Thursday, December 18, 2014

In My Bag I Packed: A Spanish Handbag Purchase

I didn't necessarily go to Spain with the intention of buying a new handbag, but I did have in the back of my mind that a new mid-sized handbag that doesn't knock out anybody in a 2km radius (a la the Aquascutum beast...) for y'know, leaving the house without a laptop and 3 phones.

When I walked past the shop initially, I spotted a few very nice looking bags, but on day 2 of 5, I didn't feel I could justifying blowing over €100 on a present for myself, despite T telling me I should anyway. Cue major buyers regret..... hand stitched leather and a dreams of something green instead of black. I wouldn't say I'm much of a daddy's girl.... but on departure day, T persuaded my Dad to drive us back into old town Marbella to make the bag purchase, since we had a fair volume of Euros left....

El Potro Green Leather bag

Green El Potro

Although priced at €115 when I looked at it, the lady either took pity on me, or was pleased to be making a sale before even officially opening the shop (yes, I was the creepy girl hanging about the shop waiting for it to open....) because she gave me 20% off, taking it down to €92. The leather is beautifully buttery and the pictures above show a mostly true to life colour- a fabulous forest green. There's also a shoulder strap which can be attached to the handles, but I'm not currently using it.

El Potro Green bag

Based on the current exchange rate, the approximate cost in sterling was around £72, considering the beautiful leather, construction and the unusual colour, I'm pretty happy with that. I've become a bit militant about finding leather bags since I've had a few non-leather, even ones that have cost a similar amount to this beauty, fall apart or worse, become very scruffy with scrapes or wear on corners, and although prepared to pay for a good quality leather, I can help feeling this was nearing bargain territory.

The inside is made up of a single large space, with a zip pocket and a small pouch style pocket set into the flat lining. I quite like this as I use a lift-out bag organiser and a centre divider can be a nightmare for that.

I won't be posting specifically about our little jolly to the Costa del Sol, it was a brief family trip in lieu of doing Christmas presents, which seems to be a new tradition. We ate a lot, drank a lot and I don't think videos of us lot singing along to Donna Summer (don't ask) are quite what I have in mind for my blog content.... Suffice to say, landing back into Gatwick on Tuesday was disappointing!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

3 Moisturisers Tried on Oily Skin

*None of the following products have been sent to me for review, and I have not been paid to feature them on this blog. All news, views & reviews are my own and this post is merely an account of my own experiences*

Moisturisers are the bane of my oily skinned life. Whilst my oily skin and annoying breakouts aren't by any stretch 'cured' I have successfully navigated the world of cleansers and exfoliants to find things that work for me (I mentioned these four cleansing products recently...), finding a moisturiser has continued to be a trial with lots of error.

Moisturiser for oily skin

So we'll start with a super epic fail.

Dermalogica Ultracalming Barrier Repair - Available here for approx £33
I was dubious when a beauticean was super keen for me to give this a go, mostly because it's packed full of oils. For me, this often leads to mass break outs and blackheads, and I wish I hadn't taken a 2 day trial as proof it would work.

Moisturising, yes. Nice barrier between my skin and city grime, yes. Amazing to apply make-up over, yes. Breakouts? By the million. It took 2 weeks to clear my skin back up again, and whilst you can read all kinds of science-y stuff about how adding oil to oily skin isn't a problem, it causes problems for me, without fail and I shall continue to roll with oil-free solution.

A side note- the one puzzling thing about this product is that it never made my skin feel greasy and although it's packed full of oils, it doesn't feel oily on the skin. It didn't work for me, but if you're not sensitive to oils, it's worth a look. Now to try and palm off the remaining 75% of this tube on someone!

Dermalogica Moisturisers

Dermalogica MediBac Clearing Mattifier - Available here for approx £39
Billed less as a moisturiser (best followed by their Moisture Control Lotion apparently) and more as a treatment, I was recommended it as an alternative to the above. Whether it helps to clear anything especially is difficult to tell, mostly because I'm so religious in my regimen of cleansing, exfoliating and toning.... but it certainly keeps my skin from being too greasy. My issue is that it doesn't moisturise for me at all. My aforementioned religious cleansing leaves me skin in need of a big drink, as does the wintery wind and cooler weather from being on my bike, this does not deliver. Based on needing 2 products rather than one (I have tried the lotion too) I decided it was a bit of a rip off, and although I'll be using the tube up as a night time product, I won't be replacing it.

Origins Zero Oil Moisturiser - Available here for approx £24
And so the quest continues. Something that moisturises effectively without leaving my skin greasy or causing it to break out. Origins is a brand I've not tried before, and I happened across this when searching a beauty website for something to try.

Origins have created a product that focuses on moisturising without promising much else and being oil free. I think I quite like the idea of pairing it back to basics, so two weeks in, I'm so far quite liking it. The combinations of mint and other herbs in this mean it's not one for those who don't like a medicinal scented product (personally, love it), but it does seem to do what it says on the tin. For the first time in a month, my skin doesn't feel tight or stiff, and I'm not suffering any exceptional break outs, so I'd say the oil-free thing is a winner.

Origins Zero Oil


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fitness Fix: Mountain Warehouse Winter Kit Review

These products were NOT sent for review, this post is not sponsored. All news, views and reviews belong to yours truly & the products featured were purchased with my own hard earn cash.

Dude. Winter arrived briskly. I've spent the last month saying '...but it's NOT THAT COLD!' Except that this week it really kinda was. Cue realisation that I've lost my cycling gloves that have actual fingers and I only have one long sleeved baselayer t-shirt. Yeah. 

Mountain Warehouse Winter Review
Baselayer t-shirt & Gloves both Mountain Warehouse

It was therefore a relief to find when logging on, that Mountain Warehouse had a massive sale on and a further 20% off everything as well. I've talked about their activewear before, having been given some to review, but I don' think there's much higher praise than subsequently spending your own hard earned cash on more of it. Long story short: I liked it, I still like it.

So, the baselayer t-shirt was £12.50 on sale, less another 20% . A whole £10. It's long sleeved, it wicks, it comes in pink if that's your bag, but personally I love and much prefer the grey. It's thicker than I expected (a good thing) and it's not a skin tight fit, in fact it's rather flattering. No pictures of my in it though, because I was a hot mess when I got off the bike and realised I should probably have taken pictures.

MW Panna Base Layer Close Up

It's not earth shattering, but for £10, I can't help thinking it's tough to go wrong, and from experience of my other base layer, they wash and wear well over a period of time. In the end, I actually ended up with two of these, which probably tells you everything you need to know.

Side note: the sizing of the Mountain Warehouse gear is quite generous. I would normally need to size up in sports wear to fit my tits in, but a 12- my general top half size is a good and definitely not snug fit.

Now, the bike specific main event. I got quite excited about these, yes I know that probably means I need to get out more.

Reflective back of Cycle Gloves
Reflective Back

Gloves. Cycling gloves seem to range from expensive to hideously expensive, so I was quite please to see these at £14.99, and pay £11.99 for them. Not a bank breaker, and for a brand that most wouldn't associate with activewear or cycle kit, these gloves boast some pretty impressive and well considered features.

The reflective panel on the back is freakin genius. It's dark at both ends of the day, so anything extra I can do to be visible, including when indicating is the best thing ever. As lots of gloves do, they have toweling along the thumb, so if you wiper your face free of whatever is splashing against it, you don't scrape off half your skin and the palm is pretty good too. Minimal but sensibly place padding- I don't like my gloves to feel like cushions...., hard wearing suede style fabric, and I got a perfect range of movement.

Cycle Gloves Padding
The palm side

So far, so reasonable, but the best thing of all about these gloves....

Cycle Gloves Touch Screen

Those little chevrons on the thumb and index fingers. Those my friends, mean you can use touch screens whilst wearing them! Sounds minor, but so many brands bang on about how special they're gloves are and how pretty, but you can't use a screen with them- which means, no segment checking on Strava, no map checking on Google maps, no whatever it is you look at on the newer Garmin products....

For a sensible price you're getting a decent pair of gloves, with well considered features in a nice neutral colour. These are female specific, and a blue/black male version is available, but it looks as though the only difference is the way they're sized. A good find.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat: Tilapia with Roasted Vegetable

It's not that I don't like fish, but I don't eat it that much. Mostly, it's laziness- buying meat is easier, and I know what to do with it! When we received some Tilapia in a recent Hello Fresh box, I decided to mostly follow the recipe card for it. A reminder (since it was super quick and simple) that I should probably eat more fish.



The tilapia is coated in panko bread crumbs, bunged in the oven for about 15 minutes and the grilled for roughly 3-5 minutes. I served ours with a ton of roasted vegetables, because I like all the roasted vegetables, but I think the original recipe called for just peppers and courgettes. Side note: Peel brussel sprouts, cut them in half, shove in roasting tin, spray with lemon juice and a little salt, roast for 25-30 minutes. You'll never look at them the same way again!

A simple school night supper for us, but anything that takes less than 30 minutes to prep and cook is only second to food from the slow cooker.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

New Favourites November: 5 Things I Loved This Month

Since my post about things I'd bought/loved in October went down so well, I'm doing a November version too! We'll see if it turns into a regular feature- nothing about my blogging habits is regular at the moment, so let's not make promises that can't be kept!

CLTT: Things I loved November
Jumper- Marks & Spencer, Boots- ASOS, Gloves- Mountain Warehouse, Watches- Both ASOS

1. Boots
I stalked and stalked these boots on ASOS and somebody must have returned a pair in my size, cue frenzied purchase. They really are ankle boot perfection, just which they were a touch wider on the ankle. Hashtag chubby ankle problems. I was a tiny bit disappointed that after the first wear, the rubberised finish on the heel had worn away almost completely at the edge, but after contacting ASOS, they offered me a little discount since they couldn't be replaced, and I promptly went and had them reheeled locally so I can stomp to my heart's content.

2. Warm Jumpers & Warm Hands
The jumper was a purchase back in September, I walked past it in the Marks & Spencer outlet at Warrington having only gone in to help T pick some new shirts, given it was reduced and cost approximately £20, I couldn't say no. It's soft, pretty and just the right level of slouchy without being a dress.

I have a whole post dedicated to reviewing the gloves pictured and another item I recently purchased from Mountain Warehouse, but I couldn't not include them, because they're saving my hands from falling apart now the temperature has dropped outside.

3. Watch! 
I saw the black watch, and for whatever reason couldn't let it go. I ended up purchasing it as an easy to wear watch for day or informal evenings. It was expensive, but I'm glad I bought it (it's the little things). The rose gold one is another ASOS job from a sale a couple of months back (yeah, I've been a bit hooked on their gear lately), and is a bit more delicate and feminine than my usual taste.

ASOS Watches
Watches, both ASOS

4. All the pretty knickers 
I won a Triumph voucher recently which was most welcome having had to chuck out no less than 3 busted bras in the week prior. My love affair with the Rosie for Autograph silk underwear for Marks & Spencer also rages on, especially when it has 20% off.

Triumph close up lace underwear
Lace set, Triumph. Yes that's as much as you're getting.

5. On the buses
I've never been especially drawn to Cath Kidston before, but on a somewhat desperate search for new PJ bottoms, I decided these were kind of cool and then got excited when they were discounted the day after I shoved them on a saved items list, and couldn't leave them behind when placing another order. On a side note, why, at a measly 5ft 5" is it so hard to find PJs that are long enough and that don't shrink?! What do you tall people do?

Cath Kidston London Bus Pyjama Pants
PJ bottoms, Cath Kidston via ASOS


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

3 Hideously Expensive Products I Really Want

I cannot be the only person who sees hype unfold on Twitter, blogs, media etc and thinks.... really?! I do this a lot, who really needs a nail polish/notebook/pair of trainers that cost almost as much as my rent?

The problem is, sometimes I get to try those things whilst out and about, here's a few I realised I actually really want, totally regardless.

Aesop Resurrection Hand Cream 
Winter cycling means my hands benefit from regular attention at the moment- chilly air and skin are not a winning combination. At my office, I make good and liberal use of the free hand cream in the bathrooms, at home, my metal tube of The Body Shop almond hand cream is well loved and costs, at £5, 75% less than the Aesop hand cream. But having tried it in a restaurant, I'm filled with aromatic, non-greasy, quick sinking in dreams of a hand cream that costs £20. I know I don't need it, and to many, spending £20 on a hand cream might not seem so bad (especially since I spend a winceworthy amount per annum on Elemis and Dermalogica skincare....) but I don't *need* it, however bloody lovely it might be.


Rapha Jeans
Whilst I have eschewed my city girl single speed bike in favour of a sportier road bike this year, I'm still for the most part a city cyclist. When hammering through Whitechapel and the City each morning, I do a full shower and change at the office, but there are days where I jump on my bike just to go to a quick appointment or to do the grocery shopping, and I don't always want to wear sports clothes for that, equally, my denim leggings are WAY too low rise for the bike.

The cycling brand, Rapha created jeans for the men's collection last year, designed to be worn on and off the bike, this year, the ladies get a look in, and despite the £150 (yes, really) price tag, my goodness I want them. They're stain resistant, they have a mid rise, so I don't bare my behind, they have high viz piping. But they're still £150. Sigh.

Moleskine Notebooks/Diaries
I know the likes of Smythson make Moleskine look pretty inexpensive, but I'd never understood paying £15-20 for a notebook or a diary when you can easily purchase one for a fifth of the price. Then someone bought me one of their diaries as a gift, which was quickly added to with a Project Planning Notebook and then some Evernote compatible Cahier notebooks. I don't know *quite* what it is about Moleskin, but the diaries and notebooks seem to always be exactly right. They're also generally super sturdy, which I love since they have to travel a lot. Oh and their staff are lovely, or at least the Canary Wharf store staff are, which could prove a danger to my debit card, since there's only so many paper products one can justify between a paperless business and a personal life stored on an iPhone....