Hard Day's Night

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Well. It's been a bitch of a month. I always knew launching a new company wasn't going to be easy, but travelling the length and breadth of the country and ending up in hospital within the last 30 days have not really helped my cause here.

Keeping it classy celebrating my uncle's 70th birthday
Classy as ever- wine in a tooth mug...

I shouldn't be bitching too hard about the travel. At the end of the month I ventured up to Hexham to celebrate a family 70th birthday party. It would be fair to say that this contingent of my family know how to party hard and so subsequently, T & I found ourselves with raging hangovers the following day, having been not quite the last ones standing at 0130. Unfortunately my Aunt & Uncle who hosted the bash were less than satisfied with the food provided, and truth be told, neither were we. Hungover and hungry is not a winning combination!

Unfortunately we had a funeral to go to exactly one week later which meant I remained working away from home for a week longer than expected. Nobody does board meetings like we do...

Board meeting debris
Currently trying to work out if we can legitimately hold an AGM in Barbados next year.... 

Finally back in London after almost 6 weeks away, I was greeted with a broken washing machine and an oven that wasn't working but that finally burnt out last night (send help... or vodka), and a huge change in seasons. Last time I was home for more than a few hours, I was still riding my bike in sleeveless baselayers and shorts and drying laundry outside.

Autumn cycling- all about @endura #supercommuter kit and new bikes
Autumn riding- back in hi-viz

Needless to say the ever shorter days and shall we say damp conditions have left no doubt that it's time to be back in my hi-viz jacket and there's a waterproof cover permanently attached to my rucksack. Oh, and the clothes airer is out from under the bed. I'm quite enjoy being back in my favourite biker jacket and jumpers but not so much that it's ok for my braid to leave it's own wet patch on my clothes....

Having finally gotten my head around the change in seasons, the war going on in my flat (trust me, don't ask) and the total drought of chefs we seem to be experiencing in London, I am kind of getting my head together. Or at least I was...

Yes, yes this is exactly how I wanted to spend my Saturday night.
Saturday night and I like the way you move.... 

Yeah, after not being able to keep even water down, I caved and allowed myself to be dragged to A&E last week, where it turns out I had some kind of gall bladder infection. Me being me, I trundled home with my antibiotics after some serious IV painkillers and other assorted drugs thinking it was nothing, only to end up back in hospital all weekend. Yeah, turns out gall bladder infections don't just go away and when they don't it can be quite serious. Oh, did I mention the day after being finally let out, I had to have my wisdom teeth removed as well?!

I have lost almost 4kg in the last 7 days, mostly thanks to not being able to eat for the latter half of last week followed by an almost entirely liquid diet this week. I can't have wine and I also can't have dairy 2 hours either side of my antibiotics which basically rules out ice cream at any sensible time. On the plus side...

Mmmm. Dinner.
All the drugz

The solids I do get to inhale do at least have some decent qualities.

In short, I've had a busy month that ended with an especially shitty week and it's not made me miserable, I just feel a bit ground down by it all now. Lucky for me, there's a man who knows that cats, especially BIG stripey ones make it all better. T is taking me to see the tiger cubs at London Zoo this weekend as a 'please get better, stop being so pissed at life and don't make me come visit you in a hospital again soon' present. He's not all bad!

Yes, this little round up has been a bit of a rant post, but you know, sometimes it's good to let it out. I'm not ungrateful for the good bits either- racing T down Whitechapel and Mile End Road to get home was great fun, and I'm not kidding when I say my folks know how to party hard- there may or may not be pictures of my holding up my aunt's boobs.... And T graduated (properly) in this mix too. It was a pleasure and a privilege to celebrate that with him as we've been through a lot whilst he made his degree work for him and into finding a 'proper' job.

Tell me good things people- are the cubs as awesome I'm lead to believe? Have you been somewhere cool this month? Know of somewhere awesome to get ice cream (because whilst I can't have it, of course I want it!)?

About Turn

Monday, September 22, 2014

I haven't blogged in over 2 months. I haven't looked my blog's dashboard for at least 6 weeks. I haven't read a blog in at least 4 weeks. I've been blogging here for 3 years and in other guises for a further 2, so it's a bit strange in many ways that I barely even noticed the above.

I didn't fall out of love with blogging, I haven't been any busier than other times I've sustained my blog, and I haven't been on the receiving end of any huge drama or unpleasantness. My life just overtook me a bit and I didn't want to share everything with everyone. Nothing terrible happened, I just didn't feel the need to share myself.

So anyway, since July 20th I quit my job, started work on the new company I'm launching, learned how to use new software, had to have my washing machine, vacuum cleaner and oven fixed in the same week and I taught myself how to crochet. 

Attempting to learn how to crochet. It was all going fine until I had to do more than a chain stitch....

I got Pinterest, I bought a brand new road bike (of dreams). 


I ate a lot, cooked a lot, I also hated on my kitchen more than a lot before I just took over my (Master Chef) dad's kitchen instead.

What I wouldn't do for one of these right now!

@tomskitchens macaroni cheese, perfect Sunday food.

And as we reach the end of September, I'm watching the sun set from my desk as a hazy orange light in the early evening my thoughts are turning as much to taking pictures and sharing them as I am to the subject of those pictures (a family party). I even fancy showing off my lumpy crochet slippers (still learning when it comes to reading patterns....)

Finally made something that isn't lopsided! #crochet

I don't know if I'm 'back'. I don't know if I ever went away, but I do know I didn't hate writing a post, and I'd quite like to pen a few more soon.

My Week on 2 Wheels: #womens100

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My cycling and associated love of womens focused riding is pretty well documented on this blog as well as my twitter and Instagram accounts too. I writing today's edition of the back of a ride that has both enhanced and broken that lovin' feeling.

It had to be Rapha for the Rapha Women's 100

The ride I did today I chose to do with T rather than one of the organised women's rides. That suits my ethos as one of the key things I find tough about some of the rhetoric around women and sport seems to forget that some of us enjoy going out to play with boys as well as girls. We did London to Southend and then a few extra clicks to make up my 100km. And it's at this point I should tell you a few things. Firstly. I ride a single speed bike. That means it's much harder to get up hills, and I can't go any faster than I freewheel down them. Secondly, the route today had a total ascent of almost 1000 metres.

Job done

Busted. Broken. A bit beaten. Today I had my first ever emotionally challenging ride as well as physically challenging. I've heard runners talk about the various emotions of running and how much your mindset can alter the result, but never xperienced it for myself. Today I seriously considered blowing the savings I have for a shiny new bike on something sparkly and expensive. Not doing long rides and bowing out.

Epic & well earned ice cream

Rides like today remind me I'm not invincible. They take me out of my comfort zone and for many reasons I should be celebrating that, I learned a lot. I don't know if I like what I learned though. And for this reason, the #womens100 was worth doing.

Sport and activity and fitness is so different for every person and every woman but I think it's ok for it to be a hardship sometimes. Despite feeling beaten at the end of my ride, I still clocked my 100km, and therefore I still made it happen. Finding it tough or not enjoyable doesn't make me weaker or inferior to any other girl or guy, it just means that today, I learned some hard lessons.

Christmas in July: Craft & DIY Planning

Thursday, July 17, 2014

If you missed it, the first installment of this mini series, I was talking about utilising the sales to kick start your Christmas shopping. All in the name of getting a good deal and preventing the crush on your pay packet in November and December, check it out right HERE.

The next topic up is DIY and Crafting and this is the first of two posts on the subject. I've given plenty of homemade gifts over the last few years, sometimes more necessity than choice when cash has been a bit on the tight side, but as we roll forward I do enjoy the unique and personal nature of homemade gifts. The next post will be a few ideas and inspirations for homemade gifts, but today I wanted to give planning them a mention.

Many a year has gone by where I've had good intentions to make such and such, and then it's December and I've had parties to organise, events to attend, wrapping to do and travel plans to finalise. Lo and behold, I have only the time to do instant gifts. And so follows my own personal guide to planning craft or DIY gifts and a few good reasons to think about it now, and not in November!

Today. Made a half arsed start so now I'm going to finish this dress.
Getting my stitch on to try and get my head around pattern cutting once more

  1. Make a list- List all the ideas you have, then try and match them to people you know you want to give a gift to- it's no good making 20 different glittery rose scented soaps when you have a lot of men who need gifts or worse- forgetting someone!
  2. Trial and error- Craft or DIy gifts can be really cost effective and they're deeply personal too but after a certain age, you're family will only be so forgiving of lumpy clay or frayed seams. If you've never knitted before, give it a go whilst topping up your tan this bank holiday, decide if it's a realistic choice. If you don't normally bake, is giving cake and sweets going to be super stressful?! I want to learn to crochet this summer. Mostly because of the below. But if I haven't grasped it by September (in time for Pinterest worthy evenings with candles, cookies and beautiful crafted products) I will be revising my plans
  3. IMG_2669 Foodie ideas should always be tried and tested, extra hard when they involve chocolate and marshmallow 
  4. Some crafts are weather or season sensitive. I want to make candles in jars, and I intend to spray paint the jars. Yes, I could do this inside my rented flat, but I could also have a lot less stressful time by taking a cardboard box out on the terrace on a sunny July Saturday afternoon and spraying within that, not worrying to hard about spillage, mess or accidents, Equally crafts such as sewing, knitting or crochet might be best enjoyed on a certain evening each week when you have the living room to yourself or when a favourite crime drama series comes on each week. By planning what needs doing and when, you may find yourself with a little more time to enjoy parties, festivities and not rushing around like a person possessed in December when realising that it's rained for 2 weeks solid and spray paint doesn't come out of cream carpet!
  5. Supply stocks- on the above note, don't wait all year to realise you need to buy a whole herd's worth of wool or source cinnamon oil which the world and their cat have tried to buy and is therefore sold out. Try buying one set of supplies per month- Candle making wax, wicks and scents in July. Wool, threads and hooks in August. Sugar, cellophane and food colour in September for example. 
  6. Parcels a-go-go Deliveries are a standing joke with my colleagues at the office. But it does save on Red Cards of Doom
  7. And another note to time- booze makes a great present or at least it does for my family *cough* functioning alcoholics *cough*. But boozey creations often take weeks or months to mature. Especially true of fruit gins or vodkas. I am making some Limoncello this year, and it's a process I'll be starting in September to optimise results having missed out last year because I only came across the recipe in early December. 
  8. Happy fucking Friday. #fuckofffriday #fuckitfriday Because crafting should always come with....
  9. Storage- A last note on the list, storage. We're incredibly lucky the the flat we currently occupy is an older building and has TONS of storage both inside and out. This affords me the luxury of being able to put supplies or ingredients into airtight boxes and get the out of the way, and to be able to store bottles of maturing flavoured oils and to keep ready a stash of sale purchased gifts. We've also lived in places where it's struggle for 2 of us to store our clothes and (my) shoes let alone anything else. If you're short on space, it's worth asking friends and family if they might be able to keep hold of a box of something for you. If you make some flavoured vodka, box it up and might it fit in a loft corner until December? Might a friend who also likes to sew or knit mind an extra basket living in their study with your wool or fabric in it? If you work in a liberal office, is there a spare cupboard or corner that they wouldn't mind you using? 
And finally, Pinterest. I just joined Pinterest- always one step ahead of the game me! And there are some really brilliant ideas and some examples of beautiful crafts and projects. Truly, beautiful. But it's so easy to be sucked into idealistic ideas. Do you really have enough time and disposible income to have 3 or 4 tries at making that wreath how you want it? Whether, like me you work full time or perhaps you don't but you have other limits on your time like children or projects or a dog, take some time away from all those supercute ideas to think about how much time you really have to dedicate to making things around your job/partner/business/cycling commitments/enjoyment of Grey's Anatomy binges and if your budget means that buying a gift is a better option.

Because we've all been here:


Chloe Likes To Eat: Americana

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I follow quite a few US food/lifestyle blogs and sometimes I see things, and I just know. I know I have to try them, and this was one of those. Pretzel wrapped hotdogs. Yes. Really. A hotdog, wrapped and baked in it's own chewy, bready pretzel dough casing.

looking back on this picture, I can SMELL all the bread gooness right there

I saw this amazing feat of baking inspiration on How Sweet It Is, and her full recipe for a jalapeno version is right HERE. The best thing- it's actually a very easy recipe, it uses some pretty standard store cupboard ingredients and the result is just, good. All round, super yummy, amazing, foodie goodness.

I love Saturdays

I know the original recipe is linked below, but for speedy reference here's the basic destructions:
1.5 cups warm water
2.25 tsp of active dry yeast (or 1 7g sachet)
4.5 cups plain flour
4 tbsp butter (melted/softened)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

0.25 cup baking soda
large pan of gently boiling water
1 egg for eggwash
8-10 hot dogs

Ad flour, yeast & salt to bowl
Combine water, honey, oil & salt in a jug, add to flour and mix
Add butter, knead for approx 5-10 mins until dough is well combines and pulling away from surface
Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise (until doubled in size) for 45mins-1hr
Knock back gently and divide into 8-10 long strips roughly 35-40 cm in length
Wind dough around hotdogs and pinch ends to secure

Boil water and add baking soda
drop dough wrapped dogs into the water fro roughly 45 seconds each (do this 1 or 2 at a time)

Place on baking tray
Place on baking tray, liberally egg wash and if you want to (you should) sprinkle with coarse salt
Bake for 15-20 mins (until dark brown) at 200 degrees

Now. Please.

So as you can see, I couldn't resist the urge to go full scale Americana, hotdogs encased in pretzel just wasn't enough. The potato skins are quite simple cheese, some chopped onion and a spoon of creme fraiche (and this is T's plate, which is why there's a lot on it). But can we take a second to focus on these....

Yes, that is an onion ring. Wrapped in bacon.

I spied these on a Danish blog (and I now can't find the link, shout if it's you please). And whilst I don't speak Danish, I can manage wrapping rings of onion in strips of streaky bacon and grilling on both sides. Show stealer! These were epic. The original recipe I saw also suggested dipping the onion in chili or barbecue sauce before wrapping in bacon. I didn't but I so would.


All this with a healthy side of barbecue sauce and another of American mustard and one happy Saturday was made. I feel like I should also add the disclaimer that I cycled over 100km the following day, so I don't feel too badly for eating all the carbs and for the joy of fresh food, lunch was one of my super speedy spinach, sugar snap pea & mushroom soups.

You can thank me when you have a food baby.