The mix of decorated bottles creates a beautiful look for lining a mantle, table or shelf. This was one of my DIY projects this week as I wanted to start making our place look a little more festive for the holidays. I used yarn and hemp for some of the more “natural” Asian-inspired looking designs, and white spray paint (matte finish) topped with thin gold flakes for the more decorative looking pieces. I love the contrast of materials with the gold-laced pinecones and accent color of the flower buds. It’s perfect for the holidays.
One of the first things I loved about Italy was their attention to detail – their presentation of food and desserts – which is such an important part of their culture. I remember seeing this gorgeous display of gelato when I was in Florence and almost couldn’t believe it was real… and not only does it look amazing, it’s equally as delicious. My favorite flavors are limone on a scorching hot day when I need something refreshing, or the combination of caffè and mascarpone e noci (mascarpone with walnuts) when I’m in the mood for something a little richer.
One of my favorite things to get when I visit Thailand is a dessert called Khao-Lam. It’s a speciality of the province of Phetchaburi, my dad’s hometown, which is famous for its cuisine and desserts. (Apparently, the cooks in the King’s Palace are always from this region, as they are “the best in Thailand,” which sounds a little biased, but quite honestly, the food there is pretty much amazing!). The dessert is made up of a sweet sticky rice (with coconut milk) and black bean mixture which is then placed into hollowed out bamboo pieces and grilled until the sticky rice becomes soft and warm… it’s seriously delicious. It’s pretty rich, so in the future I have to remember to not make the mistake of telling my relatives I love it or else they will buy endless bags of it, which you just can’t refuse (it’s a little like Italian culture in that respect). It’s like you can’t say no and hurt their feelings, so you are almost obligated to keep eating until you feel like you’re going to …
The old summer palace (aka “Monkey Hill”) in the province of Phetchaburi, Thailand that was built by King Rama IV. The decor is a combination of Thai, Chinese and European styles and the final construction was finished in 1858. There’s a tram that will take you up to the palace as it’s situated on a hill – the only thing I’ll warn you of is that the palace in inhabited by monkeys that freely roam to and from, and enjoy stealing from unsuspecting tourists. Keep your belonging tucked away!
While visiting Sicily last spring we decided to check out the quaint little city of Taormina. The layout is unique as Taormina has a beautiful beach with gorgeous clear water, but the city itself is located on a mountain – so since there’s limited space for car traffic (and parking), there’s a tram available to transport people who have parked at the base of the mountain up to the top. It’s really an incredible place to visit – with lots of food stands on the side of the streets, plenty of cafes and bars, historic buildings and museums. I loved wandering down little alleyways (such as the one pictured) and stumbling on markets and treasures. Taormina is also famous for “aranchini” which is basically a fried rice ball stuffed with a variety of different things: my favorite is the mozzarella and spinach, but some have pomodoro sauce, mushrooms, ricotta, prosciutto and cheese, sausage, ragu… the options are endless!