So tomorrow I’m going away. Again. I decided to sequester all of our travel to the hot season for the first half of 2015. That’s right, you’ve heard us moan about it before: that time of year when it’s absolutely intolerable and a sense of dread overcomes you at the thought of leaving an air conditioned space. I’ve already knocked off a getaway and a trip back home. Now it’s time to head in the other direction and over to the old world. Over two weeks and some change, I’ll be in London (5 days), Copenhagen (3 days), the south of Spain (7 days) and Frankfurt (2 days). A little crazy right? And that involves some wayward weather and baggage limits on European domestic airlines. I’ll also be carrying a treasure trove of gifts for pals, some of whom I haven’t seen for four years! With this conundrum in mind, I thought I’d share some of my baggage and tricks for a gift heavy suitcase with a sprinkle of a minimalist wardrobe.
There are no hotels nor Airbnbs this trip. I am bunking it down with some of my bestest pals and my partner’s family in all four countries I’m visiting. How lucky am I? I’m so grateful for all the friendship from these guys (I’ve known a couple of these beauties since I was 18!), and so excited for all the wine we’ll be drinking and stories that will be shared. And I love sharing little bits of Cambodia with my pals. So I thought I’d share some of these fantastic and tasty items that are making it into my baggage.
L’Irresistible is the brand of the social enterprise, Action Cambodge Handicap, a French NGO that assists young Cambodians with mental and physical disabilities to find gainful employment. To help generate income, they make the most amazing sweet things with local ingredients! Among my faves to bring home are their suite of jams. I’ve got eight jars of pineapple coconut, mango, banana, and pineapple passion jams that are so easy to pack and share with everyone I’ll be staying with!
A big chunk of my pals are major foodies. Cooking, eating, food porn, whatever. So bringing back at least one kilogram of Kampot pepper to sprinkle on all of them is a must. These little peppercorns pack a bigger punch than your usual little nodule. And they were once the preferred pepper of choice on all French tables. There’s a noticeable difference in flavour and I like to make sure all my foodie friends have a grinder full of this.
CocoKhmer is yet another little social enterprise in Cambodia that is onto seriously huge things. Working with vulnerable communities, founder (and fellow Torontonian!) Rob Esposito has created systems for income generation and production of hand-pressed coconut oil and related products that also support local farms. I swear by CocoKhmer’s line of body scrubs, lip balms and firey Naga Balm for sore muscles. And friends with newborns are in love with the fragrance of CocoKhmer’s delicate Baby Balm.
Scarves! Well duh. I am constantly picking these up in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and wherever else I may land in southeast Asia. Pure silk shawls and 100% cotton kromas that come in every single colour and pattern imaginable make for perfect gifts.
My Tiny Closet:
You’ve heard of the term, right? Coined by stylist and photographer Caroline Rector out of a desire to simplify and make things unfancy (listen to her journey to this realization here), the capsule wardrobe has since exploded in the blogosphere with professionals like stylist Jen Pinkston taking on the challenge. I’ve been telling myself to do this for the past year, and this 17 day period sounds like the perfect time to experiment. I’ve decided to bring 12 items – including tops, bottoms, shoes and outerwear (and excluding underwear and workout clothes) to bring with me to four cities and two climates. This will be an obvious challenge for me because I like my patterns and my colour, while the capsule wardrobe is typically built on solid colours and clean lines. So I thought I’d share some of the ways I’m infusing crazy patterns and colour into this trip’s tiny wardrobe!
My big obsession right now are patterned spaghetti strap tops like this one from & Stories. They are perfect for layering and are so easy to pair with solid bottoms. Last week, I found some old cotton saris I had grabbed while in Goa, and some less natural textiles that don’t breath so well in this heat (ie. polyester) in my growing collection of fabric and decided to bring them to the tailor for some quickie cute tops. And then I remembered about all that beautiful kitenge that Alissa had brought me back from Tanzania. So it was inevitable that another shirtdress was born; perfect for brunches and wandering in hip galleries, and layered with a wool cardigan for night time casual cocktails!
For bottoms, I decided to go for simple and comfortable. In addition to the obligatory pair of black skinny denim, I’m packing these simple cotton and beyond comfortable army-esque pants (and here) from J. Crew. I love that they are both mid wasted, but can go down for a cute drop-crotch look, get cinched up to look a tiny bit more polished, or rolled up to show off fancy feet. And I’m still obsessed with my pencil cut Kampot Skirt from Tonlé. This will be perfect for a fancy date night in any of those four cities.
And of course to carry it all in, I’ll only be bringing two bags with me. My two trusty sidekicks wherever I am are always this white leather clutch I purchased at ARTillery from a local designer some years ago (similar here), and this leather tote bag (inspired by this) which fits my life and that I had custom made for me in Hoi An. Both are simple, made with sturdy leather, and pretty much go with any pattern or colour you can throw at them.
PS – Speaking of limited wardrobes, check out this awesome capsule wardrobe all the way in Cape Town! 30 days / 30 outfits / 10 key items / 3 different ways #stylistsiki
PPS – Great minds clearly think alike. Head over to Cup of Jo to check out her best gifts for hosts and Bri Emery has also just shared her packing guide for Europe (where I discovered our love for the same footwear).
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. And we are not liable for any retail therapy rampage that might happen after consumption of this post.