Thursday, June 26, 2014

On Simplicity

When catching up with one of my bestest ever blogger friends, Ayden recently, I came to a conclusion. Standing next to someone who basically embodies the word 'individuality', I am basically the worlds most boring dressed person. I like simple, I like a pared down colour scheme, I like small details to make my basics shine and I hate fuss, the unfamiliar and anything that makes me stand out too much.

After a truly lovely day about Carnaby street with aforementioned favourite, I found myself wondering if I should try and like all the pineapple prints on offer or if I might look ok in a crop top. But waking up the next morning and pulling on an outfit that I'm sure many would feel un-blog-worthy or desperately uninteresting I kinda realised- I like simple and simple isn't bad. Outfit in question....

Chambray Shirt dress & Peep Toe Shoes
More details on the dress and the shoes HERE

Here's the thing about 'boring'- it can be very easy, and it makes me happy because I'm rarely uncomfortable. I don't feel that I have to be bigger, bolder or better just to carry off what I'm wearing before I even think about whatever else I'm doing/presenting/imparting. This is not cutting edge fashion, and being surrounded by brands, celebrities, dress like XYZ posts, inspiration via Instagram/Pinterest, blogs and shops all the time can bombard you with all these new ideas and new trends and it can be a bit bewildering and I think it makes many women put more pressure than necessary on themselves to dress in ways that they might not really feel like. Thing is, I've seen many a woman in jeans and blouse who looks as stylish as someone wearing a pineapple printed playsuit.

For me, it's less about boring, more about simplicity. And by the way, there's a shed load of benefits to simplicity. For one thing, I hate the idea of owning anything other than my winter coat, that can't be worn only at certain times of the year, the chambray shirt dress is great example of how something simple can cover 20 degrees of temperature....

Clarkes Hamble Oak Brogue Shoes & Denim Shirt Dress & Slouchy Jumper 3
Chambray dress as above, Hamble Oak Brogues c/o Clarks via Twitter competition

Oh, and details. I have learned to love little details on classic favourites like a simple pair of everyday heels...

Black widow as ever for work, but these shoes still feel effortlessly elegant no matter how many days I wear them.
Clarks Chorus Voice available in a variety of colours/fabrics HERE

And keeping everything else simple means handbags like this get the attention they deserve...

Chloe Map Atlas Print Handbag
Bag, eBay. Similar available HERE.

As do super cool bits of jewellery...

Spider Jewel Ring
Ring, gift

Oh, and by the way, packing is an absolute breeze when you know you can take a single cosy cardigan/jacket and it goes with your jeans, both tops and the dress in there. My colour palette tends to revolve around black with shades of green or burgundy to brighten things up and I have a fondness for leopard print shoes as the only colour they don't seem to go very well with is grey.... Not everyone's version of versatile, but I wouldn't be without them...

Jeffrey Campbell Spiked flat shoes leopard print and gold
Shoes, Jeffrey Campbell via Office on eBay, similar available here

Simple would be called boring by many. I will (thankfully) never ever be asked to stop for a streetstyle photographer and I'm not about to be anyone's inspiration or pin-up any time soon. But accepting that dressing simply in clothes I like and that suit me have been a big turning point in my life- being comfortable in your own skin is important and sometimes, it's good to know what you like and like what you know.

On simplicity- if that means boring, so be it it, but sign me up!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat: Lunchtime Specials

The idea of a boring lunch fills me with dread. We all have our favourites, but for me I need variety and new ideas and different sets of flavours to keep me interested. But all this has to be achieved as either a chilled lunch or something I can put together without a microwave.

Cue this noodle soup variant- simple, tasty, and nothing disastrously bad. A bit different to my usual set of of flavours and super easy to add to with whatever is in your fridge/freezer.

Spinach, mushroom & sugar snap instant noodle soup.

Total prep time for this was about 4 mins. Did I mention I possess no knife skills, so if you do, it'll be much quicker. Grab:

1 large mushroom (£0.03)
Small handful of spinach (£0.04)
3-4 sugar snap peas (0.07)
1/4 pack of instant noodles (£0.05)
Vegetable or chicken stock cube (£0.08)
Dash soy sauce
Shake of dried chilli (chillies given to me and dried myself)
Approximate cost per portion: £0.27

I chopped my vegetables and dumped in this plastic cup. So far, so simple. Then broke up my dry noodles and dumped on top.

Prepped and a ready...

In a separate, preferably smaller jar or container, break up your stock cube or add 1 tspn of bouillon powder,a dash of soy sauce and a generous shake of chilli. Seal, and pack for the following day.
When you're all set for lunch, simply add enough hot water to your jar of stock/soup mix so that it will cover the noodle in your cup. Leave to stand for a few minutes, scoff.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Honey, I'm Home

Somewhat regrettably, we landed back from 2 beautifully sunny, restful and relaxed weeks on the Costa Del Sol on Friday. It was pretty much everything I needed in that I had minimal internet acces, lots of sun, swimming and Spanish wine, a healthy dose of Kindle reading and generally a bit of a break from real life. Blissful.

We didn't do anything wildly exciting or exploratory or adventurous, but here's my mini photo diary for our holiday.
Coffee to make up for my 0400 start. Thank you Cafe Rouge for making it pretty

We did quite a lot of eating....

Pil Pil prawns from a restaurant favoured by my parents who visit the area regularly

First night- my favourite kind of food....

We also did a fair amount of wine drinking....

New favourite wine... €3 a bottle...

Did someone say....WINEOCLOCK?

We also made a couple of beautiful new friends.....

This guy head butted us if we stopped fussing him...

But it's this guy who really stole my heart. He started on T's sun lounger and by the end of our trip, he was visitng for cuddles on my lap each evening

I got to wear a few favourites that only seem to come out for holidays these days.

Favourite sun dress from Spanish shop Stradivarius, 2010

An old faithful Nica handbag- Alicia satchel, c. 2012

And then we had to come home. Cue sad faces and back to reality. On the plus side even the cabin crew thought my tan was impressive. Happy days. Until next time holidays.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat: Breakfast

Breakfast is so so important, not just in kickstarting your metabolism and making sure you're fuelled for your day, but for concentration, energy levels and resistance to snacks that may not be all that great for you *looks shiftily at the chocolate digestives*. If you're attempting to lose weight, skipping breakfast may mean that you struggle and if you enjoy sports or exercise, you might be missing out on important nutrition to help you be faster or stronger.

I should say at this point that throughout my teens and the very early part of my 20's, I did not do breakfast. Breakfast meant getting out of bed earlier, it meant boring toast or worse still soggy cereal- yes I'm one of those odd people who probably puts more milk into a cup of tea than onto any cereals. It's only after I lived at home whilst studying for my GDL and had to do 16-18 hour days to fit in my studies, job and internship that I realised how important it was to get some fuel in before I started my day. It's something that's stayed with me and has never been more important with a new found love of cycling and having the luxury of a consistent routine with my full time job. My current routine of choice follows a bit like this:
Get up - pull on cycling clothes - ride to work - wash & change - inhale coffee - EAT

Das Kaetzchen Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt 2013 Sergey Yakushev
Pre-breakfast face...

So, breakfast food of choice. Not bread for me, I don't find it filling and I usually only make bread rolls at home. I'm finding that pre-made bread products in any volume have a tendency to upset my tummy, which having read the ingredients list for the bread from a supermarket, I now understand a little better. My ingredient of choice and the backbone of breakfast for me is oats. They're super cheap at 39p for 500g (we buy ours at Lidl) and super versatile throughout the whole year. Oats are a great source of energy and as a complex carbohydrate, they release energy through a longer period of time. All good stuff. But nobody likes plain dry oats.

Granola is a brilliant way to eat oats for breakfast, for a snack, and give oats some flavour. I have made my own (a favourite is this Jack Monroe Peanut Butter granola) and I also love the idea of toasted granola which contains less fat:

1 cup (I use a coffee cup for all ingredients for proportion but you could use any vessel) of oats
1/2 cup of mixed nuts or seeds of choice - I often use flaked almonds as we buy them cheaply from a local cash and carry
1/2 cup of dried fruit of choice - I love cherries or raspberries for a treat, our local Lidl sells great mixes with cranberries, coconut and raisins too. Dried apples are another favourite- extortionate to buy but super easy to do yourself if you have the time or inclination
Optional: A tiny tiny splash of vegetable oil or since it's en vogue, coconut oil

Heat up a wok or large pan on high heat
Add your oil if your choosing to use any
Add your oats and nuts/seeds
Shake or stir constantly to keep moving
When the nuts/seeds and oats are starting to appear toasted, add your dried fruit for 30 seconds or so.

The key to this recipe is to keep everything moving in the pan, or it will burn. I would also recommend making smaller amounts than tradition granola because this will only keep for a week(ish) in an air tight container before going a limp and soggy.

Trying out the new graze breakfast boxes. Portions are HUGE!
My first Graze breakfast selection

I have successfully made granola a good number of times, and it's very satisfying, but because I'm the only one eating it, one flavour combination or variety can get a little boring. Graze have recently started a breakfast box selection which includes a selection of flavoured porridge and granola. I skipped out on the porridge as it requires microwaving but also because I prefer something cooler in the summer months. The portions were HUGE and having a selection 4 different flavours was a pleasure. My favourite was the macadamia and orange but they were all lovely- not over sweet and full of crunch, texture and flavour. The boxes cost £3.99 each and as ever there's plenty of deals on freebie first boxes etc if you fancy giving it a whirl. This isn't a super budget friendly option, but it's lovely to ring to changes and it's always worth weighing up the cost vs the benefit of the convenience if you wouldn't be likely to eat breakfast otherwise!

Yoghurt & marmalade
Yoghurt and marmalade readyto be topped with yummy granola

Overnight oats have had a lot of blog coverage, maybe it's because we all seem to have a thing for jam jars- cocktails, breakfast, I've recently seen a US food blogger putting salads in them (not really sure how you're supposed to eat all the layers, but who am I to argue with pretty jars of food). ANYWAY! I like my oats to remain firm, and when I do make porridge in the winter, I prefer it dense as opposed to, for example, T's babyfood-esque concoctions. A great way to try out oats (and to get organised so you can remain in bed for an extra few crucial minutes of a morning:

Frozen cherries breakfast

Add 35g of oats to a jar or container of preference
Throw in a layer of frozen fruit (no need to defrost)- I can't leave blueberries alone at the moment, Sainsbury's do a great selection of 400g bags at 2 for £4- the bag of cherries lasted me approximately 20 breakfasts.
Top with 2-3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
Leave overnight, stir, scoff.
You should find the defrosting fruit has softened the oats a little and that everything is smooth and fruity. For an extra touch of sweetness, try adding a drizzle of honey to the top.

Cherry overnight oats

Tell me that doesn't look tasty!

The key to making breakfast happen for me has been all about 2 things. Convenience and appeal.
If I have to get out of bed earlier to make it happen, it's not going to. I sometimes wonder if I'm spending half my life eating with a teaspoon from jars and small containers, but in an office bound job it's the best way I've found to transport everything and to make it desk friendly. All of the above do require a small amount of preparation either in making something on a weekend afternoon or in cobbling it all together the night before, but I do find these things become second nature.

As for appeal, I love fruit, I know bread isn't working for me, and I know I love cool yoghurt of a morning, so it's all about making those ingredients work for me. If you don't find something you like, then you're unlikely to feel like bothering. If you get bored easily, consider options that allow you to change it up- packs of mixed dried fruits and nuts are great as the come in various combinations to keep you on your toes and having a couple of different frozen fruits on hand is a great way to stop each day being the same.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fitness Fix: H&M

I truly believe that a big reason many people are put off cycling is because they believe they need to spend a lot of money on specialist lycra and that everything has to be racing tight. Whilst I've come around to technical clothing, I have been on a mission to find cycling attire that doesn't cost as much as my rent and that is a bit more versatile than just being bike appropriate.

My work commute is approximately 9km each way and it takes me about 25 minutes to do the journey. My work dress code is quite formal, so for me it really is easier to change at work but even if it weren't, I find it difficult to not push myself to cycle quickly so I'm very much in need of that wash and change at the other end. That does not necessitate a full set of pro cycling team kit (personal choice, to each their own and all that....) just something that is comfortable, helps me to regulate my temperature and dries quickly. Some of the best offerings I've found so far have come from.... the high street.

These H&M goodies I bought a couple of months back when skulking about on their site looking for a pair of casual shorts for my holiday packing, and I stumbled on their Sportswear section. A quick search for discount codes later, and 2 vest tops and a pair of leggings made their way into my basket. Followed a couple of weeks later by another pair of leggings that were very much on my mind.


The leggings are both slight different and one pair is a little too large for me as I wrongly assumed H&M sizing would come up on me as it often does, very small. But I still pull them on around the house a lot. The waist band on this pair though, perfection. Grippy without creating rolls where I don't want them and no uncomfortable squeezing of my internal organs. They come up exactly as far as I need them to, so I'm not flashing anything to the world that it wouldn't want to see. I love the print- something a bit more interesting than black- and a bit cooler for brighter days, but if you're not sold, plain black and grey are also available.


The vest tops (I have 2 but only the plain black is pictured) are not life changing but a super useful staple. For warmer days, I wear only these with just a sports bra underneath- they're not see-through, they're not so tight that they roll up when you move, they're long enough to completely cover beyond the waistband of any leggings I own, they wick away sweat reasonably effectively, dry in about 20 minutes flat and are easy to launder. 'Nuff said really. The arm holes aren't as deep as I might usually pick, but that's about my only minor niggle. I certainly can't complain at [£7.99].


Forever 21 are another company that do some great value sportswear- the fit isn't great for me, but my flatmate swears by it- their leggings are between £18 and £25 and they stock oodles of sports bras, vest top base layers and running tops.


I've talked before about Mountain Warehouse and their range of active wear, much of which is aimed at urban sports as opposed to being hyper specific to a particular sport. They have some really good offers on their base layers meaning they price out at £12.50. You can read my reviews of their kit HERE.


Active wear made such a huge difference to my cycling commute enjoyment in that it stopped it being an uncomfortable experience where I was overheating hugely and sweating in a way that made my clothes uncomfortable and made it more difficult to manage my switch over at work each morning.


If your sport/activity of choice is new to your routine, you might find your laundry pile gets bigger quicker than usual, active wear is designed to dry quickly if you get wet out and about, but the same thing happens when you put it through the washing machine and laundry that gets done quicker has to be a good thing.


In particular thinking of cycling, the kit can be super super expensive (yes Rapha, I'm looking at you) but whilst I have a *proper* jersey or too for the weekend rides I've done- the ones where you need the pockets because over 100km with a rucksack would be insane, i'm just not convinced it's all so necessary. I'll continue to advocate for whatever you're happy in, but if cycling is a budget conscious choice, or a commuter choice to introduce some activity into your life, don't be put off by the price tags of things that might actually not be necessary, and when you're thinking of being fitness clothes, do keep the high street in mind. Collaborations ad the market for affordable kit means they're quickly cottoning on to a this sector and there are plenty of good deals to be had.




Thursday, June 12, 2014

Holiday Essentials: The Beauty Edit

I blogged earlier in my trip about my holiday essentials, but left out anything beauty related. I always think it's fun to nosey in other peoples' wash bags and make-up bags, so here's a peek at a few of my must-packs for a sunshine trip.

Body Shop Body Butter & Body Scrub sweet lemon pink grapefruit
Body Scrub & Butter, The Body Shop

I have a long time love for the Bodyshop's body scrubs and butters, if nothing else because whilst you can match the fruits, you can also shake it up. I love grapefruit followed by sweet lemon- just the right balance of sharp and sweet. On a serious note, if you want your tan to stick around after your return-from-holiday-blues, exfoliate before, during and after your holiday. Don't think, just scrub. And moisturise.

And on the subject of exfoliating... Natural sponges are available in the UK, but seem disproportionately expensive whenever I see them. I became hooked on them as a gentle way to exfoliate when living in Spain, and they cost from 40c to €2 depending on size and supermarket you buy them from. I'm down to the last of my stash, so there's a much needed stock-up going on right now.

Neal & Wolf Harmony intensive condition hair care
Neal & Wolf Harmony Conditioner, available HERE

This is my all time favourite conditioner. After being sent some for review by Neal & Wolf, I've purchased it myself a good number of times. The scent is fantastic- a bespoke scent created for them, and a great conditioner which always leaves my hair soft and shiny. At home I only wash my hair every 3rd day where possible, so I do use this conditioner every wash. I've never noticed a problem with product build-up, so I'm using this in a bid to try and stop chlorine and sunlight drying the ends of my hair. 

Boots No7 Beautiful Skin day cream normal or oily skin SPF 15
Boots No7 Beautiful Skin Day Cream for Norma/Oily Skin, available HERE

Traditional sun protection often irritates my skin or causes me to break out, so when I discovered that my daily moisturiser (available HERE, always wait until there's a 3 for 2 offer, as they happen so frequently you'd be mad to pay full price) has 5 star UVA protection at SPF 15 is quite something. I actually use this on my shoulders and chest as well, places that are also sensitive to traditional sun protection and where oil-free solutions are needed. 
*Disclaimer* SPF15 is really quite low. I'm fortunate to be tolerant to the sun, and I have other personal reasons for not choosing a higher SPF that are not safety related. You should always seek advice on sun protection, and SPF30-50 would likely be a more expected level of SPF for a climate such as the one I'm currently enjoying. 

ELF Cosmetics mineral lip tint and lip balm
E.L.F. Mineral Lip tint and tinted Lip Balm

I just don't wear make-up when I'm on holiday. Which is why even if I wanted to, I'd never make much of a beauty blogger. If we're going out for dinner, I might slick on some of this E.L.F. mineral lip tint available HERE and there may also be a brief encounter with this mineral bronzer (no shimmer in it FYI, it's a 'dupe' for the Bare Minerals Warmth) also from E.L.F. and available HERE, but that's it. And it really is the only time I bother to do more than cleanse, tone, moisturise or exfoliate. It's great for luggage allowance and the combined total of my make-up would not need an insurance claim if my baggage went walk about which is something that often springs to mind when I see lists of products used for a look.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat: FruitBroo Iced Tea

I have a long time love for FruitBroo as an alternative to caffeinated drinks. When I first came across them last year, I had a go at making iced tea with them myself, so I was pretty happy when an email popped in to tell me that FruitBroo have released new Iced Tea packs and they wanted me to give them a go.

I made some super yummy iced tea with the original FruitBroo last summer by making up the mix with hot water and waiting on it to chill. The iced tea is much simpler- add 2-3 teaspoons to a 50:50 split of ice and cold water, drink. But when thinking about ice and cool summer flavours, I thought it might be fund to give something else a try...
I went there. I made FruitBroo ice lollies!

I made up 400ml of ice tea using 4-5 teaspoons (I was free pouring....) using cold water, these are the Lime & Elderflower flavour with fresh mint from my garden (2-3 leaves per lolly). Freeze overnight and enjoy!
Not bad huh?!
Next, some more fruity combos with my favourite peach and honey variant.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Holiday Essentials: Everything & Anything

If you hadn't already gathered from previous posts and a Twitter feed full of exclamation, this post is going live whilst I'm in Spain on holiday. *YAY*

Anyway, since I've just been through the rig marole of packing and sorting myself out, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite essentials, and a few bargain bits I like to hunt down for sunshine holidays.

Clothing at Tesco F+F #feeltheheat bikini
Bikini, F+F Clothing at Tesco
Shorts and Swimwear might seem like an obvious one, but I got caught out last year when we went away in September and at the end of August, not a cut off, sandal or swimsuit was anywhere to be seen on a shop floor! I got on it early this year, and both the shorts the bikini were purchased with a voucher I won from Clothing at Tesco last month. Joy of joys- most of the swimwear on the site came as separates, great if like me there's a fair difference between sizes of tits and arse!

I have a love hate relationship with canvas tote bags. I seem to have a zillion of them from various sources, mostly free, and they *should* make great pool/beach bags, and yet there's never one in the collection that's quite the right size. This is my favourite holiday appropriate tote, for poolside,  for venturing a little further, for shoving a few groceries or snacks into.

The Book Show tote bag

I have lost count of the number of times I've remembered to pack all the required chargers, only to forget the adaptors. Never, ever buy them in the airport as they cost 8 times as much as picking one or two up on eBay. I try and leave mine in the suitcase permanently these days! THIS double socket is really useful too at £2.49 with free postage, it's a really good deal since you never quite know how many sockets you'll find- especially true of hotel rooms!

European plug adaptor

Our holidays are mostly about taking the time to stop. We swim. We read. We sleep. We eat. We don't do a vast amount of going out, or partying or exploring, and we deliberately pick destinations that are easy to get to, and that aren't 'culture destinations'. For a trip like this, I used to need updawrds of 10 paperbacks, and whilst Kindles might be a bit love or loathe for some people, for luggage allowance alone, I would be without mine! Similarly, for 2 weeks of alfresco dining and evenings spent around outdoor tables rather than in front of a TV or screen, being able to play music has never been easier with the help of lightweight bluetooth speakers. Remember the days of people taking stereos as handluggage?!

Vintage style map Kindle Paperwhite cover
Kindle Paperwhite cover from eBay, similar available HERE

I often think handbags can be a bit of a nightmare for holidays- the tote bag is all well and good, but when flying, there's always the handluggage issue- I don't want something too small for passports, valuables, boarding passes and maybe a sneaky duty free purchase, but I really really loathe having something too big for in flight. On a recent visit to Primark, my first in a while, I spotted this, and initial I decided against, but the more I looked, the more I liked, and decided that for £8, it would be a great summer colour and I'll not be too gutted as and when it falls apart as the skies turn grey and the nights pull in.

Primark grey blue box bag
Grey/Blue handbag, Primark £8

These are nestled in against a handful of staple summer sun dresses- all in bright colours to match the bright sunshine. Talk to me about your holiday must haves or bargains? What did I miss?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fitness Fix: A Game Changer

I am very much the fan of budget friendly everything, including sports kit. Much as I love cycling, the price tags attached to anything with the c word in front of it seem to be five zillion percent more than any other fitness kit. Rapha are a cult brand who make all the Team Sky pro kit, and they're a favourite among many a road cyclist, but boy is the kit pricey. Whilst I've seen reviews of their jerseys and more recently their 'City' range of clothing (designed to not look like kit, it includes things like jeans and a button down shirt...) it wouldn't usually even come close to being on so much as a wish list of mine, as prices start at £50.

It's only when I was given a £50 gift voucher in return for a filming project recently, that I thought back on the reviews I'd seen and started to think about how I could use my voucher to best suit me. With the best will in the world, a £150 jersey just isn't me, even with 1/3 off. Luckily, the City range includes some women specific base layers priced between £50 and £65. I have a fondness for base layers because I wear them with everything and if they are made of the right materials, they truly do help to reduce sweating and overheating, even if you're wearing an extra layer of clothing. Weird. I know. The tops come in a tank version, a short sleeved and a long sleeved t-shirt version in a short selection of nice neutrals (grey, sand and pale blue), they're made from the miracle of Merino (more about that later) and they generally seemed like the kind of thing I'd get along well with. I went with a grey tank top as the thing I'd be most likely to get best wear from and after forking out £6 (yes, really) for standard delivery, I waited with baited breath.


Rapha Women's Base Layer, £50-65

For those wondering- I chose a size Medium, I usually wear a dress size 12-14 for my bust and a 10-12 for my waist. I followed the measurements given on the Rapha size guide to select my size, and this little beauty fits like a dream.

So, Merino. Merino is a special type of wool because it's naturally anti-bacterial and prevents unpleasant odours, it's properties also mean it wicks sweat away from you to keep your skin dry, and it's super fine and soft. It's common in high end performance sports wear, and this tank top base layer is 100% Merino Wool.

I wore this top for the very first time on a the super warm weekend before the bank holiday- 25 degrees and beautiful blazing sunshine for a 55km round trip cycle. I have sweated more in the depth of winter than I did on this trip, and for me, that's a game changer. The true test though, as for all sports tops is in the rucksack. I hate riding with a pannier more passionately than I can say, so I'm a rucksack girl all the way (you can read about my preferred one HERE). With a rucksack against my back... it still performed better than anything I've ever tried. In fact, the only thing I didn't like about this top was that I forgot to remove a packaging sticker inside on the back, which stuck to me then itched like crazy.

The question still remains- is it worth £50 of your hard earned sterling, plus P+P....? The truth is that I'm not sure. I now understand why cyclists across the land extol the virtues of Merino wool, and the design of the tank is.... nice enough but I remain convinced I could probably find other base layers at a less wince-worthy price point. My other true test for this top will be how it fairs this winter. Merino isn't just about keeping cool, it should also keep you feeling warm in cooler months since the fibres help retain heat generated by your body as most wool fibres do. To be truly worth £50 it'll have to year round useful, in the mean time though, this has proven to be a real game changer and a very good use of a gift voucher.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat: Fine Dining

It's apt that this particular edition of Chloe Likes To Eat is going live today because it is in fact my birthday. Over the bank holiday weekend, we hopped up to Cambridgeshire to visit my parents for a bit of early birthday celebrating and my dad (clearly has too much time on his hands) decided to up the ante on foodie stakes.

Chloe Birthday dinner 2014 Bloody Mary jelly, duck grissoles & chcolate fudge brownie with mango and ginger icecream
Starter: Bloody Mary jelly served with prawns and ribboned cucumber salad
Main: Roasted duck, duck grissoles, roasted potato, cauliflower puree, baby Bok Choi and local carrots
Dessert: Chocolate fudge brownie, mango & ginger ice cream, summer fruit topped with chocolate sauce

I was impressed anyway! The menu is a bit of a tribute to some of my favourite foods- I love vodka and yes the jelly was alcoholic, roasted duck is a decadence I don't often allow myself, and the brownie is the stuff of teenage memories because it's something only my dad cooks *like that*.

My love of food and cooking is as much a secret as local corruption so it won't surprise you to know that sitting down for amazing food with my family is an ideal way to celebrate my birthday. But there's more...

Tonight's wine. Yes you read the date right. #madiran #frenchwine
2005 Madiran from South West France

My grandparents brought back this bottle from travels in France some years ago, it's a 2005 vintage local Madiran and the bottle is a magnum size (1.5L). Red wine is one of my favourite things and I have my mother to thank for enjoying some of the expensive and/or exceptional ones as she worked hard to make sure she got me into my wine. This one had lost a little of it's oomph from ageing but still a beautifully smooth glass of French red to accompany the duck main course.

There are no hugely exciting plans for today since we're flying out to Spain for a two week holiday on Friday *does happy jig* so it's always lovely to look back on fabulous food enjoyed.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May in Review

Welcome to the almost half way point in the year! How scary is that!

It's been a hectic month for me, with lots going on. Some super stressful things like my bike ending up basically totalled after an incident with a bike rack on the car, some fun stuff too though- doing the London Eye at dusk for T's birthday being an especial highlight...

Parliament from London Eye Sunset
Read about our tourist escapades HERE

I had a tough month reconciling how I felt about myself as a blogger and whether I was in fact a bit of fraud. It's tough to know sometimes, if you should be justifying what you choose and choose not to share, since I think we all assume that readers understand that they never see and we couldn't ever share 100% of everything we do. I strive for honesty, integrity and reality on what I choose to post, and I'm still sitting on the fence as to how I feel about it all. You can read my post HERE - On Inspiration & Fraud

I've been back into the swing of posting regular Chloe Likes To Eat posts this month. I talked a lot about some of my favourite salads as it's my preferred lunch and shared my five favourites that were all about keeping things interesting (read: contain more than lettuce). Receiving tweets from people who had a go at some of them and really enjoyed what they cooked really made my week.

Chloe Likes To Eat recent cooks
You can read the full post, including ingredients and recipe ideas for all five salads HERE

And I put an outfit post up earlier this week too. Not something I do as much as I used to, but enjoyable anyway.

chambray denim shirt dress & peep toe flats
You can read the full post HERE

After the strains of May I'm most excited for June. June is my birthday but most importantly, we're off on holiday next week- 2 weeks of rest and relaxation and time to enjoy some good weather, good food and even better wine. Can you tell I'm looking forward to it? I have lots of lovely posts planned in for whilst I'm away, so I hope you'll find plenty to read over the coming month. and as a little bonus perk, I'll leave you with a picture of an old man who was only pleased to see me in the 10 minutes it took him to realise I was disrupting his sleeping.

A very sleepy old man who wasn't too keen on the bank holiday disruption.