage in forest and black // Valentino Noir phython rockstud pumps (love the 3 straps shorter version & the crystal embellished version)





Saturday, June 15, 2013

Biker Chic









Maison Scotch silk top (similar) // Drole de Copine jacket from my fall 2012 Paris trip // Current Elliott dizzying leopard print jeans (love this print) // Chanel AW2013 flap bag (want this next) // Balenciaga booties (love these)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Celine Fall and Winter 2013 Bags

Have you seen the Fall 2013 and Winter 2013 Celine bags? What do you think about the collection? For Celine Winter 2013, they have added a few new styles including the newest tote bag dubbed the "Tie" bag. To me, it looks like the offspring of Celine Phantom and Hermes Birkin. Thoughts? Other new additions include the Berlingot Twisted Clutch, the Fortune Cookie shoulder bag and the new Hobo bag. Which is your all-time favorite Celine bag (past or present)?

Below are some of my favorites, carefully selected from both the Celine Fall 2013 and Celine Winter 2013 collection. Head over to Celine to see the rest.
Happy Friday eve! :)

Celine Fall 2013
 


Celine Box Bag in medium, emerald crocodile leather...drools...could be "to die for" in black croc.
 
I was never a big fan of the Celine Edge bag but the navy croc makes it a little desirable
 



















Celine Blade bag. The perfect shopping bag - large enough to carry your wallet, phone, keys, etc without taking up too much arm space. So you could have room to hold all your shopping bags.

Celine Winter 2013



The Tie Bag in black croc. I am un-sure about this until I see it in person.
 



















The timeless Celine Mini Luggage in tri-colour. I love these neutral colours together. I want a slice of chocolate-coffee cake after looking at it.
 
Can't get enough Celine? Read all about Celine bags and get pricing info here.
 



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Croque Madame Muffin Recipe

After having my first real French croque-monsieur at Angelina in Paris last year, I desperately wanted to recreate the memory at home. On the way home, I saw a TV program on Air France about making the perfect bechamel sauce, which I later found was the key in making a croque-monsieur. After googling endlessly for the prefect recipe, I think I've found it! I have modified the recipe slightly to my liking so I hope you'll like it as much as I have. My bf likes to have eggs for breakfast, so this recipe is for the croque-madame version (eliminate the egg if you want the croque-monsieur version). 





















Croque-monsieur from Angelina Paris.

Croque-monsieur first appeared on Parisian cafe menu in 1910 so it's been around this long for good reasons. There are two versions: a croque-monsieur which is basically an adult ham & cheese sandwich or a croque-madame, a ham & cheese sandwich with an egg. The croque-madame is also known as a croque-a-cheval in Normandy, France.
 
Here's what you'll need to make 6 croque-madame muffins:


















 
  • 1 muffin tin/tray that holds 6
  • 6 large slices of white bread (or brown if you want to 'pretend' to be healthy)
  • couple tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 3 slices of ham, cut in halves (I personally like the honey ham)
  • 6 small eggs (I prefer organic range free if you could find them)
      For the bechamel sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour, sifted
  • 200 ml of full cream milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 15 g of gruyere cheese, grated
  • 15 g of emmmental cheese, grated



To make the bechamel sauce:
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
  2. Add flour.
  3. Mix butter and flour mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a paste.
  4. Slowly whisk in the milk, Dijon mustard and nutmeg.
  5. Continue stirring until the mixture over medium heat until the sauce thickens.
  6. Lower temperature to low, stir in the cheese (reserve some for the topping later).
Prepping the muffin tin and final cooking process:
  1. Preheat oven to 180° C or 350° F.
  2. Remove crusts from the bread and with the use of a rolling pin, flatten each slice.
  3. Brush melted butter on the muffin tin, place one slice of flattened bread into each and carefully tucking in the corners as you do (if you have holes, just flatten an extra slice of bread and patch as required).
  4. After you have created your bread cup inside each holder, place half a slice of ham inside each.
  5. Crack an egg into the centre of each, be careful not to break the yolk.
  6. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of bechamel sauce over each and sprinkle with the remaing grated cheese.
  7. Sprinkle salt and pepper as you like.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes if you like your eggs runny or up to 20 minutes if you prefer your eggs throughly cooked.
  9. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

I served mine with a garnish of gherkin/cornichon and fresh seasonal fruits.
Have fun cooking and hope you will try this recipe with your loved ones this weekend.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Paint the field red + H&M Isabel Marant News

I havn't done an outfit post in awhile. Now that the rain spell in Vancouver has temporarily ended, I took advantage of the sunshine and snapped some photos. I've been on vacation the past few weeks so will be posting photos from London and Paris along with some shopping and tourist tips soon. To see and read about my visit to Marrakech, click here.

I wear a lot of colours. My closet is a colour schizophrenic mess but red remains my all time favourite colour of choice. What's your favourite colour?



Zara peplum silk top with back cut-out (similar) // vintage belt from Anthropologie // 3/4 length lace blazer from Nordstrom (lusting over this one) // JBrand jeans in black (similar) // Celine Trapeze bag from Spring 2013 // Christian Louboutin pumps (similar) // red Ferragamo leather bracelet (new from the duty free shop) // Marc Jacobs sunnies
 








If you have been following my blog from the past, you will know that I wrote a long winded post about Celine bags and which one I would get next. Well, here she is, my newish Celine Trapeze in tricolour white and tan leather with red suede flap. To read my post about Celine bags, click here.
 
*--------* -------- *--------* -------- *--------* -------- *--------* -------- *
 
I also want to share with you that James Perse is having a 50% off sale.
I wore one of my favorite in Marrakech.
 
I am also thrilled that H&M is partnering up with Isabel Marant - the collecting comes out on November 14th. I will be in line that day at Pacific Centre. Hope to see some of you there. :)
 


Friday, June 7, 2013

Marrakech, Morocco - Wonder or to Ponder



 

Photo above: Panoramic view of Jemma el-Fna square and the souks from the roof top restaurant where we had lunch.

Step into the world of Arabian Nights...
 
I wanted to visit Marrakech, Morocco for as long as I can remember...it might have been an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations that implanted the idea in my head.
Nevertheless, fast forward a few years and there I was, in North Africa with one of my girlfriend, Winnie (I don't think she knew what she signed up for when she agreed). Not all of our experiences in Marrakech were glamorous so I would like to share with you our venturesome exploration into the mysterious City of Marrakech and its glorious Atlas Mountains.

First impression is always important to me so I had very high expectations upon arriving in Marrakech especially after all the great stories I've read. We arrived at the Marrakech Menara Airport in the wee hour and I felt like a sheep being lead through a maze. We tried to quickly clear custom control point, find our luggage, and hail a taxi to our hotel. As soon as we walked out the airport door, we noticed the handful of passengers that got off with us had vanished. It was just me and Winnie in a very foreign country with 4 very big taxi drivers and 4 very beat up vehicles in front of us. Panic started to set in a little (but I remember to remain calm and to look brave). The English speaking driver approached us (we were speaking in Chinese to each other - let's come up with a price quick, the guide book says the taxis here don't have meters, everything is on a bargain basis). So we asked him "how much to go to our hotel in the Palmeraie?" His response was "dirham or Euro?" We replied "in dirham" and showed him the address to our hotel. He glanced at our paper and formulated 600 dirham ($90 Canadian). In Chinese, I said to Winnie, "OMG, that's too much. I remember tips on TripAdvisor saying something like 100 dirham ($15)." He must have heard the 100 that I said in English and quickly said "no, this hotel is outside the City, it's far. How much you willing to pay?" We said "200". He said "no, 550". We said "no", and began to walk toward the airport door. He quickly said "what's your maximum?" We responded, 200. He said "how about 400?" We said "no, 300 is our max." He grabbed our luggage and with that, we assumed it was agreed upon and went into a smoke-filled, ripped seat, 30 year old car in which was his taxi.  There's a first for everything and this was a first for both of us - no meters? Beat up taxis? I burst out laughing as I recall these small details and Whassap Winnie.



As you can see from the two photos above, Marrakech was not a final destination for a lot of other passengers. The terminal was empty. I could essential hear my own voice echo in the large open space.
 
The first five minute of the taxi ride seemed ok and we felt safe as we were still in the vicinity of the airport area and what we later learned as the New City. Just as quickly as I had thought Marrakech is pretty safe and relatively developed and modern, we approached a giant doorway and fortress-type wall, we cut motorists off to go through the tall but narrow doorway. On the other side of the wall were very tightly built clay-colour homes and poorly lit streets with children playing outside and a lot of men sitting around doing nothing. At that point I wasn't so sure this was the Marrakech I had envisioned Marrakech to be. The road ahead was cracked with large pot holes and the ride was bumpy; and I was praying in my head please dont get a flat, especially in this part of town (may I remind you that I was in a vehicle that should be in the junkyard had it been in North America). A couple minutes later, I couldn't make out anything from my backseat window (it seemed we had crossed into an area where electricity was still light-years away) and my phone had lost signal. I didn't see any street signs or directional signs outside and surely couldn't make out anything distinctive as everything looked the same (same clay-colour homes and everyone was dressed in black or light grey with only their eyes showing). I remember asking are we almost there and the driver didnt answer. I was thinking oh crap this is what crazy people do before they kill their victims, they keep their silence until they find a deserted vacant lot. And then a glimmer of hope set in when I saw 'Pullman Hotel in 500m'. Phhhewww. When I saw the tree-lined driveway that leads to our hotel, I was immediately relieved. Winnie and I joked that night, okay we may have been ripped off paying 300 dirham to get here but at least he didn't drop us off in the middle of nowhere.  That night we both slept very well in our comfy king-sized bed.

Thankfully our hotel was everything and a bit more than what I had hoped it would be. The resort was a lot bigger than what the website depicts, fileld with 5 restaurants, an olive garden, an outdoor pool, a tennis court, a spa and plenty of golf carts to drive around. Our room was on the ground floor with an open patio, and a generous sized bathroom with a large spa shower. The only negative was the room smelled of sewage waste during the day.



 Entrance to the lobby of our hotel (taken the next morning).
 
Hotel Lobby
 




 
































First full day in Marrakech, we woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside our room. We stayed at the Pullman Marrakech Palmeraie Resort and Spa. The Palmeraie, as I was told was previously an olive grove and then 5-7 years ago, foreign developers saw the potential the area has and started to build Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons and other highly recognizable branded hotels here. Our hotel was built in late 2012 so it was fairly new. The first order of business after having breakfast was to go to the hustle and bustle of Jemaa el-Fnaa (Djemaa el Fna) inside the Medina wall. The Medina is the old, walled part of town where life continues much as it has for hundreds of years. You have to immerse yourself in the massive open space and take in the smells, sounds and sights to truly experience it. To start, there are horse caleche (horse drawn carriage) rides right at the start of the square. As you make your way to the heart of the square, you are surrounded by snake charmers, monkey handlers, psychics, tarot card readers, women offering henna, and orange juice stalls which lead the way into to souks. You can pass an entire day, get lost (and not even know it), just by wandering through the narrow winding streets of the souks. The souks offer an unforgetable and new shopping experience for me personally - I have never been in a retail enviornment where there are uncountable number of traders such as carpet and lighting dealers and butchers' shops all within the same space. When I say butcher shop, don't picture your local Dean and Deluca or Whole Foods meat counter. It is literally half a pig and cow hanging in front of a hole-in-the-wall of a shop and smell of slaughtered animal lingering about. Shopkeepers approach you left and right begging you to go in to look at everything under the sun - magic powder claiming to be natural Viagra, wood carving, brass Genie teapots, pointed toe slippers (babouche), poufs, just to name a few. We were overwhelmed after walking into one end of the souks that we quickly made our way back to the square to look for lunch. After spinning our heads around a few times trying to pin point a decent roof top restaurant, we settled on one that had a great view of the square and a group of women selling beautiful hand woven straw bags. Our first Moroccan meal (excessively spiced grilled mystery meat and Moroccan meat tajine) was very foreign to me. I thought I was well travelled and have tasted a lot of unusal food (monkey brain, coagulated chicken blood) but I was not prepared for the game-y smell of the meat and the amount of fat that was in our food. There was also an unwanted cat that kept brushing up against us that made us both very nervous. Needless to say, we both bolted out of there, empty stomach. Remembering that we had arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 3:00, we slowly made our way out of the square to look for the driver in front of the KFC in which we had previously discussed as our meeting place. The taxi from the hotel was an intact newer Toyota and the driver was polite and spoke relatively good English so it was worth the 100 dirham ($15) each way, hence the reason we agreed to have him pick us up as well (to avoid getting into a crappy car and the whole negotiation process). We ate cheeseburger and sorbet and relaxed by the pool until dinner time.
 
The many walls and gates of Marrakech.
 

The gate to the Royal Palace of Marrakech

 
 Wall of the Old city (Medina)

Bab Agngou, built in the 12th century.
 
Park leading to Jemma el-Fna
 

 


 
 
 
 




The next day we had arranged for a local guide to take us to Jardin Majorelle (the Majorelle Garden that YSL and his partner Pierre Berge purchased in 1980) and other local landmarks such as Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia Palace, Medersa Ben Youssef, and Saadian Tombs. We had read that Marrakech is difficult to navigate and  we didn't want to waste our time looking on our own. It was a straight forward day as we had a 'man" with us to ward off unwanted attention. So I'll let the photos do most of the talking...
 
First stop: Jardin Majorelle
 







 























 


 Yves Saint Laurent Memorial
 
 Koutoubia Mosque (unfortunately we were not allow to enter as we are non-Muslims.)
 

 Inside one of the royal resident.
 






Back to the souks to learn about local crafts...
 
Pharmacy
 


Local woman extracting oil from argan fruits.


 Silk Workshop



















 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Men handling raw hides to prep them for leather goods.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
         

                                              
Upon returning to the hotel, we booked ourselves an hour at the spa.
(The spa is right behind me int he photo below.)
 


































 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
Sitting outside our room, happy after our relaxing spa treatment.

Tajine Fish, fresh roti and mint tea with live entertainment at dinner time.
 




 


We saved the best for last.The third and final day was an adventure packed day that drifts effortlessly between thrill and tranquillity. Just an hour drive away from Marrakech lies the Atlas Mountains, an incredible stretch of 2,500 km across Northern Africa that stand tall next to Marrakech providing a home to the Berber population. Our guide had a full day planned out for us - camel ride, visit a salt mine, followed by a hike to get to the top of the high Atlas Mountain to a Berber village to have an authentic Moroccan meal. On tour to the mountains, we experienced the natural and unspoilt beauty of the region - coloured rock cliffs, natural waterfalls and mountain streams all provided spots of tranquility. It was a day filled with new sights and knowledge as we were provided a taste of mountain life and the meeting of new cultures. Follow along with the photos below. 
 















  





 
 
Started from the bottom...



 Now we are on top. We made it, we made it (with Miu Miu's, ovrsized hats and all). =P







Corn field
 


 Making our way through the rugged Berber village road with a running stream.



 


































 
I don't know the official name of this Berber dish but it was delish. A phyllo pie filled with shredded chicken and toasted almonds.

We visited the New City in the evening. This is the modern and developed part of Marrakech with Western shops, night clubs and new condo development. We were craving a non-tajine meal so we went into a French restaurant and then had dessert at a French pastry shop next store (eventhough we were flying out to Paris the very next morning).
 




The taxi driver from the hotel to the airport was not very honest. He wanted 500 dirham but we were told by reception that 300 dirham is reasonable so we negotiated him down to 300 dirham. Upon arrival at the airport, we handed him two 200 dirham bills, and he claimed he didn't have change for 100 dirham and basically refused to give us any change. This was another beat up vehicle we were unlucky enough to be in - the door handles were all broken and only one side was barely accessible. 

Now that I have spent three full days in Marrakech, this includes using a squat toilet with no working plumbing and amenities, hiking the Atlas Mountains, eating some questionable meat, wandering through the maze of the souks, witnessing the processing of argan oil, and visiting a Berber home. I have mixed feelings about this city but what I can say is that Mareakech will always hold a special place amongst my many travel destinations. Marrakech is a place where visitors need to use their common sense and consider how they would act in a large city in their home country. Be well prepared that there will be many surprises along the way. Be smart and stay alert and you should have a pretty good time.
 
Now some tips:
  • Appropriate attire - In Morocco, a mid length skirt, jeans and t-shirt is fine. However, if you don't want to attract unwanted attention from locals especially within the old city walls, stay away from shorts, mini-skirts, and tight tank tops.
  • For women travellers - ignore hisses and comments and shrug off men wanting to chat or show you their shop. Just be polite and firm or ignore eye contacts. 
  • Cleanse and Relax - A dose of Marrakech’s tranquil side is the experience of a hammam. Hammams in Marrakech are prevalent and are one of the highlights of the city, ranging from cheaper public hammams to luxurious private spas. Public spas are common and much cheaper, a full body wash and exfoliation is completed in around an hour. Beware that the public experience is shared, but typically remains to same sex rooms. Luxury spas deliver a fully personable experience, with steam, gommage (scrubbing), full body massage, and full body and hair wash. Winnie and I opted to go to the spa within our resort and paid 350 dirham ($53 Canadian) each for the one hour private service.
  • Have a cup of Moroccan Mint Tea - learn the art of the tea ceremony and the proper way of pouring mint tea from a local Berber or enjoy a cup already made on a roof top restaurant or bar. Note: the cafe on the ground level of the Jemma el-Fna square is strictly reserved for men only.
  • Hire a local licensed tour guide - our guide was Omar and he operates his own company, High Atlas Walking and Trekking Holidays. Tell him you are a friend of Jacqueline and Winnie (the only two Asian girls he's ever guided) and he might give you a special referral rate.
  • Experience the Jemma el-Fna Square (The heart of Marrakech) - The Jeema El Fna Square sits proudly in the heart of Marrakech, prominently known as one of the world’s busiest market places and truly unique in the entertainment it provides. Wander through this maze of market stalls and enchanting entertainment which provides a true taste of Marrakechi culture. Orange juice sellers, snake charmers and monkey handlers fill the market during the day providing an environment to shops and visitors. By night the atmosphere changes and wild aromas fill the air, local musicians play and the hustle and bustle of the square can truly be enjoyed.
  • Shopping in the Souks - bring cash and cut everything they offer by half and then another half. The most you should be is 25% of what their original price is. For example, for a pair of babouche slipper, they will start off at 400 dirham, you divide it in half (200) and then another half to 100. If they say no, just get up and leave. Chances are they will stop you and agree. There are literally thousands of shops within the souks selling the same product so don't feel sad leaving empty handed.
  • Before getting into a taxi, show them the address or place of interest and negotiate to an agreed price. Remember, they don't have meters installed in any of the taxis.
  • Public washrooms (toilettes, as they call it) - if you are lucky, you might stumble upon a westernized facility with runing water, seated toilets with paper and soap. But you never know when you have to go or where you will be when you have to, so do yourself a favour and carry a pack of Wet Wipes and a couple pack of Kleenex.

Part of the mightly Atlas Mountains.
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