Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sheer Temptation

Recently, Boots No7 were running their 3 for 2 promotion, and whilst I needed to purchase 2 things, I decided to treat myself to one of their new products on the 3rd free item. The No7 make-up range has a new arrival- Sheer Temptation. Moisturising lip colours- lip butters, basically. 

Boots No7 Sheer Temptation in shade Lovely, £9

So.... what do I think. 

Well, it's nice. It's quite moisturising, it's a pleasant colour, it has very fine blue coloured sparkle in it which lifts it. It lasts for a couple/3 hours if you're not drinking and eating too much, it has nice, sturdy, weighty packaging. But it's not £9 nice. It's not a luxury product, and I expect that for £9. This is a nice treat if you have a spare place in your 3 for 2 basket, and it's getting plenty of use in my handbag, for a flash of colour during the day, but would I 'buy' it, no. 

Face, Bare Minerals,
Eyes, Chanel eyeliner & MUA mascara
Lips, Boots No7 Sheer Temptation in Lovely

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chloe Likes Sensible Shopping

My posts about better buying seem to be going down very well, and lots of you seem to have jumped into this for reasons of your own. One thing I really wanted to reiterate in this post though, is that my quest to buy better, and to buy quality rather than quantity actually has little to do with saving money, and a lot more to with me, and the daily battle I do with the mirror.

Like a lot of women, I count the days that I leave the house feeling confident that I look good, are the unusual ones. I don't consider myself to have really terrible body image, it's just usually I leave the house for work, knowing I'm presentable, I'm wearing clothes, I'm really not looking anything special. From time to time, I leave the house, feeling as though I look like a sack of potatoes, or that I've aged 5 years in 5 hours, or that I just look a mess. Sometimes I look back on pictures I've tried to take and am horrified by an angle, or just the general look of something. But what has helped massively, has helped make the bad days far fewer and the good days a little more frequent, is buying only those clothes I think really, truly work for me, work for my wardrobe, and spending a little more on better quality items to get an improved fit.

Sometimes, I get lucky and find a bargainous item that fits well, and is of good quality. THIS skirt is a great example. Sometimes I spend more than I might have done previously, but still get great cost per wear, like THESE trousers. And sometimes, I score a bargain, but still am spending a touch more, and don't regret it for a second. Like this dress.

Dress, French Connection via eBay outlet. £77 £38.50
Bandeau top (underneath), from ASOS a couple of years back
Bad lighting, East London Mornings

Recently, one of my trusty work dresses developed a tear which I can't repair very well. As I'm quite short on work wear, I knew I'd need to find a new dress to replace it, and decided that it was time to look for something that would make me feel good, as well as look good. And the reason I ended up on the eBay outlet... well actually it's because I use Boots Treatstreet, and I was browsing for inspiration on fashion retailers, and saw the eBay outlet. It stocks lots of brands I recognise, and usually consider out of my price range, even though many would say they're high street, and French Connection is a good example. I would never have purchased this dress full price, and even at almost £40, I consider it a pricey purchase  But the proof has been in pulling it on. The fabric is weighty, smooth, soft and hangs well. The seams are well finished, and the fit is lovely. The sleeves are a perfect length- not long enough to want to roll them, not short enough to show off the arm flab. The V is very low, but I quite like that I'll be able to change it up with the top underneath.

So there you have my latest buy it better. I'm not offering any tips or tricks or advice, just explaining that buying better can be a great way to save money, to be more eco friendly, to downsize your wardrobe if those are things you want to do, but it can also be a great way to feel a bit better about yourself when you step out of the door in the morning. So go swing your hips just a little, smile at the pretty boy who is definitely too young to consider in Costa, because it makes him blush (don't judge, my office is on a uni campus...) and remember that even though we don't feel amazing every day, there's a value and a price to be put on having fewer days of walking out of the door wishing you could disappear.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chloe Likes To Eat


Adventures in Slow Cooking. Meet my new friend.

My parents very kindly gifted T & I with this compact slow cooker for Christmas,as both T & I have kinda crazy schedules, we had been slipping a bit with getting dinner organised, and as the temperature has plumeted here in East London- and a white blanket has covered us, we've been trying all sorts of goodies in it. This is a great tool if you are out of the house for long periods, and also great for budgeting as it makes even the cheapest cuts of meat very tender AND it gives a great flavour to any dish as it cooks so slowly.

Today- Turkey with leeks and bacon- and if you don't have a slow cooker, you could very easily adjust the timings on this to make on a day off, over a low heat in a standard sauce pan.

Also *disclaimer* this is an adapted recipe from a book we were gifted along with the cooker.

You will need: 
Turkey Thigh, a pack of. Usually about 400/500g
A leek
Vegetable stock
Plain flour
Seasoning to taste

1. Chop leek into roughly even rings- I reckon the should be about 1cm thick, roughly chop an onion, cursh or finely chop garlic, roughly chop bacon into strips- leave the fat on the bacon, unless you following a low fat eating plan, in which case you'll need a splash of something- olive oil, low cal spray etc...

2. Heat a heavy base frying pan, and add your bacon in, as it starts to pale with cooking, throw in the leek, onion and garlic. Be aware that you might need an extra splash of oil to prevent sticking, or if you have trimmed your bacon, you will almost certainly need a fat/fat substitute to ease everything about. 

3. Once the bacon is cooked and the leaks and onions are soft, put the lot into your slow cooker or into a large sauce pan. Try and leave as much fat/oil/substitute in the pan as possible. 

4. Into a bowl, or receptacle (I an old ice cream tub...) pour a small amount of flour- 3-4 table spoons to start, maybe a touch more. Season to taste- I added LOADS of black pepper and some thyme... give the flour and seasoning a bit of a shake to mix, and dump your chopped turkey thigh into the flour, mix about until all the turkey is lightly covered in flour. 

5. Make sure your frying pan with it's fat is good and hot, and add your turkey to the pan, be cautious, it will spit. Keep the turkey on the move until it's browned all over, then add it to the large pan with your bacon and leek goodness. 

6. Provided your kitchen is not covered in a heavy coat light dusting of flour, and if it is, thank goodness it isn't just me, make up around 250-275ml of vegetable stock using a cube or paste or whatever you like. I use oxo or my own homemade version with T likes to call the ├╝bercube. 

7. Pour the stock over the bacon, turkey, leeks etc etc so that the whole lot is almost cover with liquid- the liquid should be level with the rest if the contents of your pan/slow cooker. 

Getting steamy in the kitchen.... No not like that you filthy, filthy bunch.

8. If using a slow cooker- cook on high for around 6 hours or low for around 10. If you're doing this in a pan on the hob... Well.... I'm guessing, but I would say approximate 5-6 hours on the lowest heat, with a lid covering. The mix should be bubbling gently, and hot all the way through. The stock you poured in should have become a gravy-like consistency. If anyone has a go this way, please hit me with tips and timings, as I'd love to share some of these recipes for anyone who doesn't have a slow cooker. 

Serve with vegetables and carbs of your choice. We had ours with roasted potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and lightly grilled courgette, but it would also work very well with rice or wedges, spinach, fried leeks, mashed potatoes.... 

And eat. 


Monday, January 21, 2013

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I have a confession to make. I haven't had my hair cut since June. 2012.

I love my hair- it's long, and that gives me back a bit of the femininity I often don't feel, despite mostly wearing a dress and girly shoes. It's a talking point, because it's so long. And it's long enough for me to be excruciatingly lazy and just leave it to dry, brush it, and walk out of the door.... But even I know it's bad when I need to tie my hair up every day, because nothing can make my hair look reasonable.

I also know that there's absolutely not a f***ing chance that I'm paying London prices just for someone to cut my hair in a straight line. Imagine my joy then, when I started to pay closer attention to the Groupon details landing into my inbox each day to suddenly see a myriad of offers for salons offering a cut or restyle or colour. I promptly bought a voucher for a salon nice and convenient for after work, and hopped off.

I'm not going to bang on about the salon- it was ok, they did a decent job, I was happy. What I am going to remind you of, particularly if you live in London or a large city, and you're trying to save money, is deal sites.

A bit like newsletters, I know these can clog your inbox, but they're a great way to get what you want for less. My deal included a full restyle and conditioning treatment for £25. I've also bought a similar voucher for £22 at another salon close to my flat, because the validity on it is good and long, I will be booking for just before it runs out- 2 haircuts, £47. Even if you don't take full advantage of the offer- a full restyle... NO THANK YOU, when a trim would still set me back around £50 a time full price, I'm still winning out.

I know it doesn't look much different to everyone else... but trust me... it feels SO. MUCH. BETTER.

Scarf, thanks to Odd Socks Alex
Freezing Face, models own,
Tired eyes, inconsiderate flat mate.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Recently I'm Wearing

OPI Spiderman minis- a gift from my mum at Christmas, and I've been trying them all out. 

ASOS dress, Clothing at Tesco cardigan & Clarks shoes. ID tag, models own.

a recent work outfit, and a bit of a favourite. I'm a bit in love with 2 of these OPI minis too, although it annoys me that EVERY collection they bring out includes exactly the same red, just with a different name. 

H&M (DE) skirt ca 2009, Topshop top, necklace purchased from local boutique in Cumbria

Christmas day face. 

Many of you will know I was quite ill in the run up to, and for Christmas. I had a vile chest infection, and so spent most of the period drugged up to my eyeballs and trying to put my best 'I'm fine' face on. For my last extra day off work, Thursday 27th, there were no other visitors to my parents house, and it was blissful to chill with them and have a day to try and recover a bit, before heading back to London and back to work.

H&M dress, Primark belt, unknown waterfall jersey cardigan

Bare Minerals face, Mayfair Instagram filter ageing

Another work outfit, one that's been a favourite just lately, as it's super easy, and it seems to work with the super chilly mornings as well as the tropical afternoons in the office. The new Instagram filter appears to be massively ageing on me, needless to say I'll be steering well clear.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chloe Likes To Eat

Another healthy recipe for you lot, seeing as I've been trying to combat the sheer volume of sweeties and things T & I were give- and therefore HAD to eat over Christmas and NY. Plus, as a general rule, I don't believe in diets, but make an effort to keep my food sensible most of the time.

Spinach, bacon and cheese fritata. 

This was a bit of a hark back to the good old days when my dad used to cook for me all the time, but now I'm a big girl and have to do it myself, I didn't do too badly. 

This is a super easy make too, particularly if you have some eggs hanging about that you want to use up, so here goes... 

Eggs- I used 4 medium ones in a large heavy base frying pan. 
Potatoes- 1 large or 2 small 
a splash of milk
a couple of small onions- red, white, whatever
Garlic to taste
Bacon- or any leftover meat if you're on a use up mission- ham or chorizo work especially well, as do lardons if you're doing things on the cheap. 
Spinach- or peppers, or courgettes, or any other veg you fancy playing with. 
Olive oil

Optional- cheese of any kind, olives, sundried tomatoes, pesto anything else you fancy using up....

1. Peel and cube potatoes, peel and slice your onions, peel and crush your garlic, if you're using bacon, chop this roughly, not too small or it might be a bit over done. 

2. Heat a large (preferably heavy base) frying pan with a generous splash of oil, add your potatoes and keep them moving for around 4-5 mins

3. Add the onions, garlic, and if you're using bacon, lardons or chorizo, shove this in too, keep the whole lot on the move for another 2-3 mins

4. By now your potatoes should be starting to look golden and lightly cooked on the outside, turn the heat down to medium, throw in any dense veg such as peppers or courgettes.

5. Whilst this is carrying on nicely, crack your eggs into a jug or bowl, whisk lightly with a fork, and add a splash of milk to keep the mix fluid, and seasoning to taste. Bear in mind that if you add too much milk now, the whole thing will just end up like dodgy looking scrambled eggs with random veg.... 

6. Pour your eggs over the vegetables in the pan and give the pan a damn good shake about to ensure everything is evenly distributed

7. Sprinkle as much spinach as you like over the top of your cooking fritata, now is a good time to add any of your optional extras- I love a bit of feta on this particular combo, as well as a tiny tiny drizzle of pesto. DO NOT STIR- yes I know it's tempting

8. The whole thing should only take another 3 mins or so to cook through, but use your judgement, the whole thing should be cooked through- a bit more solid but not much more than an omelette .. And after using a small knife or a fish slice, to ease the edges from the pan, the whole thing should move as one. 

9. OPTIONAL- if it's in a metal handled pan, you can crisp the top up under the grill, which is rather nice, but not necessary. 

10. Slice, bang on plates, scoff. 

A tip if you're trying to keep this in weight loss eating plan- keep the potato to a minimum, use low fat cheese- or avoid it, make sure you keep it veg heavy to resist the urge to put more carbs in that you need, and always serve with extra salad or veggies. 

And a tip if you're cash strapped- use cheap veg that's seasonal/on offer/both, and don't buy extras you don't already have to go in it! 

Hit me if you give this a go, and if you liked it- or you didn't, or you have any suggestions for this recipe. 


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Roman Road

Having cleared out my wardrobe a fair bit between three moves this year, it's fair to say that there are some things that it was lacking for. In a bid to buy better, I've exercised some restraint where replenishing the holes in my wardrobe, choosing carefully what I want to add to my wardrobe, and making a conscious effort to look for the best quality versions of the items that I can afford.

I blogged about these fabulous trousers, which I've worn incessantly through autumn, and which will be coming straight back out once the temperature elevates a touch, I'm very much looking forward to showing off my new black dress now I've found somewhere to take outfit pictures, and behold my two latest additions. 

Coniston Sway shoes, Clarks (sold out) £49.99 £34.99

I desperately, desperately wanted these shoes when I saw them on the Clarks website, back in October. But, I decided I didn't NEED them, I resisted. Then I started my job, and didn't have quite as much spare income for a couple of months, and clean forgot about them. Needless to say, when the email telling me about the Clarks sale came through, and I spotted these amongst the discounted offering, they were ordered with a smile, a click and double Boots points. 

They haven't been off my feet since they arrived. And as my first pair of heeled shoes from Clarks, I think I can say... there's no going back. Comfiest. Heels. Ever. 

Topshop tee, F21 belt, Roman Road skirt. 

The other gap I've been desperate to fill, was skirt shaped. I bought a skater style skirt in the Zara sale a couple of years back, it's pretty light weight and has served me well over the years. Unfortunately heavy wear in every season has left it a little faded, and even taking it near the washing machine seems to take another quarter inch off the length. 

As yet, I hadn't been able to find a replacement that ticks all the boxes. Until this. On a hunt for the nearest Poundland to our flat, I found myself in the biggest and best market I've seen in a very long time. Roman Road was a hive of activity, even on a bitter cold Saturday morning. I bought some of the nicest fresh fruit at a price better than the reduced section of our local Lidl can offer. And the fashion stalls. Oh the fashion stalls. 

I'm aware that markets don't often have a great reputation for their offerings when it comes to clothing, but maybe that's just me being judgemental? Some of the stalls were indeed selling dodgy seamed knockoffs. Most of them were selling awesome, on trend items that would easily cost 3 times as much from some of the highstreet names. 

This skirt look as though it may have been manufactured for Oasis, and this is something I've come across before- clothing that's manufactured for a brand, and then sold on via wholesale elsewhere, just without the branded label stitched on. Having had a good look at the seams, liking what I felt of the fabric, I grabbed the last of my size, and had the first friendly exchange with a retailer in... ever. Best bit? It cost £5. A fiver. Five English Pounds. For a skirt that ticks the length, weight, colour and fit boxes, and certainly seems to be a good quality find. Only time will tell if it's as good a bargain as I think it is, but I'm hopeful. 

Do you buy from markets? Do you live near a really good one? Are you on the Buy it Better Bandwagon? I have a couple more goodies to share on this particular subject, so stay tuned.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nailing It

Nothing like a good old nail fad to get everybody going- nail art pens.... glitter.... duo-chrome.... OPI collections.... yeah you know I'm right. And now it's the nail beads/caviar whatever you want to call them. Naturally, because I'm a bit slow on the uptake, I couldn't get the ones I wanted straight up, which FYI were these MUA ones in Scorpio which cost £2 RRP, but that I ended up having on a recent 3 for 2 offer.

I had horrid visions of mess, chipping, general frustration and frankly... ineptitude.

BUT- girl done good. 

This is day 2 of wear, and with only a small number missing from the tip, I'm impressed by that. 

I use a cheapo black base coat, then an old top coat which has gone ever so slightly sticky, and sprinkled the  'constellations' from the funnel thingy onto the wet top coat. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of mess, and having followed the instructions, how well covered my nail was. 

I gave my very on trend (ahem) accent nail a bloody huge drips healthy coat of top coat to seal, and be warned, as the packaging does say, that this will mute the colours a little. I can't imagine every day life treating these very kindly without though, so I think it would be party/function nights only to brave without a topcoat, and I think they still look lovely with the topcoat.

Not bad for a £2 novelty that I was fully expecting to spend the rest of the year rolling about cluttering up my nail box and/or that I'd be finding for months in my clothes/shoes/washing machine.  


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chloe Likes To Eat

After a bit of a chat on Twitter about foodie things, I was prompted to ask if anyone would be interested in the return of Chloe Likes To Eat. I didn't consciously give up Chloe Likes To Eat, but a combination of moving out of a sorted kitchen, and a diminishing interest in the posts, left me not making an effort.

But the answer was a resounding yes. I will, where possible, try and give basic recipes/guidelines for anything made by me, and if there's anything in particular anybody sees and wants to ask about, or would like to see, shout!

Kicking off with this healthy lunch idea.

1. Chop any vegetables you can lay your hands on- personal favourites of mine are:
Red onions, peppers, courgettes, parsnips, carrots, any kind of squash. 

2. Once peeled/chopped/prepped, shove the lot in a bowl, add a drizzle of oilve oil, seasoning to taste, and jiggle the lot so it's all evenly coated. Alternatively, shove it all in a roasting tin, and do the above  (saves washing up....)

3. Place in oven at high heat- my oven is knackered so I always put it straight to it's highest setting which is supposed to be 220c, I suspect it's more like 190-200c. 

4. Whilst your veggies are a roasting.... 
Make up a packet of cous cous- I use a packet mix with lemon and corriander, mostly because I'm lazy as hell it's in a nice easy quantity, and it's super cheap from Lidl (or similar). But there's nothing to stop you making plain or variant versions. Once made, put aside in a storage tub for the fridge. One 100g (dry weight) pack, usually sees me through 3-4 of this particular recipe. 

5. Sit back, relax, have a cup of coffee, take a flick through the latest copy of whichever magazine you're currently perusing, or blog that you're currently reading, until you're vegetables are roasted. Put them in a suitable receptacle for fridging down once they've cooled. 

6. If you make your lunches for work the night before, or in the morning, add the following to your vessel of choice- mine is super elegant, no?! 

Salad- Spinach is awesome because it keeps really well in the fridge, but whatever floats your boat
A healthy dose of those of those yummy roasted veggies
A couple of spoons of the cous cous you made earlier (Blue Peter moment is optional)

 And you're away. There are a few optional extras that you might like to try.... 
Pretty much any type of meat you fancy- leftovers are a convenient add in. In weeks gone by I've used roasted chicken, a chopped sausage, bacon, salami, shredded gammon
Cheese- feta is lovely in this mix

All of the above are obviously to taste, and dependant upon any diet plans you may be following. They're just a few ideas to customise your salad. 

Some of my favourite add-in healthy dressings for this are:
A shake of lemon juice & black pepper
Balsamic vinegar and the tiniest smidge of olive oil
A decent slush of good old malt vinegar & a shake of salt/pepper/both
Low fat (or not if the mood doesn't take you) salad cream or mayo
Low fat (see above) mayo, lemon juice & black pepper

This isn't the most exciting thing you'll ever cook, but the variability on the vegetables, the cous cous add in, and the ability to chop and change the extras might just help make salad a bit more interesting and give you the shove you need to move away from a sandwich every day, which was my motivation. Plus, this is super easy to prep on a Sunday night, and sorts me through to about Wednesday. SCORE. 

Would love to see any concoctions you come up with- I'm on Instagram and Twitter, so hit me. 


Monday, January 7, 2013

Chloe Likes Sensible Shopping- eBay

I have a love hate relationship with eBay. The days of being able to consistently score someone's 'leather handbag' that turns out to be Prada for £2, well they're pretty much gone. But eBay can also be a super useful tool AND there are still some really awesome bargains.

The most recent way I've been using eBay, is for trial and error purchases. You know the ones- where you really want to try something out, but you don't want the commitment of spending too much? Well in times gone by, I would have turned to Primark, or maybe one of the several zillion discount online brands, but it hit me, after selling something recently that was a trial and error purchase, that eBay is a great place to try something new.

Jeans are a bitch for me. I like them, I do, but they do not seem to like me. After ditching what used to be my old faithfuls Martha's from Topshop (straight leg) due to difficulties making them fit in all the correct places, I have decided to have a shot at skinny jeans. I've tried cheap ones before, but the result wasn't ideal, so I decided maybe a slightly better designed pair, chosen with some caution might be the way forward.

So having had a mooch about the shops, tried on a pair that may represent a solution, realised I wasn't prepared to gamble £40, I headed for eBay. And having spent some time leafing through- here are some things I've learned.

1. DO cast a careful eye on the pictures. They're likely to show any wear to used items.

2. DO read the description carefully. Make sure you know what you're purchasing- if the description on how 'used' the item is, ask questions. Most sellers will happily answer polite questions, and if they're unhappy to do so, it's probably best to steer clear.

3. DO keep your eye on Brand New With Tags (BNWT) items, they can be a fab bargain, and be prepared that the price may be a bit higher, but it's easy to forget that the item is just that- brand spanking new, with tags.

4. DON'T forget to factor in postage and packaging costs- helpfully you can sort eBay searches by highest/lowest inc P+P.

5. DON'T get carried away and compromise on size 'because it's cheap'. Be patient and wait for the right size of item. This shouldn't be a problem with common sizes such as 10, 12 & 14, but if you take a very small or a larger size, bear in mind these items may be slightly scarcer.

6. DO ensure you pay promptly and communicate honestly. As a platform, eBay relies on both it's buyers and it's sellers being honest, fair and without ulterior motives. Sticking with this ensures that eBay remains a place to shop successfully.

And a cheeky last note- I still have a few bits for sale on eBay including Sanctuary Spa products and Uniqlo clothing. You can find them all on the eBay tab under my header!