the skinny of it all…

From upper right, clockwise: Loren Stewart Triangle Necklance, Dear Rae Silver Rings, Loren Stewart 4 Diamond Skinni Rings, Odette Spear Ring, Minoux Big Bee Home Necklace, and Stone & Honey Porta Ring

I’m not talking about body images, nor jeans.  It’s all about the elusive finger or neck candy.  I’m really not one to accessorize.  Yes, I have a few pieces here and there (literally – they are all spread out through Deutschland, Canada and Cambodia), but nothing that really floats my boat here and now; especially while I’m surrounded the glam-ed up opulence that’s so characteristic of Khmer styles.

But lately I’ve been inspired by the skinny, or the minimalist take on jewelry one can say.  Namely these thin bands I spotted on Fashiontoast/Rumi Neely earlier this year.  If there is an accoutrement for this anti-accessorizer…then it’s definitely the minimalist’s take on metal and jewelcraft.

And so, I discovered super fab Cali-based jeweler, Loren Stewart (check out her ode to thin bands below!)…and inevitably the big wheels started turning.  I cannot wait to go visit the most amazing jeweler (for those of us on a budget), Channa, in Russian Market.  I know she’ll help me design something fab…and of course, minimalist.

Details soon.

LOREN STEWART – SQUARE from Sammy Loren on Vimeo.


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lunch in the penh…green & vietnamese, part 1

At least once a week, you can find me grabbing the sweet, sour and fresh tastes of neighbouring Vietnam.  Though the complicated geopolitical relationships and war-time history between the two countries sometimes pop-up in debate, Vietnamese food remains plentiful and delicious throughout Phnom Penh (and I’ll be providing a few more stories on the nexus of religion/politics, ethics and food later on in my Lunch in the Penh series).

But getting back to the delectable.  Vietnamese food is a favourite of mine because of it’s ability to combine the sweet and the savoury, and all of those fresh green herbs that usually come with most dishes.  And one of the best locales for m’hope Vietnam (that’s Vietnamese food in Khmer for all y’all) is Magnolia (House 55, Street 51, at the corner of street 242).  Not only is the food delicious and remarkably affordable, but it’s a great place to catch up with friends in a luscious green setting, al fresco or air-conditioned and inside if the heat is too stifling or the rains are raging during the lunch hour.

It is very likely that my favourite Vietnamese dishes of all time is bún thịt nướng chả giò, or Fried Pork with Rice Vermicelli and Spring Rolls.  I first fell in love with it while living in Chinatown during university, when my buddy Nid and I would go for bowls of it at the Pho Hung across the street from our apartment.  I’ve also now had the authentic dishes in Hanoi and Saigon and I can testify that Magnolia’s version is pretty damn good.  It’s a great lunchtime meal, with cold rice vermicelli noodles, grilled pork that is sweet, smokey and hot off the barbecue, a pile of those delicious Vietnamese herbs whose names I cannot tell you, and those rich fried spring rolls stuffed with more pork and taro.  It’s all finished with a splash of the sweet and sour fish sauce mixture that comes with pickled carrots and daikon; and my personal addition is also a big dab of oyster sauce too.  Ridiculously delicious.  And all that for a steal at $3.50!

And another big reason my friends and I head to Magnolia is for the Banh Xeo.  This dish is popular in the regions bordering Cambodia and Vietnam and is a savory paper thin crepe made with rice flour and the yellow colour comes from tumeric.  It’s then stuffed with any number of ingredients of your liking; most often pork, shrimp or chicken, and fried to a lovely golden colour.

But the common question about this dish concerns how exactly one eats it?  It can indeed be a tad overwhelming when one is presented with a big massive stuffed pancake; served with an even bigger plate of fresh greens; and that lovely sweet and sour fish sauce mixture with picked carrots and daikon.  How do you deal?  Well, I was lucky enough to have gotten instructions from a co-worker from the border-region which banh xeo hails.  It’s pretty simple – you use your hands.  First, grab a big piece of lettuce from your pile of greens.  Then using that piece of lettuce, grab a chunk of the stuffed pancake and add some of the fresh green herbs in there too.  Finally dip into the fish sauce and voila….you have pure yummy. And all for $3-4 you say?

I can guarantee that you won’t leave a scrap on your plates with these 2 lunchtime faves.  Check it out if you find yourself in the BKK1/Wat Langka neighbourhood.  Enjoy!All photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, by infinitiff.  Please do not reproduce or use without permission).

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It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Hokusai’s wood-block print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa and anything related to its shape.  It’s my desktop wallpaper.  I have a short sleeved tuxedo jacket that my fabulous tailor, Monika, made for me a couple of years ago using a print based on the woodcut.  I’m still contemplating and trying to perfect a tattoo based on the woodcut for my upper back.  And now – with the end of my (ridiculously challenging) consultancy and getting back into this blogging business after some time away – it’s time to take on the big wave again.  This time, it’s all about a boyfriend blazer and shorts combo!

This pattern had me at hello.  Psar Tuol Tom Pong is such a treasure trove! I instantly knew it was going to be a jacket, and later on, matching shorts!  I cannot wait to see how it all turns out!

Jacket / Shorts

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à la mode pp…mosquito nets & tetrapaks!

With a girl’s only trip down to the Cambodian coastline looming ahead, I found myself in need of a toiletry bag.  Seriously – why hadn’t I thought of this before?  Well I have, but after years of using ones inherited from a collection called “stuff my mom got for free and decided to give to me,” I decided it was time I found one to call my own. Made with re-purposed fishing net! And it came in a recycled Tetrapak shopping bag!

Toiletry bags in every colour of the rainbow!

And where to get such a fabulous travel accessory in Phnom Penh?…Smateria of course!

Smateria is practically a Phnom Penh institution among stylish social enterprises.  Formed in 2006 by 2 stylish Italiano ladies, Elisa and Jennifer, Smateria sought to turn all that litter you see around on the streets of the Penh – into something you’d want to lay down bucks for.  Everything is made from recycled goods, from mozzie and fish nets to tetrapaks, garbage bags, old motorbike seats, and second hand textiles.  Not only that, Smateria employs vulnerable and formerly exploited Cambodian women, using both home-based production and ethical shops around town in accordance to International Labour Laws. I love a social enterprises that tackles multiple issues!

But getting to the styles…check out Smateria’s online catalog.  They have got such a great sturdy collection of purses, wallets, travel accessories, super adorable kids’ gear, and bags to protect everything from your iPhone to your Macbook in every single colour of the rainbow! They even do custom designs and I’m thinking of having them do a mozzie net version of this bag!

Are these not the cutest?

My fave is their sun-filled store on street 57 x street 278, near Wat Langka!

So definitely do check out one of Smateria’s 4 locations (in PP and Siem Reap) if you’re ever in the Kingdom! Or if not, one of their stockists in Europe.  I can guarantee you, people will be asking where you got that bag.

All photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, by infinitiff.  Please do not reproduce or use without permission).

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got sunnies?

(Original photo by Tom Ford via GirlScene)

With the clouds parted (both literally and figuratively) I found myself on the market for sunglasses, and thankfully, Phnom Penh offers pretty nifty knock-offs at remarkable prices.  $4-5 a pair, depending on your negotiating powers!  You can even find dudes conveniently hawking sunnies in all of the tourist districts here. With this in mind, I know I’ll probably live life as a cheapie when it comes to shades; especially having once left a $300 pair of sunnies at a resto in Toronto.

But prices aside – it’s all about the style right? The perfect pair of frames to suit your face and your personality.  Knowing me, I like an edgy, tomboy-ish, but ever-so slightly glam pair of sunnies.  Which is why I wound up with my typical pair of Rayban Red Wayfarers, classic Persols and these darling Tom Ford Whitneys (all certified copies of course).  So with a new outlook and sunnies on my mind, I thought I’d come up with some inspired collections of some of my fave looks, all harkening to vintage periods that I simply love.  Enjoy! xoxo, t

Go Glam! Original Photo of Audrey Hepburn by Angus McBean.

Hip, beat generation coolness. Original photo by unknown via B for Bonnie


Ice cold and badass circa the 1970s – for girls and guys! Original photo of Robert Redford by Ron Gallela

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a snood for the subtropics…

Snood…what a funny name, eh?  (I think snoodle is even better)  These tubular scarves are often knit and are the best thing to keep warm during those frosty winters back home and in London.  They’re actually amazing – you can wear it like a hood, wrap it around you as many times as you can as a big scarf.  But what about a snood for more tropical climes?

I’ve been wanting to get creative in the scarf arena and decided to take the traditional knit snood and flip it upside down for Cambodia.  I found some great textiles at Psar Tuol Tom Puong (Russian Market), and had Srey Oun over at Shocking Pink Tailors sew it up for me.  I added a bit of black cotton to lengthen it so I could wrap it around me twice.

Et voila!

All you need is about 1m x 1.5-1.7m of fabric depending on the breadth and length you want.  I used 90cm x 160cm of fabric for a scarf that was long and wide enough to serve as a wrap around shawl, and wrap twice around my neck.  Sew it into a closed tube shape, and there you a have it!  A snood for the summer! Perfect for sopping up sweat, as a shawl to match tiny tank top, as a hood or veil if you need to cover up at religious sites (or against the rain), and wrapping around your neck during those cool seaside summer nights (don’t catch a cold!).  You could fancy it up by using a nice silk or satin instead.  Or keep it casual with a nice jersey or woven cotton. The possibilities are endless.  Enjoy!

All photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, by infinitiff.  Please do not reproduce or use without permission).

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Cambodia Cookbook-4….easy peasy agua fresca!

Damn, it’s hot right now!  It hit 43°C on Friday, but I swear it felt like 55°C.  And so,  it’s time for something cold and refreshing!  Seriously, it is sizzling in Cambodia! And I hear the mercury’s rising in London and Toronto too!

For the past couple of years, I’ve been making agua fresca to cool off on a hot season’s day.  It’s such an awesome low key beverage to while away a hot afternoon with.  I also just bought a blender last week, just in time for this heat (yay smoothies too!).  It’s such an incredibly simple recipe and so cheap to make too.  Watermelon (3000-4000R at the market, 75cents-$1), lime juice (5cents), sugar, water, combine and blend!  See! Easy peasy!

Agua Fresca
(recipe adapted from Martha Rose Shulman at NYTimes)

4 cups diced/de-seeded watermelon
3 cups of water (divided in half)
2-3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar

1) Blend together the watermelon or cantaloupe with 1 1/2 cups of the water, the lime juice and the sugar at high speed until smooth.
2) Strain through a medium strainer into a large pitcher or bowl.
3) Stir in the remaining water. Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.
4) Fill a glass with ice, pour in the agua fresca, garnish with a mint sprig…et voila! Agua fresca!

All photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, by infinitiff.  Please do not reproduce or use without permission).