Saturday, February 28, 2015

What I Wore: Sparkly Sneakers

Whilst the rest of the world (well.... other bloggers) have turned to creating editorial style outfit shots, I seem to be going backward and reminiscing on the days where it was far more common to see snaps in a mirror, or simply looking down. There's something I still enjoy about look down and an occasional selfie. So in the past I shall stay for now, along with the running theme of this post- my new GLITTERY Converse.

Home. Wish we were pleased to be back but at least there are glittery sneakers.
Bershka (via Roman Road Market) denim leggings, Primark Breton tee and SPARKLY Converse

Satchels and sparkly sneakers for hospital appointments today #fromwhereistand
ASOS cat elbow jumper, New Look denim leggings, SPARKLY sneakers (seen the theme yet?!) & Zatchels elephant skin effect satchel

#whatiwore sparkly converse, denim leggings and the best green coat ever for flat hunting.
My favourite green coat via eBay, M&S denim leggings and the best sneakers in the world EVER. 

On another note, this week has been mental at HQ. I ended up having to take most of the week off work in order to try and flat hunt because it's looking ever more likely we'll be leaving our current abode by March 20th. After last week was such a nightmare of bidding on how much rent we'd be prepared to pay or having viewings cancelled left, right and centre because flats had already been let to someone else, I had to put some serious energy into. After some perseverance however, T & I have secured a flat to move into at the end of March. We don't have to share it. And it has a huge garden of which we have sole private use. The relief was tangible because hashtag London Problems, renting here is a lightening quick market. Expect my twitter feed and general tone of writing to be full of whinges about furnishing a flat and house moves, which I never used to mind, and I now find super hard work.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: 5 Best Ingredients Ever

Following on from the 3 ingredients I wished I'd never bought, I thought I'd lift the doom and gloom and show you the 5 things ingredients I love and that my cupboards are rarely found without.

Best Ingredients Ever

1. Pimenton
Smoked Paprika to the rest of us, but the Spanish version tends to be a bit richer, smokier and less sweet than the typical smoked paprika in the UK. I love a pinch in bolognese sauce or a heavy handed teaspoon in my fajita spice mix. It's super cheap if you find yourself in Spain near a Spanish supermarket.

2. Ginger
Yeah, ginger is pretty commonplace, but this is prepared ginger in tiny shreds. Whilst I love ginger for asian food, I find it irritating to prepare, this takes all the hassle out and this supermarket own brand version is way more reasonable than the branded versions that first brought the product to my attention

3. Peanut Butter
I LOVE peanut butter- I like to cook with it, eat it on toast or with a spoon. The whole nut butters (the ones with nothing added) are my favourites as it's all the flavour and none of the guilt. Worth every penny extra compared to 'regular' peanut butter.

4. Tom Yum Paste
I'm not brand loyal, and the next jar lined up is supermarket own brand to try, but this forms the flavour to lots of our 'ramen' style lunches (I posted about my instant noodle soup lunches HERE and you can find similar recipes posted more recently by Rosie Londoner & Lily Melrose)

5. Lemon Chilli Sauce 
I bought this (in bulk) from a food festival in November and it's all my favourite things at onces- lemon and chilli. Great as a dipping sauce, awesome rubbed into a chicken pre-roasting, and fabulous on top of stir fry. I'm dreading running out.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lifestyle: On Feeling Attractive

My partner always looks both horrified and guilty when I talk about feeling attractive- or not as the case may be, like he has done something wrong or that there's something he can't fix. It's very difficult to explain without making him feel bad or sounding desperate for attention of some kind, that there are times where I don't feel at all attractive- and that's nothing to do with anybody else and everything to do with what happens when I look in the mirror.

Working from home today. More in love with these @asos leggings since the make my legs look slimmer.
Uniform of tough days

This isn't a pity party- I'm pretty sure that no matter how beautiful you may be, everybody feels this way sometimes. Whether your skin is hating on you, your hair is sticking up in that annoying way, you're feeling bloated or you favourite dress just isn't hanging right, it can be super damning and leave you feeling very much at one with your favourite pyjamas and biggest cosy jumper. And that's ok, so long as you remember to pick yourself back up afterwards.

Get up, go for a shower- wash your hair with that really expensive conditioner that you don't use everyday or use the special edition shower gel. Whatever it is that you normally save for a special occasion that makes you feel good, do it. Go on....

I started the evening this picture was taken in a tearful mess because I felt like crap. I ended it miserable and wondering what I was doing with my life, but at least I was wearing a favourite dress and my make-up went how I wanted to...

Put on your favourite clothes- who cares if you're not going anywhere- put on your favourite dress or the silk shirt you keep for best- FYI this includes your underwear- go find that bra that makes your boobs into a dream, you know the one I mean.

Do something that makes you happy-  So that last bit, that's the important thing. Because putting some effort into the best bits of your appearance helps when you look in the mirror, but the thing that makes any and every person beautiful, however baggy the jumper or tired the pyjama bottoms, is happiness. if you smile at someone, it might just make their day. Your enjoyment of something might just be infectious and ultimately you might find that feeling attractive comes as much from inside as out.

Slightly inebriated Paddington selfie from last night. Had to be done!
Yes, I took a selfie with a statue of Paddington Bear whilst under the influence of a lot of alcohol in the middle of Paddington station. But it made me happy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: Paris Edition

Yes, yes, I know. More Paris. We didn't make any reservations for our trip and I chose to ignore a lot of the popular advice about finding 'off the beaten track'  restaurants. We did a bit of a research into places we night like to eat though, and chose to have a shortlist, depending on where we found ourselves and what we fancied. It worked out pretty well we thought!

Friday Night:
Dinner was not complicated but the flavours were truly fabulous.
Cafe Constant, 139 rue Saint Dominique (Ecole Militaire/Eiffel Tower)

Cafe Constant is the bistro sister to Daniel Constant's main restaurant. We stumbled across it as a 'not tourist-y' place to eat near to the Eiffel Tower. We were actually aiming for his other casual dining restaurant (Les Cocottes) on the same street, but it was closed for refurbishment.

The menu is short and simple, classic french style and moderately priced (for Paris). This scallop dish (cooked simply in garlic and butter) was a main course and came with a spinach salad, Uncomplicated but a bit of heaven. T ate oyster & salmon tartare as a starter and sea bream for his main. We were both too full for desert and we enjoyed a lovely bottle of Chablis with all this seafood. The total bill was about €90 and worth every cent for friendly service and perfectly cooked food and a beautiful bottle of wine.

Saturday Lunch:
We ate Moroccan at Chez Omar for lunch. Basica concept- cous cous, veg and five tons of grilled meat.
Chez Omar, 47 rue Bretagne (Musee Carnavalet/3e Arr.) 

France is pretty well known for it's North African immigration and this means there's a whole plethora of food influenced by or in the style of North Africa. Chez Omar is famous for it's couscous and it's well loved for that (go early or expect to queue). We ordered the Royale which is the mixed grill option, but they also have options for lamb, chicken, beef, vegetable etc. The format is pretty simple- a mountain of cous cous, a large bowl of vegetable and chickpea broth type... thing and a platter of whichever accompaniment you have ordered.

Whilst it doesn't look like anything special, it's the most fluffy couscous I've ever eaten, the warm savoury broth was a perfect savoury note to add moisture and every variety of meat was perfectly grilled and falling apart. The wine list is short, and starts with Algerien options, followed by French. We had a half bottle of a medium bodied Algerien red, which was perfect with all this savoury, meat filled loveliness. The service was a little offhand, what I had expected of the Parisian stereotype until we met Omar himself, who couldn't have been more lovely, and realising I definitely wasn't French, turned out to be super pleased to meet Londoners, having lived there himself in the 70's.

Saturday Night (and I like the way you move....):
Tonight, we mostly ate a LOT of cheese.
L'Affineur' Affine, 51 rue Notre Dame de Lorette (Monmarte/Opera)

After spending the entire afternoon post-Chez-Omar hauling very full bellies around, we decided the evening needed to be leisurely and perhaps nothing too full on, and you can't be in France and not enjoy some fromage, can you?

This fromgerie and restaurant is a mere 10 minute walk from the hotel we stayed in and is close to Montmatre and the Opera district. The 2 friends who opened this small but perfectly formed place are what you might call experts. They stock 120+ varieties of cheese, and you are free to choose your own selection of 2, 5, 10 or 15 or they will happily curate a plate for you. We asked for a selection of 10 French cheeses and made sure to say that we love goats cheeses and that there isn't anything we don't like. The cheese plate comes with stunning homemade breads and a bowl of dressed salad as well.

It's a proper cheese restaurant when your bill comes on a Camembert box...
It's only a proper cheese restaurant if your bill comes in a Camembert box

To say we enjoyed this (and the bottle of Bordeaux cabernet we had with it) would be an understatement- we haven't stopped talking about the cheese, the friendly and welcoming service, the amazing amount of knowledge and fabulous selection. We lucked out getting a table as reservations are strongly recommended, so clearly it was meant to be, and what a way to spend a Saturday evening.

Paris has more restaurants with stars, awards or whatever than you can shake a stick at, and as someone from a fine dining background, everything has it's time and place but we SO enjoyed more casual dining and whilst I know to some these simple meals will seem pricey, one thing the French have known and still understand how to get right is pairing flavours and perfection of the simple things.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

From Where I Stand: What I Wore in Paris

In case I hadn't bored everybody enough with Paris pictures and tweets, here's a few self indulgent pictures of things I wore in Paris this weekend.

#todayimwearing @uniqlo_uk jumper, denim leggings and my favourite @asos boots. And I'm Paris bound!
Keeping it comfy travelling from St Pancras and hitting up some serious tourism on day 1
Uniqlo Jumper (available here) 
Shirt, Primark
Denim Leggings, M&S (available here) 
Boots, ASOS

Uncharacteristically, no green in this outfit, but can we have a moment of appreciation for this amazing jumper I picked up in Uniqlo last week. It's so cosy, beautiful relaxed shaped and all these awesome little flecks of colour!

Favourite new ring.
Ring, Me and Zena via ASOS sale (available here)

Totally getting back into rings at the moment, they help make my fingers look less sausage-y and at the moment necklaces and earrings just seem to get caught in my hair or my scarves.

Who needs gold when you can have black and green?! #todayimwearing @asos boots and lots of green acquired in Europe.
Normal service has resumed- an outfit with Green. Channeling my inner Parisian with all black and some green accents. 
Boots, ASOS
Bag, El Potro (Marbella) 
Coat, eBay 
Denim leggings, New Look via Roman Road Market

Anyone else find the tip wear on glitter gel polish is much quicker than 'standard'? Gutted my index is showing so much after just 3 days.
DIY Gel manicure

I do love my DIY gel manicures, but I find the glitter colours (like this awesome black one) suffer from tip wear more than 'standard' colours- tips and tricks greatly appreciated for improving the longevity of my gel- that said, it grows out so quickly that it rarely lasts me more than 8-10 days anyway.

Home. Wish we were pleased to be back but at least there are glittery sneakers.
Getting home to find we have 11 days to vacate and find somewhere new was a bit of a low, but glittery sneakers, yeah?!
Striped t-shirt, Primark
Denim leggings, Bershka via Roman Road Market
Sneakers, Converse via JD Sports (available here)

I totally lucked out finding this (and another cream one with a green stripe) Breton style t-shirt in Primark, having searched most of the rest of Westfield for something similar. I'm a sucker for a French Stripe and couldn't resist it for coming home. Also, I can't stop banging on about these sneakers. It turned out to be too cold for anything but my faithful ASOS boots all weekend, but I cracked them out for the return home.

More on Paris later in the week if you can stand to see more- Chloe Likes To Eat: Paris Edition will be with you on Thursday. Expect to drool.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

What I Wore: Mountain Warehouse Activewear

This post contains products sent to me for consideration and review, marked as 'c/o'. All news, views and reviews are my own and I have not been paid to include products or links in this post. 
I keep going on and on about Mountain Warehouse and their activewear range, mostly because I really think it's brilliant. It started last year when I was kindly gifted some goodies after an event at their Fulham store, and I've been spending my own money on their products ever since.

Mountain Warehouse Sprint 8 L Rucksack Hydration Pack
Sprint 8L rucksack/hydration pack, c/o Mountain Warehouse

It started with this rucksack and a baselayer, gifted as part of the event. But since about this time last year, I've been steadily growing the collection.

Mountain Warehouse Winter Review
Panna Women's baselayer & women's cycling gloves

I actually own 2 of these Panna baselayer t-shirts. Long sleeves, heavier winter weight and a very flattering (not skintight around the middle) fit make them my idea of perfection. I purchased these myself, and they're great value because they're currently half price at £12.49. The Adrenaline gloves are the best thing ever thanks to their touch screen details (chevrons on the thumb & forefinger) and reflective bits. I use them for running too. Also half price at £14.99 the gloves are some of the best thought through for the price range that I've ever come across!

In the same flurry, I also bought T some winter running tights for cycling in- not going mad here, but the cycling tights they do are padded and for commuting T prefers non-padded gear and these can be hauled on over his padded cycling shorts for longer rides. The men's range is just as good as the women's and he has subsequently ended up with a second pair of tights and a handful of baselayer tops for work/cycle commuting of late. This is good news not just for him and being comfortable whilst racing the clock of a morning, but also for the laundry. 2 active adults create quite a lot of laundry but the joy with activewear is that it dries super quickly, so I can be putting the next load straight into the machine and know the kit will be dry before the next load needs hanging.

Mountain Warehouse Alpine hoody
Can you tell it was cold?!

Another kindly gifted product, this hoody continues to have me amazed. As I've mentioned a few (hundred) times, it's showerproof. I'm not saying it should take the place of a proper waterproof if you're out and about in heavy rain, but it IS brilliant. It doesn't look like a waterproof so it's great for pulling on with jeans when I hop on my bike to go to an appointment or pick up some groceries, it's super warm thanks to the brushed fabric interior and the way the hood is shaped around the neck means there's no need for an additional scarf or snood.The Alpine shower proof hoody is ALSO half price currently at £24.99 and available in blue as well as the grey one I have here. I'm currently eye up the men's version for faceache for all of the reasons I think it's so useful, plus it's got 60% off so is under £20.

I'm currently working with and featuring a lot of sports/activewear clothing on the blog at the moment, and that's partly because I'm lucky enough to be working with a couple of brands in the field. This blog continues to be a lifestyle blog, and because I'll never be the person interested in being the best in category of a sport, or getting up at the arse crack of dawn to do a work out, I have made being active a part of my daily life, I believe a 'little and often' approach is a healthier approach to making exercise a part of your lifestyle than punishing gym sessions or giving up precious time to do something that could have been incorporated into your day. That also means that my approach to what I wear or how I wear things has changed- activewear is part of my lifestyle as much as cycling to work (and everywhere else when possible) or choosing to consistently eat lots of fresh food that I love or buying more shoes is.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: 3 Ingredients I Wish I'd Never Bought

I really hope I'm not the only person who opens the kitchen cupboard and glares at the occasional item in there, wishing I'd never purchased it, but unable to bring myself to throw it away. It is just me, scowling at the cupboards.... oh.

Ingredients I wish I'd never bought

Coconut Oil
I mean really, what do you even do with this stuff? Why not just use olive oil. Or vegetable oil. Or rapeseed oil. Or sesame oil? And save yourself a lot of money and a whole load of puzzling.

Stock Cubes
Not because I don't believe in them, but because I seem to have 3 different varieties and yet I've been making my own frozen stock cubes for months.... And I prefer bouillon for vegetable stock anway.... What was I thinking?!

Frozen Spinach
Gross. Flaky. Mushy, Sludgy. Does. Not. Look. Or. Taste. Like. Spinach. Never again. Not a godsend for cooking with and I like mine raw mostly anyway. Never, ever, ever again.

Please do leave me comment if you have an ingredient lurking in your kitchen that you wish you'd never laid eyes on, let alone put into your trolley. I need to know it's not just me out here in the ingredient hatred wilderness....


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Favourites: 5 Things I Loved in January (and December)

This post contains items sent to me for consideration. All news, views and reviews are my own and I have not been further compensated or paid to include the items or links in this post. 
I was so going to do a post in December, and then I realised the sheer volume of daylight fails and it didn't happen.

Jan/Dec Faves 2

But.... double bubble!

1. My Moleskine diary was a departure gift from my team when I left my job to pursue the business back in August. It covers July last year to December this year which means I'm totally covered. I never understood the hype around Moleskine until I bought a diary a couple of years ago, but all I can say is that they're just so.... right. Couple that with the awesome service in store (or at least the Canary Wharf staff are above and beyond helpful...) and suddenly they don't seem so pricey.

Moleskine 18 Month

2. I had a bit of a sale spree with ASOS between Christmas and New Year and this printed top come with the rest of the package, because it would seem I'm incapable of having a balanced ratio of tops to bottoms in my wardrobe. It's a bit shorter than anticipated so I'm currently wearing over high waisted skirts and denim leggings most of the time. Nobody needs to see that much of my middle.

Jan/Dec Faves ASOS Printed Top

3. I was gifted these 2 Helly Hansen items to review and as part of their campaign surrounding #winterduel ... If you want to read a review of both products, check out my post from Tuesday right HERE but the tights..... the warmest thing since the fake sheepskin boots I use as slippers. TOASTY.

4.I didn't grow up in a household where hot drinks were a regular occurrence- my parents drank coffee in the mornings and I only started liking coffee after living in Germany. In more recent years I've discovered that good quality tea is a thing of great enjoyment of a cold afternoon- Currently I'm enjoying Teapigs Peppermint & Liqorice and Apple & Cinnamon.

5. I was sent this hoody by Mountain Warehouse recently. Way back, about this time last year, I was invited to the Fulham store to preview some of the activewear MW had launched and became a bit of a convert. They had the beginnings of some showerproof clothing then, and this is a women's hoody- shower proof, snug, warm and gorgeous in this grey colour. It's awesome for sports, but a great lifestyle piece of kit too- I pull it on if I'm hopping on my bike to the supermarket and the sky is threatening and to wander down to the post office when it's a bit too cool for just a cardigan.

It's  February, already. If I weren't so damn scared of how quickly 2015 is slipping away, I'd be pleased because January was  annoying in many ways, but mostly because of our flat situation which if you don't know about it, is just a disaster. On the plus side, February brings a trip to Paris. Despite living in France for a while and having visited the country a few times, I've never been to Paris and so T gifted me a stay for Christmas- we go this weekend. All recommendations welcome- I plan to be a total tourist and enjoy all the major sights, but any good casual dining recommendations would be welcome.